Curtis Alexander Higgins one of the early settlers of Adin, Modoc County
His brother, Vincent Lafayette Higgins is also found in the
1874-1879 Modoc County Great Register, but he moved on the Washington State (his
diaries are actually at Washington State University). His brother William
Thomas "Tom" Higgins came west too, but he ended up being killed while he was
napping by Lewis Knott in Washington State (Lewis was later lynched.).
Curtis Alexander Higgins b. 12-30-1846 in Yancey County, NC; d. 11-27-1932 in
Adin, Modoc County, CA, son of Hosea J Higgins and Margaret Marinda Byrd.
Tried to enlist in CSA in 1861 but was told he was too young. Several months
later enlisted in Company G, 58th NC Regiment. In later years he mused "
seemed like it was always fight and run for us fellers... appeared as though our
bellies were always empty and that we were cold most of the time." In recalling
the long, weary march home he said it was the hardest experience of his
youthful years - "some of us were barefoot, a lot of us were sick and hurt, we
were all tired out and half starved. A lot of the boys never did get home, just
lay down and died along the way." He stayed through to the end. He was one of
only 3 or 4 surviving veterans of the Civil War in all of Modoc County,
California by 1930.
The 58th Infantry Regiment was organized in Mitchell County, North Carolina,
in July, 1862. Its twelve companies were recruited in the counties of
Mitchell, Yancey, Watauga, Caldwell, McDowell, and Ashe. In September it moved to
Cumberland Gap and spent the winter of 1862-1863 at Big Creek Gap, near Jacksboro,
Tennessee. The 58th participated in the campaigns of the Army of Tennessee
from Chickamauga to Atlanta , guarded prisoners at Columbia, Tennessee, during
Hood's operations, then moved to South Carolina and skirmished along the Edisto
River. Later it returned to North Carolina and saw action at Bentonville . It
lost 46 killed and 114 wounded at Chickamauga, totalled 327 men and 186 arms
in December, 1863, and took about 300 effectives to Bentonville. The unit was
included in the surrender on April 26, 1865.
After the war, he hung around Yancey County, NC, for several years.
Stories of the prosperous west, now being opened up by the Union Pacific Railway,
made their way back to the Southland. Curtis and several other young
southerners, hooked up with Dick Sparks, a stockman of some means who was taking
livestock across country to California to show in the 1869 State Fair in
Sacramento. Curtis was responsible for driving twelve head of cattle, twelve hogs and a
small bunch of chickens in return for an interest in the livestock. The
small group was well armed and rode horseback across the plains from the Missouri
River to Sacramento but the entire group won a total of only $10.00 in cash
prizes in the showing of their livestock, which was mostly in poor flesh from
their long journey. The chickens, which survived the trip, proved almost worth
their weight in gold, since most of the poultry in California at that time
were of the scrubby, Spanish variety.
Curtis settled in Modoc County in 1874 and he bought and operated the first
stage line between Susanville and the Big Valley, bringing the first mail
service to Western Modoc County, CA. Parts of his ranch are still known as Higgins
Flats in the area. Stopping places along the route were few and far between
where a man could get accommodations and Curtis’ ready rifle contributed game
to the stage stations along the route as well as to his own family larder.
While delivering mail he noticed mail addressed to Chandler’s in the area.
Now Curtis had gone to school at the Day Book Grade School in Yancey County, NC
with Mary Eleanor Chandler’s brother, John Addison Chandler, and went to see
if they were the same Chandler’s. They were, he married Mary Eleanor
Chandler, and they moved to Lassen County in mid’ summer 1876(?) Note that John
Addison Chandler’s (3-18-1852 Yancey Cty NC - 1-12-1924 Chino, CA) second wife was
Even in his later years, Curtis was a good rider and a crack shot. It is
said that even in his late seventies, with a modern automobile standing at his
ranch house door, he could often be seen riding along the highway, rifle across
his saddle pommel. On one occasion, when a very old man, he was riding home
from the nearby town of Adin during a violent thunderstorm. A lightning bolt
hit a big pine tree that fell across the highway just as Curtis was passing
underneath. A group of motorists reaching the scene, found the horse crushed to
death, with the old rider’s leg pinned beneath the animal’s body. Badly
bruised and shaken, Curtis, nevertheless, suffered no permanent injury from the
The 1880 Census shows a white female servant, age 14, Luise Buff?? Modoc CA
The 1885 Directory of Modoc County CA lists Curtis A Higgins, Farmer.
The 1892 Great Register of Modoc County CA lists Curtis Alexander Higgins,
6'2", aged 47, brown hair, blue eyes, occup. Miller.
The 1900 Census shows a Dorie B. Higgins living with them (age 14 years).
Various newspaper archives (Big Valley Gazette, Lookout News, New Era, Lassen
Advocate, Adin Argus) mention Curtis, as C. A. Higgins. He was referred to
as the Round Valley Stockman and Orchardist.
New Era - October 1908 - Adin - C A Higgins was in town this week with a
load of apples from his ranch north of Adin. Mr. Higgins’ orchard is about the
only one in the section in which the fruit was not all killed last Spring.
New Era - December 1908 - Mrs. C A Higgins went "below" for treatment.
New Era - March 17, 1909 - Mrs. C A Higgins, who recently went "below" for
surgical treatment, arrived on the Madeline Stage last Saturday. She is much
improved in health.
Lassen Advocate - March 5, 1915 - A rabid stricken coyote attacked Curt
Higgins in Clover Swale last week but was killed before it could bite him. (Curtis
would have been just under 69 years old.)
New Era - February 1908 - John Barnes is engaged at the C A Higgins place
putting up a substantial wood house.
Lookout News - October 1898 - C A Higgins of Round Valley was in town the
other day and purchased a spring wagon of Read and Morris. "Curt" has a little
angel visitor that calls him papa, and in consequence, he is happy.
Curtis also served on the Grand Jury several times. He was called as a
witness in a famous investigation in June of 1901 at Lookout, CA. On or about May
25, 1901, Calvin Hall and his three sons and son-in-law were arrested for
petty larceny or other misdemeanor and they were held in jail pending
investigation/trial. On May 30, 1901, around midnight, a group of masked men raided the
jail, took the sons & son-in-law to a bridge across Pitt River and hung them
all. After they hung the (4) men, they came back looking for Calvin and aroused
him from his "sleeping couch" and hurried him to another bridge and hung him
as well. After investigation, on June 28, 1901, they arrested Robert
Leventon, Isom Eades, and Jim Brown, very prominent citizens in Lookout. (No
indication as to how the trial ended.)
Curtis and Mary Eleanor Chandler had (5) children. Arthur Walden Higgins b.
8-06-1876 in Adin; died 9-28-1916 in Alameda, CA - he was law enforcement
officer and was killed in the line of duty in Oakland, CA. Curtis Alexander
Higgins (Jr) b. 10-09-1898 and died June 1954 - buried in Klamath Falls, OR. Ora
Ett Higgins b. 9-22-1878 in Adin - I believe she married C E Hudspeth on
4-25-1902 in Eagleville, CA and she and her husband were both teachers. Jessica
Belle Higgins b. 10-12-1885 in Adin, CA and Catherine Elgie Higgins b. 9-22-1880.
Note that Curtis’ brother, Vincent Lafayette Higgins, has a daughter named
Surprise Valley Record - September 1931 - Newspaper Article...
STIRRING DAYS ARE RECALLED AT MODOC PIONEER BANQUET
Following an annual custom of many years standing, the Alturas Parlor of the
Native Daughters of the golden West, entertained the pioneers at a dinner on
Few are living in Modoc County that crossed the plains, before the advent of
the Union Pacific. Several of the older pioneers were unable to make the
journey from their homes to the banquet hall. Among the covered wagon pioneers
present were; Mrs. Mary Ivory, Colonel William Thompson, Mr. and Mrs. John D.
Flournoy of Likely, C. A. Higgins and Mrs. C. C. Auble of Adin and Mrs. Addie F.
C. A. Higgins is the only Confederate veteran of the Civil War left in Modoc
County. He was in one of the last desperate battles between the North and
South, when 750 comrades of his division were left dead on the field and the raged
regiment of which he was a member simply marched back home rather than stack
their arms in surrender.
Colonel William Thompson, who is in his eighty-sixth year, crossed the plains
as a small boy in the middle fifties, his family becoming prominent in Oregon
political life. Thompson himself won much honor as an Indian fighter in the
early days of the west and later as a newspaperman and author. In the early
sixties, John D. Flournoy rose a saddle horse all the way from Missouri to the
Sacramento valley driving a herd of cattle.
Following the special old-timer dinner, a special program led by Mrs. Mildred
Boyd, president of the local chapter, rendered for the entertainment of the
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