Annie Ellicot Kennedy Bidwell
The Bidwell House history
The Bidwell House takes its name in honor of General John Bidwell. He was known across the nation as an important pioneer, farmer, soldier, statesman, politician and philanthropist. In 1841 Bidwell became one of the first emigrants on the California Trail. John Sutter employed Bidwell as his business manager shortly after Bidwell's arrival in California. After the James W. Marshall's discovery at Sutter's Mill, Bidwell discovered gold on the Feather River establishing a productive claim at Bidwell Bar in advance of the California Gold Rush. Bidwell obtained Spanish land grant in the Sacramento Valley, later selling that grant to establish a ranch and farm "Rancho del Arroyo Chico" (and founding town of Chico).
While on a trip to Washington D.C., the long-affirmed bachelor met and fell in love with Annie Ellicot Kennedy of Massachusetts, daughter of a socially prominent, high ranking Washington official. Annie Bidwell was deeply religious, and very active in the suffrage and prohibition movements. She and John escaped the intense summer heat of the valley by spending their summers in the mountains to the east of Chico. They loved the area of the Feather River and, in 1901, built a summer home in the big meadow near the river.
The house was later purchased by Earl McKenzie and moved to its present location in the town of Chester. The home served for many years as ranch headquarters for the Stover-McKenzie Cattle Company. One of the largest cattle operations in northern California, the home became the hub of lavish summer parties and community rodeos. House then became a family home for many years, and after extensive remodeling opened in 1991 as The Bidwell House B&B.