William Thomas Higginson (1835 - 1914)

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: Kinton Hall,Shifnal, Great Ness, Shropshire, England
Death: Died in Hatch, Bannock, Idaho, United States
Managed by: David Stewart
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About William Thomas Higginson

WILLIAM THOMAS HIGGINSON by Elizabeth Higginson Call

William Thomas Higginson was born November 1, 1835 at Kynton Hall Shifnal, Shorps, England. (One reliable source lists Shrewbury, Shropshire). He was the son of Charles Wood Higginson and Mary Ann Bouncer. He was sixth in a family of eleven children. Soon after his birth his father moved the family to an estate called "Copies Green". Through some misunderstanding an uncle gained possession of the estate and the family was forced to move to "Gatten Estate". Here the father served as game warden for fourteen years.

At the age of fourteen, William became a jockey at the racing stables of Hednesford, Staffordshire, England, a position which he held for 4 years.

After returning home he became acquainted with some Mormon Elders and members of the church. After much study and prayer he became convinced of the truthfulness of the Gospel and was baptized July, 1855.

Some weeks after this event while attending a religious meeting he saw a young lady in the congregation whom he could not help but gaze upon. He kept saying to himself, "That young lady will someday be my wife". He was not aware at that time that she was thinking the same thing. Upon asking for an introduction, he found her name to be Elizabeth Jones.


After a lovely courtship they made plans to sail for America and finally made their way to Cleveland, Ohio where they were married October 1, 1857. It was a short marriage filled with many fears and anxieties as Elizabeth was in ill health, suffering from the dread disease of tuberculosis of the lung. Her tragic death came January 17, 1858 as William T. held her in his arms and just three and one half months after marriage.

William T. remained in Cleveland until April of that year and then started west with but $36.00 in his pocket. When he arrived in St. Joseph, Missouri, he had but $6.00 and with $5.00 of that sum he purchased a ticket to Omaha, Nebraska. In Florence, Nebraska, he became acquainted with a man who knew his brother, George, who was the only other member of his family that had joined the church and consequently had come west a short time earlier. His newly acquired friend invited him to stay at his home as long as he wished but being anxious to go to Utah, he left three days later with a party who was going to Columbus about 100 miles distance where he secured employment for 7 days on a hotel building which replenished his dwindling pocket book.

One day while sitting on a log at the side of the road, eleven Elders approached him. To his surprise he found that one of them had been the presiding Elder of the Church in England where he had resided. His name was W.S. Muir. Upon learning that William T. was going west and had no money Brother Muir attempted to make arrangements for him to travel with a group of saints but they were overloaded and so he journeyed to Utah with two other men. He was then 23 years of age.

After arriving in Utah he worked at various jobs until the spring of 1863 when he was called by President Brigham Young to travel to Florence, Nebraska with his team and wagon and assist immigrants from that city to Zion. Bishop William B. Preston was placed in charge of the Danish saints who were coming west to Utah. They numbered 355 wagons. On July 9th, the company left Florence and two months later, September 8th or 10th, they entered the Salt Lake Valley. This was not the first time that William T. had been called to assist the saints across the plains, as he had made several trips. This journey, however, was very special as he met a lovely young girl of 19 years, Christina Young, who had large brown eyes and soft brown curls falling over her slim shoulders. They fell in love and were married two weeks after their arrival in Salt Lake City, September 27, 1863.

They lived for a short time in Hyde Park, Cache County, Utah where on July 17, 1864, a daughter, Margaret was born. A few months later William T., Christina and their tiny daughter moved to Bountiful which was then known as the Sessions Settlement. It was here that their second daughter, Elizabeth Jones, named for William's first wife, was born and on May 1, 1869. After Elizabeth, their first son arrived whom they named William Young. Shortly afterward the young couple was sent by church authorities to aid in the settlement of Goshen, Juab County, Utah. William secured employment hauling ore from the Tintic mines to the rail head and become interested in prospecting, he and two other men took up claims. The venture proved quite successful and when the claims were sold William received $1800.00 for his share.

Four more children came to bless the home of William and Christina while in Goshen: Charles Albert, January 11,1872; Hattie Jane, January 17, 1874; Nairn Young, May 29, 1877 and James Bouncer, January 28, 1882.


While residing in this little community the family became acquainted with a young lady by the name of Hattie Jane Taylor and in obedience to the wishes of church authorities, William asked her to be his plural wife. When he inquired of Christina what she thought of the arrangement she answered, "If it is alright with Hattie it is alright with me". Accordingly William and Hattie were married in the Endowment House, February, 19, 1873. Hattie was sixteen years of age at the time and had walked across the plains when a small child. The two wives and their families lived harmoniously together for 15 years and if there were any difficulties, much to the chagin of William, the two women took sides against him.

After their children were grown proof of the love and respect these two women had for each other was voiced in these lines Christina wrote to her grandson, Osborn Hatch:

Ne'er raise your voice against the law for it is pure and good And God would hold you guilty if in life you ever should. A better woman never lived than grandpa's plural wife, And may I love and comfort her as long as I have life. There is nothing upon the earth or in the heaven above That brings to me more comfort than the thought of Hattie's love. And may no child of mine say aught to ever cause her pain And when we leave this earth may we be blessed to meet again.

While living in Goshen William and Hattie were blessed with the following children: Thomas Henry, August 11, 1875; George Taylor, March 8, 1879; and Orson Prat, September 30, 1881. Orson lived to comfort the family but two short months and then his gentle spirit took flight to a brighter home. He died December 8, 1881. He was a remarkably sweet child and the family felt the loss very keenly but tried to humbly bow to the will of Him who doth all things well.

In the winter of 1882 the Higginson family received a letter from a friend who had moved to Hatch, Idaho. He urged them to come there and take up a homestead. Accordingly in April 1883, William left Goshen with his two wives and children. It was a long trip over rough roads through rain, sleet and snow much of the way. They traveled in two wagons drawn by four horses, Prince, Charles, Kate and Fan. They led a cow named Rosie and also had a box of chickens which supplies them with fresh eggs. After three weeks of travel they arrived at the Mose Muir place in Hatch, Idaho.

As they entered the Portneuf Valley six of their children had the measles and Hattie was ill, but in spite of the hardships William immediately went to work and staked out a homestead near a spring which every year thereafter supplied them with a bountiful crop of watercress. Soon a log house was built where Hattie and her family lived and a slab addition was the home of Christina and her children. A fine garden and a number of fruit trees were planted and before long the Higginsons were known throughout the valley for their produce.

Hatch, Idaho was a beautiful nook of unbroken land that would make good pasture for stock. Wild fruit, such as choke cherries and service berries were in an abundance and there were streams of mountain trout and plenty of wild game.


These first settlers walked to visit their neighbors. The foot paths became very familiar that led through the meadows, grain fields and willows and were so deep one could follow them in the night. These early pioneers knew each other so will, they could tell who had trodden the path last by the foot prints.

In June 1884, Hattie gave birth to another son who only lived two short hours. William blessed him and gave him the name of David. This was the first death in Hatch, Idaho.

On July 9, 1885 a son whom they named Robert Henderson, was born to Christina. This was her last child.

On August 25, 1886 Hattie was blessed with another child, a tiny daughter, whom they named Louisa Gwyther. When this child was very small William was forced to send Hattie and her children to Utah to escape persecution by government authorities who were arresting the saints who had more than one wife. Many time Hattie had been forced to leave home in the night for fear of being taken before unjust judges. This was a time of great anxiety and trial for William.

One day while Christina was entertaining the Relief Society members at a quilting bee she saw the sheriff and another man coming towards the house. When she answered the door the sheriff inquired if William T. was at home. While the ladies were talking to the sheriff, William fled through the back window to the willows. As the children were taught to do the same they also scampered there to keep from being questioned. After a short time Nairn and Tom appeared from their hiding place as Margaret had called to them. William, thinking the call was for him stepped out only to come face to face with the sheriff and his drawn gun. He was promptly arrested and tried.

He was fined $300.00 and sentenced to six months in the jail at Boise, Idaho. During this time Christina and Hattie with the aid of the children kept the small farm going. Another heartbreak was added to these troublesome times when Christina and William's daughter, Hattie, came home from Chesterfield, Idaho where she had been working, seriously ill and a few days later, July 27, 1890, this lovely 16 year old girl passed away. At that time it was thought that she ate too much ice cream at the July 24th celebration. William was not allowed to return home for the funeral.

Tragedy also struck William's heart when his small son Jim was severely injured. While playing above the root cellar he fell and sustained a head injury which resulted in permanent blindness. As Jim grew to adulthood the family spent much time and money for his education and welfare.

William and his two wives were very closely associated with the George Williams family whom they had became acquainted with while living in Goshen. In 1885 this fine family moved to Hatch, Idaho and made their home.

At first there was no ward organization and every one attended church in Chesterfield, Idaho, some 6 or 8 miles distance. In 1898 the Hatch Ward was organized and William T. donated a plot of ground on the hill overlooking the valley to build a church, which was constructed in 1900. Peter Williams was made the first bishop.


For a time William was choir leader of the Chesterfield Ward and later served several years as Ward Clerk of the Hatch Ward. On August 16, 1908 he was set apart as Patriarch by Brother John Henry Smith. He was small in stature but had a keen sense of humor. Christina describes his nature in the following poem:

Whatever I say wrong of thee I hope thou will forgive; For if I did not sometimes sin I'm sure I would not live That's my worst fault when I am mad, I speak before I know; And many a word I in anger speak I know it is not due. For ever after I've been mad, it suits you to a T., To have some little present that you can give to me. And if I scold you sit and sing and care not what I say; And tell me that you're sure I will repent my words some day. If I should search I could not find a better man than thee; And thousands would not be so good as you have been to me. Dear William, may you happy be unto the end of life, And may I prove to be to you a true and loving wife.

William was a deeply religious man and when he felt some of his family was a bit out of line with short sleeves, dress or some other questionable behavior he would tap his cane and say, "Babylon, Babylon". William's children didn't always like him especially when he was older because he had a long beard and was not at all kind and gentle. This may be due to the fact that in his later life he suffered intensely from rheumatism and was unable to climb into the families' white topped buggy without aid. He was probably pretty miserable.

He was saddened at the death of Christina, July 10, 1910 and lived his remaining years under the kind care of Hattie. He passed away at Hatch, Idaho, November 29, 1914 in a kneeling position at his bedside, praying to his God. He was buried in the Chesterfield Cemetery, Chesterfield, Idaho, December 1, 1914. He was truly a pioneer, enduring all the hardships that only a pioneer knows.

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William Higginson's Timeline

1835
November 1, 1835
Kinton Hall,Shifnal, Great Ness, Shropshire, England
1857
October 18, 1857
Age 21
Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio, United States
1864
July 17, 1864
Age 28
Hyde Park, Cache, Utah, United States
1865
December 9, 1865
Age 30
Of Watch, , , Idaho, USA
December 9, 1865
Age 30
1866
November 9, 1866
Age 31
Bountiful, UT, USA
1869
May 1, 1869
Age 33
Bountiful, Davis, Utah, USA
1872
January 11, 1872
Age 36
Goshen, Utah, Utah, United States
1873
February 10, 1873
Age 37
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, United States
1874
January 17, 1874
Age 38
Goshen, Utah, Utah, United States