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Below is a family biography included in The Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, Illinois published by Biographical Publishing Co. in 1894.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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HON. JOHN J. HIGGINS resides in Du Quoin and is numbered among its prominent citizens. Mr. Higgins was born near Broomfield, County Cork, Ireland, November 21, 1845. His father, John Higgins, died in 1848, leaving a widow and five sons, of whom our subject is the youngest. His mother bore the name of Johanna Moore; she was a woman of strong character, and when left a widow realized that her duty to her sons would be best fulfilled by bringing them to free America, rather than by remaining in the land of their birth, a land at that time scourged by famine and crushed by bad government. In May, 1849, with her children, she sailed from Queenstown for America, and landed in New York July 4. She remained a few months at Nyack, on the Hudson River, and then removed to Pittsfield, Mass. Here the elder sons found employment and made for their mother a happy home, which she enjoyed until her death, in 1869.

John J. Higgins attended the public schools of Pittsfield until the fall of 1858, when he passed an examination and was admitted to the Pittsfield High School, where he remained for one year. During this time he made rapid progress in his studies, and began a course of reading, which makes him one of the best informed men in our state. This result has been accomplished by reading, study and experience. He possesses an observing eye and a retentive memory, and thereby his knowledge has been constantly increased. One of the most prominent and highly educated citizens of the county, a man of collegiate education, who is an orator and a polished and educated gentleman, said to the historian: “I wish I was as good a scholar and as well informed on general subjects as is John Higgins.”

In 1859 our subject entered the employ of W. M. Root as an apprentice to learn the art of watch making, and remained with his employer until 1866, when he came to Illinois and settled in Du Quoin. Here he established his business and enjoys the confidence and respect of the public. He is devoted to his calling, is a thorough master of his art, and possesses one of the finest horological libraries in the west.

In public affairs Mr. Higgins has always taken an active and intelligent interest, and his ability and worth were recognized by the Democrats of the Forty-eighth Senatorial District in 1882, when he was nominated and elected a member of the Lower House of the Illinois Legislature. He served his constituents faithfully and well, and in 1884 he received the Democratic nomination for Senator in the Forty-eighth District. After a thorough canvass he defeated Mr. Ihorn, his predecessor in office. Through the efforts of friends Mr. Higgins received in this contest the heaviest vote and the largest majority ever given in the district. His efforts while in office were directed almost entirely to restoring the business of the state to safe and economic methods. While in the Senate, with the co-operation of a few friends, Republicans and Democrats, he was largely instrumental in breaking up and exposing the public printing combine, which had been organized to plunder the state treasury. In this work alone about $60,000 was saved to the people.

As a public speaker Mr. Higgins has a wide reputation. In 1888 and in 1892 the Democratic State Committee called upon him to canvass the central and northern parts of Illinois; his familiarity with the great questions of the day, intimate knowledge of, and close touch with the people, and earnest and eloquent way of presenting his views, give him more than ordinary power as an orator. His friends are not all found in the ranks of the Democracy, many Republicans admire and support him, and all who know him have the utmost confidence in his integrity and ability and speak of him only in terms of praise. In religious belief he is a Catholic.

October 15, 1872, Mr. Higgins wedded Miss Mary, daughter of Alva and Priscilla (Holmes) Ward, who emigrated to Illinois from Ohio, where their daughter was born. Four children grace the union of our subject and his wife, Mary, who is a pupil in St. Mary’s Academy of Notre Dame, Ind.; Lawrence, who is now in the Du Quoin High School; Kathleen and Florence, who are in the public school.

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This family biography is one of 679 biographies included in The Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, Illinois published in 1894.  View the complete description here: The Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, Illinois

View additional Perry County, Illinois family biographies here: Perry County, Illinois Biographies

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