Shelby County, Indiana
William E. Higgins
William E. Higgins, son of Henry and Matilda Higgins, was born in Franklin Co., Ind., June 3, 1832. His father was a native of Kentucky, but came to Franklin Co. with his uncle when but six years of age, and remained with him until he was twenty-one. He was married, Feb. 14, 1830, to Melinda, daughter of Andrew and Phoebe Jackson. In 1836, he came with his wife and family to Shelby Co., and settled on 80 acres of land in Addison Township, which he had entered in 1831. Their home was in the widlerness, for the land was entirely unimproved, and there was no mill nearer than Franklin Co.; but he was a farmer, intelligent and industrious, and fields, orchards and plenty soon took the place of forests. To him [his father, Henry Higgins] William probably owed much of the perseverance and energy which have since made him successful. Several children came after William, and all are at present residing in this county. He died on Dec. 6, 1869, after a well-spent, useful life. In politics, he was a Democrat. For thirty years he was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and he was ever a kind husband and father. His widow still enjoys good health and resides with her son William. She also is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and is a good Crhistian. William, having remained at home until he was of age, began working at farming by the month, and, Oct. 12, 1854, he was married, in Addison Township, to Miss Mary V. Wheeler, daughter of Tilson and Rachel Wheeler, natives of Kentucky. Mrs. Higgins was born in Shelby Co., Ind., Aug. 17, 1835, and has had the following children: Tilson, Kate, Josephine, Edward (deceased), Rachel (deceased), Celia and Mary M. Higgins. Her father, Tilson Wheeler, was born in Madison Co., Ky., Jan. 15, 1800, and was raised on a farm in that State, receiving, meantime a first-class education, which he put to practical use in teaching. In 1830, he came to Shelby Co., Ind., and entered a tract of land in Addison Township, on which he settled. Shortly after coming, he wooed and won Rachel Worland, their marriage occurring Oct. 14, 1832. She was the daughter of Thomas and Verlinda Worland, natives of Maryland, who moved to Fayette Co., Ky., where they resided some time, before coming to Shelby Co., Ind., and settling in Addison Township in 1827, being one of the first Catholic families to settle in this county. Mrs. Wheeler was born in Fayette Co., Ky., Nov. 13, 1814, and had five children, viz., Mary V., Susannah T., Celia, John L., and one died in infancy who was the eldest in the family. Mr. Wheeler was very successful as a farmer, accumulating a large estate, and at his death, March 28, 1876, left his family a handsome fortune. He was an honest, upright man, possessing sterling qualities; one who had the happy faculty of making friends and keeping them. Soon after marriage, he became a convert to the Catholic Church, and ever after was conscientious and steadfast in keeping the faith and in carefully raising his children strict Catholics. One of his dying requests to his family was, "Remember the poor, and give liberally toward the support of the church" -- words that had in them the true Christian spirit of Catholicity. He was ever a kind, indulgent husband and father, whose loss could never be replaced, leaving a void in the household and heart of his companion which God alone can heal. Mrs. Wheeler is still living in the old home in which so many happy days were passed, and derives much comfort from the kind attentions of her devoted children, and the consoling influences of the Catholic Church, of which she has been a consistent member all of her life. In conforming to the dying request of Mr. Wheeler, she and family have donated liberally to the building of St. Vincent's Catholic Church, which beautiful edifice will stand as a monument of their zeal to God's faith and that of the other Catholics who have been instrumental in having it built, and who gave generously of their means for that purpose. Soon after his marriage, Mr. Higgins began farming for himself, and by steady perseverance, industry and economy, he now possesses one of the best homes in the county. He makes a specialty of breeding fine cattle and hogs which are noted for their pure quality. Mr. and Mrs. Higgins are faithful members of the Catholic Church, and in their home all will find a royal welcome. He is an honest, straightforward businessman, whose "word is as good as his bond;" is considered one of the leading farmers of the county, and is respected by all who know him for his sterling qualities of heart and mind.
Atlas of Shelby County, Indiana, J. H. Beers, 1880, page 56
Contributed by Phyllis Miller Fleming
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