Wife: Rachel Doane (6)
02 (F): Lurania Higgins (8)
Born: 09 Jun 1738 in Hardwick, MA
Died: 12 Apr 1747 in Hardwick, MA
03 (M): Henry Higgins (9)
Born: 27 Dec 1740 in Hardwick, MA
Died: about 1743 in Hardwick, MA
04 (M): Henry Higgins
05 (F): Bethia Higgins (10)
Born: 26 Mar 1746 in Hardwick, MA
07 (F): Rachel Higgins (12)
Born: 19 May 1751 in Hardwick, MA
September 28, 2009
Tonight I'm going to tell you about a couple involved with a very sad time in history, Jonathan and Rachel Higgins. Jonathan and his wife, Rachel Doane, were both born in Eastham, Massachusetts, Jonathan in 1711 and Rachel in 1714. They married there in in 1735, then moved to Hardwick where their nine children were born. Three children, Lurania and two Henrys, died in Hardwick. That was a sad part. Then they moved to Nova Scotia with their surviving children. This is where the sad time in history comes in.
Did you ever read the poem “Evangeline” by Longfellow? It's a beautiful sad story that tells about the expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Scotia. The Acadians were the French people who lived there before the English. The English won the French colonies in North America as a result of the French and Indian War. The French and Indian War was really part of a much larger conflict between the French and the English called the Seven Years War even though it lasted nine. When Nova Scotia became British in 1755 two English officers in the war, Gov. William Shirley and Charles Lawrence, decided the Acadians had to go. They told them that they had to sign an oath of allegiance to the British crown and renounce their Catholic faith, or be expelled from the country. The Acadians refused so soldiers came, rounded them up, put them into ships without a thought to family ties and sent them off, some to Maine, some to Massachusetts, some to France and Louisiana among other places. Today this action would be called ethnic cleansing. The ones who settled in Louisiana came to be known as Cajuns.
After the Acadians were expelled there was a lot of good land lying empty. Colonists in Massachusetts were getting a bit crowded from everyone having so many children, and some of them were interested in the new lands to the north. So in 1761 our Jonathan Higgins and his family became one of thirty families to take a land grant in the area north of Cobequid Bay called Onslow., now part of Colchester County. The thirty families brought with them twenty head of horned cattle, eight horses, and seventy sheep. What did Jonathan and his neighbors find when they got to Onslow? A man named Judge Thomas Haliburton described it thusly:
“They found the country laid waste to prevent the return of the Acadians, but 570 acres of marshland was still under dyke, and about forty acres of uplands around the ruins of houses was cleared, though partially overgrown by young shrubs. Remains of the French roads are still visible, as also parts of their bridges. Near the sites of their buildings have also been found, at various times, farming implements and kitchen utensils, which they had buried in the hope of being permitted at some future time to return to their possessions.”
The new settlers did not have an easy time of it during their first few years. They experienced drought, early frost and poor crops. One poor soul reportedly died of starvation after eating the end of a candle because he was so hungry. Many more would have perished had not the government in Halifax sent aid in the form of corn for eating and planting.
Joanthan was not a young man when he went homesteading in Nova Scotia. He was already 50 years old. But he had two strong sons to help him, plus two more coming along. Son Jonathan was about 25, and Joshua was 13. Our ancestor, their son Philip, was only about 8 years old and the youngest , Joseph, was an infant. Daughters Bethia, aged 16, and Rachel, 11, could have been old enough to be really helpful, but as records are scarce we don't know for sure if they ever made it to Nova Scotia. Three sons, Jonathan, Joshua and Philip, stayed in Onslow and raised families. Son Joseph moved back to Rhode Island and had a family there. Also, we don't know for sure how long Jonathan or Rachel lived. We do know Jonathan, at least, survived the initial hardships as there is a deed showing he transferred some land to his son, Jonathan, in 1777.
Jonathan and Rachel came from hardy colonial stock in the British Colony of Massachusetts. They endured the deaths of three precious children. In late middle age they moved with their family to the British Colony of Nova Scotia where they endured great hardships as one of the founding families of Colchester County. It was not their fault that they built their homes on the sites of the Acadians, just as it's not our fault that our homes lie on land that was once the Native Americans. So hooray for Jonathan and Rachel and their hard but honest lives.
Here's how we are related to them. Jonathan and Rachel had Philip Higgins. Philip Higgins had Hannah Higgins. Hannah Higgins had Charles Stevens. Charles Stevens had Edmund Stevens. Edmund had Harold Stevens. Harold had Paul Stevens. Paul had Dawne Stevens. Dawne had . . . you,
my wonderful grandbabies!
So Hooray for Jonathan Higgins and his wife Rachel Doane Higgins!
[quote from Haliburton is from Chap. 23, p. 332]
37 families are listed
The 34th is that of Jonathan Higgins
Head - Jonathan Higgins
men - 1
boys - 2
women - 2
total - 5
Prot. - 5
American - 5
[source shows transfer of land to son, Jonathan Higgins, Jr.]
Philip Higgins Onslow Family # 39
1 male over 6 and under 14
1 female over 6 and under 14
1 female above 14 years of age not a head of family
[Onslow, household # 39]
Revised: November 26, 2016