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File 001 Ireland

Matthew Bigger & Martha Moore

Dayton Biggers in America
Letter From William H. Bigger


               Hon. Roy G. Fitzgerald, Pres. 

26 May 1946

Dayton Historical Society,

910 U.B. Bldg.,

Dayton, OH


Dear Mr. Fitzgerald:

     Am sorry to have awaited this late for a try at answering your letter of the 6th of April and one of a few days ago but I have been too busy to dig into things for the kind of answer necessary.

     The direct progenitors of the Dayton Biggers in America started with Matthew and Martha Bigger living in County Antrim near Ballymoney, Ireland. Matthew died in Ireland but Martha came to America with their two daughters Elizabeth and Jane and her youngest son Thomas, sailing from Londonderry on Aug. 9, 1773, landing two months later at Baltimore on Oct. 16, 1773.


Three other sons, Samuel (my progenitor), James, and John were all permanently located in Pennsylvania prior to the mother’s arrival, James living near Chambersburg and Samuel * John in the  Conococheague region on the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania. Martha the mother died May 20, 1780, in her 78th year and is buried at Candor, Pa., (Washington County) in one of the 1st white women's graves west of the Alleghenies in the Robinson U.P. graveyard located upon a part of an original tract owned by Thomas       


Samuel was married to Abigail Dennison, Aunt of Gov. Dennison of Ohio, and had issue, Sam II, John (buried south of Dayton at Bellbrook in the old Pioneer cemetery) Joseph, David, Nancy, and Hannah. Samuel II married Mary Shannon McCune, cousin of Gov. Shannon of Ohio and both Are buried at the old Covenanter Cemetery at Mt. Pleasant, Ohio. Nancy married a White. Hannah married John Bigger a cousin (later residing near Lebanon, Warren Co., Ohio) and John married Mary Bigger a cousin and sister to John, who married Hannah.

 Sam I and John I sons of Matthew and Martha with their families left for Miami country in 1798. Samuel died near Lexington, Ky., but his family settled shortly after 1800 in what was called the John? Cleve Symms purchase now Washington Twp., Montgomery County, and John I and family in Warren County at Lebanon, Ohio.

     John at warren Co., had issue, Mary, Martha, Rebecca, Matthew, John, Samuel, and James. His son John b. 12/5/1770, was known as Col. John Bigger and was elected 20 times to either the Senate or House for Ohio's first Legislature through the 32nd and was father to Samuel B., 7th Gov. of Indiana, and Finley B., registrar of the U. S. Treasury under Pres. Buchanan. John was also on the 1 st board of trustees of Miami University and a charter member of the directorate of the 1st bank of Cincinnati - charter issued in 1803 for 40 yrs. This John ran for Gov. of Ohio but was defeated by Allan Trimble in 1826.

     Joseph died in 1803, Wash. Twp., Montgomery County and his mother Abigail and James signed as administrators for his estate (sealed 23 Nov. 1803) inventoried and signed by Benj. Van Cleve Dec. 5, 1803 (June term Common Pleas 1804) covering inventoried goods and 503 acres of land in Wash. Twp. which was sold July 4, 1808, to Wm. Griffin. Another tract of 640 acres contracted from John Cleve Symms was owned by John from 1806 also in Wash. Twp. and was secured on an original land grant signed in the city of Washington by Pres. James Madison and James Monroe, Secy.  Of State on Feb. 18, 1812/ this land was situated approximately 5 miles south of the now existing Dayton city limits and the Bigger road which starts at the Wilmington Pike at the Sugar Creek Presbyterian Church runs through a portion of the original 1143 acres. James Bigger of Wash. Twp. a brother, married Elizabeth Winslow Aug. 13, 1806. John, a son of Sam I and Abigail was born in County Antrim, Ireland in 1760 and died on 12/30/1831, married Mary Bigger at Conococgeague, Pa., prior to leaving for the Miami Settlement. She was born 3/10/1763 and died 7/19/1844, both are buried at the Old Pioneer Cemetery at Bellbrook. Both Sam 1 and his son fought in the Revolution.

    John and Mary had issue,

(A) Thomas 7/6/1792, d. 9/10/1881, buried at Bellbrook.

(B) John, 1796 to 4/20/1855,, at Bellbrook

(C) Joseph, 1801, to 1887 at Xenia

(D) * James, 11/26/1805 to 8/23/1883, at Bellbrook

(E) Wm., 1800 to 1876

(F) Hannah, b. 11/12/1797.

(G) Sally

(H) Mary


*(James above is grandfather to the Hon. Frederick Bigger still living and working in Wash. D.C. carried in "Who's Who" for a number of years and who was a leader in resettlement work during the Roosevelt Administration and pres. of Pittsburgh Architect Society.)


Thomas married 3 times (served in War 1812).  1st to Hannah Snowden; issue, Maria, James, and Samuel.


This Samuel was the grandfather of Warner Bigger, Capt. U.S. Navy from Xenia, Ohio., who officiated in the welcome of Admiral Byrd to Dayton a little over ten years ago and who was in charge of  Mines and Deep Sea Defense off the Atlantic Seaboard during the War just ending. 2nd to Cathy Ann Bradford, nee Conover. They had issue, Thomas, James, John Bradford Bigger.  3rd to Elizabeth Dallas nee Cunningham Issue, Martha, and Dinsmore.  Dinsmore (my grandfather) was born 7/17/1839, d. 2/4/1933 married Mattie Holmes. Issue, Walter D., (died 6 mo.) Emma Sarah, b. 6/18/1868 (lives at 5217 Wilmington Rd., Dayton, O.) Wm. Thomas  b. 3/5/1865 (living Riverside, Calif.)  Charles Edward (my father) b. 4/9//1872, living with his sister at 5217 Wilmington Rd., Dayton, O., who married Bertha Haemstar b. 6/6/1880, d. 6/19/1921. I have one brother Harold C., b. 3/18/03, and one sister Martha b. 7/16/09. My date of birth is 8/17/05 and I have two sons, Michael Dinsmore Bigger age 8 (names after one of the three brothers who left Scotland in 1635, and my own grandfather Dinsmore) and Charles Stephen age 3 named after my father.

     I have a very complete list of births and deaths and places of burial covering from and before the Revolution. I spent over 10 years securing information from the family Bible, letters, deeds, court records, DAR. Books, libraries, etc., so I'm sure you can see why I hated to start "digging" when I was pressed for time. However, I will be only too glad to furnish information on dates or cooperate in any way I can be of service. In event of any Dayton Anniversary Celebration, I would be happy if my father and aunt could participate.

     Concerning your query on a letter signed by Benj. Van Cleve, I do not have the same but am endeavoring to locate it and think it quite possible to find. However, the inventory of Joseph Bigger in 1803 is also signed by Van Cleve and a number of the other early Bigger records or records at Montgomery County Court House. I understand the 1st book of deeds of Montgomery County for some reason is at Cincinnati, and to date, I have never checked the same.

     The tribe was quite prevalent in early 1650 Maryland history and the tomb of Joseph Bigger (1722-1786) in York County, S. Carolina, is adorned with the Bigger crest picturesque precipitation of a southern branch. The family has been well represented in all wars of colonies and countries since the start. Few have bathed in the limelight but have been staid and zealous citizens of their communities.


Sincerely yours

William H. Bigger,

Supt. Class 16 A

862nd AAF Sp. Depot

Wilmington Pike,

Dayton, Ohio

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