Archive for February, 2006

John Crabtree and John Higginson

Monday, February 27th, 2006

This photo is my great grandpa John Crabtree and his friend John Higginson, brother of my great grandma Ida Higginson. Both of them were born in 1855 in Lodi, Illinois. (Lodi is now called Maple Park.)

I think that the parents of John C. and John H. were good friends, also. Edward Higginson’s family stayed with either John Crabtree’s parents, Arnold and Rachel Crabtree, or with his grandparents, Richard and Mary Crabtree while Edward was in the Civil War, according to my grandma.

After the Civil War both Arnold Crabtree and Edward Higginson signed a Declaration of Intent to become a US citizen. They went on the same day, (February 8, 1866), to the same place, (Kane County, Illinois), and the same person (P. F. Ward) signed the document.

The Arnold Crabtree’s and the Edward Higginson’s both moved to Iowa, and both had a daughter born there. Arnold and Edward both died the same year, 1873; Arnold of consumption or TB and Edward of Civil War wounds.

Children of Edward and Mary Higginson

Monday, February 27th, 2006

Edward and Mary Higginson are my great great grandparents that came from Ireland. There are pictures of their six children. John, the oldest died around the age of 26 of something called white swelling, an abcess in his leg.

John Higginson.

Carrie and Isabel Higginson.

Jim Higginson with his wife Fannie.

Edward Higginson.

Ida Emily Higginson, my great grandmother who married John Crabtree.

Mr. and Mrs. John L. Crabtree

Sunday, February 26th, 2006

Sod House in Brown County, Nebraska

Saturday, February 25th, 2006

Grandma Myrtie was born in a sod house and her mother Ida Emily Higginson taught school in a sod schoolhouse. (See the section on Ida’s Teaching Certificates.)

Family in front of a sodhouse in Brown County, Nebraska. This is a general postcard in the family collection, so I do not know who the people are.

Sodhouses or Soddies
Some of the homes they made were called sod huts or sod shanties. They were actually made from the tough grass sod or buffalo grass that grew there on the prairie, the same as the sod schoolhouses.—Myrtie Crabtree Briggs

There was no wood or stone with which to build, so sod was peeled off the soil in rows and cut into blocks which were used like bricks. It took an acre of turf to build the average house.

Roofs were made of a lattice of willow poles, brush, long grass, a layer of clay from the nearest creek bank and a dressing of sod, grass side up. Heavy spring downpours would cause a roof to leak water like an overloaded sponge. Field mice were adept at tunneling through the walls and garter snakes generally followed along behind. Bedbugs and fleas were abundant.—Cal Bivens

John L. Crabtree, Cobbler

Saturday, February 25th, 2006

My great grandpa John Crabtree made really good shoes I am told. Great Grandpa John had polio when he was 6 and used a crutch the rest of his life. Recently, a cousin mentioned that Great Grandpa may have gotten started making shoes so that he could make shoes for himself and others who had difficutly getting shoes to fit.

Alice Mae Corbridge

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

Alice married Charles Franklin Smith. Charles and Alice Smith had two sons, Olliamus Dean and Harrison Franklin.

Ida Emily Higginson Crabtree’s Teaching Certificates

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

Great Grandma Ida taught school in sod houses. It seems Ida had to take an exam each time she renewed her certificate. One of the certificates said that she attended the County Teaching Institute in Springview, Nebraska. Here are two of her teaching certificates, courtesy of Cal Bivens.



On Friday night, Mama took water and a broom to settle the floor for Monday. Men hewed logs in half and put the flat side up for desk and seats. There were readers and books in the school whenever they could get them.—daughter Myrtie Crabtree Briggs

There were three stories from Ida’s teaching days that her daughter Myrtle’s children enjoyed hearing:

“The apple tree,” read one child, “bust into a ‘hug bucket’.” The words were huge bouquet.

“The girl was walking along and turned aside and fastened her garter,” was the sentence in the book. But Ida’s pupil was too embarrassed to read that. “She turned aside to do a very necessary thing,” he read out loud.

Another time one of the poorer boys was reading and asked, “What is b-o-n-e-s?” Miss Higginson answered, “Why, you know. You have more of them than anything.” “Is…it…beans?” (Spoken in a western drawl.)

Emily taught school at one time, in a sod school house. Two boys got into a scrap there one day and Emily waded into the melee and “knocked their heads together.”—Great Grandson Cal Bivens

During the time Ida taught school there was much tension between the settlers and the Indians, because of the Ghost Dance, which spread across the west in the mid to late 1880s. It excited the settlers greatly and Wounded Knee was part of the fallout.

When one major incident happened in South Dakota, Mary Higginson sent for her daughter Ida, “‘Cause she thought that they’d get her as she was teaching and she had a long way to walk home.” Seven miles is a long way to walk home, but Ida was not close to the situation in South Dakota, Grandma told me.—Great Granddaughter Louise

More from Ainsworth, Nebraska

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

These photos are from postcards that I think were taken in Ainsworth, Nebraska. At least the Bank is from Ainsworth. If anyone knows if the farm pictures are of the Briggs’ farm in Ainsworth, please let me know.

If anyone knows what a rakie is, please let me know.

Marium Indianola “Indy” Briggs

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

Marium, or Indy, was my great grandmother and I have a few photos that I like of her.

I love this photo of Great Grandma laughing.

This is from a letterhead, which I found interesting, because of the chickens, the love of which skipped my generation. But I have enjoyed the chickens which have been part of Corrie’s Rooster Ranch for about five years—as long as I don’t have to take care of them.

Great Grandma, chickens and a pig.


Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

What do Montgomery Ward and Confederate Money have in common? Nothing really. I found them in an envelope of items that belonged to the Austin family.