Friday, August 6, 2010

History of Mary Clark Higbee (1833-1918)

Mary Clark Higbee, my great great grandmother, died in 1918 and so was known to some extent by four of our immediate ancestors, Virginia, Elwood, Elma and Inez.
She was born 22 November 1833, at Clark, Clinton County, Ohio, the daughter of Samuel and Rebecca Garner Clark. She was the fifth child in a family of thirteen children. No record is known of her early childhood except that she joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints with her family and eventually came West to Utah. Her older brothers, Joseph and Riley Garner Clark, joined the Mormon Battalion and so Mary was obliged to drive a team of oxen as the family crossed the plains. Her family came with the Heber C. Kimball Company, second division, which left Winter Quarters on 29 May 1848. After a trip without hardship, the family, except for Joseph and Riley, arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on 23 September 1848. Records indicate that the family settled in Provo where her father, Samuel Clark, made the first leather in Utah in 1849.
On 28 October 1853, Mary was married to John Mount Higbee in Provo, Utah. They were later sealed (11 November 1855) in the Salt Lake Endowment House. John and Mary came to Southern Utah where they had been called to help with the settlement of Cedar City. They were the parents of eleven children. Their first two sons, John Mount (1854) and Joseph Somers (1856), died in infancy--John Mount died at three weeks and Joseph Somers at eight months. Another son, Franklin
(1867)died at six months. Silas (1871) passed away at age sixteen. The seven children who lived to adulthood were: Rebecca Ann (1857), Samuel Alonzo (1859), Myron David (1861), Mary Alice (1863; my great grandmother), Isaac Clark (1865), May (1869), and Edward James (1873).
Mary assumed all the family responsibilities when her husband went to Arizona to live with his other family (second wife, Eunice Bladen and their children). This was a very difficult time in their lives as John was obliged to live in Arizona for twenty years and Mary was left to raise her family and manage their livestock and farming interests with the help of her older children. Her youngest son, Edward James, was only one and one-half years old when his father left for Arizona.
Mary was small of stature, with blue eyes, a sunny disposition and was fond of a good joke. She was aristocratic and very precise in manner. She was famous in her family for her sugar cookies and plum preserves. She was an interesting conversationalist. One granddaughter told that when she was young, she preferred visiting with Grandmother Higbee to almost anyone else. Mary moved gently when she walked and was a beautiful, smooth partner on the dance floor.
She was friendly with the Indians who came asking for food or how to cure one of their family members who was ill. Mary wore false teeth and one day, while talking with some of the Indians, she sneezed and her "store teeth" flew out of her mouth. The Indians vanished suddenly and that was the last seen of them for awhile.
Mary became a member of the Female Benevolent Society (now Relief Society) while they were living at the Old Fort. She later served in the presidency of the Cedar Ward Relief Society from 1868 to 1897.
Her parents, Samuel and Rebecca, spent a considerable part of their later lives at her home. Mother Rebecca passed away while living in Cedar City and is buried in the Cedar Cemetery.
Mary lived the last few years of her life at the home of one of her daughters. She enjoyed good health and was especially blessed the last few years with her eyesight improving sufficiently so that she could read, sew and do considerable close work without the aid of eye glasses which she had worn for so many years previously.
Mary Clark Higbee died 26 August 1918, at Cedar City. She is buried in the Cedar City Cemetery.
Obituary from the Iron County Record, 30 October 1918
Iron County Record, Cedar City, Iron Co., Utah, 30 August 1918, pp-1,8
Elderly Lady Called Home
Sister Mary Clark Higbee, at Ripe Age, is Summoned by the Angel of Death.
Sister Mary Clark Higbee, an old resident of this place, died Monday
night, August 26th, after a rather protracted illness. She was the widow of
the late John M. Higbee, and mother to a number of our prominent citizens,
including S. A., M.D., Isaac C. and Edward Higbee, and Mrs. U. T. Jones, and
Mrs. J. S. Woodbury.
Deceased was born in Ohio November 22, 1833, and came to Utah with the early
pioneers, going through all the hardships and trials of that period. In
crossing the plains, as a result of two of her brothers being called into the
Mormon Battalion, she was left to drive an ox team with the company.
Was married to John M. Higbee in the fall of 1853 at Provo and arrived in
Cedar City on her twentieth birthday.
Sister Higbee was the mother of 11 children, six of whom survive her, as do
also 30 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.
She has always been a devoted member of the Church of Latter-day Saints and
was prominent in church work. For a number of years she was connected with the
presidency of the Relief Society and did much good in that organization.
Funeral services were held in the Tabernacle Wednesday, and was attended by
a large number of townspeople. Interment was made in the Cedar City cemetery.
(Sources: "Isaac Higbee and Sophia Somers Family Magazine" (1957). The History of Elias Moroni Cory and Abish Jones, Their Ancestors and Descendants (2002). "Iron County Record" (1918).

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