Although now eighty one years of age, Andrew Higgins still supervises the operation of his farm, which is situated
in Washington township, not far fro Independence. Old age need not suggest, as a matter of course, helplessness
nor want of occupation. There is an old age which grows stronger mentally and physically as the years go on and
gives out of its rich stores of wisdom and experience for the benefit of others. Such is the record of Andrew Higgins,
who is now one of the most venerable among the active farmers of Buchanan county. He was born in County Derry,
Ireland, in 1833. There also occurred the birth of his parents, John and Margaret (Downey) Higgins. The father
died in Ireland in 1888, when over seventy years of age. He engaged in business as a buyer and seller of flax and
had several teams which he used in hauling flax to Belfast. He was also the owner of farm property and made his
home upon a farm, there rearing his family of seven children, who cultivated the fields while he devoted his attention
to other business pursuits.
Andrew Higgins is the eldest living member of that family, six of whom came to the United States. His older brother
died in Independence. Andrew Higgins attended school in Ireland and when a youth of fifteen crossed the Atlantic
to the new world. For two years he resided in Pennsylvania, where he worked as a laborer, and then continued on
his westward way until he reached Independence, where he was employed on the building of the courthouse. He afterward
took up the occupation of farming, being employed by the month until he saved from his earnings a sum sufficient
to enable him to purchase property. At length he invested in farm land in Washington township at a time when its
value was very low, paying but twelve dollars and a half per acre. He is now the owner of a valuable farm of three
hundred and twenty acres, of which he has forty acres planted to corn and twenty acres to oats, while the remainder
is in hay or in pasture. He raises considerable stock and is still active in the management and operation of his
farm, although he has long since passed the time when most men would put aside business cares.
Mr. Higgins was married July 18, 1864, to Miss Mary Ann Downs, who was born in Holmes county, Ohio, in 1846, a
daughter of Robert and Hannah (Newell) Downs, who were also natives of Holmes county. The father, born in 1823,
died in 1860, at the early age of thirty seven years, and the mother passed away at the age of seventy one. In
early life Mr. Downs engaged in teaching school, but after he removed westward to Buchanan county followed farming
in Liberty township. While in Ohio he served as assessor, yet he was not active in politics as a seeker for office.
His life was characterized by high and honorable principles and he belonged to the Bethel church in Liberty township.
In his family were four daughters, of whom Mrs. Higgins is the eldest. By her marriage she has become the mother
of eleven children, ten of whom are living, while one died in infancy. The others are as follows: W. J., a resident
fanner of this county, is married and has six children; Ethel, Eva, Grace, Frank, Charles and Ralph. Mary is the
wife of Thomas Welch, living in South Dakota, and they have ten children. Ellen is the wife of H. Bray, a resident
of Salem, Wisconsin, and they have five children: Celeste, Glenn, Lillian, Henry and Ella. James is upon the home
farm. Daniel, also living upon the home farm, is married and has three children: Lawrence, Howard and Andrew. Andrew,
residing upon his father's land in Washington township, is married and has six children: Rose, Mabel, Alice, Ella,
Bernard and Leo. Edward, connected with the gas plant at Independence, is married and has three children. Adolphus
is home with his parents. Lewis married Blanche Stone, of Buchanan county, and has two children: Dorothy and Lewis.
Emma is the wife of Clint Christianson, of Milbank, South Dakota. There are now forty one grandchildren and two
At the time of the Civil war Mr. Higgins attempted to join the army and enlisted for active service, but was rejected
on account of defective eyesight. He holds membership in the Catholic church, and he votes with the democratic
party. He has held some local offices, yet has never been a politician in the sense of office seeking, preferring
always to give his undivided time and attention to his business affairs. Whatever success he has achieved is the
reward of his own labors, and his life record shows what may be accomplished when energy and determination point
out the way.
History of Bachanan County, Iowa
And its People
By Harry Church and Katharyn J. Chappell
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Bachanan County, IA
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