ROBERT HIGGINS, a highly respected farmer of Mt. Hope Township, is pleasantly located on section 7, where he owns and occupies a good farm and is engaged in the peaceful pursuit of farming. As a representative agriculturist of this splendid agricultural country, as well as a worthy and esteemed citizen, the publishers present the portrait of Mr. Higgins in this volume.
Mr. Higgins is a native of the Buckeye State, having been born in Licking County, Ohio, on the 28th of December, 1824. He is descended from excellent Irish ancestry, his father, James Higgins, having been born in the city of Belfast and his grandfather was also a native of the Emerald Isle. The latter was a successful linen draper in the city of Belfast, where he spent the last years of his life. In that city James Higgins, the father of our subject, was reared and received his early education in the public schools.
Being the fourth son in order of birth, as the elder son would inherit the property, James Higgins early learned that he would have to depend upon his own resources for his living. At the age of eighteen years, not being satisfied with the condition of his prospects in his native country, he determined to emigrate to America. He possessed some means and after arriving here did not for some time engage in any particular calling.
He went into Westmoreland County, Pa., and in due time took unto himself a wife in the person of Miss Mary McClelland, a native of said county and of German ancestry. Soon after marriage they proceeded to Ohio and located upon a farm in Licking County, which they rented from its owner, Dr. Taylor, and upon which they remained until the spring of 1825. They then removed to Perry County, same State, where James Higgins purchased 160 acres of timber land, put up a log cabin and commenced clearing a farm from the wilderness. In due time their humble dwelling was replaced by a commodious stone house and Mr. H. also erected a substantial hewed log barn. They established a comfortable home there, upon which they remained the balance of their lives, the mother resting from her labors in 1848, and the father, surviving her for a period, of fourteen years, folded his hands for his final rest in 1862. They were both devoted members of the Lutheran Church and highly esteemed in the community where they had for so many years made their home and illustrated in their lives the principles of honor, honesty and kindness.
The parental household of our subject consisted of ten children, nine of whom grew to become men and women. To each of his children James Higgins gave the advantages of a good education and those who wished availed themselves of a college course. Most of the boys became professional men, and Robert of his own choice became a farmer.
The subject of this history was the ninth child of his parents' family. He was reared on the farm, attended the district schools and assisted his father in his agricultural operations until his marriage. The father then built another house on the home farm where our subject and his wife took up their abode and managed the operations of the farm until 1855. They then came to Illinois and rented a farm in Mt. Hope Township for two years. In the spring of 1858 Robert Higgins moved to the Darnell Farm and occupied it for the following ten years, and in the meantime also purchased the farm which he now owns and occupies. When it came into his possession there was upon it a frame house 14x20 feet in dimensions and sixty-five acres of land were broken. There had also been planted a few fruit trees and the land was partially fenced. In the spring of 1868 the old frame house was replaced by the present comfortable family residence, and the farm of Mr. Higgins, which comprises 160 acres, is now all under an excellent state of cultivation. He has a good barn and all other necessary out-buildings and is now enjoying the fruits of early toil and economy.
Mr. Higgins was married, April 4, 1847, while in Perry County, Ohio, to Miss Jane Allen, daughter of Oliver and Mary Allen, natives of Rhode Island. Of this union there were born four children, of whom three only are living: Clarence Elmer, who is a native of Perry County, Ohio, now lives in Stanford, this county; James lives in Oakley, Kan.; Laura J. married John E. Jones, and they live in Nuckolls County, Neb. The mother of these children departed this life Dec. 6, 1856.
Mr. Higgins was the second time married, in 1858, to Mrs. Sarepta (Brookes) Darnall. Mrs. Higgins was a native of Kentucky and was first married to Nicholas Darnall. Of her marriage with our subject there was born one child, Emma B., who became the wife of David Stephey and lives in Nuckolls County, Neb. Mrs. Sarepta Higgins died in September, 1872, and Mr. Higgins was married the third time on the 9th of October, 1873, to Miss Samantha Clayton. This lady is a native of Perry County, Ohio, and the daughter of Thomas and Catharine Clayton. Of this union there have been born three children Edgar H., Minnie E. and Lucy May. Mr. and Mrs. H. are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In earlier years and during the existence of the Whig party, Mr. H. affiliated with that political organization, but since the abandonment of the old party by the formation of the Republican party he has cordially indorsed the principles of the latter and with it uniformly casts his vote.
Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 714. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards.