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Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1893.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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OTIS BIGELOW, dealer in pianos, organs and musical merchandise at Dowagiac, has spent his entire life in the city where he now resides, and was born here on the 18th of August, 1854. In his boyhood he was a student in the schools of Dowagiac, where he carried on his studies until within one year of completing the course. He learned the trade of an upholsterer in Chicago, after which he returned to Dowagiac and was employed here for a time. In 1873 he went to Chicago in order to take lessons on the pipe organ, and acquired great proficiency in that art. A practical and skilled musician, he served fifteen years as leader of the Dowagiac Cornet Band and was the organizer of the Bigelow Orchestra (now known as the Opera House Orchestra), and is a cornet player of more than ordinary ability. He has instructed bands at various places throughout the country.

In 1886, Mr. Bigelow established a branch store at Niles, but two years afterward removed the stock here. In his business he has built up a large trade, and through his energy, ambition and push has gained a well-merited success. He devotes his entire attention to the details of his business. In 1878 he was united in marriage with Miss Anna, daughter of Joseph S. Tuttle, a leather and lumber merchant of Niles. Of this union there was one child, a son who died in infancy. Politically, Mr. Bigelow is a Republican and maintains a deep interest in public affairs. In his religious belief he is a Congregationalist and for a number of years he has been organist in the church at Dowagiac.

Among the prominent business men of Dowagiac is Harvey Bigelow, father of our subject, who is engaged in the furniture and undertaking business at that place. He was born in Half Moon, Rensselaer County, N. Y., on the 4th of July, 1816. His father, Harvey Bigelow, Sr., a native of Connecticut, resided for a time in Half Moon, whence he came to Michigan in 1843 and, settling at La Grange, Cass County, remained there until his death, which occurred about 1861. Harvey Bigelow, Jr., was reared in New York and came to Michigan in 1837, locating in La Grange, Cass County. Having learned the trade of a cabinet-maker, he embarked in that business at La Grange and followed that occupation for fourteen years.

At Hartford, Conn, in September, 1839, occurred the marriage of Harvey Bigelow to Miss Rosina Hurlbut. The young couple came at once to Michigan and resided in La Grange until the death of the wife, after two years of wedded life. There was no issue by this marriage. Two years later Mr. Bigelow returned to Connecticut, and was married to Laura M. Hurlbut, sister of his first wife and daughter of Jared Hurlbut. He returned to La Grange in 1843 and conducted a furniture and undertaking business. In 1851 he came to Dowagiac, where he now carries on an extensive business as a furniture dealer and undertaker. By his second wife he had four children: Charles H., who is a traveling salesman; Herman M., a contractor at Olympia, Wash.; Harvey S., a photographer at Dowagiac, and the subject of this sketch.

One of the pioneer business men of Cass County, Mr. Bigelow had the first cabinet shop in Cass County as well as in Dowagiac. Starting in life without means, he has been able through industry and energy to accumulate a competency. However, he has had his share of misfortunes. In 1881 his store was burned to the ground, entailing a loss of $20,000, the savings of his lifetime. But undaunted by this misfortune he started bravely at work again and succeeded in a short time in regaining a substantial footing in the commercial world. A man of excellent habits, he has never used tobacco and is strictly temperate. In his political belief he is a Republican. Since boyhood he has been identified with the Congregational Church and has served as a Deacon for many years.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published in 1893. 

View additional Cass County, Michigan family biographies here: Cass County, Michigan Biographies

View a map of 1911 Cass County, Michigan here: Cass County Michigan Map

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