18 November 2013

Higbe's Corner on the Michigan Road


If you travel the Michigan Road through Marshall County, and pay close attention to the road signs north of Plymouth you might notice one sign that reads "Higbee Corner" on the same sign marked 5th Road.  As long as I can remember this little crossroads at the top of a small knoll has carried this designation.

In the mid 1830s an official survey was completed through the county to establish sections for land sales.  The map included natural features and any existing settlements, either Native American or white settlers.  Prior to the establishment of any town in Marshall County, the Higbee Corner crossroads was denoted with an inn/tavern.  The area southwest of the cabin was marked as an Indian settlement.  As more people settled in the area stretching out along the Michigan Road, the loosely formed community became known as "Fairmount".  The only real reminder of this village is Fairmount Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in the county, located north of Higbee Corner and established in 1834.  A small child of a pioneer family traveling the road in 1834 died and became the first white person buried in the county.  A short time later a Native American tribe which had been christianized, brought a child that had died, to be given a Christian burial at Fairmount.  This post is the first of a few that will feature some of the early pioneers interred at Fairmount Cemetery.

Which brings us back to Higbee Corner.  Silas Higbe (also spelled Higby and Higbee), moved to Marshall County during the mid 1850s.  He had been born in 1814 in New York state and was living in Akron, Ohio in 1850 with his family and mother, Catherine.  His occupation was listed as "boatman", presumably on the Wabash & Erie Canal.  Silas Higbe opened a store at the small crossroads in Fairmount prior to 1860.  The store building was two stories tall and included a public hall on the second floor and post office on the first floor.  Census records for early settlers in the area were marked with "Fairmount" as their post office box location.  Silas and his son Byron were listed as merchants in 1860 and Silas was listed as a tavern keeper in 1870.  Over time the name that stuck wasn't Fairmount, but rather Higbe's Corner.....translated today as Higbee Corner, though the building is long gone.

The row of Higbe family members at Fairmount Cemetery
Silas brought his mother from Akron sometime shortly after 1860.  She died and was buried at Fairmount Cemetery in 1863.  Her stone is marked "Wife of Silas Higbe" (Sr.).  She was born in 1785....no doubt one of the oldest folks at Fairmount.  Silas Jr.'s first wife, Betsy, died in 1867.  He remarried two years later.  Silas Jr. died in 1873.  It isn't clear how much longer the store continued to operate.  Byron served as a corporal in the 155th Indiana infantry during the Civil War, but by 1870 he appeared to have moved on from Marshall County.  Silas's second wife, Lovina, remarried the same year he died....not letting any grass grow I guess.
 
   
 

3 comments:

Cheryl Klingler said...

Would anyone have any idea what tribes of Indians were in that area?? My Grandfather Leroy and wive Emma Balsley had a farm on 5b road and us kids used to find Indian beads out in the fields in the Spring.

hoosier reborn said...

Hi Cheryl,
The remnants of the village in the survey notes were likely Potawatomi. Depending on the age of the items, they could be anywhere from prehistoric to the early Woodland tribes. I don't know my artifact history well enough to give you anything definitive.

Anonymous said...

Were they Indian beads, or Fulani fossils?