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D. Ames Bigelow was born on November 24, 1839, in Chester, Massachusetts. He moved to Kewanee, Illinois, in 1856. In 1862, he enlisted in Company A, 124th Illinois Volunteers and served in the Civil War as an aide de camp on the staff of General Geddes. In August, 1868, he came to the new town of Ames, Iowa, returning in November to Kewanee to marry Sarah E. Moore and then to bring her to Ames. He and Sarah had four children: Margaret M. (Tot), Robert E., Pearl C., and Alida J..
D. A. Bigelow was one of Ames's first merchants. He went into business here with Henry C. Huntington, who had moved to Ames from Rochester, Vermont. Together they opened a dry goods store in 1867 on Onondaga (Main) Street.
Bigelow and Huntington asked George Galen Tilden, who also had grown up in Rochester, Vermont, to join their partnership in 1869. Bigelow, Huntington & Tilden remained in business until 1883 when George Tilden bought out his partners. Bigelow and Huntington then opened another store a few doors to the west on Onondaga and operated under the name of Bigelow & Huntington. D. A. Bigelow served on the Story County Board of Supervisors from 1878 through 1880 (when he was the chairman). He died in 1890.
Souvenir Edition of The Ames Intelligencer, Midwinter, 1897
BIGELOW & SMITH - Interior views of each of the two rooms in which the business of this firm is housed are shown in this issue. It is the oldest general merchandise business in the city. In August, 1868, D.A. Bigelow and H.C. Huntington came from Kewanee, Ill., to this city and bought out L.T. Larned who was among the first to engage in business here. Mr. Bigelow had been through the war, studied in the old Chicago University, taught school, tested the possibilities of Kansas and fed cattle previous to coming to Ames. In the last undertaking he had accumulated some capital which he put against the experience of his partner who had managed a store with a happier result than sometimes attends such combinations. In 1868 the south side had the larger share of the business of the city. The firm was successful from the first. In May, 1869, Geo. G. Tilden was admitted to partnership and remained a member of the firm until 1883. Two years afterward Mr. Huntington disposed of his interest. When this firm began to do business it had a wide field. Customers came from a distance of twenty miles. As the population increased and lines of railway were built the trading area was lessened but this did not diminish the business it transacted. It maintained its lead. After the withdrawal of Messrs. Tilden and Huntington the firm was known as D.A. Bigelow and Co. On the death of Mr. Bigelow in 1890 it was changed to Bigelow & Smith. It carries a well selected stock of clothing, boots and shoes, and dry goods and its volume of business requires the help of five or six clerks.
The Ames Intelligencer, March 13, 1890
D.A. Bigelow died at his home in Ames Sunday morning, March 9th, after an illness of nearly six weeks. The death, not wholly unexpected, of one long identified with the best interests of our town is felt with deep sorrow by the entire community. The deceased was born November 24, 1839, at Chester, Massachusetts, and came in 1856 to Kewanee, Illinois, where in 1862 he enlisted in Company A, 124th Illinois volunteers serving until the end of the war; retiring from service with the rank of 1st Lieutenant. During the latter part of the war he served on the staff of General Geddes; and was known by his comrades to be a gallant soldier. In August 1868 he came to the then new town of Ames and in November of the same year returned to Kewanee where he was married by the Rev. Mr. K.W. Benton, who Tuesday conducted the religious services at his funeral. His wife and four children survive to mourn his loss.
From the time of his first coming to this place he has striven to promote the welfare of the town and community in every possible way. The civic organizations to which he belonged knew him as a faithful and efficient worker. He was long a member of the Baptist church where his loss will be deeply felt. As a member of the school board his liberal views and constant interest added greatly to the efficiency of our public schools. As a business man, a citizen and friend, at home and abroad his life was deserving of praise. He was sincerely attached to every worthy object in life and met his death with the courage and resignation which becomes a Christian.
The funeral services were held at the house Tuesday afternoon, March 11th, and were attended by a large and sorrowing company, which included the President and faculty of I.A.C., the Sons of Veterans, the Masonic lodge and the G.A.R. post. The services at the cemetery were conducted by the two latter organizations, to both of which he belonged; the Masonic fraternity being in charge of the W.M.C.E. Hunt and marshaled by Capt. J.R. Lincoln....