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  Updated: 12 Jul 2009


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                    Photo from A History of the 
             Minnesota United Methodist Church

                     David J  Higgins
                      Courtesy Teri Norman Sechrist

             Information courtesy of John Rutherford , Webmaster of 

Census Information and Scans provided by 
               the Webmaster of Higgins Genealogy

David Jordan Higgins was born September 18, 1817, at Otisfield, Oxford County, Maine. He married his first wife, Cynthia L. Weeks, at Dover, Maine, on December 20, 1843. David and Cynthia raised three children:

[View Scan 1860 USA Census Illinois]
        with wife Cynthia and 3 children

Wilbur F  Higgins 
   (born January 12, 1843 ) 
    died at Leavenworth, Kansas, March 10, 1881),

Emma Jane Higgins (Spencer) 
   (born January 12, 1845 or [January 16, 1846 as reported July 4, 1898]), 


Ella F  Higgins Clark
    (born October 2, 1851 
     [or June, 1851, as reported July 4, 1898).


Although forty-three years old, David J. Higgins enlisted for three years service at New Salem, Columbiana County, Ohio. He was mustered in as the Captain of Company C, 24th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment on June 3, 1861.

Regimental Colors
24th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment



At the Battle of Cheat Mountain, (West) Virginia, on September 13, 1861, Captain Higgins demonstrated some tactical ability. At the head of a reinforced company of soldiers, he emerged from Cheat Mountain Fort, attacked and drove off part of a Confederate Brigade assigned to take and hold the road from Cheat Mountain Summit to Cheat Mountain Pass, (West) Virginia.

Higgins' age began to catch up with him after the 24th O.V.I.'s transfer to Middle Tennessee. First, rheumatism struck him hard in the Spring of 1862, near Nashville. An undated medical record noted that Captain Higgins was suffering from sub-acute Rheumatism of two months standing. In September, 1862, Higgins contracted a disease of the liver and chronic Nephritis, in consquence of which he was granted leave from active field duty in the Army of the Ohio's Special Order Number 159, dated September 30, 1862. His new assignment detailed him to lighter duty as commander of Park Hospital Barracks, Louisville, Kentucky.

After the death of the 24th O.V.I.'s senior officers during the Battle of Stones River, Higgins was promoted to colonel and recalled from Louisville to command the 24th Ohio Infantry Regiment on January 14, 1863. The brigade commander, Colonel William Grose, discovered that Higgins was still physically unfit for active field duty, so Grose obtained light duty for Higgins. The Department of the Cumberland's Special Order Number 137, dated May 20, 1863, reassigned Higgins as commander of the Convalescent Camp at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. A second medical certificate, filed June 2, 1863, diagnosed Colonel Higgins to be suffering from sub-acute Lumbar Myelitis, and the medical officer opined that Higgins was unfit for duty.

Still, with the shortage of experienced field officers during the Chickamauga Campaign, Higgins was recalled yet again. In September, he was again in command of the 24th O.V.I. as it marched over Lookout Mountain into Georgia. At the Battle of Chickamauga, his rheumatism again acted up to the point where he could barely move. Consequently, he turned over command of his regiment to Major Thomas McClure on the morning of September 20, 1863. When the 24th Ohio broke apart during the Army of the Cumberland's withdrawal from the battlefield on the evening of September 20, 1863, an enraged Colonel Grose confronted the problem at the brigade's campsite near Chattanooga. Grose obtained permission to dismiss Major McClure and Colonel Higgins for cowardice.

When he received this notification of his dismissal, Higgins asked each of his company commanders if they thought he was a coward. Every officer agreed that he was not a coward, but was physically unfit for service due to his rheumatism. A military court of inquiry accepted the regimental officer's signed statement that Higgins' maladies were the real reasons why he had turned over his command to McClure, and the military court reversed the act of dismissal for cowardice. However, Higgins could only find one honorable way out of the service, and he resigned his commission due to disability on October 23, 1863. Although Colonel Grose did not agree with the court's findings, he hastily endorsed Higgins' resignation. The resignation was accepted under Department of the Cumberland Special Order Number 283, dated October 23, 1863. Higgins immediately made his way home.

Returning to his Columbiana County, Ohio, home following his resignation in early November, 1863, Higgins found that the newspapers had already reported his dismissal due to cowardice. With his reputation suffering in the community due to the uncorrected newspaper reports, David J. Higgins and his family decided to move to Minnesota. They arrived at Brooklyn Center, Hennepin County, Minnesota, on or about November 20, 1863. There, David J. Higgins got a new start, and he took up his former profession as minister of the gospel.

His wife, Cynthia Weeks Higgins, died on July 12, 1876 [or June 1877, according to another affidavit July 7, 1898], at Atwater, Kandiyohi County, Minnesota. Higgins, now a widower, himself married a minister's widow, Esther Anne (Doughty) Havens, on December 25, 1877 (or November 23, 1878 as stated in July 4, 1898) at Menomonie, Dunn County, Wisconsin. Reverend Edward Doughty (see Rev. Doughty in 1880 census) performed the ceremony.

1880 USA Household:

Name Relation Marital Status Gender Race Age
Birthplace Occupation Father's Birthplace Mother's Birthplace

David J. HIGGINS Self M Male W 61 ME
Protestant Minister ME ME
Ester A. HIGGINS Wife M Female W 51 NY
Keeping House NY NY

Source Information:
ensus Place Montevideo, Chippewa, Minnesota Family History Library Film 1254617
NA Film Number T9-0617 Page Number 360C

Now, nearly seventy-five years old, David J Higgins applied for, and received a pension August 7, 1890 at Brooklyn Center, Hennepin County, Minnesota. His rank was only listed as that of a captain due to his resignation. Higgins moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, by July, 1898, and took up residence at 2935 Aldrich Avenue.

[View 1900 TN Census Scan]
David Higgins, age 82, with wife Esther, age 71,
in Tennessee in 1900 working as a Minister.
Also in household is a niece Sarah Andrews (sp?) age 63

Esther, his second wife, died at Chattanooga, Tennessee, on August 10, 1902. Shortly, thereafter, David Higgins moved to 915 Maple Street, Pasadena, California.

[View 1910 California Census Scan]
At the Pacific Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.
[ National Home]
Off Site

U.S. National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers
Name: David J Higgins Birth Year: abt 1818
Keyed Birth Location: Maine Birth State: Maine
Admitted Year: 1907 Age at Admission: 89
State: California County: Los Angeles
City: Sawtelle Branch: Pacific Branch
Nearest Relative: Emma Jane Spencer, 915 Maple St, Pasadena, California

By March 18, 1915, he was again working on the pension bureau's records.

David J. Higgins died February 2, 1917 at Pasadena, California. 
Burial Mountain View Cemetery, Altadena Los Angeles County California, USA.
View  Find A Grave Listing and headstone photo
Off Site
(Courtesy Teri Norman)

Sources: "Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers in the War of the Rebellion," 
              "Compiled Service Records, 24th OVI," and
              "24th OVI pension index."


1880 USA Household:

Name Relation Marital Status Gender Race Age Birthplace Occupation Father's Birthplace Mother's Birthplace

Frank T. VASEY     Self M      Male     W 40 NY Farmer ENG ENG

Phebe A. VASEY    Wife M      Female W 33 NY 
                                         Keeping House NY NY

John E. VASEY      Son S       Male W 12 WI At Home NY NY

Wesley VASEY      Son S       Male W 11 WI At Home NY NY

Edward DOUGHTY  FatherL M  Male W 73 NY 
                                         Minister Of Gospel NY NY

Phebe DOUGHTY    MotherL M Female W 69 NY At Home NY NY

Frank J. VASEY     Nephew  S Male W 22 IL Servant NY NY

Source Information:
Census Place Township 26, Dunn, Dunn, WI Family History Library Film 1255424
               NA Film Number T9-1424 Page Number 286C

More on David Jordan Higgins

Source: Efficiency of Life at 100 Years and More By Andrew Malcolm Morrison
Published by AUSTIN PUBLISHING CO., Los Angeles, Cal.
Copyright, 1921 - By Andrew Malcolm Morrison

Now we come to record the topnotcher. The record is indisputable, and the history is unimpeachable truth. The record, and history, and triumphs of the man are written in our National records, and his services to humanity are an imperishable part of the history of Christian heroism. I quote from the Los Angeles Times:

One step to full Century. Preacher is Nation's Oldest Civil War Veteran. At Ninety-nine writes book on Philosophy. Five generations covered by the same roof.

Rev. David Jordan Higgins carries with ease his 99 years. He has a powerful body, all muscle and bone; and his head is that of a philosopher. He has the eye of a seer who looks down the vista of a nation's progress, and he laughed a soundless laugh as he stood in the doorway of his home at No. 915 Maple street, Pasadena, where he came to round out his Century.

"You can rummage around in my past, and see if you can find anything interesting. But I'm all through with the past! I'm living in the present, for my future was taken care of over ninety years ago.

"I was a boy of seven and my mother was reproving me for a childish prank, and said: 'You mustn't do it again, for you know you are God's little boy!" And I answered rebelliously: 'I know you, and I know father, and I know the neighbors, but I don't know God.' 'Well you had better get acquainted with him and make sure you are his little boy.' And so I went out into the barn, and sat down on the golden straw, and looking up into the sky where I thought God lived, called out: 'Say, God! I don't know you! But I'd like to get acquainted with you, and find out if I'm your little boy!"


"In over ninety years I have never been able to figure out how I got the answer, but in the twinkling of an eye, I knew that I was God's little boy, and I've never doubted it from that day to this. I've often been a bad little boy, but today at 99 I'm still God's little boy!"

Stand up, David Jordan Higgins, and tell us what you have done in your ninety-nine years! But he had no need to stand and tell of his life, for it is written in the records of his country.

David Jordan Higgins is the oldest veteran in the United States. He was a colonel in the Twenty-fourth Ohio Regiment, and gave three years of honorable service. He went out a strong, vigorous man in the full tide of successful ministry, and he came home bent double with the privations of army life.


David Jordan Higgins is the oldest active minister in this country, and has attended church for ninety-five years, and for forty-six years has never missed a session of Sunday school. He annually preaches the sermon for Old Folks' Day in Pasadena. This year he talked on the inner life of man, and before the service he called for the veterans, and the boys in blue and gray responded to the call. Half the congregation stood up, when he asked for those over 60 to rise. There were many over 70, a number over 80; Mr. Higgins rounded the quartet of those over 90. It was a most impressive moment in the history of the Lake Avenue Methodist Church of Pasadena.

David Jordan Higgins is the oldest producing author in this country. His newest book, "The Psychological Study of Human Nature," is on the press. Another book is nearly finished, and his "American Life During the Nineteenth Century" is in the public libraries. His "How to Continue Young for a Century," is a fascinating document.


Mr. Higgins is the oldest builder of Churches and parsonages, and probably no minister of the present age has built as many as Mr. Higgins, as three-quarters of a century ago skill in carpentry was an important adjunct to pulpit ministrations, as the country was new, and the people poor. He was also prominent in educational affairs, founded a seminary, was a radical abolitionist, and a tireless worker for prohibition.

Mr. Higgins is the oldest man who daily uses a typewriter. He comes in alone to attend the ministers' meetings in Los Angeles every week. He began life on the coast of Maine, and hopes to end the journey on the Pacific Coast. At 97 he crossed the Continent, and declares "It is in my contract to celebrate my Centenarian birthday with my old Conference in Minneapolis next year."

Five generations live in one home with his daughter, Mrs. E. J. (Emma Jane)Spencer, of Pasadena. Mr. Higgins has baptized his children, his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren, and on the head of his great-great-grandchild has poured the regeneration fluid.

David Jordan Higgins squares his life by his creed, "Look up! Lift up! Get up!"



   This information compiled by Michael James Higgins Your Webmaster  


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