Monday, October 17, 2011

Higgins family collection, 1897-1972 & 1741-1925

Higgins House
Donated to WPI-1971
by Aldus Higgins upon his death
     I spent most of my day searching online Library Catalog's, trying to locate the Higgins Family Papers of Worcester, MA, with the intent to contact the institutions that hold the records. 

     I was familiar with the well known Higgins that had a lot to do with the contributions to Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  I read about John Higgins in prior years who loved armory and had a castle built to store all of the armory that he collected and is known as the "Higgins Armory Museum."  There is a wealth of information on the Higgins and one could clearly make a study of it.

     The purpose of my searching is to locate the household employee records, and to possibly find some type of correspondence that would confirm the employment and relationship my Cully's had with the Higgins.  As a researcher, I would like to be able to document this information in my book.  I have stories handed down orally and written that talk about my family working for the Higgins, but I think to have it substantiated will give my story some credibility.

     Recently, I was looking at all of the Higgins of Worcester, MA.  I began to think that this would be tedious and should begin with what is tangible and quite possibly would answer my question as to who is my Higgins?  

     I am still reading the Higgins genealogy, but not sure how important that is except I was trying to see if they were related to E.G Higgins, of who I wrote about a few weeks ago that sold the finest wall papering in the United States.  

     It is my belief that my Great Grandfather Ambrose Cully worked for Milton & Kathryn Higgins who had four children: Aldus Chapin, John Woodman, Katharine Elizabeth, and Olive Chapin.  

     My search today payed off.

     I located Higgins Family Collection 1897-1972 which is held by the Worcester Historical Museum. (Archival material, 1897) [] The description of the collection is as follows:

Photographs of members of the Higgins family and related families of Chapin, Lupton, Prouty, Bennett, Smith, Riley, and Carter; papers of Clara Carter Higgins and her husband, John Woodman Higgins, president of Worcester Pressed Steel Co., and Higgins Armory Museum; Aldus Chapin Higgins, treasurer of Norton Company and trustee of Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Milton Prince Higgins (father of John Woodman Higgins and Aldus Chapin Higgins), president of Norton Emery Wheel Co., and elevator company, and promoter of trade schools in the U.S., and Katharine Chapin Higgins, his wife; and Bradley C. Higgins and his children; journal/diary (1909-1919) of Mary Louis Carter; financial records, including check stubs (1963-1972) of Clara C. Higgins, Higgins household employee records and time sheets, and general financial records of John Woodman Higgins and Clara Carter Higgins; and genealogical materials, including family genealogies compiled by Katharine Chapin Higgins.

I also located Higgins Family Papers 1741-1925 at the New England Historical Genealogical Society.

There are various reasons that I believe that this is the correct Higgins family connected to the Cully’s.

1.      Milton Higgins was the father of Trade Schools and my Uncle Osborne Ambrose and Grandmother Agnes Mae Cully, both attended the Girls and Boys Trade Schools in Worcester, and I believe that they were encouraged by the Higgins.

2.      My Uncle Wendell Phillip Culley attended the High School of Commerce, and was the only African American in his class attending at the time, and when I looked at the 1924 & 1925 School Annuals, a Marion L. Higgins was working at the school, and I am assuming that she was a cousin or relative of “The Higgins” family and they encouraged Wendell to attend and pursue his musical career.

3.      My mother stated (tape and Journal) that the Cully’s worked for the Higgins family that owned a large industrial corporation, even though she was unsure of the type of business it was.  She also stated that they were millionaires and gave my Aunt Zara & Catherine substantial financial support.

So my next step is to speak with the Archivists at the NEHGS and Worcester Historical Museum and have them help me with confirming the employment of Ambrose, my two aunts, and my Great Great Grandmother Hannah Gilliam.  Hannah, as it was told to me laundered their clothing and household laundry.  I will also figure out the timeline as to when my family worked for the Higgins so that this portion of my book will be complete.

   I received some information from Professor Rich Falco of WPI today pertaining to the Higgins...which I will share tomorrow as he is doing research on Wendell & Raymond Cully and their Jazz.


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  1. You have a large puzzle on your hands. The NEHGS person should prove very helpful in giving you guidance. Good luck with your search. Regards,
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  2. Thank you Theresa. I will ask for some guidance. I also loved Tangled Trees.