Briggs, Elias

From Lane Co Oregon

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Elias M. Briggs
Personal Identity
OccupationFarmer, City Planner, City Builder
BirthplaceFloyd County, Kentucky
DeathJanuary 16, 1896
Place of BurialBurial #376, State Hospital, Salem, Oregon
Family"Uncle" Isaac Briggs (father), Mary Briggs (wife), children, Isaac R. Briggs (son), Abraham L Briggs (son), Charles W Briggs (son), George E Briggs (son), Robert Briggs (unknown relationship)
Personality & Physical nature
Hobbies & Interests
Physical Characteristics67.5" tall. Wight was 150 lbs. Brown eyes. Hair: light color.
Social information


[edit] History

[edit] Early History

Elias was born in Floyd County, Kentucky to Isaac and Elizabeth "Betsey" Briggs in 1824 and was the only child. The three moved to Schuyler County, Illinois by 1830, and in 1840 he was in Iowa Territory and in 1846 was in Lee Co., Iowa. Elias married Mary Johnson on May 18 1848 in Daviess Co., Missouri. Just before the family traveled west.[1] Isaac, his wife Betsey, Elias and Mary originally had lived in Iowa but decided to move westward in 1847 after they had pioneered the Church of Christ in Iowa. The family planned to bring hives of bees but lost them when his wagon overturned in water.[2] They arrived in the winter of 1848 through the South Road (another name for the Applegate Trail) to Pleasant Hill. There, they were charter members of that active church, then relocated to the Springfield area. Donation land claim records list their filing date on 640 acres as October 1849. (Geneaological Forum of Portland 1957):

[Briggs] chose as the site of his dwelling a spot convenient to a spring of water that sent up its bubbled with ceaseless energy. A portion of the prairie where stood this found in due time was fenced in the enclosure becoming known as the Spring-field - - hence the name of the town. His father soon sold his acreage in Pleasant Hill and claimed 640 acres next to Elias' land. Here for two years dwelt the Briggs family, the father and his belongings removing at the end of that time to a farm about a mile and a half from their original location. The father and son conducted the ferry where the fine bridge spans the Willamette. (Walling 1884:452). In the early 1850s, the settlement of Springfield consisted only of a ferry service across the Willamette, the Briggs' house, two mills, a trading post and a school.

A great flood in 1851 engulfed the entire site of Springfield. As the water receded, Elias and his father were able to detect the lowest points of land, allowing them to plot the course of a millrace. In 1852, using shovel and plow, he built the Millrace.

[edit] Letters from Elias

[edit] Oregon Statesman, 13 November 1852

This appeared in the Oregon Statesman, November 13, 1852 from Elias M. Briggs to the people of Schuyler Co., Illinois:

Oregon Statesman, 13 November 1852

Hoping it may be an advantage to those who may read this, in avoiding accidents of the same kind, I have thought it best to drop you a few lines for publication in regard to a fatal accident by poison which occurred in my family the 6th day of October 1852.

Our eldest daughter, Susanna Briggs, age 2 years 6 months and 16 days, got a box of friction matches, eat some and died on the 11th. We might have saved her if we had known they were poisonous. But owing probably to her brother Joseph Briggs being sick, who died on October 21st, we did not think of the matches until about eight hours before she died.

Thus in 17 days death for the first time paid us a visit with his iron grasp that none can shun, and took two of our children. They leave behind an affectionate father, mother and grandparents to mourn our loss; but we hope our loss is their gain. We sorrow not as those that have no hope, but believe that we will meet them in a better world. May we all live so that when we come to die we may have no more fears of death than these little children, but close our eyes in peace.

The Oregonian is requested to copy.

Elias M. Briggs

Briggs Ferry, Lane County. November 4, 1852

[provided by Carol Briggs Grady from a copy by the Schuyler County Jail Museum in Schuyler Co., Illinois]

[edit] 1853 to 1860

After the Millrace was completed, he did a new venture. In partnership with Jeremiah Driggs and Thomas Monteith, two Linn County millers who financed the enterprise, as the Briggs and Driggs Company to build the flour and sawmills in 1853 and 1854. They were not the usual slap-dash mills built in pioneer communities for temporary and local consumption only, but instead, were designed and constructed under the supervision of an experienced millwright hired from the East Coast. They used the latest and best machinery and spending $10,000 on the two mills.[1] The grist mill was the first flouring mill in Lane County, and the sawmill, which featured a sash saw, had the distinction of supplying the lumber for building the first county courthouse. The saw mill began operation in the fall of 1853, the grist mill the following year.

For information about the Briggs' life between November, 1853 and May, 1854 read Bushnell's Letter.

[1] Dr. Silvy Kraus. Lane County Historian. "The Saga of Springfield." Lane County Historical Society. Vol. XV, No. 2, Summer 1970, printed in Eugene, Oregon. p. 23.

[edit] 1860 Federal Census of Lane County, Oregon

Springfield Precinct, Eugene City Post Office

Family No. 543 Powers, John G., Age 19. Male. Profession: Blacksmith. Real Estate: $500. Personal Property: $500. Birthplace: Illinois

Briggs, E.M., Age 34. Male. Profession: Farmer. Real Estate: $8500. Personal Property: $700. Birthplace: Kentucky.

Although Springfield was established as a small industrial center, the census of 1850 and 1860 clearly shows that an overwhelming majority of the settlers in the area were engaged in agriculture (U.S. Census Office 1850, 1860). Even the Briggs family continued to farm, while maintaining their commercial enterprises. Elias and Mary had six children: Edward, Mary, Isaac, Abraham, Charles and George.

on April 19, 1861, Elias and his wife, Mary, sold the bulk of the 640-acre donation land claim that comprises what is now downtown Springfield to Priscilla Thompson for $8,500.[1]

Two of the children died during childhood and were buried on a two-acre plot in the Pioneer Cemetery on 2nd Street, which Elias had deeded to the City of Springfield in 1866.

We do not know just when the church began meeting, but by 1871 the Springfield Church reported 60 members. Early members included both Briggs families and Dr. William M. and Mariah Owsley.

[edit] 1880s

1880 Census shows the following people within the same household:

Briggs, Elias M. aged 56. Born about 1824 in Kentucky. Residence: Coast Fork, Lane, Oregon.Spouse: Mary

Mary, aged 54. Mother's birthplace: Kentucky

Isaac R Briggs, aged 23. Relationship: Son. Estimated birth year: abt 1857. Birthplace: Oregon. Farmer. Race: White. Gender: Male. Status: Single.

Abraham L Briggs, aged 13. Relationship: Son. Estimated birth year: abt 1867. Birthplace: Oregon. Occupation: Attending School. Race: White. Gender: Male. Status: Single.

Charles W Briggs, aged 11. Relationship: Son. Estimated birth year: abt 1869. Birthplace: Oregon. Occupation: Attending School. Race: White. Gender: Male. Status: Single.

George E Briggs, aged 7. Relationship: Son. Estimated birth year: abt 1873. Birthplace: Oregon. Occupation: Attending School. Race: White. Gender: Male. Status: Single.

Source Citation: Year: 1880; Census Place: Coast Fork, Lane, Oregon; Roll: T9_1081; Family History Film: 1255081; Page: 265.2000; Enumeration District: 66; Image: 0740.

[edit] 1890s

At age 70, Elias was admitted to the Salem Insane Asylum (Oregon State Hospital). His admission records state that he was "delusional, began wandering about, neglecting himself and imagining all kinds of things about his neighbors." Based on this evidence, modern scholars believe that Elias had probably developed Alzheimer's disease or some other neurological disorder.

Elias died at the hospital on January 16, 1896; his death records state that he had cancer. He was buried in the Salem Hospital Cemetery in burial #376. According to his obituary, he was survived by just two sons, Charles and George. The State Hospital's records state "E.M. Briggs died at the age of 72 on January 16, 1896. He was buried in burial number 376."

Following the enactment of S. B. 109, deaths at "any eleemosynary, penal, or corrective institution of the State of Oregon located at or near to the city of Salem," if unclaimed by a friend or relatives, would be subject to cremation. When the crematory was installed on the grounds in 1913, burials in the 30-year-old graveyard ceased as any subsequent unclaimed bodies were cremated as well as those previously interred in the cemetery. Because some of the buildings on the north side of Center Street were constructed over the abandoned asylum cemetery (including the Dome Building), these remains were later installed in the Memorial Circle near 25th Street. Their ashes now rest in the Memorial Circle on the western limits of the hospital grounds, "In Memory of Those Who Have Passed Away at the Oregon State Hospital."[3]

[edit] Daily Eugene Guard, Saturday, January 18, 1896, page 4

DIED. -- At the Oregon State Insane Asylum at Salem, January 17, 1896, Elias Briggs, an inmate. Deceased formerly resided in Springfield, this county, and was sent to the asylum from that place about a year ago. He had lived at Springfield since the foundation of that town, and was a brother of Isaac Briggs, deceased, who dug the Springfield mill race. Deceased leaves two sons, Ed Briggs, of Springfield, and another son whose whereabouts are unknown. The remains were interred at Salem.

1. Springfield News, "History in the Remaking." Wednesday, October 23, 1991.

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