Colonel John Bigger
By Rosalie Yoakam
Colonel John Bigger, an early pioneer of Warren County, Ohio, had a distinguished political career. He was first elected, in 1802, to the territorial legislature but it never met because the Ohio State Government was organized in its place.
He was then selected to be a Representative in the first Ohio State Legislature. This was followed by twenty terms in the state government. Bigger served a total of eight terms in the House and thirteen in the Senate. His service was from 1803-1833, from the first Legislature through the 32nd. He was Speaker of the House in 1821-22 and in 1825 was appointed to the first State Board of Equalization. He later became its President.
Bigger ran for governor of Ohio in 1826 but was defeated by Allan Trimble. He also served as a Presidential elector on the Clay ticket.
The book, The History of Warren County, Ohio, produced by the W. H. Beers Company of Chicago in 1882, says, “He was more frequently elected to represent Warren County in the Legislature than any other citizen of the county in its whole history.”
The Beers book says of his character, “Col. Bigger possessed powers of mind which enabled him to discharge the duties of the offices to which he was chosen with credit to himself and the entire satisfaction of the community.”
He also served as a nonpolitical executive. Bigger was on the first board of trustees of Miami University and a charter member of the directorate of the first bank of Cincinnati. Its charter was issued in 1803.
Bigger was born in Pennsylvanian on December 5, 1770. He married Hannah Bigger, his cousin in 1801. She was born in Pennsylvania on February 17, 1779 and was the sister of John Bigger who settled in Montgomery County, Ohio. Bigger Road in Montgomery County is named for the family.
Colonel Bigger bought land in the northern part of Warren County, near the Shaker’s Union Village, (now Otterbein Lebanon Retirement Community) from Judge John Cleves Symmes in about 1799. But, he was not able to get a deed to his land until an act of Congress was passed to relieve persons with written contracts to lands not actually in Symmes’ patent.
The Bigger family was members of the Dick’s Creek Presbyterian Church near the village of Blue Ball. He was a Ruling Elder there for almost forty years.
Hannah died on December 31, 1830. Her grave was found in 1949 in a small family cemetery on land north west of Lebanon on Green Tree Road. The property had once been owned by the family.
Colonel John’s second wife was Ann Robinson daughter of Captain John Robinson.
Bigger died on June 18, 1840. It is unclear where he is buried.
Hannah and Colonel John had two sons who achieved political fame. Samuel Bigger became the seventh governor of Indiana and Finley Bigger was the registrar of the United States Treasury under several Presidents.