George Orra Bigelow


The town of Alden and its youngest pioneer settler came into existence half a continent apart geographically, but very near together in point of time. George Orra Bigelow was born near Shelburne Falls, Franklin County, Massachusetts, on January 15, 1851 and arrived in Alden with his parents, in September 1855. His mother Luana Alden Bigelow, was a daughter of the founder of the town. Immediately on the arrival of the family here the grandson and grandfather became stalwart comrades and companions, tramping the woods and fields together, fishing, hunting and trapping.

Among Mr. Bigelow's earliest recollections are those in which his grandfather occupies a prominent place. He remembers very well, for instance, the fact of the importation of the dandelion seeds. Mr. Alden was very fond of dandelion greens and sent back to Massachusetts for some seed, which arrived and was kept in a cloth sack, a few being taken out occasionally and planted with great care. On another occasion Mr. Alden sent to Massachusetts for some apple scions. They arrived and he and his boy companion tramped into the woods north of town and grafted them on to some wild crab trees. The grafts were examined several times during the summer and were found to be joining nicely. Next spring the partners took a spade, intending to bring the trees home but every one of them had been carried away by some other apple-hungry resident. Mr. Alden held his wrath in check by hoping the trees would do somebody some good, anyhow.

On one occasion the partners treed three swarms of bees out on the South Fork, and captured a lot of honey. While they were lying on their blankets resting, preparatory to making the tramp home, George became aware that a bee was wandering up and bown (sic) his back, inside his hickory shirt. He asked, politely, for help. "Well, George, I'll tell you," said Mr. Alden, "you ought to kill it. If you kill it when it is walking on your back, it will sting you. Wait untill (sic) it is the other side up walking on the lining of your shirt, then dab at it good and hard." George waited until he thought the stinger pointed in about the right direction, and dabbed. But he guessed wrong, or the bee turned or something, and the youngster let out a whoop like a wild Indian, to the immense delight of his grandfather who rolled on the ground in convulsions of laughter.

Some time afterward they were longing around the north woods when Mr. Alden jumped and grabbed himself. Then he grabbed himself in another place, and another, inquick (sic) succession. "George--George" he roared. Quick as a flash George remembered the bee incident and acted accordingly. He calmly stepped back ten feet and cocked both barrels of his gun. "Don't act so foolish, Grandad" he aid "Let it come out--let it come out; I ain't afraid of it even it is a snake six feet long." It was a field mouse and presently reached the sunlight at the back of Mr. Alden's neck. The bee and mouse deals made things about even.

At one point Mr. Alden was standing intently watching Jerry Lane operating with some bees in the top of a tall tree. Mr. Alden was so much interested that be had forgotten to close his mouth, when he fell backward as it struck by lightning. A been had stung him squarely in the roof of the mouth, and left the stinger there.

Mr. Bigelow was united in marriage to Miss Mary Button, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph A. Button October 8, 1884. In the summer of 1900 they erected the tine(?) building they now occupy, removing, for that purpose, to the position in the rear, a building erected by one that purpose, to the position in the rear, a building erected by one Sweet in 1856. This Sweet building is the oldest now in town and is used as a kitchen for the Bigelow.

The years 1861 and 1862 were spent by Orra Bigelow in the service of the government as an enlisted infantryman, guarding the frontier between Cherokee and Spirit Lake, against Indian attack. His son accompanied him. In the spring of 1863 Orra Bigelow, George Bigelow, Irving G. Whiney, Tom Bailey, Ira Sheldon and Fred Schlegmilch started west with an ox team, but that is another story to come later.

Additional news clipping:

A dispatch was received here Wednesday announcing the death of Mr. Orra Bigelow, which occurred a the asylum at Independence on Tuesday night at ten o'clock. The deceased was born in Massachusetts October 27, 1822, moved to Alden in the year 1854 and was therefore one of the pioneer settlers of the place, being closely indentified with the early history of Alden. As age and infirmities came on, he seemed to lose his mind and was taken tot he asylum where he had been for only a few months till death came to his relief. The remains arrived here Thursday afternoon and were interred in the Alden Cemetery.