Brewster Higley VI (1823-1911). Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Dr. Brewster Martin Higley VI (November 30, 1823 - December 9, 1911) was an American poet and otolaryngologist who wrote the lyrics to the famous American folk song, "Home on the Range."[1]

Life[edit | edit source]

Youth and education[edit | edit source]

Born in Rutland, Ohio, the grandson of Rutland's founder Brewster Higley IV,[2] Higley VI began studying medicine at La Porte Medical College in La Porte, Indiana at the age of 18.

Medical career[edit | edit source]

After graduating in 1849, he resettled in Pomeroy, Ohio, and established a medical practice.[2] He then briefly practiced medicine in Indiana, and finally moved to Kansas in 1871 to claim land under the Homestead Act of 1862.[2][3]

Family and later life[edit | edit source]

Dr. Higley married 5 times and fathered 3 children.[4] His wives were:

  1. Maria Winchell Higley (wife), died in 1852 from disease
  2. 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.[5]
  3. Catherine Livingston Higley (wife), mother of Estella (daughter) and Arthur Herman (son), injured in 1864 and died subsequently.
  4. Mrs. Mercy Ann McPherson (wife); Higley quite literally ran from the tumultuous marriage in 1871 to move to Kansas.
  5. Sarah Clemens (wife).

His first 3 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 2nd wife.[4][5] Brewster then married Mrs. Mercy Ann McPherson, a widow, on Feb. 28, 1866. The 2 had a tumultuous relationship, and Dr. Higley felt compelled to leave his children with relatives in Illinois and secretly move away.[4]

Home on the Range cabin, Smith co., Kansas. Photo by Ammodramus, 2014. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Higley moved to Kansas in 1871 to claim land under the Homestead Act of 1862.[2] He found his way to Smith county, and lived in a small cabin near West Beaver Creek.[6]

His 4th marriage dissolved by default on February 9, 1875. A month later, on March 8, 1875, he married Sarah Clemons, his final wife.[4]

Brewster spent most of his remaining days in Kansas, but died in 1911 in Shawnee, Oklahoma, where he is buried in Fairview Cemetery.[7]

Writing[edit | edit source]

Higley wrote the lyrics to "Home on the Rance" while living in Smith county, Kansas, in 1872. Theywere originally published as a poem in the Smith County Pioneer in 1872, under the title "My Western Home".[8] The music was later added by Daniel E. Kelley (1808–1905), a carpenter and friend of Higley.[9]

Recognition[edit | edit source]


Gene Autry - Home Home On The Range

The Kansas legislature voted to make "Home on the Range" the official state song on April 8, 1947.[10]

Poem by Brewster Higley[edit | edit source]

  1. The Western Home

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Classic Cowboy poetry. From: Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Highway marker in Rutledge, OH commemorates Brewster Higley VI. From: Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  3. Home on the Range From: NPR. Retrieved on October 23, 2007.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Brewster Higley, author of the poem "Home on the Range". From Retrieved October 23, 2007.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Iowa Family Group Sheet for the David A. Smith Family. From: Retrieved October 23, 2007. Template:Dead link
  6. "Kansas Historical Society: Home on the Range". 
  7. " Dr. Brewster M. Higley," Find a Grave, Web, Nov. 25, 2011.
  8. Pulver, Florence (1946). "Re: Home on the Range". The Rotarian 68 (2): 2–3, 54.  Dr. Spaeth accepted this later Spaeth 1948, p. 205
  9. "Home on the Range". 
  10. Emporia State University: Home on the Range – A Lesson on our State Song, Web, Oct. 23, 2007.

External links[edit | edit source]

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