From my Daddy’s side of the family will be the next will in my slave owners’ series this year. This person was my fourth great-granduncle, and his name was Robert C. Bigham, son of James B. Bigham, III and Sarah Margaret Freeman. The Bigham family comes from my Papaw Beard’s, mother’s side of the family.
The Bigham family was originally from Ireland and had been in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina since before 1780, before moving to Madison County, Kentucky in about 1793. Robert C. Bigham was born September 22, 1797 in Madison County, Kentucky but sometime around 1806 or so, the family moved over to western Kentucky to the counties of Caldwell and Livingston.
Robert had eight brothers and two sisters and their names were: David Freeman Bigham, 1788-1858; James Hayes Bigham, 1789-1856; John Madison Bigham, 1791-1872; Joseph Bigham, 1793-1874; Jennett F. Bigham, 1794-1876; William Harrison Bigham, 1796-1852, (my 4th great-grandfather); Samuel Young Bigham, 1800-1887; Peninah Q. Bigham, 1802-1803; Martin Van Buren Bigham, 1804-1854 and Harvey Washington Bigham, 1806-1849.
Robert C. Bigham met and married Elizabeth Phillips Rice, 1808-1864, daughter of William Rice and Sarah Rutter. They were married July 9, 1823 in Livingston County, Kentucky and soon became the parents of two sons, Robert Lycurgus Bigham, 1825-1863, and Newton Harvey Bigham, 1831-1913. From Robert’s will we know that Newton was not yet born when he wrote his will, because he states the following: “the child with which my wife is now far advance in pregnancy”. However, just a year later Robert adds a codicil to his will and now says that his wife had a son, who they named Newton Harvey Bigham.
After Robert’s death his widow, Elizabeth was remarried to Blount Hodge in 1834, who’s Will, is pretty interesting since he names his mulatto woman and the children they had together. You can read a transcription of that will at the following link: http://wkygenealogy.blogspot.com/2008/04/will-of-blount-hodge-1874.html posted by Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG.
In Robert’s will he leaves the following slaves to his son Robert L. and the unborn child: negroes, Warrick, Parker, Lila, Vina, Caroline, Lawrence (called Toby), Mary and their future increase and Tisha and her increase. To his wife, Elizabeth P. Bigham he left negroes, Nancy and Warner and their increase. If his wife dies then Nancy and Warner to go to his children. He also says that he wishes his wife Elizabeth to retain control over the land given to her by her deceased father, after the death of her mother. His executors were his wife, Elizabeth P. ‘Betsy’ Bigham and his brother, Harvey W. Bigham. However, he says that if Harvey dies then his brother, Samuel Y. Bigham and if he dies then his brother William H. Bigham to be executors. Sounds like they might have all been sick at this time, then in a codicil he does state that the Cholera is very prevalent in the area. His wife has now had the baby and his name is Newton Harvey Bigham. The codicil written October 28, 1832 also says he has acquired 14 slaves worth about $5000, from the estate of Randolph Lewis, but they were not named. Witnesses were William Rice and Riley Fowler, and the will was recorded January 7, 1833.
Years ago my Dad had found a transcription of Robert’s obituary from an issue dated November 22, 1832 but he never did write down where he found it. The papers initials are given as 'OR' but I cannot find what paper that stood for. The paper says: Robert C. Bri(g)ham, clerk of Livingston County Circuit Court died of Cholera, November 1832.
Robert C. Bigham does have a tombstone but it was in bad shape in 2013 when Jerry Bebout took the following picture and posted it on www.findagrave.com.
From Livingston County, Kentucky Wills, 1799-1873, pages 119 to 127, I was able to find the will of Robert C. Bigham which was written September 13, 1831 and was recorded in court on January 7, 1833. The nine pages of his will follows.