Please Join Us for Our Special Event on Sunday, September 18!
By Donna B. Ryan
You are invited to a special visit on Sunday, afternoon, September 18, at 3 p.m. when New York’s 35th governor, Frank Higgins, will be a special guest at the Almond Historical Society’s Hagadorn House, 7 Main Street.
Impersonated by Ronnie Beverly, Frank Higgins was born in Rushford, New York on August 18, 1856, the son of a successful merchant who owned a chain of grocery stores in Olean and held mining and timber tracts in Michigan, Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon, and Minnesota. Higgins attended Rushford Academy and then Riverview Academy, a military school in Peekskill, New York, from which he graduated in 1873.
Beverly explains: “We live in the Rushford house that Governor Higgins was born and raised in. He lived there from his birth to age 14. He left Rushford to complete his schooling in a military academy. I actually dress and play the part of Governor Higgins. Though Governor Higgins was in office for one term of two years, you will be impressed with all he accomplished during his administration.”
Higgins was a delegate to the 1888 Republican National Convention. In 1894 Higgins was elected to the New York Senate, and he served for eight years. In 1902 he was the successful Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, and he served one term, 1903-04. In 1904, he was the Republican nominee for governor, and with the support of Teddy Roosevelt, he was elected and served one term, 1905-06.
Higgins was in ill health when he left office, and he died of heart disease in Olean on February 12, 1907, just six weeks after leaving office. He is buried at Mount View Cemetery in Olean.
Ronnie Beverly is a retired Buffalo, NY fire fighter. He spends his summers with his wife, Shirley, in Rushford, New York and winters in Sebring, Florida. He grew up near Rushford during the 1950s. During the winter of 1958 the family house burned down and the family moved into the town for a year. His father, unable to get financing to rebuild, moved the family to Buffalo.
Thirty years later in 1989 Ronnie and his wife purchased the house on Lower Street in Rushford in which the former Governor Frank Higgins was born and raised’. He was encouraged by the Rushford Historical Society to be part of the walking tour for the bicentennial celebration of the town in 2008. This caused his interest in learning as much as possible about the history of the house. He became intrigued by the close friendship and working relationship between Governor Higgins and Theodore Roosevelt.
He admits that without the assistance of the Rushford Historical Society, Alfred University Professor Richard Kellogg and William Gabler, author of “Frank Wayland Higgins: New York’s Forgotten Governor”, plus his granddaughter Alyssa in setting up the power point program, he never would have gained the passion for collecting the material he has.
This promises to be a fine presentation: Seating is limited, so come early! The 1830s Hagadorn House will be open from 2 to 5, with the Higgins program set for 3 p.m.
Who knows: Maybe we will find a clue to the legend that Teddy Roosevelt at one time was an overnight guest at the Hagadorn House!