52 Ancestors – #4 Rufus Francis Higginbotham, Sr.

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I have decided to accept the challenge of Amy Johnson Crow over at No Story Too Small blog. Amy challenges us: 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks.  I think this is an excellent challenge as I tend to focus on my brick walls, and this will force me to fan out in my tree and focus on other ancestors.

Please meet my 2nd great-grandfather, Rufus Francis Higginbotham, Sr. Week four, and my fourth post in the challenge.

This is a photo of Rufus with his wife, Margaret Florence Jacobs Higginbotham.

Rufus and Margaret Higginbotham

Rufus, or Civil War Rufus as I call him, was born 14th of March, 1839 in Alabama.  (Yes, Justin I hear you yelling “Roll Tide!”  Since he came to Arkansas, I hope you hear me yelling, “Woo Pig Sooie!”  He was the 8th of 12 children born to Sanford Higginbotham and Jane Harriette Holley Higginbotham.

The reason I call him Civil War Rufus is because he is the first of five generations of Rufus Higginbotham’s and he fought in the civil war which makes it easier for me to distinguish which Rufus I am talking about.  The last Rufus being my brother Butch, (nicknamed Butch because he always wore his hair in a flat top with Butch wax on it) whose name is actually Rufus Earl Higginbotham, III. He named his son Ben David Higginbotham because he (Butch) was teased merciless in grade school about his name “Rufus” and he didn’t want Ben to suffer the same fate, so they decided against naming him James Rufus Higginbotham and went with Ben David instead, thus ending the Rufus name in our line of Higginbotham’s.  I’m sure Ben thanks him!

I know there are other grandchildren of Civil War Rufus that carry the name Rufus.  In our line, it happens to be my nephew, Jonathan Rufus Higginbotham, and his son Skylar Mikel Rufus Higginbotham.  I know there are some other Rufus’ in Civil War Rufus’ son Sanford L. Higginbotham’s line that carry the name, for instance Rufus Merit Higginbotham. I hope to learn more about Sanford L.’s line in the future.

I have a copy of the bible of Sanford Higginbotham, Rufus’ father on this website, which you can refer to here, Bible of Sanford and Jane Higginbotham.  This bible is in the possession of Hugh Oliver Higginbotham, Jr. of Memphis, Tennessee.  Hugh, along with his two wonderful sisters, Joy Maclin and Marilee Whitten graciously agreed to let me photograph it and use it for family records.

The bible record is how I know Rufus was the 8th child of 12 children.  It’s also how I know he married Margaret Jacobs on the 4th of June 1865.

Backing up a bit from his marriage, I found Civil War Rufus on the 1850 Census living in Jackson, Dallas Co., Arkansas.  This was the plantation of his father Sanford Higginbotham which you can read about here, Walking Ancestral Land with Cousins. The census shows him living at this time with his father and mother, Sanford and Jane, siblings James, Joseph, William, Nancy, Elizabeth, and Amanda, with farm laborer, A.L. Barnes.

1850 Higginbotham Census

1850 Higginbotham Census, Rufus age 11.

Civil War Rufus’ father Sanford died in 1851 and so on the 1860 census he is found still living with his mother Jane on the family plantation with siblings, William, Nancy, Elizabeth and Amanda.

1860 Census Higginbotham

1860 Census Higginbotham, Rufus age 21.

Then, on March 1st, 1862 in Princeton, Arkansas Rufus joined Co. B, 18th Regiment Arkansas Infantry. You can find out more about this Regiment and the hardships they faced here, 18th (Carroll’s) Arkansas Infantry Regiment, CSA.  From Rufus’ muster rolls, I learned quite a bit of information.  I learned when and where he joined.  I learned he was absent sick in hospital, and sick at home.  I learned he was taken prisoner at Port Hudson, Louisiana on 9th of July 1863 and was paroled.   I learned he signed the Oath of Amnesty and Allegiance on 21 April 1864.

Rufus Higginbotham Muster Roll

Rufus Higginbotham Muster Roll

It’s hard to read, but if you look on the above muster roll for Rufus, you will see it says he has grey eyes, black hair, was light complected, 6’2″ tall and was 25 years old. Now I know where brother Butch who is 6’5″, brother Gene who is 6’5″ and sister BJ who is just shy of 5’9″ got their height. Evidently, I got the short end of that stick at 5’4″, ha!

Then in 1865 as mentioned above, he married Margaret Jacobs.  They had five children that I know of.

  • Harriette Alice Higginbotham (1866-1911) who married Merit Joseph Crank (2nd wife) and had no children.
  • Charles S. Higginbotham (1867 – bef 1910) who married Rena Peavy and had a son Luther Higginbotham.
  • Mary Florence Higginbotham (1873-1940), who married James Harvey Davis and had no children.
  • Rufus Francis Higginbotham, Jr. (my great-grandfather) (1876-1923) who married Dona Williams, and had my grandfather Rufus Earl Higginbotham, and Milton Francis Higginbotham.
  • Sanford Lullean Higginbotham (1879-1942) who married Minnie Ola Crank.  (Minnie Crank is the daughter of Merit Crank (husband of Alice) and his first wife Emma Francis Larey).  Sanford and Minnie had five children: Emma Pauline Higginbotham who married Paul Stockton, Sanford Aubrey Higginbotham who married Janis Plemmons, Muriel Higginbotham who married Holbert Manning, Richard L Higginbotham who married Ina Mae Brown, and Rufus Merit Higginbotham who married Alma Virginia Torrans.  There is an extensive book done by Patricia Cleveland called “The Crank Family, Past to Present 1595 to 2009” that has quite a bit of information and several photos of these Higginbotham’s.


This tin type that my Aunt Jane had is probably the youngest picture I have of Civil War Rufus. He is on the right, and my great-grandfather Rufus Francis Higginbotham, Jr. is on the left.

Rufus F Higginbotham Jr and Rufus F Higginbotham Sr

Rufus F Higginbotham Jr and Rufus F Higginbotham Sr

On the 1870 Census, I find Rufus farming in Precinct 1, Bowie Co., Texas, with his wife Margaret, and children Harriette Alice, and Charles S. Higginbotham.

1870 Census Higginbotham

1870 Census Higginbotham

I did not find him on the 1880 Census, and we all know the 1890 census was destroyed. In the 1900 Census, I find Rufus surprisingly as the Head of a Hotel (boy do I wish it said which hotel as I have not been able to figure this out), in District 0121 in Garland, Miller Co., Arkansas. Margaret also lived there with him, as well as children, Mary Florence, Sanford L., Rufus Jr. and wife Dona, and several other boarders.

1900 Higginbotham Census

1900 Higginbotham Census

If any of you Texarkana or Miller County historians know which hotel that might be, it would be great to know that.

It seems to me that Civil War Rufus wore many hats throughout his lifetime. Not only did he apparently run a hotel, in looking at the city and county directories for Texarkana, and Miller County, I have found him to be Justice of the Peace for Miller County (1905), County Coroner for Miller County (1915), and Oil Inspector for Miller County (1917).

In 1910, Rufus is found living in District 0070, Texarkana Ward 3, Miller Co., Arkansas and is shown to be a Justice of the Peace. His wife Margaret and daughter Mary Florence are also living there at the time.

1910 Census higginbotham

1910 Census Higginbotham

Imagine my surprise in 2011 when the Arkansas Democrat Gazette ran this article from “100 years ago”.

Justice Higginbotham Pours Whiskey on Broad Street

Justice Higginbotham Orders Whiskey Poured on Broad Street

Ha! I know one brother (who shall rename nameless but has not been mentioned yet in this post) that if he had been living back then, would have been trying to lick it off the street and would have gone home crying with a sore tongue. I’m pretty sure Civil War Rufus and this nameless brother of mine would not see eye to eye on that subject.

On the 1920 Census, Rufus is found living with wife Margaret and surprisingly, my great Uncle Milton, in District 0071, Texarkana, Miller Co., Arkansas.

1920 Census Higginbotham

1920 Census Higginbotham

I know that my great-grandfather Rufus F. Jr. died at a young age of 47. It’s possible that in 1920 he was sick and Milton went to live his parents. The weird thing is, Rufus F. Jr., died on 21 September 1923, but Civil War Rufus died just a few months before him on 29 Jun 1923. I can’t even begin to tell you how confusing it was to look these Rufus’ up and separate them with how closely they died together.

But, before we get to the end, so to speak, I have a few more things to share with you. I found this document is some pictures my Aunt Jane gave me. I have not researched it yet, but I have never heard anyone speak of it, and Dad knew nothing about it. It looks like the subdivision is somewhere around Broad St. I’ll have to do some research on this at the Miller Co. Courthouse.

Rufus Higginbotham Subdivision

Rufus Higginbotham Subdivision

This is another picture of Rufus and Margaret.

Rufus and Margaret Higginbotham

Rufus and Margaret Higginbotham

And then these next two, are a couple of my favorite pictures. This is Rufus on a donkey.

Rufus F Higginbotham Sr

Rufus F Higginbotham Sr

This is Rufus doing I don’t know what to the poor Donkey, but it looks like he is trying to get the donkey to not run off with his grandchildren. The boy on the front is my great Uncle Milton, I don’t know who the girl is holding him, but I think she and the other children are some of Sanford and Minnie’s children. My grandfather Rufus Earl is the next to the last boy. And what does the poor donkey have on his ears?

Milton, Earl and Rufus Higginbotham, other unidentified

Milton, Earl and Rufus Higginbotham, others unidentified but most probably children of Sanford and Minnie Higginbotham.

Sadly, Civil War Rufus died on the 29th of June of 1923 and this is the clipping from the Texarkana Daily News.

Rufus Francis Higginbotham Sr Obit

Rufus Francis Higginbotham Sr Obit

Rufus and his wife Margaret are buried in the Sylverino Cemetery, in Miller County, Arkansas. Their daughter Alice Crank and her husband Merit Crank are buried next to them as well as Sanford and Minnie Higginbotham, and Sanford Aubrey Higginbotham.

Rufus and Margaret Higginbotham Headstone

Rufus and Margaret Higginbotham Headstone

I’ve blogged about their headstone before here on Tombstone Tuesday – Knucklehead’s Ancestors.

If you are related to any of the above mentioned children of Rufus, I would very much like to hear from you. So far, we haven’t really connected with anyone from the other lines. It would be great to talk with some of Sanford Lullean’s descendants and I would love to find out what happened to Rufus’ son, Charles S. Higginbotham and his son Luther as I haven’t been able to track them either.

This is how I descend from Civil War Rufus. Now, you will see why I call him that. It’s easier to distinguish him.

Rufus To Susie

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2 comments on “52 Ancestors – #4 Rufus Francis Higginbotham, Sr.

  1. Great job once again Dear Susie! Nedra

  2. […] – “#4 Rufus Francis Higginbotham, Sr.” by Susie Reynolds on Our Families and Their Untold […]

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