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Charles Daniel Bickford. Photo courtesy of David & Mary (Kane) Bickford.

Memories of Charles Daniel Bickford

The man who named Coldwater, Kansas.

by David & Mary (Kane) Bickford
At left: Charles Daniel Bickford.
Charles D. Bickford was born May 31, 1842 in Algansee Township of Branch County, Michigan and grew to manhood in this community. He was the second son of Jonathan Knapp Bickford and Pheobe Abigail Purdy of Algansee Township.
 

Charles D. Bickford and his daughter, Carrie May Bickford. Photo courtesy of David & Mary (Kane) Bickford.


At left:Charles D. Bickford and his daughter, Carrie May Bickford.
As a young man he worked on his fathers farm until he married Mary Sweetland of Tompkins County, New York. His father gave him a parcel of land to farm on his own. Prior to his marriage Charles served two enlistments in Union Army during the Civil War. Charles and Mary raised four children in Algansee Township: Elmer, Carrie, Freddy and Bernice.

In 1877, a group of Bickford's from Algansee Township moved to Harper County, Kansas. They included Charles, his older brother Chaucla McCager Bickford, his younger sister Eunice Bickford Frederick and his cousin William D. Bickford. They moved into the Chickaskia District of this county and Chaucla and William took up farming in Odell Township. Charles began farming in this area near the town of Anthony and was praised for his crops of wheat.

When Harper County began to establish a county government for its self, Charles was elected to be the first Sheriff in 1878. He served two terms as sheriff and moved to Anthony to build a new home for his family. Charles also had a love for fine horses and had been know to race them. In 1882 his wife passed away and he moved his family to Avilla in Comanche County. He purchased a parcel of land south of which the town site of Coldwater is now located. In 1884 Charles donated a portion of his land to which the townsite of Coldwater was to be built on and become the county seat. A stipulation to this donation was that the town be named after the county seat of Branch County, Michigan, for which it was Coldwater.

Charles continued his accomplishment of life here in Coldwater by becoming one of the first elected city councilmen. He also built the first hotel in Coldwater on the site where the People's Bank, which was built in 1949, now stands. Charles also became involved in the drug business and when he retired he returned to working his farm.

Even though Charles Bickford died in the mid years of his life, he had been a great asset to his community. The short time he spent living in Comanche County, and the city of Coldwater, were some of the greatest accomplishments of his life. Being able to establish a town, and help it grow to maturity, is a great dream for any person with great visions.

 Elmer Ellsworth Bickford with his wife,  Rebecca (Whitehead) Bickford. Photo courtesy of David & Mary (Kane) Bickford.


At left: Elmer Ellsworth Bickford with his wife, Rebecca (Whitehead) Bickford.
Two of Mr. Bickford's children moved away from Comanche County prior to his death. The oldest child, Elmer Ellsworth Bickford married Rebecca Whitehead of Liverpool, Illinois in 1884. They raised a family of 13 children, of which some died as infants. They lived in Marion County, Kansas, Fulton County, Illinois and finally settled in Salona County, California. Elmer died in 1946, and Rebecca died 1935. All of Elmer and Rebecca's children, and their wives, have died, except for one. Their son, Charles Henry Bickford, married Hazel Droke of Carrier, Oklahoma. Charles died in 1964, in Enid, Oklahoma, and his wife, Mrs. Hazel Bickford celebrated her 100th birthday in February 2001 in Enid, OK. The couple have one daughter living in Enid, OK. The remaining children of Elmer and Rebecca lived and died in California.

The second oldest child, Carrie May Bickford married Fred Knecht in 1884 and he died the same year. She married a Samuel Woods McClure of Algansee Twp., Branch County, Michigan in 1885. From this marriage came three children, two boys and a girl. Samuel McClure died 1920 in Tacoma, Washington and Carrie died 1948 in Osawatomie, Kansas.

The third child, Fred Everett Bickford was born in February 11, 1868 at Algansee Twp., Branch Co., Michigan. Fred left Coldwater, Kansas some time after his father's death. He lived in Gorhman Ranch, KS for a while and finally settled in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He married Jennie Dugan the daughter of an Irish family from Iowa and were members of the Catholic church. Fred worked for the Colorado Springs Transit Co. as train car checker. He died from diabetes in Colorado Springs November 14, 1900 and was interred at Evergreen cemetery of that city. Fred and Jennie never had any children.

The last child, Bernice B. Bickford, married a William Shields of Algansee Township, Branch County, Michigan. They married in Harper County, Kansas on September 18, 1892. From this marriage, they raised two girls who lived a full life. This family lived in Cotton County, Oklahoma in 1909 and their whereabouts is unknown from there.

Charles Bickford's second marriage was to Jennie Dixon. Her maiden name was Kerry and her parents were John Kerry and Pauline Schramm. Jennie was born 1852 in London, Ontario, Canada. In 1871, she married Windsor A. Dixon, and from this marriage they raised four children. Two of the children are Paulina and Gladys and the others have not been identified. Windsor Dixon died in 1882 from unknown causes. In 1885 she married Charles Bickford in Medicine Lodge, Kansas. After the death of Charles in 1887 she continued to live in Comanche County. She had a memorial erected next to Charles' grave in Crown Hill Cemetery, with anticipation to be buried there some day. In 1940 she decided to move to Canon City, Colorado to be closer to her two daughters. Jennie died in Canon City on November 24, 1943, and she was laid to rest in a Canon City cemetery.


A Chronology of Events in Charles D. Bickford's Life

1842: Charles D. Bickford was born May 31, 1842 in Algansee Township of Branch County, Michigan and grew to manhood in this community. He was the second son of Jonathan Knapp Bickford and Pheobe Abigail Purdy of Algansee Township.

1861: Civil War Service, from military records:

Charles Bickford
Residence not listed; 19 years old.
Enlisted on 4/24/1861 at Coldwater (Michigan) as a Private.
On 5/1/1861 he mustered into "C" Co. MI 1st Infantry
He was Mustered Out on 8/7/1861 at Detroit, MI

1865: Civil War Service, from military records:
Charles D. Bickford
Residence not listed; 22 years old.
Enlisted on 2/15/1865 at Coldwater, MI, as a Private.
On 2/16/1865 he mustered into "I" Co., MI 1st SharpShooters
He was Mustered Out on 7/28/1865 at Delaney House, DC


To find histories of the units Charles D. Bickford served in, go to Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System and search for "Bickford" from "Michigan". The search results will give you information on numerous Bickford members of the Union Army who were from Michigan and who served their country in the Civil War.
1870: Census -Irving Post Office, Algansee Twp., Branch Co., Michigan. Bickford, Charles, 27, Farmer, b MI. Mary, 27, Keeping house, b N.Y. Elam, 6, b MI. Carril, 5, b MI. Freddy, 1, b MI. This family is close neighbors to Ira Bickford, which is his brother.

1874: State Census - Branch Co., Algansee Twp. : occupation farmer.

1877: Charles and wife Mary Ann and kids moved to Chickaskia, Harper Co., KS.

1878: he was elected Sheriff of Harper County, KS. A newspaper states the election was declared a fraud with over 2,900 votes cast by some 800 voters. Later, the county commissioners declared C.D. Bickford was still the sheriff, which position he held for 2-3 years.

Thurs., Oct. 24, 1878: Under Announcements: Sheriff - I hearby announce myself as a candidate for the office of Sheriff, subject to the decision of the Republican convention. Respectfully, C. Bickford
(from the Anthony Journal newspaper, Anthony, Harper Co., KS)

Oct. 31, 1878: County Convention - Delegates: Silver Creek: E. Moss and G. Sawyer; Ruella: G. H. Cramer & W. Murphy; Stohrville: W. Nelson, S. S. Singer & J. Baehr; Anthony: J. S. Soule, B. F. Lee, & E.M. Watrous; Chicaskia: C. Peas & C. M. Bickford; Spring: John Cooper & J. Trum; Harper: G Burnham & W. F. Shell.
(from the Anthony Journal newspaper, Anthony, Harper Co., KS)

Candidates - For Sheriff - C. D. Bickford, by acclamation {some other candidates were "by ballot".}
(from the Anthony Journal newspaper, Anthony, Harper Co., KS)

Nov. 7, 1878: Mr. C. D. Bickford handed us some of the nicest wheat, this week, that we ever looked at, the berry is as large as two of common wheat.
(from the Anthony Journal newspaper, Anthony, Harper Co., KS)

Nov. 14, 1878: Election Returns - Sheriff Bickford - 248. Blubaugh - 171.
(from the Anthony Journal newspaper, Anthony, Harper Co., KS)

Jan 2, 1879: Sheriff Bickford was in town, last week, making arrangements to build in Anthony. He and his wife will make quite an acquisition to our society.
(from the Anthony Journal newspaper, Anthony, Harper Co., KS)

April 10, 1879: Commissioner's Proceedings - Following accounts were presented & allowed as follows: C. D. Bickford, Sheriff, boarding prisoners Claimed $45.83 Allowed $13.50 C. D. Bickford, horse feed Claimed $7.50 Allowed $2.75
(from the Anthony Journal newspaper, Anthony, Harper Co., KS)

June 13, 1879: Sheriff Bickford has empanelled a list of jurors from the several townships from which to draw a petit jury for the coming term of circuit court.
(from the Anthony Journal newspaper, Anthony, Harper Co., KS)

1880: the railroad came to Harper County.

1880: Harper Co., KS., Chickashia District, p. 2, # 18. Reads: Name, age, relation to Head of household, occupation, state born, state father born, state mother born. Bickford, Charles D., 38, Head of House, Sheriff, MI. f-b L.Canada, m-b L. Canada Mary, 38, wife, K. house, N.Y., f-b N.Y., m-b N. Y. Elmer, 16, son, farmer MI., f-b MI., m-b N.Y. Carrie, 15, dau, at home, MI., f-b MI., m-b N.Y. Fred, 11, son, at home, MI., f-b MI., m-b N.Y. Bernice, 5, dau, at home, MI., f-b MI., m-b N.Y. The 1880 census for Harper County shows some 200 persons born in Michigan, but no other Bickford names, (other than Charles and Chaucla families).

1882: Charles wife Mary Ann Sweetland Bickford died in Danville, KS. He then moved to Avilla, Comanche County and settle on purchased land.

1883: Newspaper article - Danville, KS. dated Oct. 1883, refers to : Charley had been to the fair in Willington and bought a fine racing mare. Willington is about 30 miles east of Danville.

1884: Charles gave some of his land to establish the town of Coldwater, KS. He had planned a town site prior to being approached by a group of men who were surveying the area for the county seat. Charles donated the land with the stipulation that it be named Coldwater, after Coldwater, Branch Co., MI. (which is the county seat of Branch County.)


PERMANENT TOWNSITE SELECTED

" In May, 1884, a company of men, most of them from Harper County, Kansas, decided to go farther west, with the view of locating a townsite which would ultimately become a county seat. While looking the county over and inspecting for a suitable location for a townsite they happened to meet C. D. Bickford, who a short time before had come from Michigan and settled about three miles southwest of the present townsite of Coldwater. A compromise was effected with Mr. Bickford and it was decided to remove the town nearer the center of the county. The city was to be called Coldwater after Mr. Bickford's native town, Coldwater, Michigan. The town was organized and they gave a lot to anyone who would erect a building not less than 14 by 16 feet. Lots went like hotcakes and carpenters were in demand. Lumber was hauled from Kinsley 50 miles north, then the nearest railroad point. Then began a veritable boom, not only setting up of the city but of the entire county."
(from the Western Star newspaper, Feb. 21, 1902, Coldwater, Comanche County, KS)


Remember When? Thirty years ago......

To the Editor/Reporter, March 26, 1905:

In your issue of March 17, was an article headed "Coldwater Kansas" which contained an account of the naming of the town. Mr. Mahan stated that he could not recall the name of the man who named the town but he was from Coldwater, Mich.

Having a brother near there, I visited the town in 1887 and was told that Charles Bickford, now deceased, was one of the founders of the town and also gave it its name. He was a brother of Ira Bickford, of Algansee, and was a native of that township, but like all Branch Countyites was proud of his county seat.

Coldwater, Kansas, is now the county set of Comanche, and is without a doubt a thriving town as it was a very active little place in '87. Signed: Dana Cleveland.

(Article from an unknown newspaper in Coldwater, Michigan, dated March 26, 1905.)


Coldwater, Kansas, and Coldwater, Michigan.

The Kansas Coldwater and the Michigan version have much more in common than a shared name. More than a century later, Coldwater, Kansas mirrors its parent city in many ways, albeit on a smaller scale. A 250 acre manmade lake - Coldwater Lake - lies within the city limits. Popular in Coldwater are high school sports, churches, youth activities and golf. The seat of Comanche County boasts an airport and a 14 bed hospital and medical clinic. And the area is populated with deer.

The counties' terrain is even similar - flat or gently rolling crop dominates the landscape. The scenery is one of the most striking things about the area.

(An excerpt from an article in an unknown newspaper, written by Dennis Volkert, Staff Writer, Coldwater, Michigan, sometime after Lake Coldwater was built in Comanche County.)


1885: Charles married Jennie Gertrude (Kerry) Dixon on Jan. 24, 1885 in Medicine Lodge, Barber Co., KS. Jennie was previously married to Windsor A. Dixon by whom she had four children. Mr. Dixon died in 1882.

1885: Comanche County was organized in March and Coldwater, KS. was made the county seat. First elections were held April 2, 1885 and Charles was elected to the city council.

1887: The Santa Fe Railroad came to Coldwater, KS.

1887: Charles D. Bickford died in Coldwater, KS. on April 5, 1887 and is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery.


Gravestone of Charles Daniel Bickford, Crown Hill Cemetery near Coldwater, Comanche County, Kansas.  Photograph by Bobbi (Hackney) Huck. Photo at left: "C.D. Bickford, Company I, 1st Mich., S.S." - Gravestone of Charles Daniel Bickford, Crown Hill Cemetery, Coldwater, Comanche County, Kansas. Photo by Bobbi Huck.


DEATH OF A PIONEER CITIZEN

On the night of April 5, 1887, Chas. D. Bickford breathed his last breath at his home four miles southwest of the city. His death was caused from consumption of the bowels and general debility, which had been preying on his system for some time, but he had been bed -ridden for two or three months.

Mr. Bickford was fifty-two years of age. Having been born in Coldwater, Michigan, he emigrated to Kansas about ten years ago, first moving to Harper County, where he lived for two years ago, when he became a citizen of Comanche County. In the early settlement of Harper County, he served two terms in the capacity of Sheriff.

He has been married twice. About two years ago he married Jennie Dixon, who has been a loving wife and devoted to him in his last affliction. He leaves four children to mourn his loss, two of which are married and two at home, Also four step children.

Mr. Bickford was one of the original founders and god-father of Coldwater, KS., the town having been named by him after his birth place, Coldwater, MI. For a time he engaged in the drug business, but afterward retired to his farm southwest of here, (Coldwater, KS.). He was a lover of the horse track and owned several fine horses. The deceased leaves one brother and one sister in the county. His mother was here from Coldwater, MI. at the time of his death.

The funeral services were conducted at the family residence on Thursday morning by Rev. W.R. Hutchinson, and his remains were followed to the city cemetery by a large concourse of relatives and friends, and also attended by the G.A.R. Post of the city, where he was a member. "Peace to his ashes."
(Obituary from the Western Star newspaper, Coldwater, KS. dated April 9, 1887.)


1887: Widow Jennie Bickford filed for Charles' Army Pension on May 25, 1887. She was still living in Kansas at the time.

1940: Charles' widow, Jennie Bickford moved to Canon City, Fremont Co. CO. to be near her two daughters, Paulina E. Walcott and Gladys Hutchinson.

1943: Jennie Bickford died November 24, 1943 and is buried at Wilson Mortuary in Canon City, CO. Jennie Bickford also has a memorial next to Mr. Bickford's grave at Crown Hill cemetery.


Photographs of the Bickford Family

Jonathan Knapp Bickford and Pheobe Abigail Purdy of Algansee Township, Branch County, Michigan, parents of Charles Daniel Bickford. Photo courtesy of David & Mary (Kane) Bickford. Jonathan Knapp Bickford and Pheobe Abigail Purdy of Algansee Township, Branch County, Michigan, parents of Charles Daniel Bickford.
 

Ira Purdy Bickford ,younger brother of Charles D. Bickford, with his wife, Mary B. (Craig) Bickford. Ira was born March 12, 1844 in Algansee Township., Branch County, Michigan and died  January 22, 1911 in Algansee Township, Branch County, Michigan. Mary was from Sandusky, Ohio. Photo courtesy of David & Mary (Kane) Bickford. Ira Purdy Bickford, younger brother of Charles D. Bickford, with his wife, Mary B. (Craig) Bickford. Ira was born March 12, 1844 in Algansee Township., Branch County, Michigan and died January 22, 1911 in Algansee Township, Branch County, Michigan. Mary was from Sandusky, Ohio.
 

Eunice Trask Bickford, younger sister to Charles D. Bickford. She was born  March 20, 1847 in Algansee Township. Branch County, Michigan, and died  April 27, 1883 in Harper County,  Kansas.  She was married to Edwin S. Fredrick of Algansee Township, Branch County, Michigan. Photo courtesy of David & Mary (Kane) Bickford. Eunice Trask Bickford, younger sister to Charles D. Bickford. She was born March 20, 1847 in Algansee Township, Branch County, Michigan, and died April 27, 1883 in Harper County, Kansas. She was married to Edwin S. Fredrick of Algansee Township. Branch County, Michigan.
 

Olive E. Bickford youngest sister of Charles D. Bickford . She was born November 12, 1850 in Algansee Township, Branch County, Michigan and died  January 30, 1908 in Batavia Township, Branch County, Michigan.  She was married to Edgar D. Aldrich of Morenci, Michigan. Photo courtesy of David & Mary (Kane) Bickford. Olive E. Bickford, youngest sister of Charles D. Bickford . She was born November 12, 1850 in Algansee Township, Branch County, Michigan and died January 30, 1908 in Batavia Township, Branch County, Michigan. She was married to Edgar D. Aldrich of Morenci, Michigan.
 

Mary (Sweetland) Bickford, the first wife of Charles Daniel Bickford. Born: March 31, 1824 in Dryden, Tompkins Co., N.Y.; Died: August 15, 1882 in Danville, Harper Co., Kansas.  The picture was taken shortly before her death., photo taken in Harper County, Ks, by  Burgener. Photo courtesy of David & Mary (Kane) Bickford. Mary (Sweetland) Bickford, the first wife of Charles Daniel Bickford. Born: March 31, 1824 in Dryden, Tompkins Co., N.Y.; Died: August 15, 1882 in Danville, Harper Co., Kansas. The picture was taken shortly before her death., photo taken in Harper County, Ks, by Burgener.
 

Elmer Ellsworth Bickford, eldest child of Charles D. Bickford, with his wife,  Rebecca (Whitehead) Bickford. Photo courtesy of David & Mary (Kane) Bickford. Elmer Ellsworth Bickford, eldest child of Charles D. Bickford, with his wife, Rebecca (Whitehead) Bickford.
 

Sarah (Clark) Bickford, wife of Chaucla M. Bickford. She was born  August 19, 1841 in Tiffin, Seneca County, Ohio, and died  February 22, 1933 at Helena, Alfalfa Co., Oklahoma. Photo courtesy of David & Mary (Kane) Bickford. Sarah (Clark) Bickford, wife of Chaucla M. Bickford. She was born August 19, 1841 in Tiffin, Seneca County, Ohio, and died February 22, 1933 at Helena, Alfalfa Co., Oklahoma.
 

Chaucla McCagar Bickford, older brother of Charles D. Bickford.  He was born  November 11, 1840 Algansee Township, Branch County, Michigan, and died  February 2, 1925 at Helena, Alfalfa County, Oklahoma.  He was a 2nd Lieutenant of the 5th Michigan Cavalry and a veteran of the Civil War. Photo courtesy of David & Mary (Kane) Bickford. Chaucla McCagar Bickford, older brother of Charles D. Bickford. He was born November 11, 1840 Algansee Township, Branch County, Michigan, and died February 2, 1925 at Helena, Alfalfa County, Oklahoma. He was a 2nd Lieutenant of the 4th Regiment, Michigan Cavalry, and a veteran of the Civil War.

Civil War military record:
Chaucla M. Bickford
Residence: Algansee MI; 21 years old.
Enlisted on 8/9/1862 at Quincy as a Corporal.
On 8/29/1862 he mustered into "G" Co. MI 4th Cavalry
He was Mustered Out on 7/1/1865 at Nashville, TN
Promotions: * 2nd Lieut 8/27/1864 (As of Co. E)

"On the 17th of September, Corporal Charles (sic) M. Bickford and 17 men of the regiment, in a block-house, were attacked by the rebel cavalry under General Wheeler, numbering over 8,000, with artillery. Although the enemy shelled the block-house for over five hours, they could not force a surrender, and finally retired with a loss of 8 killed and 60 wounded. The corporal was promoted to be a commissioned officer, and the names of the men were honorably mentioned in general orders." The Red Book of Michigan; a Civil, Military and Biographical History, Charles Lanman, page 282.

To find a history of the 4th Regiment of the Michigan Cavalry in which Chaucla Bickford served, go to Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System and search for "Bickford" from "Michigan". The search results will give you information on numerous Bickford members of the Union Army who were from Michigan and who served their country in the Civil War.
 


David & Mary (Kane) Bickford. About the authors: We both originally came from Coldwater, Michigan. Charles Bickford is a 1st cousin 3 times removed to David, and Mary is a great grand niece of Charles Bickford's. We have been researching our Bickford roots for a few years now. We have additional information for our Bickford lines and corresponding lines posted on our pages at Roots Web World Connect. We would love to hear from fellow researchers who may have connections to these families. We wish to thank Jerry Ferrin for posting this history and all the work he put into this web page.
Email: David & Mary (Kane) Bickford


July 23, 2006: I'm writing to inform you that my wife and I have moved back to Coldwater, Michigan. We got here at the end of May and, after spending 6 weeks in a motel, we finally got to move into our new home. We live just one mile out of town and centrally located in the county. When we get settled we should be spending lots of time at the county library and continuing our genealogy research. We also plan to do lookups for others, so if you come across anybody who needs help for Coldwater and Branch Co. Michigan, we have the material available. Please note my new email address: bgenealogy@verizon.net

Dave Bickford

PS: It's good to be back home again.

Descendants of Daniel C. Bickford from Branch Co., Michigan   David & Mary's Bickford web site.


For additional accounts of the founding of Coldwater, Kansas, see:


This web page was updated by Jerry Ferrin 23 July 2006; thanks to David & Mary (Kane) Bickford for this information and these photographs. You may also want to visit The Bickford Surname Resources Page at RootsWeb.