The Higby Family

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When Sarah Ann Higby married Baker Brand, she knew much more about her family history than her husband knew about his. Eight generations of the Higby Family had gone before her, beginning with John Higbed and Ursula Blacknell up to her parents, Abijah Isaac Higby and Tryphena Perkins. The name changed (after the family came to America) from Higbed to Higby and numerous spellings developed. Below are the ancestors of Sarah Ann Higby:

JOHN HIGBED (1585-1641) and URSULA BLACKNELL (1589-1684)

John Higbed is supposed to have been born 30 November 1585 in Ivinghoe, Buckinghamshire, England. (This county’s name is sometimes abbreviated to Bucks.) The name Buckinghamshire — since the 12th century — is Anglo-Saxon in origin and means "The district (scire) of Bucca's home," named after a landowner at the time.

The Anglo-Saxons probably had the greatest influence on Buckinghamshire as they named most of the towns and geographical landmarks; the county is mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086. William the Conqueror claimed much of the area for himself, his friends and relatives, and it became his private hunting grounds. It was later claimed for the same purpose by King Henry VIII. Two of Henry’s wives — Anne Bolyn and Catherine Parr — had relatives (and, as a result) some influence in the county. When John was born in the county, Queen Elizabeth I had been on the throne for more than twenty years, and she would continue to reign until 1603. Following her death, however, things were chaotic again.

It is not known what John did for a living, whether or not he was politically active, or whether he followed the Catholic or Church of England faith. But he lived during times when it was sometimes dangerous to express one’s views. The exact date of his marriage is uncertain (but it was probably between 1612 and 1616); he married Ursula Blacknell in Ivinghoe, Buckinghamshire, England. Little is known about Ursula except that she was born in 1589, probably in Buckinghamshire County.

The name of the small village where John and Ursula spent their lives, Ivinghoe, means 'Ifa's hill-spur'. In the Domesday book of 1086 it was recorded as Evinghehou. It is believed that they had five sons, all born in Ivinghoe:

John died in 1641 in Ivinghoe. He was 56 years old. It is believed that Ursula lived until 1684, dying at the age of 95 (very unusual for that time).

EDWARD HIGBY (1616-1699) and JEDIDAH SKIDMORE (1624-1660)

Edward was the son of John Higbed and Ursula Blacknell. He emigrated to New York, probably in the 1640s and married Jedidah Skidmore in 1647 in Piquot Harbor, Long Island, New York.

Jedidah was born in 1624 in Mayshill, Westerleigh, Gloucestershire, England. Thus, she was 23 years old when she married Edward, who was 31. She was the daughter of Thomas Skidmore and Ellen Whitehead.

It would appear that Edward and Jedidah moved several times during the early years of their marriage, as their children were born in Connecticut and New York. It is believed that they had at least six children:

Jedidah was only 36 years old when she died in 1660, perhaps in childbirth, leaving behind children ranging in age from two to eleven years of age. Edward lived more than thirty years longer — until the year 1699. He married again — to Lydia Smith — and fathered six more children: Sarah, Samuel, Nathanial, William (2 of them), and Thomas.

Edward was 83 when he died in Jamaica, Long Island, New York, never going far from where he had lived all of his life.

JOHN HIGBY (1658-1688) and REBECCA TREADWELL (1658-1708)

John Higby was born in 1658 in Huntington, Suffolk County, New York. His parents were Edward Higby and Jedidah Skidmore.

John married Rebecca Treadwell, daughter of Samuel Treadwell and Ruth Wheeler, on 1 May 1679 in Middletown, New Jersey. Rebecca had been born the same year as John — in 1658 — so they were both 21.

Rebecca and John spent much of their married lives in Middletown, Connecticut, but they also lived in New Jersey briefly. The land on the western bank of the Connecticut River where Middletown now lies was home to the Mattabesett Indians when Europeans established a settlement there in 1650. Colonists arrived shortly after and later in the 1700’s, John and Rebecca would have seen much of the trouble between the colonists and the Mohegans, who moved into the area from the Hudson River Valley.

John and Rebecca had five sons:

John died just two years after Thomas was born — in 1688 in Middletown, New Jersey. Rebecca, at the age of 30, was left to raise her sons — ages 8, 7, 5, 4, and 2. There is no evidence — yet — that she ever remarried, though it seems unlikely she could have managed on her own with such small children. She was 50 when she died on 1 Mar 1708. Her youngest son, Thomas, would have been 22.

EDWARD HIGBY (1684-1775) and REBECCA WHEELER (1686-1771)

Edward Higby was born 24 Aug 1684 in Middletown, Middlesex, Connecticut. He was the son of John Higby and Rebecca Treadwell. He married Rebecca Wheeler on 29 Nov 1706 in Middletown, Middlesex, Connecticut. He was 22; she was 20.

Rebecca Wheeler was born 31 Jul 1686 in Stow, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of Joseph Wheeler and Mary Powers.

Edward and Rebecca spent their entire married lives in Middletown, a town in Middlesex County which became prosperous in the 1700’s, the largest community in Connecticut. The county lies in the south central part of the state while Middletown is located along the Connecticut River 16 miles (26 km) south of Hartford.

The land on the western bank of the Connecticut River where Middletown now lies was home to the Mattabeseck Indians. The first settlement of the area by English colonists was in 1643. In 1650, the Connecticut General Court ordered that "Mattabeseck shall bee a Towne" — the name was changed just three years later. The Mattabesecks were a part of the group of tribes in the Connecticut Valley, under the single chief, Sowheag. English settlers eventually purchased nearly all of the land from the Native Americans, but for many years there were frequent confrontations between the settlers and the Native Americans.

Edward and Rebecca joined the Middletown Church on April 26, 1713, shortly after the birth of their fourth child. They remained with that church until Rebecca’s death in 1771; Edward then joined the church at Westfield, CT.

Edward and Rebecca had at least eight children:

Edward and Rebecca undoubtedly had similar experiences to other English settlers of their time, although it is not known what Edward’s occupation was. Every family farmed and kept livestock. Some men were millers, stonecutters, weavers, or blacksmiths. The town was laid out with the main street parallel to the river; it was divided into home lots, pastures, and plowed fields. In the beginning, Puritanism was the only permitted faith, and it dominated every aspect of life. Everyone contributed to the building and the maintaining of the meetinghouse and to the minister’s salary. The law required everyone to attend church on Sunday, and unessential work and all forms of recreation were prohibited on that day.

Daily life was a struggle. A poor harvest or serious injury could be disastrous for the entire family. There were eight to ten children in most families and disease took many of them. English colonists continued arriving for decades, with both Edward’s and Rebecca’s parents included. By the 1790s — after Edward and Rebecca’s deaths — Middletown had changed. It remained prosperous but Puritanism had been replaced by many families who were not of the same faith and sought new opportunities rather than religious freedom.

Rebecca died in Middletown on 22 Oct 1771. She was 85 years old. Edward survived her by four years, passing away 21 Nov 1775, also in Middletown. He was 91 and must have wanted to know how the American Revolutionary War was going to end. He outlived several of his children, including Isaac, his second oldest son, by nine years.

ISAAC HIGBY (1709-1766) and DINAH ELTON (1713-1797)

Isaac Higby was born 24 Jun 1709 in Middletown, Middlesex County, Connecticut. He was the son of Edward Higby and Rebecca Wheeler. Isaac married Dinah Elton on 28 May 1730 in Middletown, Connecticut. Like Isaac, Dinah had been born in Middletown. Her parents were John Elton and Elizabeth Cornwall. She was four years younger than Isaac, having been born on 12 Apr 1713. He was 21, she was 17, when they married.

Dinah gave birth to eleven children, and both husband and wife remained in Middletown until their deaths.

There is strong evidence that Isaac fought in the French and Indian Wars of 1755-1762. He is listed under “Connecticut Soldiers, French and Indian War, 1755-62” as a 1st Lieutenant with the Middletown 4th Regiment. His commander was Col. Elihu Chauncey. If this is the correct Isaac Higby (and it seems likely that it is), Isaac would have been 46 years old at the beginning and 53 years old at the end. There is no evidence, however, that he participated in the entire seven years. As well, all of his children were born before he fought in the war.

During their marriage, Isaac and Dinah had eleven children, all born in Middlesex, Connecticut:

Dinah gave birth to these children between the ages of 18 and 42.

Isaac died, again in Middletown, on 4 Jan 1766. He was 57 years old. Dinah lived for another 31 years, surviving the Revolutionary War and probably seeing several of her sons fight in it (at least one, John Elton, died during the time of the war). She died 29 May 1797 at the age of 84.

DANIEL ELTON HIGBY (1739-1829) and MARTHA IVES (1742-1797)

Daniel Elton Higby, the son of Isaac Higby and Dinah Elton, was born 14 May 1739 in Middletown, Middlesex County, Connecticut, but he did move later to Lewis County, New York.

In 1758, Daniel enlisted in the 7th Connecticut Company whose company commander was Captain Timothy Hierlehey. This was during the French and Indian Wars from 1755 to 1762.

Daniel met Martha Ives and married her on 6 Feb 1766, also in Middletown, CT. Martha was the daughter of Abijah Ives and Abigail Mix. She had been born 17 May 1742 in Wallingford, New Haven County, CT.

Daniel and Martha had at least four sons, and perhaps two others:

Daniel and his family “lived on “Crofoot Hill” about half a mile east of Ebenezer Church.” [from History of the town of West Turin, page 555]

The date of Martha’s death is not known for certain, but it is believed to be about 1797.

Daniel died in 2 May 1829, at the age of 89, in Lewis County, New York. He probably moved there with his son, Benjamin Isaac who became an important figure in the county.

BENJAMIN ISAAC HIGBY (1769-1829) and HANNAH CURTIS (1772-1843)

Benjamin Isaac Higby was born on 23 May 1769 in Middletown, Middlesex, CT. He was the son of Daniel and Martha Ives Higby.

When he was 26 years old, Benjamin left Connecticut and went with his two brothers to Lewis County, New York, to build a sawmill. Eventually, he would be considered a Lewis County pioneer.

Benjamin married Hannah Curtis on 18 Oct 1795 in Constableville, Lewis County, New York. He was 26 years old; she was 23.

Hannah Curtis was born in Palmer, Vermont on 24 Nov 1772. Hannah was born on 24 November 1772 in Palmer, Vermont. It is not known when she moved into New York, but it is most likely when she was younger.

Benjamin and Hannah spent their married lives in Lewis County, which was named after Morgan Lewis, the governor of New York at the time the county was established. Constableville was named for William Constable, the son of an early landowner), but the records indicate that Benjamin and Hannah’s children were born in West Turin, which was first settled around 1796 near Constableville. West Turin was formed from part of the Town of Turin in 1830 and was eventually reduced in size for the formation of other towns: Montague in 1850, and Osceola in 1844.

Benjamin and Hannah had twelve children, all born in Turin, New York:

Benjamin died 2 May 1829 in Constableville, New York. He was 60 years old. Despite giving birth to a dozen children, Hannah survived her husband by fourteen years. She died on 14 Apr 1843, also in Constableville. She was 71 years old.

ABIJAH ISAAC HIGBY (1798-1871) and TRYPHENA PERKINS (1800-1867)

Abijah Isaac Higby was born 12 July 1798 in West Turin, Lewis County, New York. He was the son of Benjamin Higby and Hannah Curtis. Lewis County was named after the governor of New York; the area was purchased from the state in 1791 by Alexander Macomb. Abijah’s father, Benjamin, was a Lewis County pioneer who had gone there to build a sawmill with two of his brothers.

In 1820, Abijah married Tryphena Perkins. She had been born in 1806, also in New York (most likely the same place where Abijah was born in West Turin). If birth dates and the marriage date are correct, Abijah was 22 and Tryphena was 20. However, in numerous census reports, both of them seem to “cheat” a little on their ages. Nothing is known about Tryphena’s parents.

Abijah and Tryphena had ten children, all born in West Turn, Lewis County, New York, but at least three of them died in infancy (Cyrus, Norman, and Salmon) as they are not listed in censuses:

From 1830-1870, Abijah (and usually Tryphena) can be found in the censuses for West Turin, Lewis County, New York. In 1830, Abijah and Tryphena had two boys between the ages of 5 and 10 (this would be Samuel and Jared) as well as a girl under the age of 5 (Clarinda). Both Abijah and Tryphena say they are between the ages of 20 and 30, but Abijah, if born in 1798, would have been 32.

By 1840, their children have aged, and two more children have been born.

By 1850, Abijah lists himself at 50 years of age as a farmer with $3500 in real estate. Tryphena, age 47, is living with him along with Samuel, age 26; James, age 12; and Andrew, age 9.

Still farming in 1860, Abijah claims to be 59 with a real estate value of $2500 and personal property value of $500. Tryphena is 54 and James, 21, and Andrew, 18, are still living with them. Also, however, there are three younger children (Linda, 10; Benjamin, 4; and Eugenia, 2) living with them. It is not known who these children are but they’re not likely to be Tryphena’s. Perhaps they were nieces and a nephew or grandchildren. Also living with them, according to the Census is Mary Williams, age 76, and Solly Williams, 50. It is not known who these people were.

Tryphena died in Crofoot Hill, Connecticut on 4 Apr 1867. (This was Higby property for many years.) She was 67 years old.

Three years later, in 1870, Abijah is back in his hometown of West Turin, claiming a real estate value of $4000 and personal property value of $1000. He has married a woman named Delia A., age 56. There is also a boy, Benjamin Lerdan, age 14, living with them. It is not known who this boy is, but perhaps it is a son of Delia’s from a previous marriage. It is believed that Delia’s maiden name was Phelps.

Abijah died one year later, on 18 Sep 1871, in Constableville, Lewis County, New York, the same place where his father had died 42 years before and his mother 28 years before. He was 73 years old.

This page written and researched by Susan Overturf Ingraham, wife of Robert Philip Ingraham, a descendant of Baker Brand and Sarah Ann Higby. This page last updated on May 10, 2019.

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