Hon. Henry Chiles Riggs

From "History of Idaho: The Gem of the Mountains," Vol. II, p. 642f, by James H. Hawley; The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago, 1920.

With events which have shaped the history of Idaho during territorial days as well as in statehood, Henry Chiles Riggs was in many ways closely connected. Arriving here in early pioneer times, he supported all plans and measures for the general good, aided in framing the laws of Idaho as one of her legislators and did whatever lay within his power to do for the upbuilding of the state.

He was born in Mount Sterling, Montgomery county, Kentucky, May 14, 1826, and in June, 1846, joined Company A, First Missouri Mounted Volunteers for service in the Mexican war under Colonel Doniphan, and was mustered out in June, 1847, at New Orleans. While at the front he participated in the battles of Brazeto, in the state of New Mexico, and Chihuahua, in the state of Chihuahua, in old Mexico. After the latter engagement he was exempt from duty in the regular army but continued to act as scout during the remainder of the war, being at times as much as two hundred miles ahead of the regulars. The scouts traveled by night and seldom lighted a fire lest the blaze and smoke would attract the attention of the enemy. This was a very trying time for the party. The trip was made to Brownsville, Texas, at the mouth of the Rio Grande river, unmolested and Mr. Riggs deserved great credit for the daring and bravery which he displayed during that campaign.

In May, 1850, he made his first trip across the plains, starting from Independence, Missouri, and arriving in California in the following September, having been about five months enroute. While in California he conducted the Comanche Hotel at Washington, just across the river from Sacramento. He returned to the east by way of Cape Horn, arriving at Independence, Missouri, on the 17th of March, 1852, and on the same day he was united in marriage to Miss Mary Ann Lipscomb, who was born at Richmond, Madison county, Kentucky, on the 23d of August, 1834.

In company with his wife, Mr. Riggs again crossed the plains to California in 1854 and upon once more arriving on the Pacific coast he purchased a section of land on Putah creek, in Yolo county, and began farming there. He was a prominent and influential resident of the community and served for two terms as county commissioner but left California on account of his wife's health upon the expiration of his second term in office. He removed to Corvallis, Oregon, and again his ability and worth as a citizen were recognized in his election to the office of mayor of the town in 1861.

Upon learning of the wonderful gold discoveries in Idaho, Mr. and Mrs. Riggs decided to remove to this state and on the 6th of July, 1863, he pitched the first tent in what is now known as Boise. Soon afterward, with others, he laid out the city, now one of the most beautiful cities of the entire west. Again his fellow townsmen desired him to serve in public office and he was appointed county judge but never qualified for the position. In 1864 he was elected a member of the house of representatives from Boise county and introduced the two famous bills of that session.The first was a bill changing the capital of the state from Lewiston to Boise and the second was a bill creating a new county in the vicinity of Boise, with that city as it sseat of government. After a hard fight both bills were passed and in appreciation of the great work he had done it was unanimously decided to call the new county Riggs. Not caring to be thus honored himself, Mr. Riggs suggested to his colleague to name the county Ada for his little daughter. At the time of the marriage of this daughter, in commenting thereon one of the local papers said in regard to the organization ofAda county: "Hon. H. C. Riggs and a Mr. Parkinson were but two of Boise county's numerous delegation in that session. Mr. Parkinson, of Boise, and the writer of this sketch, who then represented the great county of Shoshone, occupied the same table in the hall, when the question of naming the new county came up. Several names were proposed, those of Grant, Lincoln, Douglas being among the number. Some goodnatured sparring ensued, during which Mr. Parkinson whispered to his deskmate that Ada was a pretty name, and that as it was the name of his colleague's little daughter, he, Mr. Parkinson, would esteem it a personal favor if his friend from Shoshone would offer Ada as the name of the new county. This was done and the motion carried promptly and unanimously. Mr. Riggs was one of the founders of Boise City and wasone of the most devoted and efficient friends of the city and of the new county duringthe second session." Upon his return home from his second session in the legislature Mr. Riggs was tendered a most enthusiastic reception. Thirteen guns were fired upon his arrival and a reception was held at the old Overland Hotel. A paper, the Statesman of January 10, 1865, commenting on this occasion, said: "Assemblyman Riggs arrived in town by last evening's overland stage from Walla Walla. His neighbors congratulate him upon his return to his family after a laborious session, and themselves on having sent the best man to represent them at the capital. It is doubtful if any other man could have accomplished so much for his constituents at this session as has Mr. Riggs. No fraud, no trick, no device was left untried to defeat the just measures in behalf of this portion of the territory, introduced by him and fought to a successful issue. To accomplish them under such circumstances requires not only the highest order of talent, but a clearness that no attack can surprise and industry that no opposition can tire. These qualities he has exhibited in a good degree to the great advantage and lasting benefit of his constituents, for all which we but express their sentiments when we welcome him with, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'" Not only did Mr. Riggs succeed in having Ada county organized by the state legislature but also during his second term in the general assembly he introduced a bill that made Boise an incorporated village.

Another incident in the life of Mr. Riggs was written in the Emmett Index as follows:

"How many of our readers who enjoy hunting know that an Emmett man introduced the quail into Idaho? And how many know that it was done from purely philanthropic motives at a considerable outlay of money?"

To that grand old man, Henry C. Riggs, now passing the evening of his life with his children in this city, the people of Idaho are indebted for that valuable bird, the quail."

On December 26, 1870, the first shipment was made from Independence, Missouri, and consisted of two crates, each containing thirty-eight birds. They were consigned to Mr. Riggs, who then lived in Boise. At that time the terminus of the Union Pacific was Kelton, Utah, and express matter was carried by stage. Owing to the severity of the weather and their exposure and long confinement many of the birds died in transit."

The consignment did not reach Kelton until January 30th and it was nearly spring before it reached Boise. The birds were distributed in different sections of the state. Three dozen were given their freedom on Dry creek, another dozen at the mouth of the Payette, a number along the Boise river, and the balance at more remote points of the state.

"Other shipments were made at later dates from Missouri, and as an experiment a dozen of what are known as the valley quail were shipped in from California. These, however, were too tame and soon fell a prey to cats and wild animals and none survived. The Missouri quail took kindly to Idaho and multiplied rapidly, and today the descendantsof those quail secured by Mr. Riggs number probably over a million and may befound scattered throughout this and neighboring states.

"The original receipts given by the United States Express Company for the transportation charges of the birds are still in the possession of Mr. Riggs. The expresscharges from Omaha to Kelton were thirty-three dollars and twenty cents for four coops, and the total expense from Independence, Missouri, to Boise was over one hundred dollars."

To Mr. and Mrs. Henry Chiles Riggs eight children were born. Cache, born September 10, 1854, at Cacheville, Yolo county, California, died on the 26th of November, of the same year. Ada Hobbs, born April 3, 1856, at Davisville, Yolo county, California, was married at Caldwell, Idaho, February 26, 1884, to John Riggs Coon. It was she in whose honor the county of Ada was named. She passed away May 29, 1909, at San Francisco, California. Henry Chiles, Jr., born January 5, 1862, at Corvallis, Oregon, was married August 3, 1910, to Mary Frances Wilkins at Middleton, Idaho. Their first child, a son, born June 8, 1911, at Emmett, Idaho died at birth. Their second child, Henry Chiles Riggs (III), was born May 20., 1913, at Emmett and their third child, May Putnam Riggs, was born January 26, 1915. Boise Green Riggs, the fourth member of the family of Henry and Mary Ann (Lipscomb) Riggs, was born at Boise, February 26, 1865, and was married March 8, 1888, at Falks, Idaho, to Clara Alice Jackson. Their children were all born at Emmett, Idaho, and are as follows: Clara Ann, whowas born March 3, 1889; Boise Green, Jr., born April 14, 1890; Adlia Ruth, November 26, 1892; Mona Lenore, November 7, 1895; Hester Nellie, July 25, 1897; Elma Ada, January 19, 1899; and Mollie Bernice, June 10, 1900. Joel Bennett Riggs, the fifth member of the family of Henry Chiles Riggs, Sr., was born at Boise, Idaho, April 16, 1870, and was married February 19, 1908, at Emmett, Idaho, to Lena Rebecca Kesgard. Their children are: Bryan Kern, born November 24, 1908, at Endicott, Whitman county; Washington; Mary Lena, September 10, 1910, at Emmett, Idaho; an infant son, who was born May 20, 1912, and died on the 1st of June, following; and Samuel James, born October 31, 1913, at Emmett. Mary Susan Riggs, the sixth member of the family of Henry Chiles Riggs, Sr., was born August 27, 1872, at Boise, and on the 15th ofMay, 1892 at Emmett became the wife of Robert Lee Jordan. She passed away at Emmett, July 15, 1893. Samuel Dabney Riggs, born March 31, 1875, at Boise, is the efficient postmaster at Emmett and is mentioned at length on another page of this work. Idaho May Riggs, the youngest of the family, born on the old homestead near Emmett,in Canyon county, Idaho, May 7, 1879, was married on the llth of August, 1896, to William Charles Langroise and their children are: Ada May, who was born April 26,1897; William Henry, born September 4, 1898; Norma Fay, August 24, 1900; and Hazel Marguerite, January 21, 1903, all being natives of Emmett. Of these the eldest died September 24, 1897.

Mr. and Mrs. Riggs reared a family of whom they had every reason to be proud and who have been an honor to their name. The death of Mr. Riggs occurred at Boise, July 3, 1909, while his wife survived until December 14, 1912. They were a most worthy and highly esteemed couple, identified with Idaho from early pioneer times. During his active life Mr. Riggs was considered one of the foremost residents of his part of the state and was instrumental in many ways in the upbuilding of the great commonwealth in which he lived. He left to his family the priceless heritage of an untarnished name and a record which should serve as an inspiration and a source of encouragement to all who knew him.

Source: archive.org

Note: Mr. Riggs is buried at Riverside Cemetery in Emmett.

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