Reverend David Higgins

The Reverend David Higgins
Born 1761 -- Died 1842

Reproduced from a photograph (Presumably of a portrait) Photo undated but stamped on the back:
J. D. VICKERY Photographic Artist Bath, New York Duplicates can be had at any time.



Autobiographical sketch of THE REVEREND DAVID HIGGINS. Dated Aug. 6, 1841 when he was eighty years of age. He was the maternal grandfather of the author of this book.

"As my parents have told me, I was born in Haddam, Conn. , Aug. , 6, 1761, my father Cornelius Higgins and my mother, (before marriage, Sarah Hawes, ) were from Cape Cod. I was their fourth son and eighth child. I was early instructed in the truths and duties of the Christian religion, but the instructions given me had but a faint impression on my mind until I was about eighteen years of age. I had very little early schooling and that of a very indifferent kind. Three months in the year was generally the extent of the term in which a district school was taught and I had to experience days and some time weeks of interruption in the course of that term; being called off to attend to domestic concerns or work on the farm. In 1775 and 1776, my father and brothers were called away into the revolutionary army, and my labors greatly increased. The times required every one, male and female, to be active. In July 1779, when the British force came to New Haven, I was called out with the militia, and went to East Haven and was absent for some days. In November of the same year, I went out on a tour of duty in the militia for three or four months, I was stationed at New Haven under the command of Gen'l. Ward.

Early in 1780 I commenced my studies again for the purpose of preparing for a collegiate course under the instruction of the Rev. Mr. May. So far my education was very limited I could hardly read intelligibly or write legibly. My parents were desirous that I should obtain a public education that I might be a minister of the gospel. They were the more solicitous, hoping and believing that I had become religiously disposed. During this and the following year I was called out several times by the alarms that the enemy were along the coast. By such interruption and by being called to work on the farm In the time of harvest and haying I was greatly diverted from my studies.

From the pressure of the times, and the less expensive living, it was thought best that I should enter Dartmouth College instead of Yale. Accordingly in November 1781 I entered that institution where I remained more than two years. I did considerable towards my support while In college by labor--by sawing lumber by tending ferry and I can look back to the two years which I spent at Dartmouth among the happiest portions of my life. Among the good friends I there found, I can name John Hubbard, Timothy Dickinson, Mase Shepard and many others. (Stephen Burroughs, the notorious, was there also, and mentions in his memoirs how young Higgins interfered with one of his frolics. )

In the year of 1783 and 1784 I taught a select school in East Haddam in the family of S. P. Lord, having obtained leave of absence from the College authorities. The war being ended it was thought expedient by my father and other friends that I should take a dismissal from Dartmouth and join Yale College. Accordingly in May 1784 I entered the Junior Class at Yale and spent the remainder part of my college life there, graduating in September 1785.

I had ever thought the work of the ministry a solemn and arduous undertaking, that the parson who well and faithfully performed the work was truly a happy man but he who was lazy, unfaithful and regarded the fleece, more than the flock, was a despicable and wretched creature. Notwithstanding the magnitude of the work, my intention had long been to study divinity and preach the gospel. Circumstances compelled me to do something for my support, I therefore went to reside with Dr. Smalley, of New Britain where I taught a common school and read divinity. There I remained till June 1786 when I was licensed to preach the Gospel at Middleton upper houses by the Hartford South Association. After preaching occasionly in several places, I went to Hatfield where I spent a number of weeks in studying with Dr. Lyman. From thence I went to Ellington where I spent four or five months preaching to that people. I then took a journey to Vermont to visit friends on my return home at Middletown, the Rev, Mr. Huntington gave me an invitation to go over to Shelter Island, to which place he had been requested to send a minister.

Late in February or early in March I crossed the sound with another man, in a small skiff from Pochang, we carried our skiff, by hand over the Beach into Oyster Bay, then went up to Shelter Island. Here I preached for several sabbaths, to a small congregation. While there I received a letter from North Lyme requesting me to come and preach to that people. In April I left the Island and came to North Lyme where I preached till October 17, 1787; was then ordained and installed over the church and congregation. January 17, 1788 I was married to Miss Eunice Gilbert daughter of Deacon James Gilbert of New Haven. In 1779 when I was a soldier I was quartered at his house and in 1785 while a student at Yale I boarded in his family. An intimacy commenced at that cime which resulted in a reunion of hearts and hands between us. A providential event for which I have reason to bless God. In September 1794 I was appointed as missionary to the new settlements in New Hampshire and Vermont by the trustees of the Connecticut society. I was absent on this mission four months, went up the Connecticut river to the Canada line, passed over the north part of Vermont to Lake Champlain, came up the Lake to Beimington, then home. Finding my family increasing and my salary hardly sufficient for my support in June, 1801, I asked and obtained a dismission from my charge in North Lyme.

After supplying several vacant congregations during the Summer, I was appointed by the Missionary Society of Connecticut to go on a mission for four months to the new settlements in the state of New York. On my mission I passed through many of the counties in the western part of that state and at its close preached for several months at Onondaga Hollow, Bloomfield and Aurelius. I accepted the call from Aurelius and in July 1802 I removed my family there and was installed pastor in September following. In 1808 my pastoral relation was dissolved and I continued to preach to a part of my former congregation and to the people in and about the village of Auburn.

In November 1812 I received a call from the church and people of Bath Steuben County, to preach and settle with them. In January 1813 I removed my family to Bath and In June following was Installed over the church by the Presbytery of Geneva. Religeous services were held in the Court House until the church edifice was erected in 1825. Here I continued to labor from year to year with various degrees of success. In June 1831 I was dismissed from the charge but continued to preach at different places in the vicinity. One year at Painted Post, more than a year in KennedyviUe and Avoca, about a year at Big Flats, Chemung Co. , occasionally at other places. Being unfit through age to resettle in the ministry, and my son Gilbert having concluded to remove west, and thinking it possible I might be useful in a new country, I concluded to remove with him. In May 1835 I left Bath with my family and took up my residence in Norwalk, Ohio. Since I came to Ohio I have preached at Norwalk, Milton, Huron, Brunson, Monrowville, Peru and Paris.

Norwalk Aug. 6, 1841.



g-pa22.jpg

Above is a photograph of the first page of a manuscript sermon in the handwriting of the Reverend David Higgins. It is from MATHEW XI : 30. "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. "

It was made in 1800 when David was 39 years of age.. He has entered various dates on which he delivered this sermon. Included, among others, are North Lyme (Hamburgh), Conn. - 1800; Cayuga and Camillus, New York - 1802; Haddam, Conn. - Sept., 1805; Big Flat, New York-July 6, 1834. On the back page is the notation: "Preached at PARIS, OHIO - Sept. 27, 1835." He would have been 74 years old at this time. It is written on plain sheets of paper that have been hand-sewn together to form a booklet easy to hold in his hand.


back          contents           next