Date Original



This letter written by John Bidwell gives W.S. Thomas information about the Sir Joseph Hooker Oak Tree in Chico, California.

Biographical/Historical Note

John Bidwell (1819-1900) settled in California in 1841. In 1860, he founded the town of Chico and donated land for public schools, a church of each denomination, and the Northern Branch Normal School, which is now the Chico State College founded in 1887. On his ranch in Chico, he developed an experimental orchard that contained over 400 varieties of fruit. He is known as the father of the raisin industry. The Sir Joseph Hooker Oak Tree was found on his property. He was active in politics and served as a state senator in 1849. In 1860, he was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. He switched parties and in 1864 was the delegate to the Republican National Convention and served as a Republican congressman, 1865-1867. In 1875, he ran for California governor on the Anti-Monopoly ticket, and in 1880, he ran again for governor, but this time on the Prohibition ticket. In 1892, he was the Prohibition presidential candidate and garnered 2.3% of the vote, the most any Prohibition candidate has ever won. His home is now the Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park. William S. Thomas (1828-1910) was a native of New York and was a well-known horticulturalist and geologist. He came to Arkansas in 1876 as a consultant for a privately-backed mineral resources company. He liked the area so much that he decided to move to Arkansas. He settled in Alexander, Saline County, at Midland Farms, the former home of Governor Henry M. Rector. He became a consultant for geological and scientific investigation for the St. Louis, Iron Mountain, and Southern Railway. He organized the Arkansas State Horticultural Society in 1879 with G.P.C. Rumbough. Thomas became president of the society in 1894-1895. In 1900, he established the publication "Arkansas Forest and Farm."

Physical Description

Document, 8.5" x 11"

Geographical Area

Arkansas; California; New York





Resource Type



John Bidwell letter, SMC.018.019


Arkansas State Archives

Contributing Entity

Arkansas State Archives

Recommended Citation

John Bidwell letter, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas


Use and reproduction of images held by the Arkansas State Archives without prior written permission is prohibited. For information on reproducing images held by the Arkansas State Archives, please call 501-682-6900 or email at


United States History