MJH, Buffalo County NEGenWeb Project © 2000


Samuel Higgins, the first actual settler in the township of Cedar, Buffalo County, was born on the banks of the Penobscot river, in Maine, March 30, 1811. His paternal grandfather made his home on the banks of this beautiful stream prior to the revolutionary war, and his father, William Higgins, was the second white male child born along its wooded banks. William Higgins was an active participant in the war of 1812 He accidentally crossed the picket lines and was captured by the English, but afterwards escaped. He died in 1838.

Samuel Higgins, the subject of this sketch, left his parental home in Maine in 1837, and determined to see some of the country in which he lived. He visited several of the principal states in the Union, remaining for a short time in each. After a few years profitably spent in traveling, he settled on a farm in Grant country, Wis., where he remained for thirteen years. He was one to the pioneer residents of that territory, and voted for it to become a state.

It was on November 10, 1872, when Mr. Higgins came to Buffalo Country, Nebr. He built a small shanty in the town of Gibbon, then the county seat, where he left his family while he prospected for a claim. He finally settled on a homestead in Cedar township and also took a timber claim adjoining. His first house consisted of a "dug-out," in which he spent the winter of 1873-4, which was very mild and dry. His visitors consisted almost exclusively of Indians, who often called and asked for food or feed for their ponies. He fried pan-cakes once, but the Indians were not satisfied unless he provided coffee to drink. An Indian is a hard customer to please. Occasionally one would call in an exceedingly bad humor and would refuse to extend the hand of friendship. They were always armed to the teeth, and strenuously objected to the whites killing any wild game. On one dark night Indians tried to break in the door of his "dug-out' but were frightened away. Mr. Higgins was always careful not to incur the ill-will of the red men, for he was the only white settler in all that region at that time, and he knew it meant sure death to him if he offended an Indian. In the spring of 1873, settlers began to come it and it was not long before quite a settlement was effected. One of the notable incidents of the early settlement was the terrible snowstorm or blizzard in April of 1873. At that time Mr. Higgin's live chattels consisted of two horses, a cow and a calf. The cow was completely snowed under and smothered, while the calf was dug out of the snow four days afterwards alive, but pretty hungry. It was the worst storm in the history of the country, and there has been no blizzard since anywhere equal to it. Mr. Higgins always possessed unbounded faith from the first in the future development of this country, and although many tried to discourage him, yet he went straight ahead setting out trees and preparing to do his share towards improving the country, notwithstanding the fact that he had had thirty acres of corn destroyed for three consecutive years by grasshoppers. His grove is timber is now one of the very finest in the country and consists of cottonwood, ash, maple and boxelder.

Mr. Higgins was married twice. His first wife bore him nine children, and his second, two--one of whom is dead. His farm consists of one hundred and sixty acres, and is one of the best improved in the county. He has frequently held various offices of responsibility, but has as often refused to accept office, and was at one time treasurer of the Boonesborough Manufacturing Company, of Boonesborough, Iowa, a position of great trust and responsibility. When the war broke out he offered his services to his country, but was rejected on account of his extreme age. He has been an earnest and consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal church for sixty years, and has always taken great interest in religious affairs, and especially in the Sunday school. Mr. Higgins has written some very fine assays, but the object and scope of this work are such as to preclude the insertion here of one of his productions.

From BIOGRAPHICAL SOUVENIR of the Counties of Buffalo, Kearney, and Phelps in Nebraska, Chicago, F.A. Battey and Company, 1890.
Submitted by Tanya Spaulding, - TSpaul4045@ aol.com - descendant of Samuel Higgins.

Buffalo County NEGenWeb Project