Wiggins Go West

James Wiggins

James Wiggins married his sweetheart Elizabeth Swearingen in North Carolina. She, like James, had been born in Burke County around 1794. The Swearingen family would intermingel with the Wiggins line again, through the Painters, years later.

The call of the nation at that time was to "Go West Young Man" and that is what the newlyweds did. They moved to Tennessee and started a family. The first two children were boys born in 1822 and 1825. They named them Elijah and Eli. Then they were blessed with two daughters. Martha Jane in 1827 and Elizabeth Ann in 1829. Then in 1831 and 1832 two more sons were born to the Wiggins family. They were John Henry and Samuel W. and because of their ages, the brothers were close through out their life. Three more daughters were then born. They were Sarah A., then Louisa in 1834 and Sally a year later.

James Wiggins moved his family to Missouri soon after Sally was born. They settled first in Macon County and then in Benton Township, Greene County about 1845. By this time, Elizabeth had married Jesse James Dennis and left the nest. Martha had married Andrew J. Tripp and Elijah and Eli had married women named Elizabeth. They however can all be found living next to James in 1850. James had the rest of his children still at home to help with the chores on his farm/ranch. He had three horses and three head of cattle. James' wife Elizabeth , who everyone called Betty, passed away in her late 60's during the Civil War. Missouri was a border state and therefore on the frontlines of the war. Many civilians were killed by Confederate and Union troops and by guerillas. James died about ten years later. His last appearence in the census record of these great United States was in 1870. Living next to him are Eli and Elizabeth and their children. They were named William, Joseph, Marion, Manda, Margaret and Albert. Living together on the other side of James were his daughters Martha and Elizabeth. Both of their husbands are missing, perhaps victims of the Civil War. Elizabeth had daughters named Manda and Mary and a son named Hesley. Martha had John, Elizabeth, Francis M. and Jackson. James was 73 years old and still working the family farm in Benton township, in what now had become Christian County.



John Henry Wiggins was an imposing individual. He stood six feet tall and his blue eyes burned against his fair skin and auburn hair. He had been born on the last day of February in 1831 in Tennessee. His family moved to Benton Township in Greene County a few years before it became Christian County. John was 21 when he met and fell in love with Cyntha A. Hyder. Cyntha was 19 years old and also a native of Tennessee. She had been working as a live-in maid for William C. Black, a stone mason in Ray County. The Hyder family had been in America for five generations. Their immigrant ancestor was Hans Michael Hyder from Germany.

The Hyder Family

John quickly proposed to Cyntha and they were married on March 25th, 1852 by James Brazeal. John worked a farm near his father's and began raising a family. Their first child was a son that they named Alfred Taylor. In 1854, they had a daughter named Mary Louise. In April of the next year Wilson Commodore was born. With the arrival of their fourth child, Sarah C. in 1861, the Wiggins family settled in for a quiet rural life. But that was not meant to be.

On August 11th, 1862, Quantril's Raiders captured the town of Independence, Missouri. This band of bushwhackers which boasted the likes of Bloody Bill Anderson and Frank and Jesse James was led by Billy Quantrill. A man who later attempted to assassinate President Lincoln. John knew the countryside would not be safe unless the common man rose up to protect his own. The very next day John and his brothers, Elijah, Eli and Samuel all enlisted in the town of Ozark. They were assigned to Company H of the 72nd Regiment of the Enrolled Missouri Militia. So in the following January when Confederate General Marmaduke invaded Missouri, the Wiggins brothers were on guard at the blockhouse in Ozark. As they and the other men prepared to defend the town against the Confederate threat, they got very different orders from Washington. They were told to burn and destroy anything that they could not carry. Then to proceed at great haste to Springfield where the Union was to make it's stand. It was some of the bloodiest fighting in the entire war. The Confederates had the advantage but it was the North that won that day.

The South had underestimated the tenacity of local farmers fighting for their own land. The Wiggins brothers were relieved of active duty on February 1st, 1863. This allowed them to return to their families and farms. The growing season was upon them and their families depended on them for survival.

But it was an uneasy summer. Everybody had their own opinion about the war. But for this one time in history, Americans were not allowed to speak their minds. For you never knew who you were talking to. Long time friends could be informants for either army or for the guerrillas. John and his brothers re-enlisted again after harvest season, on October 6th, to stave off guerrilla attacks or invasions by the Confederate Army.

On September 19th, 1864, Confederate General Sterling Price made his final bid to invade Missouri. John re-enlisted a third time that very day. He was assigned to Captain Noah Bray's Dallas County EMM. Once again the Southern Threat was defeated and the Union saved. John was mustered out on October 14, 1864. The Wiggins' had a war baby named Viney Elizabeth in 1865 and then in 1870 their last child Almeda Laurane was born. The family lived peacefully on their farm until on July 14, 1883 when John died at age 52.

Cyntha moved to Sparta and lived on the $8 a month she got from John's Civil War Pension. When the majority of the Wiggins' picked up and moved to Young County, Texas, Cyntha went with them. But she left her heart and her husband in Missouri. John Henry Wiggins is buried in Bruner Cemetery in Christian County.



Wilson Commodore Wiggins was born in April of 1855 in Benton Township, Greene County, Missouri. Four years later this area became Christian County. His parents were John and Cyntha Wiggins. Known mostly by his middle name, Commodore and his brother Alfred were called upon to watch after the family while their father was fighting in the Civil War. After the war, the work of rebuilding began. Commodore participated in many house raisings and in return the Wiggins' barn was rebuilt. These occasions were turned into festive group gatherings by the women who served a veritable feast for the men who worked from dusk to dawn.

Commodore was 25 when he met and fell in love with Angeline Painter. She was working as a house servant along with her brother, over in Polk County, for J.R.Hargrave and his wife Elizabeth. Commodore's mother was also a house servant when she met and married his father. Angeline and Commodore were married on March 17th, 1881. They had their ceremony in Dade County where Angeline's parents lived.

Her father Kenneth P. Painter had been born on March 25th, 1828 in Springfield, Illinois. His parents were Jacob "Jake" Painter and Mary Elizabeth Compton who were both originally from North Carolina. Jake had relocated his family to Greene County, Mo. where he became a famous gunsmith and a founder of Springfield. Angeline was born in 1860. Her father Kenneth was a veteran of the War with Mexico. He had been in Captain Thomas Jones regiment of Gilpin's Battalion. He was a guard at Fort Leavenworth and on the Santa Fe Road and survived the death march near Socorro. He was honorably discharged in Independence, Missouri. The Painter family, being originally from North Carolina, so when the Civil War erupted feelings and loyalties were mixed. However, when Confederate troops captured Ozark, Kenneth ran to Springfield to help stop there advance. During the battle on Jan. 8th, 1863, a cannon blast left him deaf and half blind. He lived with these ailments till his death at Cape Fair on April 7th, 1907.

The Painter Family

Angeline's mother was the former Mary Swearingen, but everybody called her Polly. She had been born in Jackson County, Tennessee in 1831. Her mother, Sarah Caroline Jackson who was of Irish descent, was also born there on July 14th, 1810. Mary's father was Elijah Hugh Swearingen who was born in Jackson County, Tennessee in 1805. Now "Eli" as he was known, was a wagonmaster who had led many wagontrains into the Christian County area. He brought his own family to Fullbright Spring near Springfield in 1839 in an oxen drawn wagon train. There they traded their oxen for sixteen horses and mules. They backtracked a bit and built a log cabin near Ava. They are descended from the famous Sheriff of New Amstell Geret Van Swearingen, a Dutch Nobleman who sailed to the New World in 1656. They are also related to Marmaduke Van Swearingen, the white man who became War Chief Blue Jacket and united most of the Indian Tribes east of the Mississippi.

The Swearingen Family

Commodore and Angeline were blessed with six children. Minta was born in December of 1882 with Gracie coming along in October of the following year. Margie was born in March of 1887 and Ada May in July the next year. Rowe Delbert was born on October 25th, 1889 and finally Earl in November of 1890. The next year the family moved to Graham, Texas. The Graham Leader, had this news on 11 Jan. 1893, Number 24 "Mr. Wiggins is turning sod like he meant business. He is a hard worker and it will do to take lessons from him." (News from Liberty community)

Unfortunately, Angeline died in complications from childbirth in 1892. Commodore remarried three years later. He and his new wife Jinnie had two children. Inez was born in March of 1895 and Effie in October of the following year. Then Commodore passed away on June 7th, 1900 The Graham Leader, on Friday, June 22, 1900. "W.C. Wiggins, who is well known to some of our readers as a former citizen of Graham, died near Farmer and was brought to Graham and buried last Saturday. He leaves a wife and a number of children." He and Angeline are buried together in Oak Grove Cemetery, in Young County, Texas.



One of the most devout Christians to come from Christian County was Roy D. Wiggins. He was born on October 25th, 1889. He was named Rowe Delbert Wiggins after the Rowe family in his ancestry. He was the fifth child but first son of Angeline (Painter) and Wilson Commodore Wiggins.

In 1891, Roy's uncle Alfred moved to the town of Graham in Young County, Texas and the rest of the family followed suit. The trip was hard on Angeline because she was with child at the time. She never recovered and both mother and child died that year. Roy was only 3 years old when he lost his mother. But Roy was not alone. His grandmother Cyntha (Hyder) Wiggins had come with them to Texas. Also, there was Alfred who had six sons and three daughters. Plus his aunts Mary and Almeda. Almeda had a son Roy Mack who was Roy's age. So he found some solace in his extended family.

Wilson remarried to a girl named Jinnie and they had two more daughters. They were renting a nice ranch and had about 40 animals. New Years Day 1900 arrived with the dawn of a new century and a start of a new life for the Wiggins family. But it was not to be. Wilson Commodore Wiggins passed away on the 7th of June. He was buried next to Angeline in Oak Grove Cemetery.

Now Roy was 11 with no mother and no father. His stepmother Jinnie felt overwhelmed so she sent the stepchildren to live with uncles and aunts to work on their ranches. Around 1900, the families moved to Enid, Oklahoma when it was still Indian Territory. His Aunt Mary Louisa who had married James M. Constable lived there the rest of her life. Roy's uncle Alfred and two of his aunts Vina and Almeda moved on to Roswell, New Mexico in 1904. Roy moved to Kansas and then to Iowa in 1913. He lived in Cedar Rapids from 1913 thru 1918.

Roy was 28 when he met Isabelle Elizabeth Shipley. She was 20 and a resident of Souix City, Iowa. Her parents were John Henry and Mary Rose (Guiler) Shipley. They had brought their family to Rolfe, Iowa from East Union, Noble County, Ohio about the turn of the century. They moved to Humboldt, Iowa about 1909. Isabelle attended a Bible School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where she met Roy.

Roy and Isabelle were married on the 24th day of April, 1918, in Souix City, Iowa, where her parents had moved to. Roy had always felt deeply religious and Isabelle inspired him to seek a life in the service of the Lord. So that same year Roy started his courses of study for the Church of the Nazarene. Roy was able to go to college and become a minister even though he had only been allowed to attend grammar school through the ninth grade.

Over the next two years the Wiggins were blessed with two children. Victoria Rose on Jan. 8th, 1919 and Robert Bruce on September 7th, 1920. It was at this time that Roy got his first ministerial assignment. It was in Fulton, South Dakota and he was to help start a church. Fulton is where his next two children were born. They were Merton Ward on Feb. 9th, 1922 and Pauline Esther on Aug. 20th, 1924.The next year Roy became a licensed minister and was asked to start a church in Algona, Iowa.. For five weeks, evangelistic services were held in a tent until the people of Algona bought the church a large frame house which would serve as a meeting house and a residence for Roy and his growing family. A blessed daughter Beverly Jean (my mother) was born there on Jan. 7th, 1928.

With the Algona project being such a success, Roy was asked to do the same for Mason City , Iowa. It was there that their last child Marjorie Florence was born on July 2nd, 1932. Roy started the Mason City's first Nazarene Church in the basement of a department store until they were able to erect their own church building. The depression was hard and some people lost everything. But with the help of Reverend Wiggins they did not lose their faith. Roy passed away on his 19th wedding anniversary in 1937. He was survived by his wife Isabelle, six children, four sisters and a brother. It was one of the largest attended funerals in Mason City history. He was declared one of the most inspirational and well liked ministers of his time.


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Check out more of my webpages with families associated with the Wiggins Family:

The Swearingen Family

The Hyder Family

The Painter Family

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