George Biggin

Born on May 6, 1868 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, George S. Biggin was the youngest of five children born to William H. and Emily (Bolton) Biggin, who met shipboard in 1854 en route to North America from their native England. They were married in New York in 1855. William H. Biggin had learned and followed the trade of wagon maker but aspired to be a farmer. He took up that trade, farming in Ohio. After spending about a year in Canada, they returned to Ohio where they eventually achieved substantial success at farming.
George grew up in Warren, Ohio. He was liberally educated in the East, finishing in a special preparatory school in Boston. He worked on his father’s farm and shared in its duties until he was about twenty-three. In the meantime he attended school receiving a high school education. He came to Redlands in 1890 where his Uncle, Henry Biggins, a well-known rancher and nurseryman, had preceded him. His first regular work was as a clerk in the grocery store of L. E. Shepard, and three years later he joined the grocery firm of Dutton and Edwards, with whom he remained for ten years. He and C.W. Clark eventually purchased the stock and business of his employers and conducted the business profitably as a partnership for two years, at end of which time Mr. Biggin sold his interest to Clark.
George Biggin and Miss Hattie D. Ellis, of Springfield, Vermont , were married on January 17, 1894. They raised two children. Their daughter, Elfreda M. Biggin, was born July 8, 1898. She and eventually graduated from Redlands High School before going on to Pomona College, where she majored in English. They also had a son, Leslie, whose birthdate is not available.
Biggin was a captain in the Redlands National Guard Company at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. He immediately recruited the company to its fullest strength and was mustered into the federal service as captain of Company G, Seventh California Infantry. The company left Redlands for the Presidio in San Franciso on May 6, 1898. All were eager to get to the Philippines, but the company was held on duty at the Presidio until mustered out at Los Angeles, December 3, 1898. During World War I, Biggin made application for active service in the army, but was rejected and had to be satisfied with what he could do as the patriotic citizen in work at home.
During the duration of the war, Biggin served on practically every important locally-based war-related committee and was a member of the State Council of Defense.
One vital project for which he tirelessly worked was the construction of the Redlands-to-Beaumont Highway. He later became the first commander of the Redlands Unit of the United Spanish-American War Veterans.
After his retirement from the mercantile field, Biggin was active in the insurance trade, at first as a salesman of life insurance, later becoming the principal in a well-organized general agency handling all departments. In connection he subsequently began dealing in real estate, achieving a number of prominent sales in the vicinity of San Bernardino. His activity in advertising the value of real estate brought a attention to, value and cachet to the community.
Biggin first became a candidate for public office in 1916 when J. B. Glover announced that he would retire from the office of county supervisor. Biggin declared himself a candidate as his successor, but eventually Mr. Glover reconsidered his decision and then Biggin withdrew. Mr. Glover was re-elected and rounded out a service of twenty-four years as supervisor. In 1920 Mr. Biggin again came forward, received the nomination and was elected. “His conduct in office justified the generous support given him by his friends,” two of his contemporaries, writers John Brown and James Boyd, wrote in their 1922 book, History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.
Biggin was a director of the Chamber of Commerce for 24 years and was president one term. He affiliated with the Masonic Order, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He was also on the Redlands Insurance Board and the Realty boards of Redlands and the State of California. He held the distinction of being the oldest director of the Redlands Chamber of Commerce in terms of continuous service and was on the committee which financed and built the chamber of commerce building. He was also president of that organization.
Biggen served as the Third District supervisor for twelve years, during which period he was part of the board that elected to push ahead with the construction of the County Courthouse in downtown San Bernardino.
Upon leaving the board of supervisors in 1932, Biggen resumed his insurance sales business, but declining health dictated a reduction in his activities. On January 11, 1942, follow a period of serious illness, Biggin died at his home in Redlans He was survived by his wife, Hattie, daughter Elfreda, a teacher at the Santa Ana Junior High School; his son, Leslie, of Redlands; and two sisters Mrs. Ana Cook of Redlands and Mrs. Sarah Biggers of Warren, Ohio.

Leave a Reply