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Addison Hull Bidwell, Caroga

Transcribed by Joanne Murray.  Contributed by Lisa Slaski.

HENRY ADDISON BIDWELL, youngest son of Eleazur and Rhoda (Ives) Bidwell, was born in Tolland, Massachusetts, June 8, 1815, died at Becket, Massachusetts, April 4, 1882. He formed a partnership, the firm being known as Bidwell, Wheeler & Claflin, the last named member being William Claflin, who was Governor of Massachusetts, from 1872 to 1874. They built and conducted a store at Becket, and carried on an extensive lumber business and tannery business. They cut hemlock timber, using the bark for the tannery and the lumber for building purposes. Mr. Bidwell built most of the houses of his time in Becket, and was an influential man in the community. The store, managed by him, did a business totaling $140,000 a year. He twice represented his district in the Massachusetts Legislature, and served as postmaster of Becket. After using up the hemlock lumber on the hills in the Becket region, the firm moved its plant to Caroga, Fulton County, New York, where they operated a business along similar lines to those in Becket. They conducted large tanneries and lumber mills. He was affiliated with Mount Moriah Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, of Westfield, Massachusetts, and was a member of the Baptist Church. He married, June 24, 1845, Louisa Hull, born June 2, 1816, at Tolland, Massachusetts, died at Becket, Massachusetts, July 10, 1895, daughter of John and Rebecca (Slocum) Hull. They had children:
1. David Henry, of whom further, born at Becket, March 13, 1847, died there August 16, 1909.
2. Addison Hull, of whom further, born at Becket, December 3, 1850, died there October 26, 1907.
3. Walcott, born at Becket, March 26, 1854, died there April 24, 1855.
4. Sarah Louisa, born at Becket, April 16, 1857, died there unmarried, September 23, 1917.

Their eldest child, DAVID HENRY BIDWELL, was a merchant. He married, June 16, 1873, Anne Pulsifer born at Conway, Massachusetts, July 10, 1853, died in New York City January 8, 1924. They had one child, Bertha, born at Caroga, New York, July 31, 1879; married, January 25, 1900, Pratt Anthony Brown, born at Macon, Georgia, September 6, 1874, died at Jacksonville, Florida, in April, 1911. He was a lawyer in New York City.

ADDISON HULL BIDWELL, second child of Henry Addison and Louisa (Hull) Bidwell, was educated in the schools of Becket and Wilbraham Academy, Massachusetts. He was manager of the Bidwell, Wheeler & Claflin Company store at Caroga, New York. This business was later closed out, and Mr. Bidwell returned to Becket, Massachusetts, where he conducted a general store up to the time of his death. He was interested in building and real estate, and served as postmaster for many years. He was active in town affairs, and contributed to the support of two churches in the town. He married, June 12, 1878, Florence Halsey Smith, born in Durham, Connecticut, daughter of Rev. Iram W. Smith, a Congregational minister. They had two children: Henry Addison, of whom further, and David Halsey, born at Becket September 27, 1894, and died two months afterward.

HENRY ADDISON BIDWELL, elder son of Addison Hull and Florence Halsey (Smith) Bidwell, was born in Caroga, Fulton County, New York, November 18, 1885, and when he was two years old he was brought to Becket, Massachusetts, by his parents on their removal from Caroga. He was pupil in the public schools of Becket, and was graduated from the high school of Springfield, Massachusetts, in the class of 1905. During his boyhood and the school vacations he was employed in his father’s store at Becket. His school years at an end, he became connected with the department store of Meekins, Packard & Wheat, in Springfield, where he was floorwalker and manager and had to do with the hiring of help. He remained with that firm for three years, and upon the death of his father he returned to Becket and managed the store that his father had operated. At the end of another year he disposed of the business, and beginning with the year 1908 he gradually worked into the real estate business at Becket. In the fall of that year he went to Springfield, where he opened a real estate office. He disposed of that business in 1909, and for two years was a traveling representative. Returning to Becket in 1912, he again engaged in the real estate business, adding insurance, with headquarters in that town. His activities covered a wide area. He was chairman of the board of selectmen and overseer of the poor of Becket.

Mr. Bidwell was always interested in military affairs, and was captain of a local militia company in Springfield. During the World War he was engaged in secret service work for the government. In 1923 he was special agent for the Globe Indemnity Company, covering a large part of New England in the interest of that company. In February, 1924, he formed a co-partnership with Roscoe K. Noble, of Northampton, Massachusetts, the firm engaging in the real estate and insurance business. He retains his real estate and insurance business interests in Becket, where he owns the Bidwell homestead. He is a director of the Morrissey-Stowell Company, contractors, of Springfield. He became a member of Globe Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, of Hinsdale, Massachusetts, and on removing to Northampton he transferred his membership to Jerusalem Lodge of that city. He is also a member of the Royal Arch Chapter, and of Bela Grotto, Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm, of Springfield. His clubs are the Exchange, of Northampton, and the Park, of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Henry Addison Bidwell married, June 7, 1922, Marion Smith, born 1888, in Meriden, Connecticut, daughter of Dr. Edward Weir and Helen Bethiah (Rice) Smith.


Source:  Western Massachusetts, A History 1636-1925. Volume I. Pp. 860 - 861. New York and Chicago. Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc.

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