Frank David Higbee, Sr. - Frank D. Higbee Sr. Career

Started by Malcolm Edward Higbee-Glace on Sunday, July 20, 2014


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7/20/2014 at 2:02 PM

Frank was a marketing genius. Among his credits is an honorable mention for his exhibit of a statue labeled "Justice" for which Ada Rehan was the model, in the 1893 Columbian Exposition. For this he had gone into a joint venture with Senator Clark of the State of Montana. The model was displayed in the Montana Exhibition in the Display Building. This was the first "World's Fair" to have electric lights. Buffalo Bill set up shop next door with his Wild West Show. The first Ferris Wheel was erected at the Fair.

The statue of Justice was made completely out of solid pure Silver, the base of the statue was made of pure gold, both of these materials were supplied, courtesy of Senator Clark. The larger than life size statue toured the country for a couple years before she was melted down and the precious metals were returned to Clark. Clark had made his fortune in Copper Mining out in Montana, and he was so wealthy that he 'Bought his seat" in the Senate. This action brought about one of the provisions in the 17th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting just such and action. Clark County in Nevada was purchased by the man and is the current name of the county whereupon durrent day Las Vegas, Nevada resides.

While at this same Expo in 1893, Higbee came across the display of a large black woman serving hot pancakes for the first time using the newly acquired self rising flour recipe patent which Quaker Oats had purchased. The pancakes were such a huge success, (not unlike Belgian Waffles were at the 1964 New York Worlds Fair) that Quaker Oats wanted a name and back story for this woman and the pancake branding. Frank Higbee came up with her being Aunt Jemimah and a tale saying she had served these pancakes for years in the Old South Plantation of, non other than, her owner, Colonel Higbee (a completely fictitious person). For many years Paper Advertisements included this story gimmick in Magazines and Newspapers. The character of Aunt Jemimah was altered time and time again, to lessen the appearance of her being a slave cook. The Ads with Col. Higbee probably ceased in the late 1950s or early 1960s due to civil rights issues.

Higbee also partnered with Senator Clark again and created another statue, this time of the Perfect All American Woman using the widely popular Actress Maude Adams, a descendent of Pres. John Adams, to be, once again made of precious metals and toured the country.

Another partnership he had as a marketing expert was to create a huge celebration gathering at Madison Square Garden, to welcome in the new 20th century. For this, he went round the world collecting statements and well wishing's of Heads of State, Royalty, and various celebrities. One amongst them was Mark Twain. The Partnership was for the benefit of the American Red Cross with Clara Barton. Numerous problems befell the event. On his way to Balmoral Castle to meet with Queen Victoria, he was turned away because, though he had gone through all the right channels to be granted the privilege to be greeted by the Queen, he by a mistake, he had left out a request from the British Ambassador to the United States, for which he did not know was required. The New York Times Society columns reported vigorously on the courses of events, people accused him of being in it for his own gain, whereupon he stated, quite honestly that he had been hired by the Red Cross as their agent to market the event so they could profit from the revenue. He was to get about 3 percent of the profits after expenses. He was in the early stages of his fatal illness and collapsed at one point from exhaustion. The City of New York announced they would also have entertainment and fireworks down near City Hall, in direct competition to the Red Cross affair. Mark Twain wrote a scathing public letter requesting his letter of celebration be returned, calling Frank all sorts of bad things, among them, a profiteer.

Another endeavor was a recreation, in half size miniature of all the crowns of the world, including the Papal Coronet, India's Maharajah, etc., etc. using actual real gems to match those of the real crowns. It was an incredible collection, which toured, not only America, but the world. A huge success. However the collection was on tour when Frank died in 1904 and the crowns and coronets went missing, stolen by some one, who couldn't be found. In the 1930s a man wrote his son, Frank Jr., offering to sell what was left of the set to him for $30,000. Needless to say, a man, orphaned by his father when he was only 10 years old, reared by his aunts, now married with 3 children, a wife, and a career in the US Coast Guard, couldn't afford such a cost. The jewels actually should have been the inheritance of Frank Jr. and his sister Agnes. Where they finally wound up, we'll never know. We're sure they were either sold to someone or broken down for the jewels and the melting of the precious metals that made up the crowns.

He marketed Real Estate in New York, obtained a camp for the newly formed Boy Scouts of America out in Montauck, NY on the seashore furthest east of Long Island. He lived lavishly, partied hard, drank, chased women, etc. His was an untimely death at an early age.

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