Marshall County

HIGGINS, Thomas J.

Thomas J. HIGGINS, now living a retired life in Henry, Illinois, is an Illinois pioneer of 1840, and dating his residence in Marshall county since 1855. He was born May 12, 1832, in Butler county, Ohio, that state which has sent out many of the grandest men in the nation, and which now ranks with Virginia as the “mother of presidents.” His father, James HIGGINS, was also a native of Butler county, Ohio, while his mother who bore the maiden name of Sally SKILLMAN, was a native of Virginia, but whom in early life removed with her parents to Ohio, where her marriage with Mr. HIGGINS occurred. While yet residing in that state to them were born four sons and one daughter, as follows: Skillman V., who was a farmer of Whitefield township, and dying in 1856, left two children, one of whom is yet living; Nellie Ann married John HIXON, a blacksmith of Peoria county, and removed to Dickinson county, Kansas, where she died in 1882; Hiram died at the age of twenty-two years; Thomas is the next in order of birth; and John was married and engaged in farming in Saratoga township, where he died March 17, 1895. The wife of the last named died the pear previous, leaving a family who yet reside in Saratoga township.

In the fall of 1840 James HIGGINS determined to leave Ohio for Illinois, with a view of not only bettering himself, but giving his children better advantages for their future lives. At this time his eldest son was a lad of but fourteen years, but a sturdy young fellow. Our subject was the next youngest in the family. With teaming and hauling the family and household effects they laboriously pursued their way from their Ohio home, arriving in Farmington, Illinois, January 6, 1841. The means of the husband and father were very limited, and consequently he could not purchase even a small farm, but was compelled to rent for a period of two years, taking a farm near Kickapoo, Peoria county, from which they removed to La Salle Prairie in the same county. In 1844 his wife died and he subsequently married Miss Lydia MOATS, by whom he had one son, James, now living in Buffalo county, Nebraska, where he is engaged in farming. In 1853 he moved with his family to Whitefield township, Marshall county, where he spent the remainder of his life, dying in 1865, at the age of sixty-six years. His second wife survived him many years, dying at the home of her son, in Buffalo county, Nebraska, in 1892.

At the age of twenty-one years, Thomas J. HIGGINS came to Marshall county, and located in Whitefield township, there following farming. On the 25th of September, 1856, he was united in marriage with Miss Catherine OTTO, born in Perry county, Pennsylvania, but who came to Illinois when a child of eight years with her parents, Christopher and Jane OTTO, who settled in Peoria county, eight miles west of Peoria, where she grew to lovely womanhood. Her father there died some four years after coming to the state. Her mother, with true maternal love and affection, kept the three youngest children at home and lived on the farm until each grew up and married. She died in Woodford county, Illinois, some twenty years ago.

In 1855, when our subject began life for himself he had but one horse. He purchased another horse and an outfit for farming on a small scale, on credit, and rented a farm in Whitefield township on which he lived until 1861. He then purchased an eighty acre tract on section 12, Saratoga township, for which he was to pay fifteen hundred dollars. Of the purchase price he paid two hundred and fifty dollars, and had cash enough in hand to purchase all the stock he needed for the farm. Fortune favored him and it was but a short time before he cleared the farm from debt and added eighty more acres, giving him a good farm of one hundred and sixty acres. On that farm he resided for thirty-one years and there his family of eight children were reared and grew to be useful citizens. Of that family, Frances is now the wife of George ETTRIDGE, of Russell county, Kansas; Alonzo married Lillian LUMBARD, a daughter of George LUMBARD, of Saratoga township, and resides on the old homestead; Anna is the wife of Leonard GRAY, a farmer of Lake County, Illinois; Alice is the wife of Edward BROWN, of Saratoga township; Jennie resides at Mount Auburn, Iowa; Ida is a trained nurse residing in Chicago; Minnie also makes her home at Mount Auburn; and Elmer lives with his brother Alonzo on the home farm.

Feeling that he and his good wife had earned a rest, in 1892 Mr. HIGGINS removed to Henry, where they are living retired. While on the farm they labored hard and faithfully; and to each of their children as they left the parental roof they rendered such assistance as possible. To each of them were given good educational advantages, which were well improved, four of the daughters engaging for a time as teachers in the public schools.

Politically, Mr. HIGGINS is a democrat, but simply votes the ticket, leaving to others so inclined, the honors of public office, for which he has no inclinations. Religiously he and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church of Henry, with which they have recently united, although they have always attended and supported the church. In educational matters he has always taken an active interest, and has served as school director and trustee for thirty years. As a citizen he endeavors to do his duty faithfully and well.

Extracted March 2011 by Norma Hass from The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois, 1896.

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