BENJAMIN F. BRIGGS, a prominent citizen of Parsons, Labette county, Kansas, whose portrait is presented on the opposite page, is engaged in the real-estate, loan and insurance business, and is meeting with unqualified success. He was born at Lockport, Will county, Illinois, December 29, 1854, and is a son of Benjamin Briggs, who traced his lineage back to the "Mayflower."
Benjamin Briggs was a native of Vermont and was a cousin of ex-Governor Briggs, of Massachusetts. He was a son of Benjamin Briggs, Sr., a native of Massachusetts, and was one of a family of five children, as follows: Charles, Alanson, Erastus, Cynthia and Benjamin. The father of our subject moved from Vermont to Chicago, Illinois, in 1837, and there followed his trade, that of wagon-maker, until 1848, building the first wagon made in that city. He moved from there to Orland, Cook county, Illinois, where he was located until 1852, when he bought a farm in Homer township, four miles east of Lockport. He accumulated a large estate, which was divided among his family and his widow after his demise. He died of smallpox at his home in 1863. His first marriage occurred at Chicago, where his wife died in 1842, leaving two children, William and Cynthia. William served in the 100th Reg., Ill. Vol. Inf., during the Civil war, and is now a farmer of Orland, Cook county, Illinois. He married Belle McGregor, and has three children: Alexander F., Ella and Ernest, one other, Benjamin, Jr., dying in infancy. Cynthia became the wife of John Panter, and both are now deceased; they had nine children most of whom reside in California. Benjamin Briggs formed a second marital union in 1844, with Fidelia S. Fry, a native of Andover, Massachusetts, who is now living at Idenbro, Kansas, at the age of eighty-three years. Her father moved to New Hampshire and purchased the site of what is now the town of Concord. Five children blessed this union, namely: Frank, Mary (Griswold), Augustine, Benjamin F. and Eugene. Frank, a successful farmer of Kansas, married Lillie Lefever, and has three children, Frank, Mary and Lyda. Mary married Guy Griswold, who was born in Lockport, Illinois, and became a wealthy grain buyer of Henry, Illinois, - he died in 1895, and his widow resides in Englewood, Chicago, and has four children: Grace, proprietor of a ladies' furnishing store at Parsons, Kansas; Emerette, wife of Mr. Gousche, a grain dealer of Bellflower, Illinois, and by whom she has a son, Arthur; Ora, whose husband is manager of a large packing industry in Boston, Massachusetts; and Percy, a grain dealer of Idenbro, Kansas; Augustine came to Kansas with our subject, and is a wealthy land owner of Labette county, residing at Idenbro with his mother. Eugene died in infancy.
Benjamin F. Briggs received his primary education in the public schools, and then took an academic course in Lockport, Illinois, to which town he removed with his mother at the age of fourteen years. He undertook to learn the art of photography at the age of sixteen years, but after reading some of Powell's "Explorations of the West," he decided to go West. He left home at the age of seventeen years in company with Rev. John Alden, in July, 1871, the latter having accepted a call to preach at Santa Rosa, California. They visited the cities and points of interest en route to San Francisco. From there Mr. Briggs went to Portland, Oregon, and entered the employ of the Oregon & California Railway Company, being in the train service for a short time. He was then clerk at the International Hotel until November 1, 1872, when he returned to his home at Lockport, Illinois, by the way of San Francisco, arriving home in December, 1872. In February, 1873, he went to Denver with his brother, Frank, and engaged in the grain and commission business until October of that year. They then closed out, Frank going to Solomon, Kansas, and our subject to Chicago, Illinois, where he attended the University of Chicago for three months. He began firing an engine on the C. R. I. & P. R. R. between Chicago and Davenport, Iowa, and fired the famous Silver Engine of America engine for Engineer Thomas Shehan. He was in the railroad employ for three years and was offered a position as engineer, but left at the time of a strike, removing to Kansas. He located in Labette county in 1876, purchasing a farm near Parsons, and successfully engaged in farming and stock raising until 1896. He then sold out and moved to the city of Parsons, where he has since been engaged in the real-estate business. He formed a partnership with Mr. Carringer, who after a time departed from the city. He subsequently became a partner of W. T. Terril, but this partnership was dissolved in July, 1900, since which time Mr. Briggs has continued alone. He has a very large business in loans, real estate and insurance, and enjoys the confidence of the people to a marked degree. He has done all possible to further his business interests and has prepared himself for the legal profession, and expects to be admitted to the bar soon.
Mr. Briggs was united in marriage in Labette county, Kansas, February 20, 1879, with Alice Burkette, who was born in Indiana in July, 1859, and is a daughter of S. M. and Elizabeth Burkette. She came to this county with her parents in 1879, they locating on a farm south of Parsons. She was one of five girls, as follows: Alice Edith, wife of J. C. Bertsch, a retired farmer, by whom she has one daughter, Bertha; Nevada; Emma (Giltner), who resides near Parsons, and has five children, - Oscar, Frank, Marvin, Clement and Ora and Dora, wife of Richard Baldridge, who conducts a meat market at Parsons, - they have one daughter, Jessie. Mr. and Mrs. Briggs have five children, namely: Arthur, aged twenty years, attended Lawrence University one year, and is now teaching school; Clifford A., aged eighteen years, who assists in his father's office; Rena, aged seventeen- years; Joseph E., fourteen years old; and Alice Gertrude, two years old. In politics, he is a Republican. He is a man of domestic inclinations, preferring home and family to evenings spent at lodge. Although his father was a Baptist deacon, he and his family are members of the Presbyterian church at Parsons.
Transcribed from History of Labette County, Kansas and its Representative Citizens, ed. & comp. by Hon. Nelson Case. Pub. by Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill. 1901
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