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    Is it Joseph?....or is it John?

 

There is an ongoing debate as to the origins of the Higginbotham family in the new world.

Some say John...and others say Joseph was the first immigrant to begin the line on this side of the Atlantic.

George Brian Bauer (rbull@facstaff.wisc.edu) has done a nice job of compiling the different arguments in a series of postings on the Higginbotham-L message board on Rootsweb.  His essays are as follows:

 

 

 

From: rbull@facstaff.wisc.edu
Subject: New to Higginbotham List
Date: Thu, 12 Sep 1996 20:40:33 -0500

I am a new subscriber to the Higginbotham List.
 
My direct Higginbotham line is:
 
"Widow" HIGGINBOTHAM (????-1751)
  Moses HIGGINBOTHAM (1715-1790)
    (James) Moses HIGGINBOTHAM (1755-1826)
      James Garrison HIGGINBOTHAM (1789-1866)
        John Benham HIGGINBOTHAM (1822-1889)
          John Crockett HIGGINBOTHAM (1859-1908)
            John Crockett HIGGINBOTHAM II (1894-1973)
              Chloe Adair HIGGINBOTHAM (1917-1989)
                George Brian BAUER (1958-)
 
In reading the archives of this mailing list I noted that many HIGGINBOTHAM researchers seem to accept, without question, the link between the
HIGGINBOTHAMs of Goochland/Albemarle/Amherst County, Virginia and the Barbados HIGGINBOTHAMs.  It is *not* my intent to stir up trouble, but the
connection between the Virginia HIGGINBOTHAM line and the Barbados HIGGINBOTHAMs has been disputed by some and (here's where I risk stepping
into a hornet's nest) I personally do not think it has been proven.  My 5g-grandfather, Moses HIGGINBOTHAM (ca 1715-1790) and his brothers are
"said" to be the sons of a John HIGGINBOTHAM and Frances REILY.  John in turn is "said" to be the same person as a John HIGGINBOTHAM found in
Barbados records as the son of Charles HIGGINBOTHAM.  I would like to believe this, but as I said before, I think the evidence is suspect.
 
My grandfather John Crockett HIGGINBOTHAM and my mother Adair (HIGGINBOTHAM) BAUER were both avid genealogists and I inherited their
materials as well as their addiction to genealogy research.  One thing that they could never prove was the link to John HIGGINBOTHAM and Frances RILEY
and the subsequent link to the Barbados.  Most of the early work suggesting this link was done by William M. and Lenora (HIGGINBOTHAM) Sweeny.  My
grandfather corresponded with the Sweenys in the 1920's and 30's regarding the Barbados link.  Both he and my mother tried to prove this link, but
they could never do so (at least to their satisfaction).  They were ultimately disappointed in the evidence presented by the Sweenys in various
articles published in the _William and Mary Quarterly_ and in the Sweenys 1971 book _The Higginbotham Family_.  Most subsequent HIGGINBOTHAM
genealogies seem to rely on the Sweeny's work.
 
I have been more favorably impressed with the material presented in “Higginbotham: Descendents of Moses and Frances (Kyle)”  by Earl and Nina
Higginbotham, publ.1989.  Of interest in this volume is a section which discusses the evidence for and against the "theory" that John HIGGINBOTHAM
and Frances (Riley) were the parents of Moses, Joseph, Benjamin, et al. and that this John HIGGINBOTHAM was the same one found earlier in Barbados (son
of Charles and Anne).  Many of the questions raised in this discussion were the same ones raised by my mother in her research.  In fact she 
corresponded with Earl while he was putting his book together and they shared their "skepticisms" back and forth.
 
A soon to be published HIGGINBOTHAM genealogy being put together by Mabel LaBiche (a Cajun cousin) adds more fuel to the fire.  From what I can
gather the book will deal primarily with the Louisiana HIGGINBOTHAM's who descend from Nelson Higginbotham (s/o Caleb, s/o Benjamin).  Mabel LaBiche
is apparantly quite the diplomat.  She didn't wish to offend anyone by taking sides in the "Great Debate" over the origins of the Virginia
HIGGINBOTHAMs so she presents all sides.  The book contains a "point-counterpoint" between Earl and Gary Higginbotham as to the origins
of the Amherst County, Virginia HIGGINBOTHAM's.  Gary (who I know only from this manuscript) argues for the "original" Sweeny hypothesis that our
immigrant ancestors were John and Frances (Riley) Higginbotham and that they came from Ireland.  This is the hypothesis that the Sweeny's later
discarded in favor of the "Barbados Connection".  Earl argues the same theory that he put forth in his own book _Higginbotham; Descendents of
Moses and Frances (Kyle)_.  He adds additional evidence (but not proof) that the father of Moses, Joseph, Benjamin, et al may have been named
Joseph instead of John, and may have come from Lancaster County, PA.
 
Recently I sat down and reread all of the "HIGGINBOTHAM origin" theories back to back, in one sitting.  First the original Sweeny hypothesis from
their old articles in the William and Mary Quarterly.  This is where they first claim that the immigrant ancestors were John and Frances and that
they came from Ireland.  Next I read the revised Sweeny hypothesis (from their 1971 book) in which they abandoned the Ireland origin and advanced
the Barbados theory (but retained the names John and Frances).  After that came Earl and Nena Higginbotham's book, _Higginbotham; Descendents of Moses
and Frances (Kyle)_, in which Earl called into question both of the above theories and suggested that our ancestor might have been named Joseph.
And, finally, I read the debate between Gary and Earl, in which Gary defends the original Sweeny hypothesis (John and Frances from Ireland),
while Earl expands upon his theory that our ancestor was Joseph and provides evidence that he may have come from Lancaster County, PA.
 
My conclusion after rereading all of this material?  All three theories remain just that, theories.  None of them has enough supporting evidence to
be conclusive.  I do think that the Barbados hypothesis has had enough holes poked in it to call it into serious question.  Of the remaining two,
I find Earl's evidence for Joseph from PA to be the more persuasive, although he is still a long way from proving his argument.
 
I would be very interested in the thoughts of other Higginbotham researchers concerning the origins of the Virginia HIGGINBOTHAMs (maybe I'm
overlooking some critical piece of evidence).  It is not my intention to criticize the work of others (especially the Sweenys, to whom we all owe a
great deal for their extensive work on the HIGGINBOTHAM family of Virginia).  I would be happy to provide more details regarding what I
perceive to be the "holes" in the Barbados theory.  Hopefully, all of this will stimulate an interesting discussion and possibly turn up some new
evidence.  Hopefully, it will *not* stir up resentment and start a "flame" war.
 
Your distant cousin.
 
Brian Bauer

 

 ===============================================

 

From: rbull@facstaff.wisc.edu
Subject: Origin of Virginia HIGGINBOTHAMs
Date: Sun, 15 Sep 1996 13:09:54 -0500

Let me preface this rather lengthy message by stating that none of my comments are intended to attack Josephine Bass or to question her
credibility or skill as a researcher.  Her message to this list nicely summarizes the standard and most widely accepted theory regarding the
origins of the HIGGINBOTHAM family of Goochland/Albemarle/Amherst Counties, Virginia.  I am concerned, however, that many researchers accept this
theory as fact and I am merely using Josephine's message as a framework on which to hang my doubts about this theory.  A few of my arguments are
original.  Many more, were borrowed from my mother's research. Most have been previously published by Earl H. HIGGINBOTHAM (and other researchers)
although my mother and I came up with the same arguments independently. And some of the ideas are stolen outright from Earl HIGGINBOTHAM (probably
the chief critic of the theory that the Virginia HIGGINBOTHAMs came from the Barbados).
 
josephine bass <jbass@digital.net wrote:
 
One version that John H. came from Ireland to VA early in the 18th century with 5 children: John, Moses, Aaron, James and Anne and that
4 others were born in VA, Benj. Joseph, Rachel and Thomas.  quote "Documentation of this tradition has been difficult to prove".
 
The HIGGINBOTHAM "family tradition" has always said that the parents of Moses, Joseph, Aaron, Benjamin, John, James and Rachel HIGGINBOTHAM were
John HIGGINBOTHAM and Frances (Riley) and that they came from from Ireland. To the best of my knowledge, this theory was first advanced in the
genealogical literature by William M. and Lenora (Higginbotham) Sweeny in a series of articles in the William and Mary Quarterly (and other
genealogical periodicals) in the period 1915-1918.  Again, to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever been able to produce *documentary* proof that
there ever was a Frances Riley (or Reily) married to a John HIGGINBOTHAM (or to any other HIGGINBOTHAM for that matter).  The name Frances Riley (or
Reily) has never been found in any church record, civil record, Bible or other contemporaneous document, and exists soley in the oral traditions of
our old Virginia HIGGINBOTHAM family and subsequent published genealogies based on those oral traditions.
 
The Sweenys' conclusions that our immigrant ancestor (? John HIGGINBOTHAM ?) came from Ireland was based on this same oral tradition and was backed
up by a notation in an old family Bible belonging to Tirzah (HIGGINBOTHAM) London -- daughter of John and Rachel (Banks) HIGGINBOTHAM and
granddaughter of the immigrant ancestor.  The notation reads:
 
       "Tirzah London was a daughter of John Higginbotham, who         came from Ireland when nine years old, with his father and
        mother and several other children."
 
        (Sweeny,W.M., "The Higginbotham  Family of Virginia",  William and Mary Quarterly, 1918)
 
It is not known who made the Bible entry, or when it was made.  If Tirzah made it herself it is curious that she speaks of herself in the third
person and in the past tense.  Also, as Earl and Nena HIGGINBOTHAM pointedout in their book _Higginbotham; Descendents of Moses and Frances (Kyle)_
(1989), it is suprising that she would use the phrase "several other children" to refer to her uncles and aunt who lived all around her as she
was growing up and whom she probably knew quite well.
 
The Sweenys attempted to bolster their evidence by finding the marriage record of John HIGGINBOTHAM and Frances Riley in the Irish records.  On
p.11 of his 1971 book _The Higginbotham Family_, William M. Sweeny makes reference to his 1918 W&MQ article.  He writes:
 
       "Since writing that article and before official Irish records were destroyed, I engaged a genealogist to search for the marriage of John Higginbotham
 and Frances Riley.  There was no such marriage record in the Irish records."
 
There is no way to verify the findings of that Irish genealogist (a William Higginbotham of Dublin) because a sizable portion of the Irish records were
destroyed by fire in 1922.  The Sweenys eventually abandoned their theory of Irish roots in favor of English roots by way of Barbados, but they
continued to hold to the belief that the immigrant ancestors were John and Frances (Riley).
 
josephine bass  <jbass@digital.net continues:
 
in the VA MAG of Hist, Oct 1944, Mrs. Lillian Brown Higginbotham Kasehagen says it is most probable
that the John H. who died in VA between 1741-1744 was the John H. who came from Barbadoes in 1716 and whose ancestor was Nicholas H.
of Cheshire, ENG. 
 
Here begins the second major theory proposed by the Sweenys regarding the origin of the Virginia HIGGINBOTHAMs, the "Barbados Connection".  The
Lillian Brown Higginbotham Kasehagen referred to above was the sister of Lenora (Higginbotham) Sweeny.  The major pieces of evidence supporting this
theory are laid out below by Josephine Bass and I will try to discuss them point by point.
 
The identification is made stronger by the fact that in an old trunk belonging to Col. James Higginbotham, son of John and
Frances was found an old book, dated 1662, which on the flyleaf had the signature of a Nicholas H. On another page is the entry
that Joseph H d. Apr 17, 1742; most likely this Joseph was the son of Charles and Ann H. of Barbadoes and the younger brother
of John the immigrant to VA.
 
First of all, Col. James HIGGINBOTHAM's parents may or may not have been named John and Frances.  That's what this whole discussion is about.  Who
are the parents of this Virginia family and where did they come from?
 
Second, I agree that the finding of Nicholas HIGGINBOTHAM's signature in this book strengthens the case that the Virginia HIGGINBOTHAMs descend from
the same Nicholas HIGGINBOTHAM of Cheshire, England from whom the Barbados HIGGINBOTHAM's are descended.  Even those of us who doubt the Sweenys'
Barbados theory agree that Nicholas is most likely the progeniter of both the Barbados HIGGINBOTHAMs and the Virginia HIGGINBOTHAMs.  What is lacking
is the proof that the Virginia HIGGINBOTHAMs descend from Nicholas *through* the Barbados HIGGINBOTHAMs.  As Earl and Nena HIGGINBOTHAM
pointed out in their book, "all of the children of Nicholas have never been identified by name."
 
Even more interesting is the other entry in the same book noting the death of a Joseph HIGGINBOTHAM Apr 17, 1742.  Isn't it curious that this is about
the same time that the father of our Virginia Family is supposed to have died.  We know that the father of Moses, Joseph, Aaron, Benjamin, John,
James and Rachel died between 1741-1744.  We don't, however, know that his name was John.  Remember, so far that is just family tradition.  A
comparison with the known handwriting of Col. James HIGGINBOTHAM reveals that he probably made the entry regading the death of Joseph.  Why would
Col. James HIGGINBOTHAM record the death of his "Uncle Joseph" in 1742, but not the death of his "Father John" in 1741-1744?  A simple explanation
might be that James' father was named "Joseph", not "John" and that the Joseph HIGGINBOTHAM who died on Apr 17, 1742 *was* the father of James and
the rest of the Virginia HIGGINBOTHAM family.  This is, of course, pure conjecture, but then so is the Barbados theory.  I know of no documentary
evidence to support the statement that "most likely this Joseph was the son of Charles and Ann H. of Barbadoes and the younger brother of John the
immigrant to VA."
 
Back to josephine bass  <jbass@digital.net
 
Nicholas H. had a son Anthony, also of Cheshire, whose son Lt. Col. John H. emigrated to the island of Barbadoes, Parish
of St. Philip.  his will Nov 27, 1673 - among his children was Capt. John H. who for business reasons returned to ENG.
His will proved Oct 23, 1714 and mentions son Charles and Charles children:  John, Charles, Thomas, William, Joseph,
Benjamin, Clever and Millicent.
 
Capt. John's son Charles lived in Barbadoes and his will May 20, 1734; His wife Ann's will was proved in Barbadoes
Aug 18, 1740 and named sons John, Thomas, Charles, Joseph, Cleaver, grandson John Reddan and gran-daughter Ann Reddan
(Reddin).
 
This is a well documented line of descent from Nicholas HIGGINBOTHAM to the Barbados HIGGINBOTHAM family.  I know of no serious dispute regarding any
of the above.  The questions begin to pop up when one makes the great leap of faith that John, the son of Charles and grandson of Capt. John, is the
same John HIGGINBOTHAM that our family legend says is the father of the Virginia HIGGINBOTHAMs.
 
Again, josephine bass  <jbass@digital.net
 
"The Boston, Mass. Registry Dept. Report 29, page 238 gives  this record:
 
"July 11 - vessels entered in the month of July 1716 Benj. Evans ye sloop Betty from Barbadoes - John Higginbotham, a Planter."
 
Fact and almost certainly the same John HIGGINBOTHAM mentioned above in the wills of his father, Charles and grandfather, Capt. John.
 
John went first to Boston, later moving to Virginia.
 
Here's where that great leap of faith comes in.  The statement above is pure conjecture.  This statement was first made by Lillian Brown
Higginbotham Kasehagen [sister of Lenora (Higginbotham) Sweeny] in her Oct,1944 article, "Will of an Early Settler of Barbadoes" in _The Virginia
Magazine of History and Biography_.  There the statement was made a little less forcefully.  Something along the lines of:
 
       "It is most probable that the John Higginbotham whodied in VA between 1741-1744 was the John Higginbotham
        who came from Barbadoes in 1716 and whose ancestor was Nicholas Higginbotham of Cheshire, ENG."
 
(I can't seem to lay my hands on the exact quote at the moment.)
 
I know of no documentation that would substantiate this claim and, yet, by the time of William Montgomery Sweeny's 1971 book _The Higginbotham
Family_, the conjecture about this link had swollen into "fact":
 
       "The John Higginbotham who went to Boston from the Barbados in 1716 was the John Higginbotham who came
        to Virginia where he died between 1741 and 1744, leaving a widow Frances and several sons and a daughter
        from whom the Higginbothams and their connections in Virginia and elsewhere are descended."
              (Sweeny, _The Higginbotham Family_, 1971, p.13)
 
This claim has been repeated and repeated from one HIGGINBOTHAM genealogy to the next until it now pervades most of the literature (and GEDCOMs) and
has become "gospel".
 
Let me try to point out just a few of the many unanswered questions and problems raised by this theory:
 
The John HIGGINBOTHAM from Barbados, who landed in Boston in 1716 was from a shipping and trading family and may well have just visited Boston on
family business.  We have no evidence that he even remained in the mainland colonies, much less moved moved to Virginia.  If he did stay; where was he
in the 25 years between his arrival in Boston in 1716 and his supposed death in Virginia in 1741-1744?  Exhaustive searches by countless
HIGGINBOTHAM researchers in records of the colonies all the way from Massachusetts to Virginia have failed to turn up a trace of John
HIGGINBOTHAM or his family in those intervening years.
 
If this or any other John HIGGINBOTHAM married a Frances Riley, when and where did this take place and what evidence do we have of it?
 
Why isn't the location of John as living in Boston, Virginia or elsewhere in the mainland colonies mentioned in the wills of his parents, Charles and
Anne?  A review of other Barbados wills of that same time period reveals that the whereabouts of non-resident family legatees was specified almost
without exception.  When Charles HIGGINBOTHAM's will was probated in 1734, his son John "should" have been living in the mainland colonies for 18
years, yet the will fails to make any special mention of his location. Anne's will probated in 1740 likewise makes no special mention of her son
John's location, even though he would now have been absent from Barbados for 24 years.  Could that be because he did not, in fact, remain in the
mainland colonies, but returned to the Barbados after completing his business in Boston?
 
If John HIGGINBOTHAM (son of Charles and Anne of Barbados) continued to reside in the mainland colonies after his arrival in Boston in 1716, who
was the John HIGGINBOTHAM of the Parish of Christ Church, Barbados whose marriage to Susanna Walker on April 5, 1717 is recorded in the Barbados
records?  Of the three other HIGGINBOTHAM families living in Barbados at that time, none had a son John of the right age.  John and Susanna went on
to name their first son *Charles* (baptized May 11, 1718) and had four other children Millicent, Benjamin, Susannah and Elizabeth (Elizabeth
baptized in 1736).  All of the above are common names in the family of Charles HIGGINBOTHAM.
 
In 1981-82 Earl and Nena Higginbotham presented this evidence (the wills, marriage records and baptism records of the Barbados HIGGINBOTHAMs) to the
late Frank Higenbottam of Canterbury, England for his evaluation.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with Frank Higenbottam, he was a highly
respected genealogist, founder of England's Higenbottam Society, author/editor of the society's "Higenbottam Bulletin" and was considered to
be the foremost authority on the HIGGINBOTHAM/HIGENBOTTAM families of England.  He was already familiar with the HIGGINBOTHAM families of
Barbados, but did not previously have access to the above mentioned records.  After a thorough analysis of the Barbados records he reported his
conclusions in his very last "Higenbottam Bulletin" dated June 1982:
 
       "John Higginbotham, born June 10, baptized 31 July, 1695, Parish of St. Phillips, Barbados, son of Charles and Anne
        Higginbotham (RL 1/22 P.62), married 5 April, 1717, Christ Church, Barbados; Susanna Walker (RL 120 P.104).
        Legatee in his father's will 1732 and his mother's will, 1740, left 5 shillings."
 
In the same bulletin he responded to an inquiry from a HIGGINBOTHAM researcher whose line followed the standard "Sweeny connection" from the
Barbados HIGGINBOTHAMs to the Virginia HIGGINBOTHAMs.  He replied:
 
       "The editor would like to point out that the first ancestor in the above pedigree, Charles Higginbotham,
        married 9 Aug. 1688, Parish of St. Phillips, Barbados, Ann Rawlings, not Ann Higginbotham as stated above -
        see "Higginbotham wills relating to Barbados.." on page 4 of the present issue of the Bulletin. Nor did
        his son marry Frances Reily, but Susanna Walker."
 
So, if The progenitors of the Virginia HIGGINBOTHAMs were not John HIGGINBOTHAM and Frances Riley, who were they and where did they come from?
Contemporaneous Virginia sources (The Diary of Robert Rose) refer to our ancestral mother only as "Mrs. Higginbotham" or "Widow Higginbotham".  Our
ancestral father's name is never mentioned.
 
Earl H. HIGGINBOTHAM has developed an interesting collection of evidence that suggests that our Virginia forefather was named Joseph HIGGINBOTHAM,
not John; and that he may have come to Virginia from Lancaster County, PA. This theory is unproven and rests on circumstantial evidence and
conjecture, but it is certainly no more circumstantial than the evidence for the Sweenys' original Irish theory or their susequent Barbados theory.
Bits and pieces of Earl's theory can be found scattered through various publications including:
The Higginbotham Family Newsletter, vol 11, 1984 and vol 12, 1985; Earl's own book, _Higginbotham; Descendents of Moses and Frances (Kyle)_, Earl and
Nena Higginbotham, 1989; and in a contribution that he made to a recently published HIGGINBOTHAM genealogy, _HIGGINBOTHAM; Descendents of Benjamin
and Elizabeth (Graves)_, Mabel LaBiche, 1996.
 
A discussion of Earl's theory is best left to another message, as I think everyone would agree that this one is already overly long (my my, I do get
wordy sometimes).  If anyone else on this list is familiar with Earl's evidence and wants to take a stab a presenting it on to the members of the
list, I'd be interested to hear another perspective.  Or maybe I can convince Earl to join the list and argue his own case.  Otherwise I'll
follow-up in the future with a discusssion of his theory.
 
As I stated in a previous message to this list, it is not my intention to criticize the work of others (especially the Sweenys, to whom we all owe a
great deal for their extensive work on the HIGGINBOTHAM family of Virginia).  Hopefully, all of this will stimulate an interesting discussion
and possibly turn up some new evidence.  Hopefully, it will *not* stir up resentment and start a "flame" war.  I would be very interested in the
thoughts of other Higginbotham researchers concerning the origins of the Virginia HIGGINBOTHAMs.
 
One last thing (the following is mainly for Josephine Bass):
 
josephine bass  <jbass@digital.net also wrote:
 
I have the children of John and Frances Riley;  Benjamin moved to Wilkes Co. GA m. Elizabeth Reid, son of my line
is Francis listed in will probated 1791;
 
My descent traces from Benjamin's older brother, Moses.  I too have seen Benjamin's wife listed as Elizabeth REID.  If I recall correctly, it is
listed that way in the Allied Families section of, _THOMAS MAXWELL OF VIRGINIA AND GEORGIA AND HIS DESCENDANTS_, Annie Norman, Helen Maxwell
Longino, and Annie Lou Maxwell, compilers, publ. by the compilers 1956. Many other sources give the name of Benjamin's wife as Elizabeth GRAVES.
These sources include _The Higginbotham Family_, William Montgomery Sweeny, 1971, p.140 and _Higginbotham; Descendents of Moses and Frances (Kyle)_,
Earl and Nena Higginbotham, 1989, p.23.  I do not know where these two sources got their information on this point, or how well it is documented.
As this is not my direct line, and I have done no original research in this area, I would not presume to try to tell you which source is right.  I
merely point out the discrepancy in case you are unaware of it.
 
Your distant cousin,
 
Brian Bauer

 

 

 

 ===============================================

 

 

From: <rbull@facstaff.wisc.edu
Subject: John or Joseph HIGGINBOTHAM?
Date: Wed, 25 Sep 1996 17:00:03 -0500

Hi all, here's another long one:
 
I recently posted a couple of messages to this mailing list in which I challenged the evidence for the prevailing theory that John HIGGINBOTHAM
and Frances Riley were the progenitors of the HIGGINBOTHAM Family of Goochland/Albemarle/Amherst Counties, Virginia and the associated theory
that John came from the Barbados (see "Higginbotham Family discussion list" 12 Sep 1996 and 15 Sep 1996).  In those messages I touched on an
alternative theory advanced by Earl H. Higginbotham that the progenitor of the Virginia HIGGINBOTHAMs was named Joseph HIGGINBOTHAM, not John, and
that he may have come to Virginia from Lancaster County, PA.  This theory is unproven and rests on circumstantial evidence and conjecture, but the
evidence is certainly as solid as the evidence for the  Barbados theory. With Earl's permission, I will attempt to present his evidence, most of
which can be found in his book, _Higginbotham; Descendents of Moses and Frances (Kyle)_, Earl and Nena Higginbotham, 1989; and in a contribution
that he made to a recently published HIGGINBOTHAM genealogy, _HIGGINBOTHAM; Descendents of Benjamin and Elizabeth (Graves)_, Mabel LaBiche, 1996.
 
Let me begin by reiterating an assertion from my last message.  The names John HIGGINBOTHAM and Frances Riley (or Reily) cannot be found in any
church record, civil record, Bible or other contemporaneous document, and exist soley in the oral traditions of our old Virginia HIGGINBOTHAM family
and subsequent published genealogies based on those oral traditions.
 
One HIGGINBOTHAM researcher has attempted to bolster the evidence for Frances Riley as the name of our ancestral grandmother by noting that four
granddaughter's of our Virginia ancestors were named Frances, "presumably" after their grandmother:
  Frances, d/o Aaron Higginbotham and Clara Graves
  Frances, d/o Joseph Higginbotham and Hannah Smith
  Frances, d/o Moses Higginbotham and Frances Kyle
  Frances, d/o John Higginbotham and Rachel Banks
 
Of course it should be noted that the third of these may well have been named for her mother, Frances Kyle, rather than for her paternal
grandmother.  This line of "evidence" is pure conjecture.  Using the same logic one can make an even stronger case that our ancestral grandfather was
Joseph, not John.  Five grandsons were named Joseph and only one named John:
        Joseph, s/o Moses
        Joseph, s/o Joseph
        Joseph, s/o James
        Joseph, s/o Benjamin
        Joseph, s/o Rachel
 
The only grandson named John was John HIGGINBOTHAM Jr., son of John, and named after his father.
 
Better evidence for the "Joseph not John" theory comes in the the form of a written entry in an old law book found in a trunk belonging to Col. James
Higginbotham, son of "Joseph/John".  The entry in question is in the handwriting of Col. James Higginbotham and notes that Joseph Higginbotham
died Apr 17, 1742.  Isn't it curious that this is about the same time that the father of our Virginia Family is supposed to have died.  We know that
the father of Moses, Joseph, Aaron, Benjamin, John, James and Rachel died between 1741-1744.  We don't, however, know that his name was John.  The
traditional interpretation of the entry has always been that James was recording the death of his Uncle Joseph, brother of his father, John.  But
why would Col. James HIGGINBOTHAM record the death of his "Uncle Joseph" in 1742, and fail to record the death of his "Father John" in 1741-1744?  A
simple explanation -- James' father was named "Joseph", not "John" and the Joseph HIGGINBOTHAM who died on Apr 17, 1742 *was* his father and the
father of the rest of the Virginia HIGGINBOTHAM family in question.
 
In my last message, one of my criticisms of the Barbados theory was that there is no trace of John Higginbotham in the 25 years between his arrival
in Boston in 1716 and his supposed death in Virginia in 1741-1744. Exhaustive searches by countless HIGGINBOTHAM researchers in records of the
colonies all the way from Massachusetts to Virginia have failed to turn up a trace of John HIGGINBOTHAM or his family in those intervening years.  If,
as Earl Higginbotham  proposes, our ancestral grandfather was named Joseph instead of John, it is fair to ask the same question.  Where did he come
from and what evidence can be found of him prior to his death in 1742?
 
A Joseph HIGGINBOTHAM, cordwinder, appears in Bucks County, Pennsylvania in the years 1720-1722.  On 6 Sept 1720 a Joseph Hembery was indentured to
Joseph HIGGINBOTHAM and in the will of Joseph Hembry of Makefield Twp., Bucks County, Pennsylvania, made on 13 June 1721 and proved 9 April 1722, 5
pounds was left to Joseph HIGGINBOTHAM.  No record of Joseph HIGGINBOTHAM has been found in Bucks County after 1722.
 
Next, in 1727 we find a Joseph HIGGINBOTHAM mentioned as a resident of the Conestoga settlement in what is now Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and he
appears in the Quarter Sessions records of Lancaster County from 1730 through 1737 along with a Moses HIGGINBOTHAM (Joseph's eldest son?) and a
Thomas HIGGINBOTHAM (Joseph's younger brother?):
 
LANCASTER COUNTY QUARTER SESSIONS
Abstracts 1729 - 1742 - Book 1, (by G.B. Hawbaker)
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Page 6 - Joseph HICKENBOTHAM (sic) - Grand Inquest held 1730.  Court held in Conestogo.
 
Page 11 - Court held February 2, 1730/31.  Price Price and Thomas HICKENBOTOM (sic) for each of them to appear and give evidence against
William Hughes, William Hughes Jr., and M. Hughes.
 
Page 59 - 1730 Court,  held at Conestogo on fifth day of May in the third year of George 2nd.  Persons on Grand Inquest - 17 men, one was Joseph
HICKENBOTTOM (sic)
 
Page 11 (LDS film 207681).  May 4, 1731 - Thomas HICKENBOTTOM (sic) Jury duty.
 
Page 46 - Court held May 4, 1735 - Among members of Grand Inquest: Moses HIGGENBOTHOM (sic), Joseph HIGGENBOTHOM (sic), Joshua Law (sic). (This is
Joshua Lowe)  For the appearance of Moses .... continued.
 
Page 35 - Court held May 5th. 1735.  Moses HICKENBOTHOM (sic) and Joshua Law (sic) (this is Joshua Lowe) - that HICKENBOTHOM appear and abide the
judgment of the court, continued --  (No further proceedings in this case was found).
 
Page 36 - (same Court as above)  John Fleming: fornication with Margaret Hunter - Prosecutor, Joseph Growdon - Jury included Joseph HICKENBOTTOM (sic).
 
Page ? - Court held November 4, 1735 - Elizabeth Baldwin to appear and prosecute Moses HIGENBOTEM (sic)
 
Page 59 - Court held May 3, 1737.  Daniel Stewart for assaulting and beating Peter Leman - pleads not guilty.  Stewart fined 10 shillings and
cost.  Among jurors was Joseph HICKENBOTHEM (sic).
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After 1738 no other records are found in Lancaster County for Joseph and Moses Higginbotham.  So we have a Joseph HIGGINBOTHAM in Bucks County, PA
from 1720-1722, who then disappears from the records.  This is followed by a Joseph HIGGINBOTHAM in Lancaster County, PA from 1727-1737, who then
disappears.  And finally, the death of Joseph HIGGINBOTHAM, in 1742, as recorded by his son, James.  By no means an airtight case, but certainly an
interesting timeline of events and a contrast to the 25 year gap found in the Barbados theory.
 
A few additional points need to be made:
 
Moses HIGGINBOTHAM (b. ca 1715) is known to be the eldest son of our progenitor ancestor (be he Joseph or John).  The fact that a Moses
HIGGINBOTHAM appears with Joseph HIGGINBOTHAM in the Lancaster records gives further weight to the argument that this is the correct Joseph
HIGGINBOTHAM.  When Moses first appears in the Lancaster records in 1735, "our" Moses would have been about 20 years old.
 
The presence of a Thomas HIGGINBOTHAM with Joseph and Moses in the Lancaster records adds to the mounting evidence.  It has been proved beyond
much doubt that the younger brother of our progenitor ancestor (Joseph/John) was named Thomas.  Three grants of land in what is now
Amherst Co. VA were issued to Thomas HIGGINBOTHAM between 1748 and 1750. In 1751 Thomas sold this land and moved to Georgia where a land patent
application shows that he had 10 children in 1759.  He died in Georgia in 1774.  Some HIGGINBOTHAM genealogists have listed Thomas HIGGINBOTHAM as
the youngest son of our progenitor ancestor (Joseph/John) instead of being his younger brother.  If this were true Thomas would have to have been born
after Benjamin who was born circa 1725.  This would make Thomas too young to acquire land grants in 1748-1750 and probably too young to have ten
children by 1759.
 
Finally, it is of some interest that the name Law (Lowe) appears in those same Lancaster County, PA records, right along with the three
HIGGINBOTHAMs.  One of our Thomas HIGGINBOTHAM's older sons was Burrus HIGGINBOTHAM who later moved from Georgia to Florida.  Burrus' first wife
was Isabella Lowe, daughter of Isaac Lowe.  Isaac Lowe died in Richmond County, GA in 1790.  His will apparently gives clear evidence that the Lowe
family were Quakers from Pennsylvania.  Lancaster County, for those of you who don't know, is the heart of Quaker Country in Pennsylvania.
 
So what do you folks think?  At minimum, this "Joseph from Pennsylvania" theory of Earl HIGGINBOTHAM's bears further investigation.  Can anyone else
out there shed more light on this mystery?
 
As I  have stated before on this list, it is not my intention to stir up resentment or to criticize the work of others.  My goal is to stimulate a
discussion on the origin of the HIGGINBOTHAM Family of Virginia and possibly turn up some new evidence.  I would be very interested in the
thoughts of other Higginbotham researchers concerning the origins of the Virginia HIGGINBOTHAMs.
 
Brian Bauer
 
"Widow" HIGGINBOTHAM (????-1751)
          Moses HIGGINBOTHAM (1715-1790)
            (James) Moses HIGGINBOTHAM (1755-1826)
              James Garrison HIGGINBOTHAM (1789-1866)
                John Benham HIGGINBOTHAM (1822-1889)
                  John Crockett HIGGINBOTHAM (1859-1908)
                    John Crockett HIGGINBOTHAM II (1894-1973)
                      Chloe Adair HIGGINBOTHAM (1917-1989)
                        George Brian BAUER   <-- Me
 
rbull@facstaff.wisc.edu

 

 

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