History of Texas, together with a biographical history of Milam, Williamson, Bastrop, Travis, Lee and Burleson counties : containing a concise history of the state, with portraits and biographies of prominent citizens of the above named counties, and personal histories of many of the early settlers and leading families Page: 687
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HISTORY OF TEXAS.
ia county, Vermont, where the father died
when our subject was but four years of age,
and the mother when he had just passed his
J. (). Higgins, the subject of this sketch,
was thus thrown upon thle world's mercy.
The Fairbanks family, of Fairbanks Standard
Scales fame, were relatives, Mrs. Erastus
Fairbanks, whose husband and son have both
filled the Governor's chair of Vermont since
that time, having been a Chamberlain, and a
full cousin to the mother of our subject. He
was taken to their home, and during their entire
lifetime was treated in every respect as
one of their sons. The orphan boy was so
much impressed with the kind treatment received
that lie never lost correspondence with
them, and the name of Erastus Fairbanks has
become a fixture in the Higgins family. Tlhe
boy grew to manhood in this home, and was
given every opportunity to perfect himself
in the trade of a machinist and millwright.
At maturity Mr. Higgins found himself a
competent and trusted assistant, and it was in
the discharge of a duty given only to such a
person that he became separated from thle
Fairbanks home. In 1836 he was sent by a
firm to superintend the building of a sawmill
on one of the Alabama rivers. The undertaking
successfully completed, he concluded
to try his hand at steamboat engineering, and
for the following three years plied the rivers
From his conversation with passengers on
the boat, who were returning from Texas, he
gathered a good idea of the immense resources
of this State, and in the spring of
1840 determined to try his fortune in the
Lone Star State. Landing at Galveston
March 16, of that year, Mr. Higgins journeyed
on- to Austin, then a hamlet of a few
straggling houses, subject to the depredations
of the Comanche and Mexican. The first
few months were spent with surveying parties,
and onl expeditions against the Indians.
1in the following Junle lie concluded to settle
at Bastrop, and accordingly engaged to runi a
mill near that point. He was then without
means, and for two years worked for wages,
carefully laying up what he did not need for
actual expenses. In this way, in 1842 lie
was enabled to buy the mill from his enmployer,
and thus became for the first time
owner of Texas soil, ten acres of ground being
included in the mill site. The mill was located
on Copperas creek, about two miles from
Bastrop. Mr. Higgins early saw the profit
investments in fine land would bring, and accordingly
threw all his energies in tile work.
Lands and mills were secured, which required
much help, and at the freedom of slave labor
Mr. Higgins lost eighty negroes. The war
was further disastrous to him in the nullifyinog
of contracts. However, the increased demalid
for farmns after tile close of the struggle
soon made the land, from which all the timber
had been cut, more valuable than ever
before, and Mr. Higgins again became
wealthy. He still retains his place as one of
the solid men in his community, although of
late years lie has given much of his land to
his children. From 1871 to 1885 Mr. Higgins
added merchandising to his other business
interests, and also did some private
banking. He continued the latter occupation
until the fall of 1892, when he retired
from active business.
He was first married in Bastrop county, in
December, 1843, to Sarah Gamble, who died
in 1849. They had two children: Willial,
a farmer of Bastrop county; and Erastus
Fairbanks, who died leaving one child, Claude
C., who resides with his grandfather. Mr.
Higgins was again married, in Seguin, Gau
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Lewis Publishing Company, publisher. History of Texas, together with a biographical history of Milam, Williamson, Bastrop, Travis, Lee and Burleson counties : containing a concise history of the state, with portraits and biographies of prominent citizens of the above named counties, and personal histories of many of the early settlers and leading families, book, 1893; Chicago. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth29785/m1/737/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .