Higgins, on U.S. Highway 60 two miles from the Oklahoma border in southeastern Lipscomb County, is in the heart of the North Texas grasslands of the early cattle ranges. The area has been associated with Juan de Padilla, a Franciscan monk who came with Francisco Vazquez de Coronado, later returned to work among the Indians, and was martyred in 1544. The actual site of his missionary activity, however, is unknown. Settlement of the site began in 1886, when the Santa Fe Railroad made preliminary surveys of the vicinity for extending its Panhandle branch line, then known as the Southern Kansas, from Wichita. E. C. Gray and the brothers James and George Patton filed claims and built their homes on these survey sections. The following year B. H. Eldridge and E. B. Purcell laid out the town, which they named for G. H. Higgins of Massachusetts, a wealthy stockholder in the Santa Fe. The coming of the railroad attracted more homesteaders and businessmen, and by 1888 a post office, a school, a saloon, a hotel, a livery stable, and several stores had been erected. Area ranchers soon made the town a major cattle-shipping point. In 1898 nineteen-year-old Will Rogers came to Higgins and worked for a time on the Ewing family's Little Robe Ranch. Higgins was incorporated in 1908 and won a considerable reputation as a progressive-minded community. Its citizens remodeled its downtown area in 1911 and again in 1929. Higgins has weathered depressions, dust storms, and cyclones, its worst disaster occurring on April 9, 1947, when a tornado claimed forty-five lives and devastated several residences and the business district. The local newspaper, the Higgins News, has been in operation since 1897; it replaced the earlier Courier, begun in 1888. The town is a grain and livestock marketing center and since 1956 has benefited from oil drilling. In 1984 Higgins reported a population of 702 and seventeen businesses. In 1962 the town began an annual observance of Will Rogers Day, in honor of the cowboy philosopher, who remained a close friend of Frank Ewing, the son of his old employer. In 1990 the population was 464, and in 2000 it was 425.
Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.
H. Allen Anderson | © Texas State Historical Association
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Higgins by the Numbers
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|356||2020||United States Census Bureau|
|403||2019||Texas Demographic Center|
|397||2010||United States Census Bureau|
|425||2000||United States Census Bureau|
|464||1990||United States Census Bureau|