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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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This article was contributed by Kay Reitberger

Sheboygan Press - July 22, 1925

The Story Of Hiram Warren Higgins, One Of County Pioneers

{There is a picture of Mr. Higgins Labeled "Hiram Warner Higgins"}

By Harriet M. Keach

The pioneers have passed. They have followed the Indians and the buffalos over the Great Divide. They have left us a country of unrivaled wealth and prosperity, but far more important they have left to us as a nation their spirit of sturdy, self-reliance. - Theodore ROOSEVELT, Jr.

Just remember that God never walks out in front. He always stays behind - to watch, to wait, to be ready to help. Look far enough behind the thoughts of a man and you will have a picture of all that he is or may be. - George Matthew Adams.

"There's a ray of sunshine streaming over there,
While I sit in shadows seeming full of care.
But its shimmer on the leaves
And that field of golden sheaves, helped me bear,
For thank God my eyes can see it over there
Where its bit of golden radiance seems a prayer
That it will my shadows kiss
Change their sorrow into bliss everywhere."

The story I shall tell you in this article is of a quiet, unassuming man, Hiram Warren HIGGINS and his family. We have learned previous to this of his cousins, George, Harriet, Olney and Alvariso HIGGINS who were a part of the early life of Greenbush, coming here from Benson, Rutland County, Vermont. Again let me quote from Daniel F. HIGGINS, lawyer of Joliet, Illinois, "Tradition states that prior to the Revolutionary War there lived in some of the colonies three brothers by the name of HIGGINS. They entered service in the Revolution, became separated and never since knew of each other's whereabouts."

The original family home was at Killingsworth, Connecticut. I cannot tell you which of the brothers was the ancestor of the subject of our sketch, but we know that Hiram Warner HIGGINS spent the days of his boyhood and early youth at Benson, Vermont and attended school there with his cousins.

He, too had the spirit of the pioneers, that great wish which had as the basis what a poet, Clarence E. FLYNN, has called, "The Land of Heart's Desire."

"There is a land for wonder
With fields and towers agleam
I often see it yonder
Behind the Hills of Dream,
Touched by the glow of morning,
Lit by the sunsets' fire,
Or with starbeams adorning,
The Land of Heart's Desire."

In 1852 Warner HIGGINS came to Greenbush, purchased of William GRAVES part of the farm which lies about one mile north of the village. Mr. GRAVES and family were living in a log house. Mr. HIGGINS built a log "shanty" and started to work alone on his farm. Here, for three years he labored, but the lure of the "Land of Heart's Desire" told him his home was imperfect without the help of a woman's heart and hands. April 19, 1855, Frances Pomroy SPALDING and Hiram Warner HIGGINS were married. It is well for us to know something of the ancestry of the girl who became the true help-mate of our pioneer. In the old family Bible of Frances SPALDING's father (a St. James edition, published in Philadelphia in 1806) we glean in part the records of her family which has been supplemented for me by her son, William HIGGINS.

The SPALDING family were of French extraction and came to Connecticut previous to Revolutionary days. They settled in Windham County which borders Rhode Island. At Killingly John SPALDING was born November 26th, 1776. Eliza DABNEY, the girl he married October 5th, 1900, was also born at Oxford, Connecticut, October 2, 1783. Their home was at Killingly for many years. Here, eleven children were born to them. Frances, who was born June 9th, 1822, was the fifth daughter. Later the family home was at Alden, Erie county, New York. Here, April 11, 1831 John SPALDING died at the age of fifty-five years and ten years later their son, Francis died. Soon after this, about 1845, Mary Ann and Frances and sons, Frederick and Augustus came here. They settled on adjoining farms in the town of Rhine, bordering the town of Greenbush. Mrs. SPALDING and daughters lived on a part of the CASE farm, where in 1847, Mary Ann SPALDING died. Charles SPALDING, another son, settled in northern Wisconsin, Frederick SPALDING and wife were for a few years residents of Greenbush but moved to St. Cloud, their home many years. Here his death occurred in March, 1884. Mrs. DURKEE, a sister of Mrs. SPALDING, was a resident of Greenbush with her family, their home being in the southwestern part of the town. One of their daughters was the mother of Charles PRATT of Sheboygan, who is well and favorably known in the county, not only as a musician, but as a business-man also. A brother of Mrs. SPALDING, John DABNEY, died in the Azores Islands in 1826. He was Consul General. The DABNEY family were prominent in the early history of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania.

From 1855, until Hiram Warner HIGGINS death, September 18th, 1882, their home was on the farm of which I told you. Quiet lives they led, filled to the full with work, but with kindness and helpfulness ever in the foreground. The HIGGINS family for generations were members of the Baptist church. Frances SPALDING HIGGINS was of a very religious nature as is attested by her notations in her fathers old Bible. Here she has recorded various texts for funeral services as used by ministers here for her old friends, and the Bible is replete with her spirit.

Two children were born to Mr. and Mrs. HIGGINS, Ella May, on March 30th, 1856, and William T., April 21st, 1863. The children attended the village school and passed many happy years trudging back and forth.

Mr. and Mrs. HIGGINS were active and interested member of the I. O. O.F. and Rebekah Lodges during these years and the ideal thus lived was a panacea for the labors of farming. My father, the late Albert KEACH, wrote at one time a short article on the meaning of Odd Fellowship as it appealed to him. Pardon me, the quotation which seems to me to express the thoughts of many others of the order,

"The founders of Odd Fellowship recognized the great principle of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man. We are banded together here not to make money, not for political gain, not for social standing but to help each other in times of need. Change and decay are written in raised letters upon everything in nature but this principle that by doing good to others we gather the flowers and sunshine and joy of life changeth never."

Here, I quote from a notice written at the time of Mr. HIGGINS' death,

"The funeral occurred yesterday afternoon, (September 21st, 1882) at the M. E. church and was under the direction of Lodge No. 78, I.O.O.F. of which society he was a pioneer and we believe, charter member. Brothers of the fraternity were present from Glenbeulah and Plymouth. Rev. H. F. KNIGHT officiated."

After Mr. HIGGINS death the care of the farm was taken up by the son, then but a young man. His mother and sister shared in the care for six or more years. The log house had long before been replaced by a frame house and barns and other buildings had been added as needed. February 9th, 1886 Harriet S. WILLIS of Glenbeulah, daughter of pioneers, and William T. HIGGINS were married. Their home today and all the days since then is on the farm where he was born. Mrs. Frances HIGGINS and daughter, Ella moved to the village and lived quietly. Ella caring for her mother as the added years brought less physical strength. At the age of seventy-nine years, Mrs. HIGGINS died. Her mental powers were undiminished to the last and her vis8ion of things spiritual was developed by the Architect, Life, into great keenness. Ella then returned to the farm and lived with her brother and wife until May 13th, 1914, when death came to her, too. Under the able management of Mr. and Mrs. William HIGGINS the farm has blossomed and they have had the frame house replaced by a large, modern house with electricity and many conveniences not dreamed of in earlier years. Mrs. HIGGINS has a sister, Mrs. McKELLUP of Glenbeulah, and a niece, Mrs. Pearl McKELLOP-MAY of Plymouth. Mrs. MAY's children are happy during the summer vacation to spend several weeks with Mr. and Mrs. HIGGINS. Mr. HIGGINS has first cousins on his father's side, Mrs. Nellie WILKINSON-HERRICK of Chicago, who, before her marriage conducted a large music class, spending her vacations on the farm. Her brother, Charles WILKINSON is the head of the Western Electric Company of Minneapolis. But Mr. and Mrs. HIGGINS have no children to share in their beautiful home and with their deaths this branch of the HIGGINS family will die out - only as memory rebuilds it.

"The day is done, the pale refreshing starlight
Tempers the warm white sun of youth now hanging low.
And He whose presence stills the robin through the long night
Will guide me safely in the way my feet must go."

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