JAMES W BIGGER

AMERICAN PIONEER

Just where James W. Bigger originated from is unknown. In 1891, Goodspeed publishing company published the History of Northeast Arkansas, and they wrote:

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Biggers Hotel Pochaontas 

© By Darla Hopper

In a tree shaded cemetery in Shelby County, Texas lie the remains of two early citizens: James W and Mary 'Sweazea' Bigger, their story emerges from the memory of their descendants along with Document and Records. James W Bigger was born in Virginia or Tennessee about 1770-1780. Lived in Missouri came to Lawrence County, Arkansas, from Wayne County Missouri in 1827, then to Shelby County, Texas in 1835. He died that year.

Written by Mary Evelyn Biggar of Center Texas to Thomas F. Bigger of Shelby county Texas.

The story begins early 1800's in Wayne County Missouri where James Bigger brought his wife, whose name we do not know and four children: James Harris born 1800, Ambrose C. born 1801, Matilda Caroline born 1802, Lucinda born 1804.

Here in Wayne County he raised his children, his wife died before their eldest was grown and James took Mary Sweazea for his second wife. Mary and James had six more children most were born in Wayne County. The children were: Richard Sweezer Bigger born 1817, Sarah Isabel born 1818, Margret E. (Polly) born 1823, Robert T born 1825, William Garrison born 1828, George Washington born 1834.

James's daughter Matilda Caroline Bigger married Richard Sweazea, brother to James's wife Mary Sweazea Bigger.

Becoming dissatisfied in Wayne County James Bigger and the Sweazea family immigrated to Randolph County Arkansas Territory.

James Norris Bigger eldest son of James W Bigger brought his new wife Lucretia Parrish to Randolph County, here they had thirteen children; John G. who married Catherine Lewis, Lucretia H. C. who married Jacob Foster. Lucretia died a tragic death during the civil war leaving five small children, Ransom Marion who married Louisa Jane Russell, Ransom died during the Civil War in Georgia. James, Matilda C., Mary Ann who married John Praytor. Franklin Payne who married Lolla Ann McKee. Thalia who was sixteen years younger than Lucretia married Jacob Foster after her sister died. William R. who married Laura McKee. Emma, Chesterfield, and Caroline who married Author Barm, The last child was Josephus A. Richard Sweazea and Matilda Bigger Sweazea had eight children born in Randolph County; Deborah who married Isaac Warner: Mary (Polly) who married William Fredricks: Caroline Matilda who married William Cook: James, Nancy Jane who married Joseph Thomas: Richard Jr who married Jane Russell: Francis Marion; Mary E who married Watson Adair. Ambrose C Bigger married May Ann McDonald, and they had seven children: Lucinda born 1840 Randolph County Arkansas. James born 1842; Mary (Polly) born 1843; Calvin born 1845; Jefferson born 1849; William born 1853; Nettie born 1856. The call of free land once again came to James Bigger's ear and he uprooted his family from Randolph County and left for Texas. He arrived in Shelby County and in 1835 died. Mary raised the children and lived in Shelby County until her death in 1843. The older children remained behind in Randolph County, along with James daughter Sarah Isabel who married Henry M. Waddle. In Shelbyville Texas Richard S. Bigger met and married Delilah Runnels, they had seven children: Benjamin Franklin born 1844, and died 12 Sept. 1862. Lorie born 1846, and died 1859. Margret born 1847, she married John Adams. James C., Cristopher Columbus born 19 Feb 1852, he married Mollie Creech. Richard Morgan born 1860,he married Dora Creech. Louisa Aquilla born 1854, she married Dolph Holt.

George Washington Bigger married Julia A Cartwright in Shelbyville Texas and they had four children: Hezzie born 1856, Nancy born 1858, married Joseph Hern. Annie born 1859, married E .W. Martin, and James A. born 1861 married Laura M. Harris.

B.F. Bigger has been the proprietor of the Bigger's House, one of the first-class hotels of the county, ever since 1881, but previous to that time, his attention had been given to directing the plow and in attending to the duties of farm life. He is a native born resident of Randolph County. Ark., his birth occurring in 1851, and he is principally self educated, his knowledge of business affairs being acquired mainly by contact with the world. At the age of twenty two years, he was married to Miss Ida Symington, who was also born in Randolph County, and of the seven children born to their union, four are living: Thomas, Lute, Kate and George. The other children died in infancy. From the date of his marriage up to 1881, he was engaged in farming for himself, but since that time he has been keeping a hotel in Pocahontas, and by good management, hospitality and fair dealing, he has succeeded in gaining an excellent patronage, and his earnest endeavors to see that the wants and needs of his patrons are satisfied, have tended to make his establishment a favorite resort for the traveling public. He also manages a livery stable, the only one in the place, and has some excellent vehicles and animals ready for use. He owns two excellent farms, one comprising 600 acres and the other 400 acres, and although one place is rented to tenants, it is under his supervision, and he manages the other farm himself, devoting it to the raising of stock, grain and hay. He owns his hotel and stable, and is one of the wealthy citizens of the county. His parents J. G. and Catherine (Lewis) Bigger, were born and reared in Randolph County, the father being engaged in farming. J.G. was a soldier in the Confederate army, and died in 1863. His father was a Kentuckian, who immigrated to Randolph County, Ark., with his parents when a child, the county at that time being a Territory. Mr. Bigger is a Democrat and a member of the A.F.& A. M.

 

(Godspeeds History of Randolph County 1891.)

 

 

A letter written to the author from Mr. T. F Bigger in Shelbyville TX in 1992:

Dear Ms. Hopper:

James Bigger and Mary Sweazea, parents of Sarah Isabel 'Bigger' Waddle, Great Great Great Grandparents of Thomas Franklin Bigger of Johquin Texas, and yourself. James Bigger and his first wife (name unknown) had the following children: 1. James Norris Bigger, born 1800 TN. Married Lucretia Parrish, born 1812 in MO, died 1874 in RAndolph County AR. 2. Ambrose C Bigger born 1801 TN died 1848 in Randolph County AR. His wife Mary Ann McDonald. 3. Matilda Bigger, born 1802 TN died 1855 IL, married two times. First Husband Richard Sweazea, second Randolph Cook. 4. Lucinda Bigger born 1804 TN. Lived in MO. her husband was Arnold Mahn James W Bigger and his second wife Mary Sweazea had these children: 5. Richard Sweezer Bigger, born 1817 in MO. Went to Texas, and died in Civil War in AR in 1864. His wife Delilah Runnels was born 1818. 6. Sarah Isabel Bigger was born 1818 in MO. Lived her life in Randolph County AR. Her husband was Henry M. Waddle. 7 Margaret E. Bigger "Polly" born 1823 in MO. went to Texas, her husband was James Wagstaff. 8. Robert T. Bigger, born 1825 in MO. Went to Texas married Jane___, a confederate veteran, Masonic Lodge Member, left Shelby County for the Choctaw Nation about 1867, died in Bowie TX., in 1900. 9. William Garrison Bigger, born 1828 in Lawrence County AR. married Mary E ___. Served in the Mexican War. May 6 1846, left Selby County with Robert. 10. George Washington Bigger born 1834 in Lawrence County AR. Went to Texas married Julia Cartwright. About the time the family came to Texas there seems to be a change in the spelling of the name. The Texans spelling it Biggar and the others in AR. keeping the Bigger. The family lost touch and only recently made contact. It must have taken raw courage to start to Texas in those days, the 1830's. Why did they do it? Was there trouble? Did the two families "fall out"? Did the vast land entice them? No matter James, Mary, Five children, and nine slaves made the trip. The older children and Sarah Isabel Bigger "Sally" already married, remained in AR., and their descendants are found there now. I try to envision the beauty of Shelby County then, but an awesome feeling gets in the way, imagine if you can the center ridge area with no houses, no roads, or fences, populated only by wildlife, and Indians. Indians there must have been for pottery shards and arrow heads were found in my day in the cotton fields along Biggar Creek. James Bigger did not live very long for Mary rendered her property as "widow" in 1837 and Ambrose C. Bigger made bond as administrator of the Arkansas estate January 1, 1837. This family, however, made a place for themselves with a scattering of families around Shelbyville Texas. In 1837 Mary 'Sweazea' Bigger rendered 9 slaves value $25,000. 7 horses and mules (exempting 4 work animals) and 27 head of cattle for a total tax of $16.82.

OLD TIMERS: A BUNCH OF "old Timers" from Biggers and Pocahontas.

 

 

B. F. Bigger at right. The town of Biggers was named after him.   Lossing's Field Book of the War of 1812

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