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Connecting with cousins

Frances Davis

“When you start about family, about lineage and ancestry, you are talking about every person on earth.” - Alex Haley

Jennifer Davis

October 20, 2003

After the busy travel day yesterday, it was nice to take it slow and easy this morning in preparation for lunch with my cousins, Jennifer and Frances Davis. It was a cold and frosty day this morning. My day never starts without a warm cup of coffee. Fortunately, most motel rooms offer free coffee, either in the lobby or in the room. In the case of Red Roof Inn, it was offered in the room. I didn’t feel like spending much time on breakfast, so I made do with pastries from the gas station across the street, they were cheap, only 75 cents. And McDonald’s did not appeal to me this morning after contemplating on the slow food concept. This gave me time to sort through my genealogy records and photos that I had brought along to share with Jennifer.

I checked out of the motel as late as possible and then made my way to Jennifer’s house in Reading, MA, where Jennifer and her mother, Frances, were waiting. It immediately seemed like we were relatives that had known each other for a long time, although this was the first time we had met. The topic of birthdays came up first thing, because it was my birthday the day before and coincidentally, it was also Jennifer’s sister’s birthday. I talked about the milestone of reaching 40 years old. Frances’ response to that was, “40? You’re just a child. Life is just beginning.” She then chuckled and admitted, “Although I didn’t think so when I was 40.” Perhaps life is beginning again for me at this age as I renew my aim for my aspirations.

Jennifer told me a bit about the community of Reading. She described it as a bedroom community. People live in Reading for the homes and the schools and work elsewhere in the greater Boston area. Wildlife includes foxes and turkeys. Other topics of discussion included Boston culture, starving artists, East Indian dancing and square dancing, to name a few. They were going to a square dance later. Jennifer and I share interests in public radio and TV and also computers. Jennifer said that she knows the composer for Ken Burns’s shows.

Map of Reading area


And the main topic of the day was genealogy. Apparently teaching runs in the family. Rest Higgins, Frances' grandmother and my Grandmother Wight’s aunt, also taught in a one room schoolhouse like my grandmother. We speculated as to why my great grandfather, Alfred Higgins, traveled west from New Hampshire to Colorado. His first family moved with him to Colorado, but his ex-wife stayed back East. Apparently correspondence was kept up between Alfred and his ex-wife, Cora, and Rest Higgins, and this is how they knew about my branch of the Higgins family. However, my branch did not know about Alfred’s first family. We speculated that perhaps Alfred moved west because of the scandalous nature of his divorce. We shared numerous pictures, including pictures of my great great grandparents, Oliver and his wife, Harriet. I never knew what they looked like, now I do.

We talked about the story that Alfred’s son, Loris Higgins, murdered his employer and was apparently lynched. Frances said that her father always told this story, so it so it was supposedly true, although Jennifer countered that he has told other stories that were not true. Frances thought that he believed it to be true.

Oliver Harris Higgins
Oliver Harris Higgins
(1828 to 1898)

Harriet Ann Fisher Higgins
Harriet Ann Fisher Higgins
(1831 to 1916)

Genealogy with Frances and Jennifer

Genealogy with Frances and Jennifer

Genealogy with Frances and Jennifer


Jennifer and Frances were very hospitable, providing lunch and making me feel quite welcome. Jennifer took me on a tour of the rooms of her classic, remodeled home, where she lived by herself, including kitchen, living room, a few bedrooms and a couple porches. She has done some remodeling, particularly in the kitchen where took out two old windows and patched up the wall around a new window. There are a lot of big rocks in her yard, so she decorates and gardens around the rocks.

Jennifer's House

Jennifer's House

Jennifer's House

Jennifer's House


It was hard to leave such gracious and friendly company, but it was getting to be about 4:15 pm and I needed to move on to the next leg of my quick trip. They offered video greetings to my parents “on the other side of the world”. I appreciated that I would be able to share this visit with cousins with my parents by way of video when I returned home. But now I needed to move on to Hatboro, PA, where my sister Teresa lives, which is at least a 6 hour drive from Reading.

Northeast map


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