Updated/Edited: 18 Feb 2016
This is the ancestry of my 8th Great-Grandmother, KATHERINE HIGLEY. (She is Aidan’s 10th great grandmother.)
First Generation in America
- JOHN¹ HIGLEY, married HANNAH DRAKE.
Children of John and Hannah (Drake) Higley:
i. KATHERINE² HIGLEY, born in Windsor on 7 Aug 1679. Married JAMES NOBLE.
2. KATHERINE² HIGLEY, (John) was born in Windsor on 7 Aug 1679 and died in Hebron, Connecticut in 1740. She married in Westfield on 24 Feb 1704, JAMES NOBLE.
THE HIGLEYS AND THEIR ANCESTRY, AN OLD COLONIAL FAMILY BY MARY COFFIN JOHNSON
“I HAVE WRITTEN FRANKLY, GARRULOUSLY, AND AT EASE, SPEAKING OF WHAT GIVES ME JOY TO REMEMBER SOMETIMES VERY CAREFULLY OF
WHAT I THINK MAY BE USEFUL FOR OTHERS TO KNOW, AND PASSING OVER IN TOTAL SILENCE THINGS WHICH I HAVE NO PLEASURE IN REVIEWING.”
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1892, by MARY COFFIN JOHNSON,
in the office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.
THE FIRST AMERICAN FAMILY. KATHERINE HIGLEY NOBLE.
Life is but a repetition
For the man who lives to-day
Loves and hopes, like countless millions
Who have lived and passed away.
A. G. CHESTER.
KATHERINE, the second daughter of Captain John and Hannah (Drake) Higley began her life in the old town of Windsor, August 7, 1679. She appears to have been a very clever girl, and was fifteen at the time of her mother’s death.
At twenty-five she married James Noble of Westfield, Mass., a young widower two years her senior, who had two children. He was born October 1, 1677.
The Noble family was one of great antiquity in Great Britain, and is old and time-honored in this country. James was one of the younger of the eleven children of Thomas Noble, the first ancestor bearing the name who came to America. He settled at Westfield. 1
James Noble and Katherine Higley were married February 24, 1704. Katherine’s married life covered but a few brief years, her husband dying in the vigor of manhood only thirty-
four leaving her with three children. His decease took place January 18, 1712. ” Lietts ” of administration on his estate were granted to ” Katheron, Wid w & Relict, and Thomas Noble, on y e 28th Day of March. Anno Dom 1712.”
The inventory of his estate shows that they were among the well-to-do yeomanry, and the prefix “Mr.,” placed before his name upon all the records, indicates them to have been rankedsocially among the “upper class.”
It was but a few years later on when Katherine, to her rights in property which she received from her husband, had added from her father’s estate legacies which made her the possessor of a considerable property, for those times.
1 In this sketch much valuable information was obtained and extracts taken from the ” Noble Genealogies,” by L. M. Boltwood.
KATHERINE HIGLEY NOBLE. 97
The inventory of James Noble’s estate contained “a house and homestead in the town ; ” “a house and homestead at the farm ; ” ” one Acre of land lying in the homelot that was John Noble’s; ” “16 acres of land behind Thomas Noble’s barn;” “the brush pasture;” and several other small lots of land, in addition to which was an ample quantity of “live stock, grains [Rye, Peas, and Indian corn], farm and house utensils, and furniture,” etc., etc.
Katherine received “all of the moveable goods to beat her own absolute dispose for Ever,” and “one 3rd part of the Real Estate to be for her Use and Improvement for the term of her
In addition to the bequests in lands and money from Captain Higley to which she was heir, she was, through the executors of his estate, the recipient of specialties which are noted in their settlement with her, viz. :
” A yock of cattoll, a mare, ‘a copor cup’ and a ‘copor kittoll,’ a ‘ mortor and pesoll,’ and a sermon boock. ”
Some years after her husband’s death Katherine is found teaching the village school. She is said to have been the first woman school teacher in Westfield. On the 3d of May, 1725, the town meeting voted :
“To give the Widow Katherine Noble twenty-five shillings a month for keeping school so long as the Town sees cause to improve her in that service, and she sees cause to attend it.”
Her children were as follows :
Lydia, born December 7, 1704, who married, April 30, 1734,
Stephen Kelsey of Killingworth, Conn.
James, born January 12, 1707, who died in Westfield, unmarried, January 4, 1739. He was
a farmer and “dish-turner.”
David, born March 3, 1709, who
married Abigail Loomis, daughter of Philip and Hannah Loomis of Simsbury. ‘ (See chapter xxix.)
In 1732 Katherine Higley Noble removed with her son David and his family to Hebron, Conn., where “they settled in that part now called Gilead. The homestead was about three and a half miles northwest of the Hebron church, and one mile west of the Gilead meeting-house, on the highway leading to Marlborough.” ‘ Here Katherine united with the church, no doubt under the preaching of Whitefield, after she had reached her sixty-first birthday. The Rev. Benjamin Pomeroy was pastor of
1 “Noble Genealogies,” by L. M. Bolt wood.
98 THE HIGLEYS AND THEIR ANCESTRY.
the church at that time. He is said to have been “an ardent, zealous, and thundering preacher of the Newlight order.” He was a great admirer and supporter of Whitefield, and Whitefield, “who counted the world his parish,” came about this time to Hebron while he was on an evangelistic tour through Connecticut, setting the towns ablaze with his fiery sermons. However, he seems to have found it hard to kindle the place into flame.
“Hebron,” he writes, “is the stronghold of Satan, for its people mightily oppose the work of the Lord, being more fond of earth than heaven.”
It was but shortly after, in the early spring, that Katherine Noble closed the peaceful evening of her days. Her mosscovered tombstone, which has now stood for one hundred and fifty years in the ancient place for burial at Hebron, bears this inscription :
In the memory of
flfcrs. Katherine Noble
of THaestfielo, mbo
2>feo /Ifcarcb 7 1740/1
in ye 62nd year of
1T Gbess. 4: 14. “Gbem
also TKHbfcb Sleep
in Sesus will <3oo
bring witb bim.”
Katherine Noble’s descendants continued, chapter xxix.”
DESCENDANTS OF KATHERINE HIGLEY NOBLE.
Continued from chapter xvii. p. 96.
David Noble, Katherine, Captain John Higley.
Consider the years of many generations. DEUTERONOMY, xxxii. 7.
OF Katherine Higley Noble’s children, a son and daughter sur-
vived her, Lydia and David.
LYDIA NOBLE, the eldest child of James Noble and Katherine
Higley, born December 7, 1704, married April 30, 1734, Stephen
Kelsey of Killingwarth, Conn. They took up their residence at
Westfidd, Mass. He died December n, 1753. She died April
18, 1768. They had seven children, viz.: Stephen, Gershom,
James, Mindwell, Stephen (zd), Lydia, Stephen (3^).
DAVID NOBLE, Sr., the third child of James and Katherine Hig-
ley Noble, was born March 3, 1709, and married Abigail Loomis,
daughter of Philip and Hannah Loomis of Simsbury.
He was a man of prominent usefulness. In the year 1732 he
removed with his family to Hebron, Conn. Here he had much
to do with founding the ecclesiastical society called Gilead, which
was organized in 1748, his name being frequently noted in its
first meeting, which was held in June of that year. It was then,
“Voted, that Mr. Thomas Post and Mr. David Noble shall tune the Psalms for us
on the dayes of divine worship.”
This appointment betrays David Noble’s share in the heredi-
tary musical turn which runs through the Higley family from its
very early history to this day.
He was also appointed on a committee to obtain land ” to set
our meeting-house on.” He was subsequently chosen moderator
of the society’s meetings, and again in 1750 he served upon a com-
mittee to ” treat with a minister.” He died at the age of fifty-
two, February 18, 1761. A monument stands to his memory in
the Gilead cemetery.
The wife of David Noble, Sr., Abigail Loomis, lived to the
ripe old age of ninety-two. They had twelve children. 1
1 See names, dates, etc., of this family and its descendants, ” Noble Genealogies.”
160 THE HIGLEYS AND THEIR ANCESTRY.
DAVID NOBLE, JR., their eldest son, was born at Westfield,
Mass., and removed to Hebron, Conn., with his parents. From
his early boyhood the light and presence of his grandmother,
Katherine Higley Noble, shone in his father’s household, of which
she was counted one. Without doubt she often enriched it with
bright stories drawn from her own recollections of her father’s,
Captain John Higley, achievements and military experiences in
the border days during the hostile warfare with the Indians.
The influence she cast upon young David’s after-conduct in life
could not have been inconsiderable. The patriotic zeal and self-
sacrifice which has proved a strong characteristic in many of
Captain John Higley’s descendants was nobly manifested in him.
David Noble, Jr., was one of the true heroes of the Revolu-
tion; his name and deeds are deserving of perpetual recognition
in the annals of our country. His career ranks next to that of
his cousin, Jonathan Trumbull, as among the most interesting in
the record of the Higley family. It is to be regretted that the
limit of these pages forbids more than a modest memorial of his
devotion to the cause of liberty.
When the “first mutterings of the war of the Revolution”
began, he volunteered his services without wavering, leaving
at home a wife and a family of children.
The time of his enlistment and duration of his absence is not
recorded. He left home the second time, April 22, 1775, march-
ing with his comrades to Cambridge in the rank of captain, under
the watchword ” LIBERTY OR DEATH.”
The exact time of his return to his home is not known, but he
appears to have participated in the battle of Bunker Hill, in
which he bore a part in the defense of Fort No. 3, a work of his
Neither the battles of Concord and Bunker Hill nor the priva-
tions and hardships of the service diminished Captain Noble’s
zeal. Realizing that recruiting was proceeding but slowly, that
there was need of disciplined men, and that the supply of arms
was scanty, by his earnest individual effort he raised a company
of volunteers in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, was commis-
sioned its captain, and marched as far as Springfield, drilling his
soldiers with thoroughness through the winter. ” For the supply
of his Company he purchased, with his (nun funds, one hundred and
thirty-six stands of Arms, new; clothed them with regimentals
their breeches being made of buckskin, and their coats of blue,
DESCENDANTS OF KATHERINE HIGLEY NOBLE. 161
turned up with white. To meet these costs, Captain Noble sold
two farms in Stephenson, N. Y., and one or two farms at Pitts-
field, Mass. On being paid in gold for the land at Stephenson, he
went to Philadelphia and purchased the deer skins, or leather, and
at the same time hired a breeches-maker, and ‘ the breeches ‘ says
his son, ‘were all manufactured at our house.’ ”
On the 3ist of December, 1775, he marched his soldiers from
Pittsfield to Boston. While at Cambridge he sent for all the
goods that would answer for soldiers’ clothing, both linen and
woolens, that remained in his dry goods store at home. These
were promptly forwarded to him. ” We had harvested at home
that summer,” writes his son, “thirty acres of wheat, which was
made into flour and sent to my father at Cambridge, all except
what our family really needed.”
After the evacuation of Boston by the British in March, 1776,
Captain Noble and his company proceeded to Canada for the pur-
pose of joining Arnold. The defeat of the latter at Quebec com-
pelled him to join in a hasty retreat, retiring to Crown Point,
N. Y. Owing to the scarcity of provisions and the almost insur-
mountable difficulties in obtaining them, the sufferings and pri-
vations were extreme.
While worn down by fatigue, and suffering from the effects of
unwholesome food, Captain Noble was attacked, while at Isle
Aux Noix, with the smallpox, which was then ravaging the
soldiers. He was removed to Crown Point, and there, in less than
two months, this self-sacrificing patriot, ” noble by nature as well
as by name,” passed to his reward. Captain Noble sacrificed his
entire property, as well as his life, to the cause of American
” Our joyful hosts to-day
Their grateful tribute pay
Happy and free,
After our toils and fears,
After our blood and tears,
Strong with our hundred years
Oh, Lord, to thee ! ” l
1 This stanza was added to the hymn ” America,” and sung at the Centennial of Washington’s
inauguration in New York City. ED.