In a history of the representative men of Ford county who have contributed to its development and substantial progress and who through intelligently directed labor have achieved success, mention should be made of Nathan Miller Higgins, who departed this life on the 10th of March, 1907. He was uniformly respected, not alone because of the success he achieved but also by reason of the honorable, straightforward methods which he ever followed.
His birth occurred in Huntington, Massachusetts, October 29, 1845, and he was one of a family of twelve children, three of whom died in infancy or early childhood. He lost his father when about ten years of age and was left an orphan by his mother's death when he was a youth of fifteen. He remained a resident of Massachusetts to the age of eighteen years, when he started for the middle west, settling at Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he was employed in a store for about two years. From there he went to St. Louis, Missouri, and in the fall of 1866 joined his brother Prentice at Elmwood, Illinois, and worked as a farm hand in his brother's employ until the fall of 1869.
That date witnessed his arrival in Ford county. He investigated the farm property for sale and purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land, to which he removed the following spring, making his home thereafter in this county until he was called to his final rest. Later he added to the original tract until he became the owner of two hundred and forty acres on section 34, Brenton township. He made all of the improvements on the first tract but the eighty acre tract which he purchased was somewhat improved when it came into his possession. He regarded real estate as the safest of all investments and therefore placed his money in property. The home farm was brought under a high state of cultivation through his energy and diligence and as his financial resources increased he added to his property from time to time until he acquired three other farms in this vicinity, two of eighty acres and one of one hundred and sixty acres. He likewise invested in a half section of land in South Dakota and later an additional quarter section, and thus from his property interests derived a gratifying income. He was also stockholder in and secretary and treasurer of the Thawville tile factory for a number of years.
On the 12th of March, 1872, Mr. Higgins was married to Miss Mary Jane Mosher, who was born near Fonda, New York, November 25, 1849, and was brought to the middle west at the age of six years by her parents, Alexander and Elizabeth (McLaughlin) Mosher, who were natives of New York and on removing to Illinois settled at Elmwood. In 1877 they came to Ford county and took up their abode one mile south of the farm upon which Mrs. Higgins resides. There the death of the husband and father occurred, after which the other members of the family removed to Roberts. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Higgins were born six children: Mary Elizabeth, the wife of William Gardner of Fisher; Charles, living at home with his mother; Nathan Le Roy, a resident of Chicago; Aleck Prentice, Effie Estella and Milo Edwin, all at home.
In his political views Mr. Higgins was a stalwart republican and held some school offices but otherwise did not care for political preferment although he was loyal to the principles in which he believed. He was a man of domestie tastes, quiet and retiring in disposition, devoted to his family, his interest centering in his home. He was a self-made man and owed his success to his close application and unremitting diligence. He always rose very early to attend to his business and the story of his early rising became proverbial in the neighborhood. On one occasion several farmers of the neighborhood purchased nursery stock together and it was delivered at Onarga, about eleven miles from Mr. Higgins' home. One of the neighbors, who has also been a purchaser of the stock, thought to himself, "I'll get ahead of him once by going early to Onarga. I will draw the shades that he may not see the light and will think that I am still sleeping." He carried out his plan of rising early but when he got half way to Onarga he met Mr. Higgins on his way home with the trees. He still persisted, however, that the joke was partly on Mr. Higgins because he had wandered two miles out of his way. In those early days there were no regularly laid out roads so that it was not a difficult thing for a traveler to wander from the path. Mr. Higgins was never neglectful of duty but on the contrary did ably and well everything that he undertook and as the years passed he gained a gratifying measure of prosperity.
With his wife he spent two winters in Florida and one in Texas for the benefit of his health but death claimed him on the 10th of March, 1907, when he was in his sixty-second year. His life record is in many respects worthy of emulation as it indicates what may be accomplished when one has determination and energy. It was those qualities which made Mr. Higgins one of the representative farmers of Brenton township and Ford county, while the straightforward business principles which he advocated gained for him the respect of his fellowmen. He was always straight forward in his dealings and just in his relations and, moreover, he possessed a kindly spirit, which was particularly manifest at his own fireside.

Extracted 19 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Ford County, Illinois, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908, author E. A. Gardner, Volume 1, pages 420-424.

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