I call her Grandmother, even though I never knew her, because that is what my mother called her, but her name was Mary Becker Hagan Higgins.   She was born in 1891 in Mobile, Alabama, and she died in 1960.  My grandmother had a picture of her framed on the antique table in her living room, so we all grew up seeing it often and admiring our beautiful great-grandmother.  We saw moving pictures of her with her granddaughters.  I’ve read her autograph album.  An oil pastel portrait of her hangs in my home today.  I have grown up hearing about her, first from my grandmother and then from my mother, and especially after becoming involved in genealogy myself, I feel I know her.
I love the four generation photo below, taken in 1915 in Mobile, shortly before she moved with her husband, Walter Higgins, to Chattanooga, where she spent most of the rest of her life. 
That’s my Uncle Walter, the first of her five children, sitting in the lap of my great-great-great-grandmother, Luocretia Hall Davis.  My great-great grandmother, Mary Ann Davis Hagan, stands behind.  Mobile was presented to us as our ancestral abode, since we had family there going back for generations, and even though my grandmother (Elizabeth Higgins Carroll, known to us as Mima) was born in Chattanooga, she spent summers at the family home on Mobile Bay, as did my mother as a child.
I’m currently at a Higgins family reunion.  Last night my mother’s cousin Johnny told our gathering that when his grandmother came to visit, she always brought pralines, and he had brought some to our cookout in her honor.  I was touched as he reminded us that she was the grandmother of all of us who had come together for the weekend.  As I said before, Grandmother had five children.  The one to die, my Aunt Patty (Johnny’s mother) left us less than a year ago.  Those five children had 14 children between them.  All are living, and 12 of them are here.  Most of those 12 brought their children along,  20 members of that generation all together (that’s the generation I’m in).   And finally, there are ten members of the fourth generation here.  So there are 42 people gathered here (not counting in-laws!), representing the living legacy of one woman and her husband.
Grandmother’s influence has spread geographically:  we’ve gathered in Tennessee, where many of still live; but we have cousins from Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Missouri, Connecticut, and Rhode Island here.  And my daughter Emily has come full circle by choosing to attend college in Mobile, where descendants of Grandmother’s brother William and sister Bettie still live.
We have a plaque that’s the first thing you see when you walk into our house.  I’m not there to take a picture of it but here’s something similar:

Most couples have thought about children before their wedding day, but I wonder if any of them think about descendants, and about the impact their love will have on the very existence of so many people down through the years.

Walter Martin Higgins

Mary Becker Hagan Higgins


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