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Fayette County, Iowa  

 Biography Directory


Portrait & Biographical Album of Fayette County Iowa

Containing Full Page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of

Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County

Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago

March 1891


~Page 310~


Chauncey J. Briggs


Chancey J. Briggs, a well known citizen and farmer of Scott Township, residing on section 17, was born on November 26, 1839, in Luzerne County, Pa. His great-grandparents, Anthony Briggs and wife, were natives of New Hampshire. Her maiden name was Elizabeth Case. They removed to Quakersville, N. Y., thence to Dutchess County, in the same State where they both died. In religion they were Quakers.


The grandfather of our subject, Peleg Briggs, was born, reared and married in Dutchess County, and in 1814 removed to Pennsylvania, locating near Scranton, Luzerne County. The country was then wild and unimproved, being just opened up to civilization. Mr. Briggs secured land and developed a fine farm of two hundred and twenty-one acres, upon which he made his home until 1855, when he sold out to a mining company and removed to Wisconsin. He located in Fond du Lac County where he made his home with his children until his death, which occurred in 1865. His wife, whose maiden name was Hannah Baldwin, died about 1860, and they were laid to rest side by side in the Empire Cemetery of Fond du Lac County. Their family numbered the following: Jeremiah, father of our subject; Mariette who died in Pennsylvania; Orpha is living in Pennsylvania; and Monmouth who makes his home in Fond du Lac County. Mr. Briggs was a plain, unpretentious man, industrious and thrifty and an upright citizen. In politics he supported the Whig party.


Jeremiah Briggs was also a native of Dutchess County, N. Y., born November 27, 1812, and when a babe of two years was taken by his parents to Pennsylvania. where his boyhood days were spent amid the wild scenes of frontier life. The hardships and trials of the pioneer came also to this family and they shared in its difficulties and inconveniences. The only meat which could be obtained was wild game and wild animals were often seen. At times the wolves would be heard howling under the very windows of the cabin and other experiences of pioneer life were no more pleasing. Educational advantages were necessarily very limited but Mr. Briggs made the most of the opportunities he had and by self help and study became a well informed man. In Luzerne County he married Miss Rosalinda Stanton in 1835 and unto them were born nine children: Charles who died in Nebraska; Chancey of this sketch; Emory served in a Pennsylvania regiment during the late war and is now living in Cummings County, Neb.; Hannah is keeping house for her father; Jay Duel, a resident of Randolph, Neb.; Alva, of Sheboygan, Wis.; Jeremiah operates his father's farm in Fond du Lac County; Mariet Titus of Santa Paula, Cal.; and James S. of Granite Falls, Minn. In 1854, the father of this family started on a western trip but in Buffalo, N. Y., he was overtaken by a messenger who brought him the intelligence of his wife's death. He afterward again married, his second union being with Miss Harriet N. Stanton, a sister of his first wife and they had two children, both born in Wisconsin; Rosalinda, now of Randolph, Neb.; and Alice M., who for some years has been a successful teacher in the public schools of Oakfield, Wis.


The year 1856 witnessed the arrival of Mr. Briggs and his family in Wisconsin, they locating in Eden Township, Fond du Lac County, where he engaged in farming until 1878, when he sold out and purchased a farm near the village of Oakfield, where he makes his home. He is now living a retired life and has reached the ripe old age of seventy-eight years. He is a noble specimen of the type of sturdy pioneers who made Wisconsin what it is today. A man of strong convictions, he was in early life a zealous Abolitionist and when the Republican party was formed to prevent the further extension of slavery he joined its ranks and still remains strongly attached to it. The confidence of the community is given him as a testimonial of their high regard which he has won by an upright life.


We now take up the personal history of him whose name heads this sketch. It will be seen that he is descended from a respected family of Colonial days. Upon the old homestead in Pennsylvania he remained until sixteen years of age and in the meantime gained considerable knowledge of the common English branches of learning, which he supplemented by further study in the pioneer log schoolhouse of Wisconsin after the emigration of the family to that State. There he became familiar with frontier life. He was inured to the arduous task of developing a new farm and also shared in the excitement and pleasures of frontier living. On three different occasions, while standing in his father's door he saw as many as fourteen deer pass. He and his brothers got not a little amusement out of the bows and arrows which they obtained from the Indians in exchange for turnips, of which vegetable the red men are very fond. He worked upon his father's farm until his marriage on August 17, 1862, when he was joined in wedlock with Miss Mary E. Walters, daughter of Aaron Walters, a prominent pioneer whose sketch we give below. The lady was born in Plattsburg, N. Y. and became a resident of Wisconsin at the age of seven years. After their marriage they settled upon a farm in Eden Township, Fond du Lac County, adjoining the Walters homestead and there resided until 1869 when they came to Fayette County, Iowa. Mr. Briggs traveling by team and his wife and little son by rail. They reached their destination on the 21st of November, and spent the winter with his brother on the Lockwood place in Jefferson Township. The following year he rented O. J. Lincoln's farm but a drought caused the failure of the crops and he had nothing remaining but a team. He took his family to Clermont in his wagon and there lived for two months, hauling flour to Postville for Gov. William Larrabee. He then went to work for John Thompson, a miller on Turkey River, hauling flour to McGregor and Clayton. He was doing quite well in that line but the ague fastened itself upon him, thus adding another misfortune to his hard luck.


For three years he then rented land in Jefferson Township and prosperity was more lenient with him for at the end of that time he had accumulated sufficient capital to purchase eighty acres of wild land. Not a furrow had been turned but with characteristic energy he began its development and now has a farm of one hundred and sixty acres which is yielding him a good income. He has met with many obstacles but with a determined will he pressed forward and is now ranked among the substantial citizens of the community. He was one of the organizers and is a stockholder in the Stanley Creamery Association, which owes much of its success to his untiring efforts.


Notwithstanding the stanch Republican views of his father, Mr. Briggs cast his first Presidential vote for Stephen A. Douglas, and has since been a stalwart Democrat. He is influential in the counsels of his party but has never sought official honor; however he has served in minor positions and has been Township Trustee for fifteen years with only one interruption. Public spirited and progressive, he is a worthy citizen, jovial in disposition and genial in manner, he has won many friends who delight to gather at the home made pleasant and cheerful by the presence of his estimable and hospitable wife. At their fire-side, their son Fred and his wife also find a place. He was born in Fond du Lac County in 1863, and on Christmas Day of 1889 married Miss Anna May, daughter of J. H and Eveline (Noviss) Lincoln. She was born in Eaton, Mich., and in 1884 came to this State. Fred Briggs is a bright promising young farmer who displays excellent business ability in the management and care of the farm.


It is eminently proper that we append to this sketch a record of the life of A. Walters, father of Mrs. Briggs. That worthy gentlemen was born in Plattsburg, N. Y., August 7, 1809, and there received a fair education, also serving a full apprenticeship to the blacksmith's trade. Soon after he was appointed United States Collector of Customs at Rouse's Point, N. Y., by President James K. Polk, which important office he held for four years. Afterward locating in Buffalo, N. Y., he became proprietor of an extensive blacksmith and carriage shop which furnished employment to many men. With the spring of 1846, he emigrated westward, locating in Fond du Lac County, Wis., where he pre-empted land in Eden Township. He then returned to the East but became a permanent resident of Eden in 1848, and until his death resided upon that farm. For some years he did blacksmithing in connection with agricultural pursuits and had a flourishing trade. It took only a short time to convince his fellow townsmen that he was a man of sterling worth and superior qualifications, and he was chosen to hold several important offices of trust. For eighteen years he served as Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Eden Township; was Superintendent of the County Poor Farm for twelve years, Commissioner for six years, represented his district in the State Legislature in 1857, and in 1872 again filled the same office. He was one of the United States Commissioners to award damages connected with the late Winnebago overflow. Always in the front of every public enterprise he was honored by his fellow citizens whose confidence and respect he had to an unlimited degree. His kind heart and generous disposition prompted him to work for charity and benevolence and the needy found in him a warm friend. In his earlier years he was a prominent member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and he attended the Methodist Episcopal Church, giving liberally for the support of the Gospel.


Mr. Walters was thrice married. His first wife was Orpha Griswold of Plattsburg, N. Y., who died in Rouse's Point. On the 26th of April, 1840, at Plattsburg, he wedded Rosanna Averill. His third wife, the mother of Mrs. Briggs, was the widow of Chester Norman of Waukesha, Wis. She was born in Bennington, Vt., became the wife of Mr. Walters in 1859, and died December 28, 1889, at the age of seventy-three years. Mr. Walters died the day previous and they were buried in the same grave. He left these children to mourn his loss; Roswell W., and Mary E., wife of C. J. Briggs.




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