The following is a letter from Michael Miller who shares with us a history written by Ulysses Sidney Higdon (b. 3 Nov 1872, d. 4 Aug 1955).
I recently stumbled on to your site by accident while checking some surnames on the net. I saw the article on Higdon, MO and I know the place well. Higdon is in the NE corner of Madison County, MO and my grandparents farm which I spent many summers on backs up to it. I have a history written by Ulysses Sidney Higdon, son of James Taylor Higdon and Cordelia Berry. This history was written in the 1950’s shortly before Mr. Higdon's death. His granddaughter, Mary Lee White, gave me her permission to use it. After much intense research, the recall of this man in his 80's and the facts that he got correct were just amazing.
Here are some paragraphs related to the Higdon family and it's history in Madison Co., MO.:
"We know that Grandfather Samuel, and an older brother Thomas, came to Missouri some time in the 1830's and settled on Castor. Thomas Higdon was a millwright and rebuilt and operated the old McMurtrey Mill located where the Hahn/Skaggs Mill stood. Thomas married and lived on what was known as the Menteer farm. (* I know this location) He died at an early age leaving one son, John R. Higdon, father of the John H. Higdon you knew who lived in St. Louis. Grandfather Samuel homesteaded and bought the land that consisted of Uncle Hans and our old farm and built his home where Uncle Hans now stands. I well remember the old house, a two-story frame, three rooms downstairs, and two large ones upstairs and a one story ell for the kitchen. The framework was as heavy as any barn, and had the same stone chimney that serves the present house. The old house was torn down in 1884. Sometime in the late 1830's he married Alia (prounounced Aylya), whose father William White, owned the land adjoining our old farm on the south. They had five children: Wm Hansford (Uncle Hans) Higdon, Nancy Jane Higdon, Mary Higdon, who died when her parents did, James Taylor Higdon, your grandfather, and and an infant who also died when it's parents did (Note: this child's name was Eloise).
In 1853 Grandfather, Grandmother, and the two children died of what then was said to be a mysterious throat and tongue infection. I suppose todays medical profession would have no trouble clarifying it. It seemed to be very contagious, Uncle Hans, Aunt Jane and your grandfather survived and four died. I heard Uncle Hans say, there was a funeral at their home every Sunday for a month. At the time of their parents death's Uncle Hans was 13 years old, Aunt Jane about 10, and Father 5.
NOTE: Some say this disease was erysipelas, and it was thought that they got it from their drinking water. However their throats and tongues swelled up and choked them to death. It was a horrible death. They are buried on the Menteer farm, on the Wm White farm cemetery. Todays graves are unmarked, the only stone standing is that of Aylya's brother George Washington White.
After Grandfather's death the personal property was sold and the children went to live with their Grandfather, Wm. White, Grandmother's father. Just before Uncle Joshua White died, I spent a night with him. We talked most of the night, and he told me more about Grandfather Higdon than anyone else. He was 18 years old when they died and was Grandmother's brother. He said my father resembled Grandfather, in many ways, said he had some breeding stock from Kentucky and raised and sold some fine horses. I heard father say he rememberd his father letting him ride a stallion while he led it. He also said he bought and sold land. Grandfather White passed away in 1858 (Father was 10 years old at the time). Later Aunt Jane, married W.D. Whitworth (Uncle Bill) and Father went to live with them. They lived on the old Higdon farm. (The Uncle Hans place).
At the age of 16 father joined the Union Army, served with Co I 3rd MO. Cavalry, and was discharged in 1866. After the war he and Uncle Hans bought Aunt Jane's interest in the farm and divided it as you knew it. (**Note this may be where Lawrence Higdon resides today) Your grandfather built our old home and in 1871 at the age of 23 he married Cordelia Berry. They had two children; myself born on Sept. 30, 1872 and Lulu E. who was born in Jan. 1880 and died in 1892 of that dreaded disease, typhoid fever. She died the 23rd of October in one month, and in one month, November 26th, my mother died from the same disease. From here on in you all know the rest. Your grandfather died in April 1918 at the age of 70. "
In the Higdon Christian Cemetery the three surviving children of Samuel Higdon and Aylya White are buried with their respective spouses:
- Higdon, James Taylor 8 Jan. 1848-14 Apr. 1918 S/O Samuel and Aylya (White) H/O Cordelia Berry
- Higdon, Cordelia 4 Dec. 1849-25 Nov. 1892 D/O John Jefferson Berry and Elizabeth Bess Shaw MD: Jas. T. Higdon 19 Feb. 1872
- Higdon, Lulu Etta 18 Jan. 1880-23 Oct 1892 D/O James T. and Cordelia (Berry)
- Higdon, Wm Hansford 28 Jan. 1839-27 Nov. 1919 S/O Samuel and Aylya (White) H/O Nancy Combs CIVIL WAR: Union Army Co A 5th California Infantry
- Higdon, Nancy A. 1 Jun. 1839-14 Jul 1933 D/O Silas B Combs and Elizabeth Izely Whitworth. MD: Wm H. Higdon on 27 Feb. 1867
- Whitworth, Nancy Jane 5 May 1842-26 Mar 1928 D/O Samuel Higdon and Aylya White MD: Wm Davis Whitworth
- Whitworth, Wm Davis 3 Jun 1836-28 Sep. 1916 S/O Winston Whitworth and Sarah Albright. H/O Nancy Jane Higdon
All of these people have stones in the cemetery... I knew of Hilma Higdon Nath, and her interest in the history of her family. One of my genealogy friends visited her several times. This history is part of a history written by her father, Ulysses Sidney Higdon on May 11, 1955 and he died on 4 August 1955. He is buried in his family plot at the Marcus Memorial Park Cemetery outside of Fredericktown, MO in Madison County, MO.
While not a Higdon by birth and descent, they happen to fall into my Berry line and I acquired this history through his granddaughter, along with copies of all of the photos she had at the time. (There were several boxes and had to decide on which ones were most relevant to my research). I can provide a full copy of the history to you also.
Michael G. Miller
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