LOUISA CHRISTINA BICKMORE
Louisa Christina Bickmore was born on March 20, 1844, in Hancock County, Illinois. She married John Boardman Mills on August 19, 1860.
WILLIAM M. BICKMORE
The following information about the Bickmores was taken from Ancestors and Descendants of Walter Covey, Dutchess County, New York (1750-1834), by Mary Lancaster Quist, Vol. 1-2, (Salt Lake City, UT: Publisher’s Press, 1971), p. 757-759, 1390, 1409.
William M. Bickmore was born May 14, 1799 in Medumcook (now Friendship), Knox County, Maine, to David Bickmore and Martha Dixon. The Bickmores were among the first settlers in this town, being there by 1750 from Massachusetts. There has been controversy as to the identity of the mother. There is a Cushing, Maine, record of the marriage of a David Bickmore to Margaret Dicke Aug. 3, 1793. However, the name is always Martha or Patsy (a nickname for Martha) in Census reports and land grant records. It is possible that Margaret Dicke and Martha Dixon was the same person.
The David Bickmore family left Maine, probably from Kennebec County, some time after March 1815. Their oldest child Anna was married to Daniel Pettingill on Dec. 27, 1818, in Madison County, Illinois, opposite St. Louis in the Great American Bottom. The family was not listed in the special State Census of 1818. David apparently had died before the taking of the Federal 1820 Census, in which his wife was listed as head of the household. During childhood play, William M. Bickmore lost one eye playing Indians with bow and arrows, as can be noticed when viewing his picture.
Christena Bagley was born June 12, 1808, in Dutchess County, New York. In or about 1826, tradition has it that William “stole Christena from a log cabin.” This probably was in either Monroe County, Illinois, where the Bagley family was known to have been living in 1820, or in Madison County, Illinois, where the Bickmores lived. Marriage records of this period have been lost in these counties. However records of the LDS Church to which they were later converted, given “at instance of self,” states that she was “of Madison County.” This may indicate that she lived there before the elopement, since they did not remain in Madison County but went immediately to Scott County where William’s sister Jane and husband Josselyn Southard were living.
The following quotes tell of the William Bickmore family’s moves. They are from a letter written in 1856 for Christena (she herself could not write) to her sister Prudence Bagley Canfield, whom she had not seen for over thirty years. Comments and explanations are in parenthesis:
“Sister I have traveled a great deal in my life and have had many ups and downs since I left you all on the banks of the Mississippi River (when she eloped). After I left you we went to Scott County (then part of Morgan Co.) and there my oldest son was born (Gilbert, b. July 20, 1827). Then we came back to the American Bottom and lived by renting land. Here I had 3 children born. We had raised money enough to buy 160 acres of land. We bought land in Brown Co., Illinois (in Elkhorn Twp.) and here we lived until my sixth child was born. We sold out (date on deed of sale is August 1841) and moved to Hancock County, Ill. And here we lived till my 8th child was born. Here I embraced religion (LDS faith) and my family. We then (when the Mormons were driven out of Nauvoo, Ill.) moved to Des Moines Co., Iowa, where my 9th child was born. Then we went to Missouri, Holt Co. Then moved to Pottawattamie Co., Iowa. Then it was Indian Territory and but few white inhabitants in the country, all Indians, and we had to go 200 miles to white settlements for grinding our wheat. Here we made $8,000.00 (probably a church group, not the Bickmore family). We lived here till my 11th child was born, then we started across the Rocky Mountains, then we stopped in New Mexico (possibly the northern part, now Colorado), afterward set off to Utah.” (LDS Church records show they left Kanesville (Council Bluffs) Iowa in Capt. Joseph Outhouse’s 4th Company about June 10, 1852, arriving in the Great Salt Lake Valley Sept. 6. In the same train were the families of their oldest son Gilbert and William’s brother Samuel. That of his brother Isaac, which included their mother Martha, left in another train about the same time; Isaac and Martha died of cholera a few days out at Loup Ford on the Platter River. The William, Gilbert and Samuel Bickmore families were probably all together at Fillmore, Millard Co., Utah, where the first Christena letter was written Nov. 26, 1853). “Then we moved to this place (San Bernardino, Ca.) and here I am contented to live till I lay my body down to rest in the grave.”
But this was not to be. When the Mormons were recalled in 1857 from outposts such as San Bernardino, the Bickmores chose to stay. They went first to El Monte near Los Angeles. The William Bickmores, several of their married children and other relatives, came north. They first came to Yolo Co. near Sacramento, but finding it too material they backtracked to Santa Cruz County. There in a corner of the Pajaro Valley near present-day Watsonville, they first camped in a side canyon among the redwoods. They are said to have had hunting dogs and lived off the land. In a few years, when one of the ranchos in the valley was broken up, they bought small farms at Corralitos. William and Christena lived first with their son, Aton; when he moved away they made their home with the daughter Mary Jane and husband Will Huntsman. They died there, Christena Sept. 11, 1880, and William in 1884. Both are buried in the IOOF (now Pioneer) Cemetery in Watsonville.