Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Teeny Bit of Biggs Family History: 52 Week Challenge: #1 Green Biggs

A few steps into the past . . . . .

Bob and our grandson Mace beside the memorial stone for their Great Grandmother and Great x3 Grandmother Olive Young Biggs, and her son, little Almer Biggs.  This was in Floral Hill Cemetery outside of Hoopeston, Illinois.

As I work through our families' histories, every so often, I come across relatives that I am researching that take a special hold in my heart.  That was certainly so with Green and Olive.  They had captivated me even before I knew much about them.  So often, events in the lives of our ancestors, how those events shaped their lives and their responses to them, touch our lives even today and add a bit to who we are.  

Green Biggs was born to Reuben Biggs and Olive Wilson Biggs on January 12th in 1835. Reuben and Olive were separated at the time of Green's birth, and they were divorced the next year. Both Reuben and Olive were living in Fountain County, Indiana at the time of his birth, but Olive was living with her parents when Green was born. Records show that on the 8th of November in 1836, Olive Biggs married Benjamin Jones in Fountain County, Indiana, but it does not appear that Olive and Benjamin took little Green to live with them. Green was raised by his grandparents, John Wesley Wilson and Lydia Ellen "Lida" Green Wilson and can be found with them in the 1850 U.S. Federal Census.  On the 13th of May in 1856, Green married Mary Goings in Clay County, Indiana. They were only married briefly, and divorced in 1860.  I have a transcription of their marriage, and in Green's military enlistment interview, he states that he is divorced.

Green's gravestone was in 3 levels, This level shows his military Company and Regiment.

According to Green's Military Service Records, Green was a farmer by trade---following in his father's footsteps and his father's before him. I was able to order the Military Service Records for Green from the National Archives.  It was amazing to read all the documentation enclosed.  Green Biggs was in the 60th Regiment of the Indiana Volunteer Infantry and the Indiana Veteran Volunteers, in Companies D and K during the Civil War.  His health was effected by his time of service in the Civil War.  After his discharge from the Union army, Green met and married Olive Young, the daughter of Jesse Young and Sarah Jane VanCamp Young.

Above: the front side of Green and Olive's marriage license and Below: the back side, with the note from William Glaze.

Green and Olive were married on the 20th of April in 1865 in Rossville, Vermillion County, Illinois. On the back of their marriage license, is a note written by Olive's brother-in-law, William Glaze, stating that Olive had lived with them in the Vermilion County, Illinois area for about 3 years.  Green and Olive's union was blessed with 5 children (that we are aware of), 2 of them a set of twins. Their children were: William Sherman (26 Feb 1866 - 1 Jul 1927), Jesse Grant (26 Sep 1867 - 20 Feb 1955), Elias Martin (28 Aug 1869 - 12 Jan 1940), and twins Almer (15 Sep 1878 - 14 Mar 1882) and Alma Jane (15 Sep 1878 - 7 Apr 1946).  (Green's obituary also speaks of a son, Francis, but I have found nothing at this point concerning him---it may have been and error in the information given to the paper.)  

The small headstone for young Almer Biggs.
Olive Young Biggs and Almer Biggs grave marker
Green apparently got "Kansas Fever" and took his young family by wagon westward. The twins were born along the way in Missouri Valley, Iowa. They family ended up in Prairie Dog, Kansas. They lived in a sod home, by the river.  Shortly after arriving, Green's wife Olive became gravely ill with what turned out to be cancer. She ended up having to take the twins and young Elias and go back east to Hoopeston, Illinois to her sister and brother-in-law's home (William and Isabell Glaze). She would have the care of her sister and doctors.  She died there a short time after arriving, and little Almer, one of the twins, just four years old, died a few months later of diphtheria. Green must have been heartsick, plus had his hands full with the daily care of the home and the older boys and trying to "prove up" on the land.  The west was still fairly wild and the challenges were daily for the little family group. It appears as though Elias and Alma Jane stayed east with Olive's family, not returning to the west with their father.  Green's son Jesse was later interviewed by a reporter for the Journal and Courier, the Lafayette, Indiana newspaper about some of his memories of life on the prairie. 

A close up of the engraving on Olive's side of their marker.

Green's grave marker is straight ahead, just to the left.
Green Biggs' grave marker in Armstrong Cemetery

Green eventually ended up moving back to Indiana. His health was failing him as time moved on, losing all of his hearing in one ear and much of his hearing in the other. His pension file includes reports from his physicians, they state he had much suffering from heart issues as well. Green Biggs died on the 27th of October in 1918 in Tippecanoe County, Indiana. He was 83 years old.  He is buried in Armstrong Cemetery close to his son Jesse Grant Biggs.

Bob, his brother Ed, and our grandson Mace . . . .
some of Green Biggs and Olive Young Biggs descendants.

Till next time . . . . .

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