The Bidwell Cemetery

The cemetery at Bidwell’s Bar was located on a ridge-top about one-half mile south of the town, along the road leading toward Ophir (Oroville), California. It appears the earliest settlers used care in selecting the site for the cemetery. Unlike many other mining communities, that had to relocate the cemetery as mining progressed; this did not occurred at Bidwell’s Bar. Prior to the establishment of a newspaper at Bidwell’s Bar in 1853, information about deaths was often only recorded in diaries or letters. These references often do not specify where the deceased individual was buried. However, it seems logical that if the death occurred in the immediate area of Bidwell's Bar they might have been placed in the Bidwell cemetery.

Research has not located any records of burial in the cemetery kept by individuals that acted as custodians of the site. However, newspaper references indicate that local residents expended their time and resources maintaining the cemetery area. A November 25, 1898 article in the Democrat Record is a good example of the citizens maintenance of the cemetery.

The funeral of Mrs. Elliot took place on Friday. Mrs. Elliot leaves a husband and seven children to morn her loss. The family moved into our neighborhood just one short month ago from Idaho. They have the sympathy of the entire community in their bereavement.

The gentlemen of Bidwell Bar met at the cemetery Monday morning ready with picks and shovels, etc., for a hard day’s work in renovating it. At noon the ladies prepared dinner for them which was served at the home of Mr. & Mrs. R. F. Jacoby. We have heard some of the gentlemen say since that the dinner paid them for their work, and that they mean to put in another day there. The general opinion is that it is the best move that has been made for some time.

Interest in the Bidwell's Bar cemetery continued long after most of the residence had moved from the community. This is illustrated in a March 6, 1928 article in a Oroville, California newspaper.

A cemetery association was formed Sunday afternoon, at the home of Mrs. Mary K. Rogers on Orange Avenue by the pioneer families of Bidwell Bar Cemetery. Plans for repairing the fence were discussed and a set of resolutions were drawn up. Five trustees were elected; James Totman, Milton Rogers, Andy Homes, Manton Moseley and George Lucas. This is one of the oldest cemeteries in the county, some of the tombstones dating back to 1851.

When the Oroville Dam was completed and Lake Oroville filled, the Bidwell’s Bar cemetery and several other pioneer burial sites would be inundated. Therefore, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) undertook a project to identify the individuals buried at the impacted cemeteries. On May 6, 1964 they published a report identifying the burial information they had located and the planned relocation cemetery for each individual.

The DWR report for the Bidwell’s Bar cemetery indicated they had identified 179 graves sites, with husband and wife names associated with two of the sites (B-37 & 171). Therefore, there was the potential to locate information on 181 individuals. It appears evident that DWR did not locate a detailed record of the burials at the cemetery. Of the 179 identified burial sites, 68 were listed as Unknown. In most cases the information on the identified individuals was minimal. Fortunately, research tools have become available since the 1964 DWR report, that permits locating many facts about the individuals that was not provided by the DWR report. That information has been added to the original DWR inventory. One significant addition is the location of obituary information on many of the individuals. Reference to that information is included on the Inturrement Records page. Researchers interested in specific names can look up the data at the newspaper source, or contact this researcher, who will be glad to provide an electronic copy of the available data.

Much individual information is still not available. This is an on going research project and data will be added as it become available.