There are many historic downtowns all across the United States. Many people pass by or shop in the stores, in these areas, with no idea about the history of the people who built and owned these historic locations. Our goal is to uncover the history and discover the spirits of our historic downtown, Marysville, CA.

Jennifer Furgerson and I, Scott Wolf, visited TJ North’s at 313 D. Street in Marysville, CA to uncover the history and the possible spirits that still reside in this Marysville, CA landmark.

TJ North’s is a full service gun shop with gunsmithing services available on site. They also sell a variety of gun, hunting, and camping accessories as well as clothing. 


Historical Image of TJ NORTHS BLDG


TJ Norths was started by Tom King’s father back in 1947. At that time it was located in a different building in downtown Marysville. Tom told us that it was called The Marysville Mercantile. In 2004 Tom opened TJ North, at its current location. The building had been owned by his father for 27 years.

I asked Tom about the history of the building. He told me that he thought the building was built around 1860. At that time the building was used as a men’s clothing store. Sometime prior to 1870 Benjamin Bigelow purchased the building. He operated a very successful gun store. In fact, Mr. Bigelow was credited for being one of a handful of people, in the entire country, who built the very first repeating rifles.  According to many experts, Mr. Bigelow was one of the finest rifle and shotgun makers, in the West, during that era. 

Benjamin Bigelow

Bigelow Sharps Period Conversion to Cartridge Rifle

Bigelow Double Barrel Percussion Shotgun

Newspaper Ad from 26 Jan 1870

Advertisement Booklet 1877-8 (Printed by Frank Gordon)

Mr. Bigelow was also a member of the Marysville Pioneer Society. He died, in Marysville, in 1888. He was buried in the Historic Marysville Cemetery.

Bigelow Family Plot, Marysville Cemetery

Tom was unsure what occupied the store after Mr. Bigelow died. He did mention that a woman named Cora lived in the upstairs portion of the building until she died, on the property, in 1941. He also mentioned that “Frank” boarded up the building shortly after Cora died. At the time, I had no idea if or how Cora and Frank were related to the Bigelow’s. After a little bit of research I was able to put the pieces together.

One of the questions, I had to ask Tom, was if he believed there was paranormal activity taking place on the property. I am an investigator, after all. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask. Tom quickly said he did believe something was going on in the upstairs portion of the property. He said that they often heard someone walking around upstairs when no one was up there. When they heard the footsteps they would just joke to each other that Cora was at it again.  Tom told us that aside from the footsteps they never really encountered anything they would call “paranormal.”

Many of the buildings in the downtown area have living spaces above the stores. Some of these spaces are currently used as living spaces but many aren’t and haven’t been used for many years. We were very interested in being able to tour the upstairs spaces and see what was up there. Before we had the chance to ask, Tom asked us if we would like a tour. We were very excited!

We made our way upstairs. The former living quarters was in the process of being renovated. It was much larger than we imagined! Even though the rooms were slightly torn up, and in various stages of renovation, much of the original structure still existed. It was quite an experience to be walking around the spaces where Mr. Bigelow and his family resided back in 1860. It was almost like stepping back in time!

The original mahogany doors, moldings, and window shutters were still in place. The walls still had the original wallpaper on them. Many of the areas still had the old gas fittings coming down where gas lights once illuminated the room.

Moving further into the living spaces we came into what used to be the kitchen. On the floor I noticed a cylindrical tank on the ground connected to what appeared to be a stove. Tom told us that this was a very old water heater. Next to the water heater was an old gas powered stove.

Tom began to renovate the living spaces approximately five years ago. He noticed that the activity, taking place upstairs, seemed to increase shortly after the renovations began. Who knows, maybe Cora wasn’t too happy that the place she called home until she died was being changed?


After hearing about Mr. Bigelow, Cora, and Frank I wanted to find out how all these people were connected. So, I did a little research and I was able to put the pieces together. It’s rather amazing what information is available!

Benjamin Bigelow was born in Nova Scotia in 1824. Sometime after he was born his family moved to Wisconsin. From Wisconsin they moved to Rochester, New York. It was in Rochester where Benjamin started in the gunsmith business. Bigelow worked for a well-known gun-maker by the name of William Billinghurst. I was able to find an advertisement from Bigelow’s store where he mentioned in the advertisement “Having been engaged twelve years as a practical gun-maker in the celebrated rifle manufactory of Wm. Billinghurst.”

Sometime in the mid 1800’s Bigelow moved to Marysville, CA. Around 1860 he opened his gun store and began producing what he called the “Billinghurst Repeating Rifle.” The rifle was a seven shot rifle which used a revolving cylinder. There were six other gun makers around the country, at the time, who also built similar rifles with different names.

In 1868 Benjamin Bigelow married Catherine Tompkins Gordon. Catherine was previously married and had several children. Frank Gordon and Cora M. Gordon (Holland) were two of her children. According to the U.S. census, Frank Gordon was listed as living at 95 D Street, the address of Bigelow’s gun shop. His profession was listed as a job printer. If you look at the picture of the booklet from Bigelow’s store you can see Frank’s name at the bottom of the booklet as the printer.

At some point after 1885 Frank moved away from Marysville. When Benjamin Bigelow Died, in 1888, Frank moved back to Marysville to run Bigelow’s gun store. No information was available as to how long the gun store remained open. At some point Frank did again leave Marysville. He probably left soon after the gun store closed and Cora remained living in the upstairs residence until her death.

A.L.P.S. would like to thank Tom King for taking time out of his busy day and giving us the opportunity to tour his incredible Marysville landmark. If you find yourself in downtown Marysville, CA stop into TJ Norths and say hello to Tom and his staff.