Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 575 - 576
William Higby, the pioneer school teacher of Holland Township, has been an important factor in the educational
progress in his community. While some have given their time and attention to improving farms and accumulating
wealth, he has given more thought to the intellectual and moral growth of his community. Few men have the esteem
and confidence of their townsmen in a higher degree than this gentleman. Mr. Higby was bora January 4, 1824, in
Otsego County, N. Y., being a son of William and Eunice (Niles) Higby. The father was born in Washington County, of
the same State, August 10, 1774, and when a boy learned the trade of a carpenter. Going to Otsego County, he
devoted himself to farming and working at his trade. His last days were spent in that county, where he died in
1856. The mother of the subject of this sketch was born March 10, 1792, and died June 8, 1841. This worthy couple
became the parents of six children, three boys and three girls, of whom three are living: Mary A., widow of Dana F.
Shepherd, now residing in Columbus, Cherokee County, Kan.; William, whose name heads this record; and Beecher, who
lives in Otsego County, N. Y.
In his native county Mr. Higby grew to manhood and received a common-school education. During the winter of
1844-45, he taught his first term of school. In the fall of the latter year he emigrated to Milwaukee, where he
made his home with his brother, who had preceded him to Wisconsin. Early in 1846, Mr. Higby purchased a tract of
prairie land at Johnstown, Rock County, on which he resided for about six months, and then returned to Milwaukee.
During the winter of 1846, he conducted a school at Greenfield, Milwaukee County. In May, 1847, the young pedagogue
found his way to Holland Township. His first school in Sheboygan County was taught in Gibbsville, Lima Township, in
the winter of 1847. This entitles him to be numbered among the pioneer teachers of the county, as few schools had
been conducted prior to that time. Many of the prosperous farmers and business men of the county have received
instruction from this venerable educator. Upon his arrival in the town of Holland, Mr. Higby pre-empted one hundred
and sixty acres of Government land, and purchased eighty acres, for which he paid the nominal sum of $1.25 per
acre. Being one of the earliest settlers in the town, Mr. Higby took an active part in surveying the land, cutting
out roads, erecting schoolhouses and making other improvements. He has been an eye-witness of the great
transformation that has taken place in this country. The thick forests have melted away before the woodsman's axe,
well-cultivated farms taking their places; cities, populous and prosperous, have risen over the vanished Indian
villages, and magnificent homes have been erected where once stood the pioneer's hospitable cabin.
Before coming to this county, Mr. Higby formed the acquaintance of Miss Mary Brooks, a most estimable lady, to whom
he was married August 31, 1848. Mrs Higby is a daughter of Abel and Ora (Colton) Brooks, and is a native of the
town of Milford, Otsego County, N. Y., born October 25, 1824. She is one of ten children, two sons and eight
daughters, though only two are now living. Her sister Amanda is the wife of Leonard W. Baldwin, of Otsego County.
For forty-five years Mrs. Higby has been a true helpmate to her husband, sharing with him all the hardships as well
as the pleasures of frontier life.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Higby have been born four children. DeWitt E., born March 11, 1853, is a farmer of Holland
Township. The marriage of this son to Miss Ida L. Gillette, a native of Milwaukee County, occurred January 30,
1878. Dwight H., born March 12, 1856, who is also a farmer of that town, wedded Miss Louise Koonz, who is now
deceased; Flora M., born January 7, 1859, became the wife of John Lemkuil, and resides in Sheboygan; and Harriet
M., born November 10, 1861, is the wife of Fayette Richmond, a farmer of Lyndon Township.
Politically, Mr. Higby is a Republican, and by his party has been honored with a number of official positions. In
1850, and again in 1860, he served as Town Superintendent of Schools; was Town Clerk in 1855; was a member of the
County Board of Supervisors in 1869; was Census Enumerator of his township in 1855, for the State, and served in
the same capacity for the United States in 1880; and is now holding the office of Justice of the Peace. Though
nearly seventy years of age, he and his wife are well preserved, both physically and mentally, and no couple in the
county are more deserving of favorable mention.
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