Bigelow, Frank


The news of the demise of Frank Lewis Bigelow brought a sense of personal bereavement into the homes of many of New Haven's citizens. He was equally widely known and honored throughout the state, for he belonged to one of its oldest and most prominent families and his entire life record was cast in harmony with that of a most distinguished ancestry. The ancestral line was traced back to John Bigelow, who was the founder of the family in the new world and who passed away at Watertown, July 19, 1703, at the age of eighty-six years. His son, Samuel Bigelow, was born in Watertown, October 28, 1653. He married Mary Flagg and their son, Samuel Bigelow, Jr., was born at Watertown, September 18, 1679. The latter wedded Ruth Warren and their son, Cornelius Bigelow, was born at Marlboro, Massachusetts, November 24. 1710. He served as a sergeant in the French and Indian war, and he wedded Mary Graves. The next in the line of direct descent was their son, Paul Bigelow. who was born at Westboro, Massachusetts, January 21, 1741. He is said to have been with General Wolfe at the capture of Quebec. He served in the American army throughout the period of the Revolutionary war and was a drummer at Cambridge on the 19th of April, 1775, with the Westboro Company of Minute Men. Paul Bigelow married Hannah Ober and on the 30th of January, 1780, they became parents of a son, Elisha Bigelow, who was the great-grandfather of Frank Lewis Bigelow of this review. He married Elizabeth Cheney and they had a son, Levi L., who was born December 13, 1802. He married Belinda Pierpont, of North Haven, Connecticut, who was a descendant of the Rev. James Pierpont, the second minister of New Haven and one of the founders of Yale College.

Hobart Baldwin Bigelow. son of Levi L. and Belinda (Pierpont) Bigelow, was born in North Haven, Connecticut, May 16, 1834, and removed to South Egremont, Massachusetts, in 1844. He was educated in the district schools and in the South Egremont Academy. In 1851 he left there and afterward learned the machinist's trade at Guilford, Connecticut, with the Guilford Manufacturing Company, and also with the New Haven Manufacturing Company of New Haven. Later he was foreman with Ives & Smith until 1861, when he purchased the business that was later conducted under the name of the Bigelow Manu-facturing Company. The business was then conducted for a time under his own name and later became H. B. Bigelow & Company, while in 1883 the interests were incorporated under the name of The Bigelow Company, of which Hobart Baldwin Bigelow remained the president until his demise. This company engaged in the manufacture of boilers and plate steel work and also of heavy special machinery, and the extent and importance of their business ranked the company with the leaders in this line in the state. Mr. Bigelow was not only a very capable successful and prominent business man but was also a recognized leader of public thought and action and left the impress of his individuality indelibly upon the history of his state. He served as councilman of New Haven from 1863 until 1864 and in the latter year entered upon a year's service as alderman. He was supervisor from 1871 until 1874 and was fire commissioner during the two succeeding years. In 1875 he was called upon to represent his district in the Connecticut general assembly and in 1879 he was elected to the office of mayor of New Haven, serving as its chief executive for two years. In 1881 he was chosen governor of Connecticut and filled that office for two years, most wisely and capably directing the welfare of the state. Over his record there falls no shadow of wrong or suspicion of evil. Few men were so long continued in public life and the career of none has been more faultless in honor, fearless in conduct or stainless in reputation than was that of Governor Bigelow. Before he retired from the office of chief executive he was elected to the presidency of the Merchants National Bank of New Haven in 1882 and continued at the head of that institution until 1889. It was in 1857 that Governor Bigelow wedded Eleanor Lewis, a daughter of Philo Lewis, of New Haven. His death occurred October 13, 1891. To Mr. and Mrs. Hobart B. Bigelow were born four children: Frank L.; Eleanor M.; Walter P.; and Philo. All have now departed this life.

Frank Lewis Bigelow, born September 21, 1862, in New Haven, began his education in the schools of New Haven, pursuing a course in the Hopkins grammar school, while later he became a student in the Sheffield Scientific School, completing his course at Yale in 1881, at which time the Bachelor of Philosophy degree was conferred upon him. He made his initial step in business in connection with his father, entering the plant and acquainting himself with every feature of the trade in all of its departments. In 1883 he was chosen secretary of the company and continued in that position until 1891, when he assumed the duties of the president and remained in the office until his demise. He was thus active in the control of one of the most extensive and important productive industries of New Haven, for under the guidance of his father and later of Frank Lewis Bigelow the business developed to extensive proportions. In addition to his management of the boiler manufacturing interests Frank L. Bigelow was president of the National Pipe Bending Company of New Haven, was vice president of the Yale Publishing Company, was a director of the Merchants National Bank, a trustee of the National Savings Bank and a director of the New Haven Water Company. He was a forceful and resourceful business man, ready to meet any emergency and discriminating with notable promptness between the essential and the non-essential in all business affairs.

On the 10th of October, 1883, Mr. Bigelow was united in marriage to Miss Anna L. Lewis, a native of New Haven and a daughter of Robert H. and Louise (Shepard) Lewis, both representatives of old and prominent families of New Haven. To Mr. and Mrs. Bigelow were born three children. Louise is now the wife of Donald W. Porter. M.D., of New Haven.  Pierpont, treasurer of the Bigelow Company, married Elizabeth McAfee, of New Haven. Lewis Hobart is at home.

In his political views Mr. Bigelow was a republican and gave stalwart support to the party from the time when age conferred upon him the right of franchise, doing everything in his power to promote its growth and extend its influence. He had great appreciation for the social amenities of life and was a popular member of various clubs and organiza-tions, including the Quinnipiac, Graduates, the New Haven Country, the New Haven Lawn, the University Club of New York city, the Yale Club of New York city and others. He was also connected with the Chamber of Commerce and any progressive movement inculcated by that organization for the benefit of the city was sure to receive his endorsement. He was a member of the Church of the Redeemer and his life was ever actuated by the highest and the most honorable principles. Death came to him very suddenly on June 20, 1917, while he was engaged in a game of golf, and in all those channels of activity into which he had directed his interests he has been greatly missed. He was a prominent and active worker in the church, serving on its society committee, and he contributed much to the moral progress of the community in which he lived. He also served as aide-de-camp on the staff of his father during the latter's incumbency as governor of the state. His in conceptions of duty were high and he faithfully performed every task that devolved upon him. Whatever he did, he did faithfully, conscientiously and honorably. He was a prominent figure in the civic and business life of the city and early became one of the recognized leaders of public thought and action. His qualities of leadership were pronounced and his endorsement of any plan or measure was sufficient to secure to it a large following because of the recognized wisdom of his judgment and his marked public spirit.

Modern History of New Haven
Eastern New Haven County


Volume II

New York Chicago
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company 

pgs 51 - 52


Return to New Haven County Page

pages / text are copyrighted by
Elaine Kidd O'Leary & 
Anne Taylor-Czaplewski
May 2002