Oliver Bigelow, Founder of Johnstown, Ohio
“The Lowdown on Bigelow”
The following story was shared by an Oliver Bigelow Family Member who was not able to attend a ceremony that observed 200 years since the death of Johnstown's Founder. (November 5, 2017)
My name is Pam Kratzman. I want to thank Terry Priest for inviting me. I am sorry I was unable to be here.
I am originally from Lima, Ohio. I have lived in Johnstown since 2003. One July Fourth, my husband and I came into Johnstown for the festivities going on in the Square. I remember seeing the sign for Bigelow Park and thinking, “That’s interesting. My grandmother on my mother’s side was a Bigelow.” The Historical Society was selling t-shirts that said, ”Oliver Bigelow, Founder of Johnstown”. This made me wonder if I was related to him. I did some research and found out that Dr. Oliver Bigelow is my 5th great grand uncle. I also discovered that his nephew Elihu, who is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery, is my fourth great grandfather.
My line back to Oliver Bigelow is this: My mother’s maiden name was Shirley Taylor (1929-1991). Her mother was Goldie Mildred Bigelow (1911-1983), Goldie’s father was James Clayton Bigelow (1880-1955). James’ father was James Gameliel Bigelow (1847-1929). James Gameliel’s father was Elihu Bigelow (March 19,1821-1902), who was born here in Johnstown but moved to Van Wert County, Ohio and lived and was buried. Elihu’s father was also named Elihu (1792-Nov. 9, 1821). The elder Elihu traveled with his uncle Dr. Oliver Bigelow to Johnstown, he served this town as Justice of the Peace, and is buried here in in the Pioneer cemetery. Elder Elihu was the son of John Bigelow (1767-1844), Dr. Bigelow’s brother.
Growing up, I had never heard of Johnstown, let alone that one of my relatives had founded it. I wish my mother had still been alive when I made this discovery. I think she would have been quite thrilled by it. Thank you all for being here to celebrate Oliver’s life. I encourage you to look into your own family history. You never know what you will find out.
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