|Brewster Higley VI|
Dr. Brewster M. Higley, late 19th century
|Born||November 30, 1823
|Died||December 9, 1911
|Known for||Wrote the lyrics for "Home on the Range"|
Brewster Martin Higley VI (November 30, 1823 - December 9, 1911) was an otolaryngologist who became famous for writing "The Western Home." This poem, originally written in 1872 and published under the title "Oh, Give Me a Home Where the Buffalo Roam" in the Smith County Pioneer in 1873, would be set to music to become the lyrics for the famous American folksong "Home on the Range."
Because Higley wrote "The Western Home" while living in Smith County, Kansas, and because they felt it described their state very well, the Kansas legislature voted to make "Home on the Range" the official state song on April 8, 1947.
Early life and medical career
Born in Rutland, Ohio, the grandson of Rutland's founder Brewster Higley IV, Higley VI began studying medicine at La Porte Medical College in La Porte, Indiana at the age of eighteen. After graduating in 1849, he resettled in Pomeroy, Ohio and established his first medical practice. He briefly practiced medicine in Indiana and finally moved to Kansas in 1871 to claim land under the Homestead Act of 1862.
Family and later life
Dr. Higley married five times and fathered three children. His first three marriages are reported to have ended tragically when his wives succumbed to injury or disease, but there is some dispute whether this was the case with his second wife (see Spouses and Children). Following the dissolution of his first three marriages, Brewster married Mrs. Mercy Ann McPherson, a widow, on Feb. 28, 1866. The two had a tumultuous relationship, and Dr. Higley felt compelled to leave his children with relatives in Illinois and secretly move away. He found his way to Smith County in 1871 and his marriage to Mrs. McPherson dissolved by default on Feb. 9, 1875. One month later, on March 8, 1875, he married Sarah Clemons, his final wife.
Spouses and children
- Maria Winchell Higley (wife), died in 1852 from disease
- Eleanor Page Higley (wife), mother of Brewster Higley VII (son). It is reported that Eleanor may have taken their child and left Dr. Higley to live with her previous husband, David A. Smith. She likely died between 1867 and 1870, after she had already left Brewster.
- Catherine Livingston Higley (wife), mother of Estella (daughter) and Arthur Herman (son), injured in 1864 and died subsequently.
- Mrs. Mercy Ann McPherson (wife); Higley quite literally ran from the tumultuous marriage in 1871 to move to Kansas.
- Sarah Clemens (wife).
- Classic Cowboy poetry. From: cowboypoetry.com. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
- Emporia State University: Home on the Range – A Lesson on our State Song. From: emporia.edu. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
- Highway marker in Rutledge, OH commemorates Brewster Higley VI. From: oll.state.oh.us. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
- Home on the Range From: NPR. Retrieved on October 23, 2007.
- Brewster Higley, author of the poem "Home on the Range". From kansasheritage.org. Retrieved October 23, 2007.
- Iowa Family Group Sheet for the David A. Smith Family. From: rootsweb.com. Retrieved October 23, 2007.[dead link]
- Photographs of Higley's Kansas homestead
- Photographs of Brewster Higley and Dan Kelley, who set "The Western Home" to music
- The Official story of "Home on the Range"
- Brewster Higley and the origin of "Home on the Range"
- Interview from KTWU Channel 11 with Kansas Historians