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John Dustin Bicknell Papers: Finding Aid
mssBicknell papers  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Some notable persons represented in the collection

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: John Dustin Bicknell Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1872-1914
    Bulk dates: 1887-1897
    Collection Number: mssBicknell papers
    Creator: Bicknell, John Dustin, 1838-1911.
    Extent: 9,802 pieces. 20 boxes. 51 bound volumes. 6 rolls. 2 photographs.
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection consists primarily of correspondence related to the professional activities of John Dustin Bicknell (1838-1911), who was a partner in several Los Angeles, California, law firms and an attorney for the Southern Pacific Railroad Company. The collection includes letters from individuals who wished to buy or sell property or had a claim against someone concerning their land. In addition, the collection also contains approximately 650 letters (1883-1902) from various individuals who worked in the Frazier Mine near Gorman, California, which Bicknell jointly owned.
    Language: English.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. John Dustin Bicknell Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Gift of Roy F. Bagg and Barbara Bagg Heath, April 1981.

    Biographical Note

    John Dustin Bicknell was born on June 25, 1838 in Vermont. He began studying law in the early 1860s and was admitted to the bar in Wisconsin in 1865. After establishing a law firm in Greenfield, Missouri, he relocated to Los Angeles, California in early 1872. He formed a new firm with John R. McConnell and Joseph M. Rothschild, which existed until 1876 when he formed a partnership with Stephen Mallory White (1853-1901). This association lasted ten years until White left to take an active part in California politics. George J. Denis became Bicknell’s new partner until 1890 when Bicknell joined forces with Walter J. Trask (1863-1911). Seven years later James A. Gibson (1852-1922) joined the firm, which became known as Bicknell, Gibson & Trask. In 1903, Bicknell and his partners merged with the Los Angeles law firm of Dunn & Crutcher which eventually became known as Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher after Bicknell’s retirement and Trask’s death in 1911.
    For many years Bicknell served as counsel for the Southern Pacific Railroad working for both Collis Potter Huntington (1821-1900) and his nephew, Henry Edwards Huntington (1850- 1927). Bicknell specialized in land patent law, was one of the owners of a gold mine near Gorman, California, had several real estate holdings, and owned two citrus orchards. He died on July 7, 1911.

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists primarily of correspondence related to the professional activities of John Dustin Bicknell (1838-1911) who was a partner in several Los Angeles law firms. Bicknell specialized in land patents, and many letters are from individuals who wished to buy or sell property or had a claim against someone concerning their land. As an attorney for the Southern Pacific Railroad, Bicknell received correspondence from Collis and Henry Huntington asking for his advice on right-of-ways and other matters related to the railroads and interurban lines.
    In addition to the Huntingtons, Bicknell received business letters from several prominent individuals including: Reginaldo F. (Reginaldo Francisco) Del Valle (1854-1938), J. A. (Jackson Alpheus) Graves (1852-1933), Isaias W. Hellman (1842-1920), William F. (William Franklin) Herrin (1854-1921), George Wharton James (1858-1923), Thaddeus Sobieski Coulincourt Lowe (1832-1912), Henry Harrison Markham (1840-1923), William Mulholland (1855-1935), Henry William O’Melveny (1859-1941), Joseph D. (Joseph Deighn) Redding (1859-1932), Frederick Hastings Rindge (1857-1905), William Starke Rosecrans (1819-1898), Charles H. (Charles Hansen) Toll (1850-1901), Moses Hazeltine Sherman (1853-1932), James Slauson (b. 1865), Jonathan Sayre Slauson (1829-1905), Harriet Williams Russell Strong (1844-1926) and Shirley C. Ward (b. 1861). Bicknell is the author of 72 letters in the collection.
    A few letters are from various relatives and friends of Bicknell. Perhaps the most prominent of these individuals is Warren Newton Dusenberry (1836-1915), from whom he received seven letters. Dusenberry established Timpanogos University in Provo, Utah, which he presided over until 1875 when it became Brigham Young University and he became superintendent.
    The collection also contains approximately 650 letters from 1883-1902 from various individuals who worked or supervised the Frazier Mine near Gorman, California, which Bicknell jointly owned. These detailed letters describe not only the activities of the mine but also the living conditions and the problems of receiving mail, supplies and equipment. At first the mine appeared to be producing ore, with more and more money spent on new processes. By the end of the correspondence, however, the miners urged Bicknell to sell the mine.


    The collection is arranged in the following series:
    • 1. Correspondence (19 boxes arranged chronologically)
    • 2. Oversize correspondence (1 box)
    • 3. 51 bound volumes
    • 4. 6 rolls
    • 5. 2 photographs

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    Bicknell, John Dustin, 1838-1911.
    Gibson, James A., 1852-1922.
    Trask, Walter J., 1863-1911.
    Southern Pacific Railroad Company.
    Gold miners -- California -- Gorman -- Correspondence.
    Gold mines and mining -- California -- Gorman -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.
    Gold mines and mining -- California -- Gorman -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
    Land grants -- California -- Los Angeles County.
    Land grants -- California, Southern.
    Land subdivision -- California -- Los Angeles County.
    Land subdivision -- California, Southern.
    Land tenure -- California -- Los Angeles County.
    Land titles -- California -- Los Angeles County.
    Land titles -- Registration and transfer -- California -- Los Angeles County.
    Law firms -- California, Southern -- History -- Sources.
    Lawyers -- California -- Correspondence.
    Lawyers -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archives.
    Railroad stations -- California -- Los Angeles County -- History -- Sources.
    Railroad stations -- California, Southern.
    Railroads -- California, Southern.
    Railroads -- Right of way -- California.
    Real estate investment -- California.
    Street-railroads -- California -- Los Angeles.
    Street-railroads -- Law and legislation -- California -- Los Angeles.
    California -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.
    California -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
    Los Angeles (Calif.) -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.
    Los Angeles (Calif.) -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.


    Account books -- California, Southern.
    Letter books -- California, Southern.
    Letters (correspondence) -- California, Southern.
    Maps -- California, Southern.

    Additional Contributors

    Del Valle, Reginaldo F. (Reginaldo Francisco), 1854-1938.
    Dusenberry, Warren N. (Warren Newton), 1836-1915.
    Gibson, James A., 1852-1922.
    Graves, J. A. (Jackson Alpheus), 1852-1933.
    Hellman, Isaias W. (Isaias William), 1842-1920.
    Herrin, William F. (William Franklin), 1854-1927.
    Huntington, Collis Potter, 1821-1900.
    Huntington, Henry Edwards, 1850-1927.
    James, George Wharton, 1858-1923.
    Lowe, T. S. C. (Thaddeus Sobieski Coulincourt), 1832-1913.
    Markham, Henry Harrison, 1840-1923.
    Mulholland, William, 1855-1935.
    O'Melveny, H. W. (Henry William), 1859-1941.
    Redding, Joseph D. (Joseph Deighn), 1859-1932.
    Rindge, Frederick Hastings, 1857-1905.
    Rosecrans, William S. (William Starke), 1819-1898.
    Toll, Charles H. (Charles Hansen), 1850-1901.
    Sherman, Moses Hazeltine, 1853-1932.
    Slauson, James, b. 1865.
    Slauson, Jonathan Sayre, 1829-1905.
    Strong, Harriet Williams Russell, 1844-1926.
    Trask, Walter J., 1863-1911.
    Ward, Shirley C., b. 1861.
    White, Stephen Mallory, 1853-1901.
    Southern Pacific Railroad Company.

    Some notable persons represented in the collection

    Del Valle, Reginaldo F. (Reginaldo Francisco), 1854-1938

    As Author: 7 letters, 1854-1938
    Dusenberry, Warren Newton, 1836-1915

    As Author: 7 letters, 1873-1896
    Gibson, James A., 1852-1922

    As Author: 25 letters, 1895 - 1910

    As Addressee: 47 letters, 1897-1910
    Graves, J. A. (Jackson Alpheus), 1852-1933

    As Author: 1 letter, 1895
    Hellman, Isaias W. (Isaias William), 1842-1920

    As Author: 43 letters, 1887-1910

    As Addressee: 1 letter, 1892
    Herrin, William F. (William Franklin), 1854-1921

    As Author: 423 letters, 1893-1897

    As Addressee: 12 letters, 1893-1895
    Huntington, Collis P. (Collis Potter), 1821-1900

    As Author: 12 letters, 1889-1900

    As Addressee: 1 letter, 1895
    Huntington, Henry Edwards, 1850-1927

    As Author: 49 letters, 1893-1904

    As Addressee: 4 letters, 1893-1899
    James, George Wharton, 1858-1923

    As Author: 1 letter, 1910
    Lowe, T. S. C. (Thaddeus Sobieski Coulincourt), 1832-1912

    As Author: 3 letters, 1895-1900
    Markham, Henry Harrison, 1840-1923

    As Author: 34 letters, 1885-1893

    As Addressee: 3 letters, 1893
    Mulholland, William, 1855-1935

    As Author: 1 letter, 1903
    O’Melveny, Henry William, 1859-1941

    As Author: 7 letters, 1893-1910
    Redding, Joseph D. (Joseph Deighn), 1859-1932

    As Author: 185 letters, 1889-1897
    Rindge, Frederick H

    Astings, 1857-1905

    As Author: 7 letters, 1895-1897
    Rosecrans, William Starke, 1819-1898

    As Author: 65 letters, 1873-1889
    Sherman, Moses Hazeltine, 1853-1932

    As Author: 71 letters, 1891-1908

    As Addressee: 2 letters, 1895
    Slauson, James, b. 1865

    As Author: 7 letters, 1901-1908
    Slauson, Jonathan Sayre, 1829-1905

    As Author: 15 letters, 1890-1905
    Strong, Harriet Williams Russell, 1844-1926

    As Author: 1 letter, 1894-1895
    Toll, Charles H. (Charles Hansen), 1850-1901

    As Author: 45 letters, 1891-1897
    Trask, Walter J., 1863-1911

    As Author: 19 letters, 1893-1909

    As Addressee: 19 letters, 1893-1909
    Ward, Shirley C. b. 1865

    As Author: 3 letters, 1894-1895
    White, Stephen Mallory, 1853-1901

    As Author: 38 letters, 1878-1897

    As Addressee: 4 letters, 1879-1888