HENRY L. BIGELOW

HENRY L. Bigelow, a representative of one of the sterling pioneer families of Michigan, a veteran of the civil war and an honored citizen of Grand Ledge, where he is now living practically retired, was born at Phelps, Ontario county, New York, September 16, 1830, being a son of William W. and Sarah (Tower) Bigelow, the former of whom was born in Phelps, Ontario county, New York, February 11, 1808, and the latter in Geneva, that county, her death occurring at Northville, Wayne county, Michigan, when she was forty-eight years of age. The father died in Delta township, Eaton county, in April, 1865. In 1836, the year prior to the admission of the state to the Union , William W. Bigelow came with his family to Michigan, locating in Northville, Wayne county, where he remained twelve years, contracting in the chopping of timber in the forest wilds and also working at the carpenterís trade. In 1848 he removed to Farmington , Oakland county, where he was engaged in farming land on shares until 1853, when he came to Eaton county and bought one hundred and sixty-eight acres of government land, in Delta township. The land was covered with a dense growth of timber and he made a sufficient clearing to permit the building of a small plank house, completing the same in the autumn of 1853 and bringing his family from Oakland county in the following spring. He reclaimed about seventy-five acres of his land to cultivation, erected good buildings, and continued to reside on this homestead until his death. In politics he was originally an old-line Whig, but upon the organization of the Republication party he identified himself therewith, continuing to support its cause during the remaining years of his life. He was industrious and frugal, having gained independence through his own exertions, and his life was one of unbending integrity and honor. After the death of his first wife he married her sister, Lucinda Tower , who died in 1885, four children having been born of the first union and one of the second; Henry L., subject of this sketch, was the firstborn; Francis M. served in the same company and regiment as the subject of this sketch in the civil war, enlisting in October, 1861. His health was poor at the time of enlistment, and he served only a few months, being discharged on account of his ill health. He re-enlisted in 1863 in the Seventh Michigan Cavalry and served until the close of the war. He was drowned in the Grand river in 1865, never having married; Mary also met death by drowning the Grand river, having been sixteen years of age at the time; Lucy became the wife of Cyrus Beach and both are now deceased, their only child, Cyrus, being a farmer near Charlotte, this county; William G., the only child of the second marriage, is a resident of Missaukee county, Michigan. Henry L. Bigelow secured his educational training in the common schools of Michigan and as a youth learned the carpenterís trade, under the direction of his father, with whom he continued to be associated in the work of his trade until he had attained the age of twenty-eight years, when he initiated his independent business career. When the dark cloud of civil war cast its pall on the national horizon Mr. Bigelow was among those who responded to President Lincolnís first call for volunteers. September 16, 1861 , he enlisted as a private in Berdanís United States Sharpshooters, Second Regiment of Michigan Volunteer Infantry. Before the command left the city of Lansing , Mr. Bigelow was made first sergeant of his company. He proceeded with his regiment to the front and took part in all the engagements in which the same was involved up to and including the second battle of Bull Run . He had previously been taken ill and had been ordered to the hospital, but refused to leave his regiment. After the second Bull Run engagement his affliction became so serious that he was taken to the hospital, his exhaustion being such that he had no remembrance of anything that happened from the time he was taken from the field until he found himself in the hospital in the city of Philadelphia . His illness entailed permanent disability, and on this account he was given an honorable discharge November 29, 1862 . He has never recovered from the effects of the disease thus contracted and has been in impaired health for a number of years past, receiving a pension of thirty dollars a month and being imminently entitled to the same. After his discharge Mr. Bigelow returned to his home, in Grand Ledge, and when he had sufficiently recuperated his energies he resumed the work of his trade, which continued to be his vocation during the greater part of his active career thereafter. He still does more or less carpenter work, when his health will permit. He retired from active business about twenty years ago. He does insurance and conveyancing in a moderate way and has been a notary public for the past score of years. He has a comfortable residence, owning the property, and is surrounded by a host of old and tried friends. He was formerly aligned as a stanch supporter of the principles and policies of the Republican party, but for the past few years he has maintained an independent attitude. He is one of the popular comrades of Earl Halbert Post. No. 108, Grand Army of the Republic, of which he is quartermaster at the time of this writing, and has been for about seven years. January 23, 1856 , Mr. Bigelow was united in marriage to Miss Sarah P. Shear, who was born in Pontiac , Michigan , September 5, 1832 , being a daughter of John B. and Catherine (Clark) Shear, the former of whom was born in the state of New York and the latter in Vermont . Both passed the closing years of their lives in Eagle township, Clinton county, Michigan , the mother passing away at the age of sixty-two years and the father attaining the age of eighty-two years. They came to Michigan in 1830, locating in Pontiac , where they remained until 1833, when they removed to Clinton county, where Mr. Shear secured forty acres of government land, in Eagle township. He made the trip to the land office in Kalamazoo , walking the entire distance, and there made proper filing of his claim. He afterward bought an adjoining eighty acres, and developed a good farm from the virgin forest, continuing to reside on the old homestead until the time of his death. Of this thirteen children four died in infancy, the others attaining maturity, while of the number three are now living, --- Mrs. Bigelow; Mrs. Mary Ward, of Grand Ledge; and Mrs. Angeline Hodge, of Big Rapids. Two of the sons were members of the Third Michigan Volunteer Infantry in the civil war, -- Abram having removed to Arkansas and the other members of the family having heard nothing from or concerning him in several years, the supposition being that he is deceased; John H., the other soldier, was killed by his horse while on his way home, after having been mustered out of the service. In conclusion is entered a brief record concerning the children of Mr. and Mrs. Bigelow: Mary died in infancy; Frank H. is a machinist by vocation and resides in the city of Seattle , Washington ; John H., is foreman in a chair factory in Grand Ledge; Kate I. is the wife of Frank Summerville, of Oneida township; William P. is with his brother Frank in Seattle.