Thursday, June 28, 2012

Samuel Riggs

I know I have neglected this page, there are just so many things going on in life. I still do plenty of research, I had just let this blog slip away. But what I found yesterday I think is worth sharing, since I know there are lots of other Riggs' descendants out there in this big, small world.

The other day I had gotten an email invitation to a Riggs family reunion back in Kansas. They have one every year for descendants of James Daugherty Riggs and Lucinda Barker, who are my 3rd great grandparents. I know I won't be able to attend the reunion, and I'm sure there wouldn't be a familiar face in the whole crowd anyway. But it got me to thinking about the line again and I started to dig around for new info. Well, new information is exactly what I found. Most of the information I had found before, was found by other researchers. The folks who run the reunion have shared lots of work with me, and it was a huge help is growing my family tree.

This bit I'm about to share I found, sort of, through Ancestry as a hint from browsing records for Samuel Riggs, so then I ran a Google search for him, and came upon a text document on We all know how garbled that can be, so back to the search until I found the same book on  (the following link will take you directly to the PDF if anyone would like to read it or download it for themselves. But I did my best transcribing the relevant content and am sharing that here.) Biographical and Historical Record of Ringgold and Union Counties, Iowa Vol 2. By The Lewis Publishing Company 1887.

Here is my transcription of two separate entries in the book concerning Samuel Riggs. There were a couple errors I noticed, and several places where I had a hard time reading the fading pages. I was particularly excited to see that a large portion of the second entry was originally written by Samuel Riggs himself!

Biographical Sketches 

page 649- 
  Samuel Riggs, __(hard to read)___farmer, residing  in Kent, Union County, was born in Dodd (sic) County, Kentucky in 1806, and is the son of Daniel Riggs and Nancy Riggs. In 1817 the family settled in Missouri, remaining in the state twenty-five years. Samuel Riggs then lived in Davis County, Iowa for thirteen years, when in 1853 he settled in what is known as Riggs’ Grove, in Douglas Township, where he entered and bought 400 acres of land, and remained a resident there until 1876. He was the third settler in the western half of Union County and experienced many of the hardships and privations of pioneer life. He was married in Howard County, Missouri in 1825 to Rhoda Belch (sic), by whom he had four children. -- James D., Eli H., Nancy, and H.P. Mrs. Riggs died in 1836 and Mr. Riggs was again married the same year, in Kentucky, to Marinda (sp?) Piper, who was born in Smith County, Tennessee in 1806. To this union were born five children—Mary, S.M., Rebecca, Joseph and Daniel. Since his residence in Iowa, Mr. Riggs has represented the people of Davis County in the State Legislature for one term. He was also sheriff four years, and held the office of Deputy Sheriff the same length of time. He has voted he Democratic ticket the past fifty years, missing but one election. He is classed among the influential citizens of Douglas Township, where he has made his home so many years.

Early and Civil History

Page 667- Douglas Township

  Frank Bruning and Asa Ames came to Union County at the same time, May 1853. Bruning settled on the southwest quarter of section 37 and Ames on section 27. In September Samuel Riggs arrived at their shanty. They were not aware of any neighbors nearer than Missouri, except Indians. John Green had a band of Pottawatomies, about 100 braves, on Grand River, ten miles southeast of Afton.
   Previous to Bruning and Ames’ settling on the Platte, they had made a selection on Grand River, and started from Missouri for their lands, they followed the divide between Platte and Grand Rivers. A very dark night coming on they got lost, and in their wanderings fell into Platte River. Coming out, they located as above stated.
  Bruning at that time had never seen a map of Iowa, and did not know what county he was in, but was pleased with the country and satisfied to locate here.
  On the 12th day of October 1853, Mr. Riggs commenced work on a cabin of the ‘Tippecanoe’ style, on section 30.  H. Pitman, John Snow, Reuben and Mahlon Riggs came with Riggs and took claims. By February following many others had taken claims; among them were Henry Cline, Jonathan Coons, and James Howard.
  Early in march 1854, Reuben Riggs and Reuben Madden moved into the county, and Madden bought Ames’ cabin.
  Mr. Riggs writes in Colby’s Atlas: “When we were here in November we staked out a road leaving the Mormon trace where Afton now stands. Soon after our return two surveyors, from Glenwood came along surveying a state road from Glenwood to Chariton. At the time there was not even an Indian trail leading east and west; but there were several running northwest and southeast. They intended to mark out the road so that it could be followed. A few days afterward four travelers undertook to follow the trace, going west past our camp about three o’clock, pm., it soon became very foggy, and they lost their way and wandered around until two o’clock in the morning when they got back to Platte, a mile below our camp. There one of the party, an old man seventy-two years old, gave out and said he must rest before he could travel further; he was as comfortably cared for and bedded as saddle and blankets would allow, and then two of the party started to find our camp, while one remained with the old man and horses. The two came in sight of our campfire and commenced hallooing. We answered them that they had passed our camp the evening before. They at once started back for their horses and companions. On returning, they found that their hallooing had frightened their horses who had broken loose and run off, and they were left to foot it back to our camp, hungry and very much fatigued. We at once commenced preparing breakfast. We had plenty of cornmeal and coffee, but fried all our bacon.
  “After breakfast, the proposition was made to get us and our two horses and one of their number to hunt their horses. The morning was still foggy; on striking the trail we found they had started off at full speed; about ten o’clock the fog blew off and we came in sight of the run-aways; they had crossed their trail several times, running in a circle; as soon as they discovered us they were as wild as elks; they were between us and our camp and ran in that direction, coming up to it, they became more tame and we caught them.
  “The strangers now proposed to stay until the next morning and as ___ us in raising our cabin. We showed them our stock of provisions. It was found we had plenty of  cornmeal and coffee, and some dried fruit, but if they would stay we would send down to neighbor Bruning’s only eight miles distant, and get some meat. We accordingly, started a boy off to Bruning’s on horseback, while we went to putting up house logs. In due time the boy returned, bringing back the word that neither Bruning or Ames had either beef, pork or bacon, but they had just finished dressing two fine coons, and they, with pleasure, sent us the best one.
  I mention this incident more to show the fraternal spirit which governed the pioneers in their dealings than for any other purpose. The hardships and privations endured by the first settlers were, in great measure, modified by an open-hearted liberality, not found in more densely populated communities.
  “On the 13th of April, 1854, I moved my family into our log cabin. At that time there were about eight families in what is now Platte Township, but there was no township organization. In June 1854, we carried a petition to Judge Nun, asking for a township organization, which he granted and included the whole southwest fourth of the county in one township, which we called ‘Platte’.   The first election was held at the house of H. Prentice, on the first Monday in August 1854, at which fourteen votes were cast, and necessary township officers were elected.
  “The next accession to our settlement was William Moore, who settled on section 28; then came “Uncle Jimmy” Lytle who was located on section 17 and the Meyers family, on the same section, about July 1854. In August, 1854, a man settled on section 6 who, in the spring of 1855 sold to William H. Terpenning.
  “In 1857 Platte Township was reorganized taking from her territory township 72, 30, now Highland (sic); 71, 30, now Grant; and in 1860 Douglas Township was organized. The writer of this sketch carried the petition for organization to the then county judge Hon. J.W. McDill, who granted the prayer of the petitioners, and as no name was indicated, the judge conferred the responsibility of christening the new township upon the writer, who unhesitatingly named it Douglas, in honor of Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois. At the first election but seven votes were cast, to wit:  J.S. Lytle, Robert Davis, D.M. and Samuel Riggs, William Morrow; and for four years subsequently the vote did not exceed fourteen at any election.
  “The first years we were here, we had either to go to Compton’s, near Winterset, or to Hawleyville (sp?), Page County, to get milling done, except that a small mill at Petersville would crack corn for us, provided we had any to crack.
  “Blacksmiths were scarce; Frank Bruning had a few tools and with a black oak tree for a shop, and a rude forge, improvised for the occasion, he sharpened our plows and shod our horses, as necessity compelled to patronize him.
  “The first school-house in this part of the county was erected in 1855, on Reuben Madden’s land, and was built of logs. It was probably more highly appreciated than are the commodious and attractive school buildings of to day.
  “The settlements during the years 1855-‘6 were quite rapid on Platte—Joseph Roberts, B. R. Baker, James Wisherd, The Blisses, E. Orr, and others.
  “The first post office in the west part of the county was established in 1854, S. M. Riggs, postmaster. A mail route was established from Pisgah to Glenwood the same year, and the writer was the contractor for the mail service on the route, which was carried weekly, and supplied the offices of Afton, Platte, Scioly (sp?), White Cloud, Indian Creek, and Glenwood; the distance was one hundred miles and not a bridge the entire distance and very little road.
  “The writer was the first justice of the peace in the west part of the county, being commissioned in 1854.
  “The first saw mill was a portable one, and located on section 10, and was built by Tarpenning & Company, in the summer of 1855. They completed their saw mill, sawed some, quarreled more, and spent more money at the law than they made at the saw.
  “The first school-house in Douglas Township was a frame 18x26, built of native lumber, sawed at Sharpe’s Mill in Ringgold County, and was located on section 30. The first teacher was Miss Mary Lambert. Religious meetings were not of frequent occurrence at our first settlement, but only occasionally an itinerant preacher would call the neighbors together and preach to them. The first sermon was preached in this township by Isaac Sidewell, at the house of the writer, in 1855, the next was by Moses Case, in 1861, at the school house.
  “The first store in Douglas Township was started by Lemon & Cresswell, in Cromwell, in November 1868; they were soon followed by J.C. Williams, in January 1869.
  Good fortune and natural advantages together have given to Douglas the largest city in Southwestern Iowa, except Council Bluffs. Creston has grown up on wild prairie in seventeen years.

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