Brewster Martin Higley VI was an otolaryngologist who became famous for writing "The Western Home." This poem, originally written in 1872 and published under the title "Oh, Give Me a Home Where the Buffalo Roam" in the Smith County Pioneer in 1873, would be set to music to become the lyrics for the famous American folksong "Home on the Range."
Because Higley wrote "The Western Home" while living in Smith County, Kansas,
and because they felt it described their state very well, the Kansas
legislature voted to make "Home on the Range" the official state song on
April 8, 1947.Born in Rutland, Ohio, the grandson of Rutland's founder Brewster Higley IV, Higley VI began studying medicine at La Porte Medical College in La Porte, Indiana at the age of eighteen. After graduating in 1849, he resettled in Pomeroy, Ohio and established his first medical practice. He briefly practiced medicine in Indiana and finally moved to Kansas in 1871 to claim land under the Homestead Act of 1862.Dr. Higley married five times and fathered three children.
His first three 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 second wife (see Spouses and
Following the dissolution of his first three marriages, Brewster
married Mrs. Mercy Ann McPherson, a widow, on Feb. 28, 1866. The two had
a tumultuous relationship, and Dr. Higley felt compelled to leave his
children with relatives in Illinois and secretly move away.
He found his way to Smith County in 1871 and his marriage to Mrs.
McPherson dissolved by default on Feb. 9, 1875. One month later, on
March 8, 1875, he married Sarah Clemons, his final wife.