Higgins, Jacob C. (1815–1895)

By: Stephanie P. Niemeyer

Type: Biography

Published: August 4, 2008

Updated: November 20, 2014

Jacob C. Higgins, businessman and legislator, was born on November 2, 1815, in Caledonia County, Vermont, son of Samuel and Betsey (Chamberlain) Higgins. His parents were immigrants who met while aboard ship. Higgins was orphaned by the time he turned six years old. For one year he lived with a sea captain before discovering that a distant cousin, a Mrs. Fairbanks and her husband, lived in the same town as he. They became his foster parents and helped to provide training for him in mill work.

Higgins moved to Texas in 1840 and after a brief stay in Galveston settled in Austin. He served in the militia and engaged in minor business transactions. Higgins bought what at the time seemed to be worthless bonds from the Republic of Texas. When Texas became a state and sold the Santa Fe Territory to the United States, the bonds were suddenly worth not only their face value but also the interest accrued since their purchase. Higgins therefore found himself with a large amount of money to invest in other projects.

In June 1841 Higgins moved to Bastrop and in partnership with Abner Cook started a lumber mill business in the Lost Pines Forest on Copperas Creek. He purchased more land and a number of slaves to develop his business into a prospering one and to establish him as a well-known community leader. He eventually established a mercantile and a bank in town. In 1843 Jacob Higgins married Bastrop resident Sarah Gamble; they had two children. Sarah Higgins died in 1849. In 1852 he married a Seguin resident, Mary Keener. After Mary's death he married for a third and last time to a widow, Mrs. Carolina Yellowley, in 1867.

Higgins served one term in the Texas House of Representatives from 1857 to 1859. Although he could have been easily reelected to a second term, he chose to focus on his business. During the Civil War, Higgins joined the Texas State Militia and served for twenty-two months. Higgins was a Mason and a Democrat. Originally associated with the Methodist Church, Higgins became an Episcopalian and financed the building of Calvary Episcopal Church in Bastrop in 1881, naming it after his wife Carolina's childhood church in North Carolina. Higgins retired in 1892. He died on October 30, 1895, and is buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Bastrop.

Bastrop County, "Fairview Cemetery" (http://www.rootsweb.com/~txbastro/), accessed August 23, 2006. Cavalry Episcopal Church, "Our History" (http://www.calvaryepiscopal-bastroptx.org/), accessed August 23, 2006. John Henry Brown, Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas. (Austin: Daniell, 1880; reprod., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978).

  • Seventh Legislature (1857-1858)
  • House

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Stephanie P. Niemeyer, “Higgins, Jacob C.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/higgins-jacob-c.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 4, 2008
November 20, 2014