Original Source Research

I started doing research on the town of Bidwell in 1998. As a volunteer member of the Bidwell Bar Association at the State Visitor Center on Kelly Ridge in Oroville, California I became interested in the historic gold rush area of Bidwell's Bar. Prior to this research, a 1969 masters thesis done by David Brown provided the most detailed and recent research of the town. During my early research I attempted to locate and read all the available information related to Bidwell's Bar. Other than the Brown masters thesis, it soon became evident most of the information focused on the historic toll bridge and "Mother" orange tree that were once at Bidwell's Bar. There was very little other information available related to the county seat town of Bidwell that was located at that site from 1853 to 1856. The literature review made it evident the existing information came from a very limited number of mostly undocumented sources that needed additional research and verification. Therefore, I determined to base my research on primary source materials.

My research findings are based on official county records such as census, property deeds, tax and court records. Information segments from original copies of the Butte Record newspaper published at Bidwell from 1853 to 1856 were digitally photographed and information related to the town and activities in the community gleaned from this source. Other Information has been obtained from first person accounts. During the research other primary source materials such as postal records from the National Archives, hotel and store ledgers and other documents have been located greatly helping to document the historic town of Bidwell.

This research located many facts and details about the town of Bidwell that have not previously been documented beyond the original source. Some of the research findings disputes information presented in prior history publications related to the town of Bidwell and Bidwell's Bar. The research source information is stored in a computerized data base which facilitates the tracking and comparison of information from the various sources. I will be glad to search these records for specific information to assist you with your research project. During my research I have also become aware of several other information sources that may be of benefit to you.

Chuck Smay


History as a hobby!