Last revised: 10 Jan 2015
(08 Dec 1746 – 30 May 1825)
Robert was presented by his parents Robert and Hannah Higgins to be baptized on 08 Dec 1746 at the Smithfield Reformed Dutch Church in Pennsylvania. About ten years later Isaac Vanmeter, a neighbor, tells about young Robert Higgins who was about 12 years of age: “In 1756, while the Indians were lurking about Fort Pleasant, and constantly on the watch to cut off all communications therewith, a lad named Higgins, aged about 12 years, was directed by his mother to go to the spring about a quarter of a mile with the fort, and bring a bucket of water. He complied with much trepidation, and persuaded a companion of his, about the same age, to accompany him. They repaired to the spring as cautiously as possible, and halfway to the fort, and Higgins had got about thirty yards before his companion, he heard a scream from the latter, which caused him to increase his speed to the utmost. He reached the fort in safety, while his companion was captured by the Indians, and taken to their settlements, where he remained until the peace and was then restored. The young Higgins subsequently became the active Captain Robert Higgins in our Revolutionary Army, and after raising a numerous family in Virginia removed with them to the West.”
Robert married Miss. Wright about 1766 or 1767 because his first child, Gideon W. Higgins, was born on 28 Oct 1767. Robert Higgins and his wife had eight children. Elinor was born 07 Feb 1770 and their first set of twins, Sarah and Amelia were born 17 Jul 1772. Nimrod was born 27 Jan 1775.
“Higgins was the owner of a plantation on the South Branch of the Potomac River and was a dealer in cattle, driving them to the different Eastern markets. An incident is related of him: While participating in his periodic drives, he chanced to stop at a hotel where he found a Guinea negro, strangely tattooed, chained to a pillar of the front porch. The owner wanted to sell the negro, ant the price asked was $40. Higgins examined the negro, found him perfect, in regard to physical condition, and asked the negro if he would like to become a laborer on his plantation. After surveying the Higgins from head to foot, the negro replied that, believing from his appearance, Higgins was a humane and just master, he would be willing to enter his service. Higgins immediately purchased the negro, who was of immense proportions, rather inclined to be vicious, and told him to assist in the drive. The negro did as request and after Higgins had removed his chains accompanied him home. He became a faithful servant. About this time the Revolutionary War commenced and Robert Higgins and his brother were among the first to raise companies in the Valley to join the army. Upon leaving home Robert Higgins put the plantation and its inhabitants in the care of “Old Jack,” his new purchase and started for the war.”
Robert was promoted to 1st Lieutenant in the 8th Virginia Regiment on 12 Mar 1776. A little over a year later, 01 Mar 1777 Lt. Robert Higgins was promoted to Captain in the 8th Virginia Regiment. Capt. Higgins fought and during the Battle of Germantown, Pennsylvania, on 04 Oct 1777, he was captured by the British and confined in a Philadelphia jail. While being held there he documented the death of one of his men. Also during his imprisonment there his second set of twins, Nancy and William were born on 02 Feb 1778. By the summer of 1778 Capt. Higgins, along with many other prisoners, was moved to New York Harbor and subsequently Long Island when the British were forced to evacuate Philadelphia. He was confined by the British for a total of three years and nine month before he was paroled. He returned to his home on the Potomac in Virginia about 12 Feb 1781 and was transferred to the 2nd Virginia and served till [the end of the war 19 Oct 1781 when Lord Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown]. When he returned home he found that “Old Jack” had been an excellent manager and overseer. The plantation and buildings were in good shape, the crops large and well house, and the servants in good condition. During his absence, his wife had died and “Old Jack” was caring for the motherless children as only a beloved servant could.”
On the 10th day of April 1787 Capt. Higgins purchased Lot #33 in Moorefield, Virginia [now West Virginia] and there constructed a log cabin with stone chimney as required by the city trustees. Capt. Higgins’s cabin is still standing in Moorefield, Hardy Co., WV as of this writing, 16 Dec 2009, and is now part of the Moorefield Historic District. Also on 30 Aug 1783 Capt. Higgins was rewarded with Warrant No. 1693 for 4,000 acres by the State of Virginia for his service as a Captain of the Continental Line for three years service.
On 07 Mar 1797 Captain Higgins was married to Mary Jolliffe, by Rev. Alexander Balmain, an Episcopal minister. In 1798 Capt. Robert Higgins and his second wife Mary Jolliffe removed to Kentucky. While there their first child, Maria Guillalima Higgins, was born in Augusta, Bracken Co., Kentucky. They lived opposite his survey in Lewis Township for one year before moving in the Spring of 1799 across the river to occupy a rude cabin on the site of Higginsport. Here in the year 1800 were born twins a daughter Eliza Higgins and a son John Jolliffe Higgins. Lydia Bruce Higgins was born 17 Dec 1801 and Robert Van Zandt Higgins was born on 07 Feb 1804.
Mary Jolliffe Higgins passed away in 1806 and Capt. Higgins expired on 30 May 1825 in Brown Co., Ohio. Capt. Higgins Will was written and signed on 15 Sep 1823. His Will was proven in and is now on file in Brown Co., Ohio Will Book 1, Page 50. One of the witnesses to Captain Higgins’s Will was Jesse R. Grant, President Ulysses S. Grant’s father. The following is a transcription of his Last Will and Testament:
“I, ROBERT HIGGINS, of Brown County and State of Ohio, revoking all other and former wills by me made at any time heretofore do make and ordain this my Last Will and Testament in manner and form following, to wit: First, after all my just debts and funeral charges are paid, I give and bequeath to my son JOHN JOLLIFFE HIGGINS all my right, title and interest in a certain tract of land in Frederick County, Virginia, bequeathed to my children by AMOS JOLLIFFE and which descended to me on the death of two of my children to who the same was bequeathed, to him the said JOHN, his heirs and assigns forever. I further give and bequeath unto my aforesaid son JOHN in lots in the town of Higginsport Nos. six and seven together with the fractional lot lying east of White Oak Street in the said town on which my warehouse stands, with the buildings and other improvements on the said three lots to him, his heirs and assigns forever. I further give and devise unto the said JOHN all that part of my tract of land of 1,000 acres lying at the mouth of White Oak Creek bounded and described as follows, to wit: Beginning at the mouth of White Oak Creek, running thence up the river Ohio with its meanders to the line of THOMAS L. HAMER’s land at a place called the low gap, thence with his line to a marked beech on the east side of the creek and north side of a gully called for in the said HAMER’s Deed, thence down the creek to the place of beginning, to include all the land between the river and the creek west of the said THOMAS L. HAMER’s line; to him the said JOHN, his heirs and assigns forever. Second, I give, bequeath and devise unto my son ROBERT VANZANT HIGGINS all the balance of my aforesaid tract of land of one thousand acres, his share to be bounded on the east side by White Oak Creek with its meanders from my north line to the mouth, and on the south, west and north sides by the original lines of the survey; I further give and bequest to my said son ROBERT all the lots in the town of Higginsport not heretofore, or by this will, or otherwise disposed of at the time of my death, the said tract of land and the said lots to him, his heirs and assigns forever. Third, I give and bequeath to my son GIDEON HIGGINS the two obligations on JEREMIAH CLAYPOOL left in his hands for collection. Fourth, I give and bequeath to Nancy Norris (woman of color) one in lot in the town of Higginsport number twenty-one to her, her heirs and assigns forever. Fifth, I give and bequeath all my personal property and credits at the time of my decease, and to my executors to be appropriated to the payments of my just debts. It is my will and desire that the balance of my tract of land in Highland County on White Oak Creek known by the name of ROBERT HIGGINS SURVEY No. not sold or disposed of at the time of my decease shall be sold by my executors or the survivor of them to the best advantage according to their judgement, and they are hereby expressly and fully vested with authority to seal and convey the same. It is my will and desire further that the proceeds of said land together with my personal property shall form a fund out of which all just and legal debts against me or my estate shall be discharged by my executors; and if after the same are discharged there should be a balance remaining, the same to be divided among my children in the following manner, to wit; One third thereof to SALLY ROBINSON and the remaining two thirds to be equally divided amongst JOHN JOLLIFFE HIGGINS, THOMAS L. HAMER and ROBERT VANZANT HIGGINS. I further hereby vest my executors or the survivor of them with full, ample and absolute authority to make and execute deeds of conveyance for all the lots I have sold and which may be sold and remain unconveyed by deed at the time of my decease. I hereby lastly nominate constitute and appoint JOHN J. HIGGINS and THOMAS L. HAMER or the survivor of them executors of this, my last will and testament, enjoining that the same may be executed according to the true intent and meaning thereof in every part.
In testimony whereof, I, ROBERT HIGGINS, have hereunto set my hand and seal this 15th day of September in the year of our lord 1823.
(Signed) ROBT. HIGGINS (Seal)
In the presence of us who subscribed our
names in presence of the testator:
JESSE R. GRANT (Signature unclear)
( ? ) WOODS (Signature unclear)”
[Transcribed by Clarence A. Higgins in January 1973]
[Note: JESSE R. GRANT was the father of President ULYSSES S. GRANT - Clarence A. Higgins - Sept. 1974.]
[Note by Preston T. Higgins, II on 29 Sep 2005: In Patricia N. Donaldson's Abstracting of Robert Higgins's Will in her book Brown County, Ohio Court Records 1818-1830 introduced some errors. When she named the sons she incorrectly made it look like John and Jollif were two different sons when in fact John's middle name is Jolliffe. Photocopy of Robert Higgins's Will clearly indicates that it was copied from Will Book 1, Page 50 and not Page 65 as indicated in her book on page 7.]
[Note by Preston T. Higgins, II on 29 Sep 2005: page 10 of Index to Wills (1818-1910) incorrectly shows Robert Higgins's Will to be listed in Book No. 1, Page 52 when it is currently in Book 1, Page 50.]