ME Riggs     Barney Kemp Riggs.jpg



    In 1877 we left Colorado and traveled to the southeast corner of Arizona, looking for a place where we could settle down and make a home.  With our covered wagons and tents we set up a camp at the mouth of Emigrant Canyon on the Bowie side of the Chiricahua Mountains. On 23 Aug 1879 Barney Kemp Riggs arrived, our 10th child, the seventh son of our Riggs family.  By October the water in the springs had dried up in Emigrant Canyon and we had to move through Apache pass and into the Sulphur Springs valley where we found a permanent source of water.  Here we built our home.

    B.K. can remember seeing the captured Geronimo as he was being taken with his braves to the railroad at Bowie.  General Miles came by the ranch with Geronimo and members of his tribe.  Mr. Riggs was butchering a beef.  General Miles asked for the beef with which to feed his men and the Indians so it was provided for them.  The Indians ate their meat raw but General Miles and his men cooked theirs.  Then a youngster of six, BK just had to see Geronimo so ran over to the encampment.  Geronimo wore Levi’s and a regular work shirt. He also wore silver and turquoise jewelry. He was abashed, however, at the mean look the warrior gave him. He said his eyes were “mean”.  The group camped nearby all night and went on the next morning. 

    All of the children had to do their share of the chores of the ranch.  When B.K. was about 12 years old it became time for him and his older brother J.C. to be responsible for delivering a butchered beef to Fort Bowie. They would start out early in the morning, before daylight and sometimes when they reached Apache Pass their imagination got the best of them and they were just sure that the giant soap weeds along the way were skulking Indians!”



    B. K.’s education began at the frame school house in the front yard of Home ranch. He also attended El Dorado school after it was built. He attended the U of A, also a school in CA.


Arizona Range News

27 June 1900

B.K. Riggs. , who has been attending a business college at San Francisco during the past year, returned home today.


Arizona Range News

4 July 1900

Kay Riggs, the youngest son of Hon. B. Riggs returned from San Francisco last Wednesday and later went out to his home.  Kay has been attending a commercial college for several months past.  He finished up the business course, but said he might return in the fall to take up another course in short hand.


Class notes 1897 - 1919

    Barney Kemp Riggs, Prep ‘97, still lives on the ranch of his father, Brannick Riggs, who founded the vast Riggs Settlement ranching empire in the Chiricahuas near Willcox, Ariz., in 1880.  Born in 1879 at Fort Bowie, Ariz., he was admitted to the Preparatory School at the University of Arizona from El Dorado District School in 1895.  He spent the year 1895 - 1896 here, completing the 11th grade.  Mr. Riggs has lived all of his life on his ranch, with the exception of trips away to school -- besides Arizona he went to Tempe Normal School and to an engineering school in California.  


    Barney Kemp, known as B.K. to his family and later as Uncle Kay to his nieces and nephews, grew up on our ranch, went away to school but returned to take up the family tradition of ranching.  After his father’s death, B.K. made Home Ranch his home, managing the ranch for me. 






Barney Kemp and Mary Elizabeth Murphy Riggs


22 Dec 1910         Kay Started to Kansas to get Married

    Barney Kemp Riggs married Mary Elizabeth Murphy 2 January 1911 in Kansas.


Arizona Range News

Friday, 6 Jan 1911

B.K. Riggs and Miss Murphy stole away the other day and were married.  The bride is Mrs. A.H. Jelley's sister and some time ago was Postmaster Hauser's obliging assistant.  The groom is a prominent young cattleman, being the secretary of the Riggs Cattle Co.

12          Kay an his bride got home

    To this union came 4 children: Martha Elizabeth, Edward Kemp, James Murphy, and Herbert Robbins.  


    Because there were so many Mary’s and Elizabeth’s in the family BK’s wife was called K’s Mary or Aunt Mary K. 


Arizona Range News

Friday, 18 Feb 1910

    Wm. M. Riggs, J.C. Riggs, B.K. Riggs and Gus Moore, members of the Riggs Cattle Co., were business visitors to Willcox Tuesday and Wednesday.


Arizona Range News

Unknown date


    A case entitled United States vs. B.K. Riggs was heard before John F. Crowley, U.S. Commissioner, Tuesday.  Some time ago the defendant filed on a homestead about five miles east of Willcox and according to the plaintiff did not comply with the law as regards residence on the land.

    Final commutation proof was made in October 1908.

    The first witness called for the United States was S.N. Kemp, who was questioned regarding the registration of B.K. Riggs for the election of Nov.3, 1908.  The witness testified to publishing the register; that it was the official register of Cochise County; that it contained the name of B.K. Riggs whose residence and voting precinct was given as El Dorado, a precinct some twenty five miles distant from the land on which the defendant was supposed to reside to comply with the land laws.

    The next witness was Neil Erickson, who testified that he had known the defendant for the past twenty years and that his residence had always been understood to be at the Riggs home ranch in El Dorado precinct.

    Wm. Riggs for the United States testified that B.K. Riggs had not made continuous residence on the land.

    The case was defended on the ground that the defendant had never claimed continuous residence and simply stood on the claims as set forth in the final proof.

    Jim Speaks testified for the defendant, telling of the improvements defendant had made on the land since the final prove up.

    From the prosecution of this case it is very evident that Uncle Sam intends to see that those who enter upon his lands must comply with the law. 


W.M. Riggs, former supervisor of the county, is assisting his brother B.K. Riggs erect some new buildings on his ranch a few miles from town and was purchasing supplies Tuesday.

June 1915          Kay got them a new ford car      it is nice

Excitement in the Pasture

August 1916

Kay an Mr Hopkins killed a big lofer wold

     B.K. has a great sense of humor and a very infectious laugh.  When reading the following story I could just hear he and his friend “whooping and hollering” as they drove across the pasture chasing the Lobo.

ME Riggs     Barney Kemp Riggs Model T Ford.jpg

Arizona Range News

20 Aug 1916

Trusty Ford Runs down a Big Lobo Wolf

Courtland, Aug 14 -- There are so many stories about the Ford car that they have been gathered and put in book form, but here is one that happened in this section and was participated in by a couple of well-known residents of Cochise county.  It seems that Kay Riggs, having Jas. Hopkins for company, started from some point in the Riggs Settlement for Dos Cabezas right recently taking along a shotgun with three or four shells.  On the route they noticed a bunch of cattle acting in a peculiar manner and drove up to investigate, finding that a Lobo wolf was among them.

   The varmint, evidently concluding that discretion was better than valor, made a hasty retreat when confronted with the armed Ford.  A shot was fired but served only to accelerate the movements of the animal.  Though handicapped in the start, Riggs decided to give chase, and the race was on in earnest, across country having no terrors for the boughty car and driver.  Thinking that to run over the animal would end the excitement, Mr. Riggs let her out as they came close up to the brute, driving the car completely over the animal, but his surprise was great to see the wolf jump to his feet and make his getaway, this time apparently on “high”.  Resuming the chase, the former experience was again passed through.  More determined than ever that they would have that wolf if the Ford would hold out, they started again in hot pursuit.  This time it was “do or die” with all concerned and the wolf certainly did nobly, but he had misjudged the capabilities of that little “peace ship” and its crew.  When getting close up to the hurrying animal, Hopkins having dug up a shovel from among the equipment about the car, got out on the foot board and as the car passed over the brute, managed to give it a blow that partially stunned it, so that he was able to get to it before it regained its feet, and dispatched it with the humble prospectors shovel, thereby cinching the $75.00 bounty and reward now on these calf killers.



El Paso Herald

4 Dec 1916



    Mrs. B.K. Riggs of Willcox, Ariz., who left the hospital for Hotel McCoy, a week ago, after recovering from a very severe operation left the last of the week for her ranch home at Dos Cabezas, Ariz.  Mr. Riggs who was with her at the hospital during her illness, accompanied her to the ranch.

1922          Aunt Mary K had an operation in Minnesota

Arizona Range News

10 Nov 1916

A.H. Jelley spent Saturday, Sunday and a part of Monday with K. Riggs in the El Dorado district.  He visited Hill Top mine while there, and reports that the tunnel which is being driven through the mountain will be completed this week.

(Enlarge on the tunnel)



    The world was changing all over.  There was a war going on in Europe and the effects of it were being felt in Cochise County.  Kay was called to serve on a jury.  The following found in the newspapers explains it better than I can.

    During WWI the need for Copper and Silver grew and the price for these metals went high.  There were not enough workers in Bisbee to keep up the necessary production so miners were brought in from Mexico and Europe, mainly Germany and Poland.  The I.W.W. - Industrial Workers of the World known as the “Wobblies” - was an international Union that became active in Bisbee at that time.  In the early summer of 1917 there was great unrest with the miners over what they called unfairness of wage scales and working conditions.  The I.W.W. advocated slowdowns and sabotage.  In June the miners struck.  On 12 July 1917 an armed vigilante group, led by Sheriff Harry Wheeler and groups of “Deputies” fromthe Citizen’s Protective League and Workman’s Loyalty League, kidnapped 1,186 men out of their homes and off their jobs and loaded them into filthy cattle cars, taking them across the state line, leaving the group stranded in Hernanas, New Mexico.  Several days later food and water were brought to them.

    The case of The State of Arizona vs. Harry E. Wootton was brought against the Copper Companies with Harry E. Wootton being named as a representative in the en masse trial.  Mr. Wootton ran H.E. Wootton Hardware on Main Street in Bisbee.  Attorney Burges from El Paso defended the copper companies.


El Paso Herald

5 Feb 1920


B.K. Riggs Says He Could Not Be Impartial if Wobblies Appear

Court Praises Frank Admission

New Venire of 500 Drawn for “Kidnapping” Trial at Tombstone, Ariz.

Tombstone, Ariz. Feb. 5.---B. K. Riggs tentatively passed by both sides as a juror in the trial of Harry E. Wootton, accused of kidnapping in connection with the Bisbee deportations of 1917 created a furor in court this morning when he arose and declared he could not be impartial as a juror if testimony was given by any witness who was an I.W.W.

    Riggs had obtained permission from the court to qualify an answer to a question by county attorney Robert N. French, asked when he was examined and passed as a juror two days ago, as to whether he was prejudiced against labor organizations.

    “I most certainly am prejudiced against the I.W.W.’s” he said, “and if any testimony is given concerning this organization I could not be impartial”.

    Following Riggs’s statement, county attorney French declared the prosecution had no I.W.W.’s as witnesses and no man would be put on trial for deporting them.  He challenged Riggs but the challenge was over-ruled by Judge Samuel L. Pattee upon French’s statement.  Riggs’s brother, William M. Riggs, another tentatively accepted juror, then arose and said he held similar sentiments concerning I.W.W.


    French said he knew both men and that he considered their integrity of the highest.  Both jurors were complimented by the court for expressing their views instead of sitting silent.

    But a dozen venire men of 300 already drawn were on hand for examination when court convened this morning and court was to adjourn until Tuesday afternoon after they had been examined.  A new venire had been ordered drawn to report Tuesday.

    Only half a dozen of the 210 defendants in the deportation cases can be tried and the other will of necessity be determined because there will not be enough jurors obtainable in the county to try them, lawyers connected with the case said today.


    There are 7500 names on the jury rolls possible to be called it was said.  Fifty percent or more are disqualified as employees of the copper interests, some officials of which are among the defendants.  Claims for exemption and bias are taking a great proportion of the remainder and it was expected each case would require . . . . . 


El Paso Herald

12 April 1920


Tombstone, Ariz., April 12.--- The trial of Harry E. Wootton, charged with kidnapping in connection with the Bisbee deportations of July 12, 1917, was receded today by judge Samuel L. Pattee, to permit of a medical examination into the condition of B.K. Riggs of Dos Cabezas, a juror.


    In the above trial the copper companies were found at fault in the deportations of I.W.W., but the deportations were justified by the “Law of Necessity” because of the actions of the union bringing risk to a country at war.  Harry E. Wootton, who was tried for kidnapping, was found not guilty.  The civil suits that were brought by those who had been deported were settled for a total of $100,000.

    Attorney Burges told the mining companies they should let the miners organize in a responsible union.



    B.K. passed away 9 May 1963.  She is buried in the Riggs Family Cemetery next to her father.

(Riggs Family Cemetery location, row 3 headstone d)