Henry Higginbotham

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1910 photograph by Lewis Hine

Henry Sharp "Sharpy" Higginbotham (born November 23, 1896; died January 25, 1928 in Birmingham) was, as a child, employed as a greaser for the tipple of the Bessie Mine, near Dora. He was photographed in late 1910 as part of Lewis Hine's report to the National Child Labor Committee on labor conditions in Alabama.

Higginbotham was the sixth of ten children born to Phelix (or Felix) Milton Higginbotham and the former Nancy Virginia (Jennie) Graham in Nauvoo. As a boy he was employed, along with most of his siblings, by the Sloss-Sheffield Steel & Iron Company as a greaser. He and his fellow greasers would lubricate the coal-car tracks on the mine's tipple while the cars were rolling. The work was considered dangerous and was certainly very grimy. Higginbotham's nickname was recorded as Shorpy by Hine in his report.

Marker at Linn's Crossing Cemetery

On June 5, 1918 he registered for the draft, listing his employment at the Bessie Mine. He served as a private in the 8th Company of the 1st Battalion Infantry Replacement Division at Camp Shelby, Mississippi through the end of World War I. Some time after the war he moved to Sayre to work in Gulf States Steel's mine there.

On November 19, 1927 Higginbotham married the former Flora Belle Quinton. The marriage lasted only two months as Higginbotham was injured by a falling rock in a mining accident on January 16 of the next year. He died at Norwood Hospital on January 25 and was buried in the Linn's Crossing Cemetery. Flora bore his son, William, the next summer.

The website "Shorpy.com," which features old photographs, is named for Higginbotham.

References

  • Manning, Joe (n. d.) "Henry Sharp Higginbotham". Lewis Hine Project. Mornings on Maple Street - accessed May 3, 2007
  • Hine, Lewis (December 1910) "Shorpy Higginbotham a 'greaser' on the tipple at Bessie Mine..." National Child Labor Committee records. Lot 7477, no. 1835. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.
  • Thomas, Houston E., et al. (1982) Survey of Linn's Crossing Cemetery, compiled by Marilyn Davis Hahn in Cemeteries of Jefferson County, Alabama Vol. 1. Birmingham: Birmingham Public Library.

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