ME Riggs     Brannick Benjamin Riggs.jpg



Brannick Benjamin was born 21 October 1867 in Bandera County, Texas when the family was living at Fort Riggs.  He was our 5th child, 3rd son.  This was a little over a month after his Grandfather, Thomas Riggs, had drowned in the Medina River.  B.B. was not quite 3 years old when we traveled to the Trinidad, Colorado area.  

    Brannick’s Grandmother (Rhoda Casey Riggs) lived with us. He was very fond of her.  She always wore a lace cap on her head.  Brannick asked me if I would make him one to wear so he could look like Grandma.

     He was 9 almost 10 years old when we left Colorado.  He rode a little mare named Blaze, and helped drive the cattle from Colorado to Arizona.

    When Mr. Riggs decided to leave Colorado and go to Arizona, we had to leave Grandma Rhoda Riggs with our nephew, W.C., as we feared the trip would be too hard for her to make. Brannick never forgot the sad parting.  As he rode away on his horse he wanted to get one last look at her as she stood leaning on her cane waving, but the tears came so fast he could never see her clearly. Grandmother Riggs was 73 years old when we left Colorado.  How hard it was to know that we would probably never see her again in this life.  Grandmother Riggs died in January 1881 in Texas where she was living with her daughter Rhoda Riggs Copeland.



    Brannick had a terrible fear of the dark but he had an experience soon after reaching Arizona that completely cured him of that awful fear.  There were no fence laws in those days and so the cattle drifted for many miles.  His older brother and he had gone over the mountain range to the San Simon Valley and had found one cow and had heard of another, so William started Brannick toward home with cow and her calf up a long canyon while he took a long circle to look over several bunches of cattle.  William was to come to this canyon later in the night.  Everything was fine until the sun began to throw long shadows down the canyon and the coyotes started howling.  That was just too much for a ten year old boy.  He turned his horse and galloped all the way to the mouth of the canyon.  He took one look at the lonely valley, there was no sign of his brother, and it was scarier than the canyon, so he headed his horse once more up that canyon.  Finding his cow and calf bedded down, he unsaddled and staked his horse where he could get some grass.  He rolled himself in his saddle blanket and let the coyotes howl.  Later in the night, William came up to him and praised him very highly for using such good judgment about letting the cow and calf bed down until morning.  William never did know until many years later of the wild ride down the canyon.

    Mr. Riggs got a contract to furnish beef to Ft. Bowie, and Brannick and his younger brother Jim delivered the meat.  They had to get up at four o’clock every morning and drive about twelve miles to have the meat cut and ready to sell by six o’clock, then come back and get another beef in ready to butcher in the cool of the evening, do their school work and then to bed.  This was very hard on growing boys, and very unsatisfactory, especially when Jim got his leg badly broken, and Brannick had to do the delivering alone.  They were breaking two colts and were riding near a deep rut made by an old road being washed out.  Jim’s horse ran sidewise and fell into a deep rut, then threw himself over with Jim’s leg caught under the horse.  Brannick had to lift the horse by brute force off Jim and get his leg out from under the horse.  Brannick always said he was given some supernatural strength or he could never have done it.  Anyway the leg was broken in the knee, so that Jim always had a stiff leg.  As Brannick and Jim grew older the meat delivery was taken over by the younger brothers. 



    When he was old enough, Brannick began his education in the school we had started in Colorado.  He continued his education in the one room school house we built soon after we settled in the Sulphur Springs valley. When he was 20 years old, B.B. and his brother J.J. Riggs went to school for a year in San Diego, California.  Because of the influence of his sister-in-law, Ida Riggs, Brannick was the first of our family to go east for an education.  He attended the Northern Indiana Normal School in Valparaiso, Indiana.  Brannick rode the train, helping with a load of cattle, to Chicago, then took the train the 50 miles southeast to Valparaiso.  He started school at Mid-term 1890 and graduated 10 August 1892 with a B. S. degree in Civil Engineering.  The Northern Indiana Normal School was started in 1873.  It was a private college.  In 1900 it was renamed Valparaiso College.  In 1906 or 1907 it became the Valparaiso University.

    When he returned to Home Ranch, Brannick taught school at Wilgus for a year.  This school was located at the mouth of Turkey Creek about 10 miles south from Home Ranch. The next year he taught in a country school located near Fort Grant, in Stockton Pass, in Graham County, Arizona.  The following year he again taught at the Wilgus School.   


    Following are some excerpts from local newspapers.  Brannick was also interested in giving his best to his community.

20 Mar 1892

Teachers Institute

Wed. March 16

. . . . This was a training for teachers in the county.  It was an all day workshop and was attended by B.B. Riggs who was teaching at the Wilgus School at the time. . . . 


Tombstone Epitaph

29 March 1893

   B.B. Riggs from Wilgus School and C.S. Prouty from Brannock attend a Teachers Institute.



. . . . B.B. Riggs helping with election


Sulphur Valley News

Tuesday, 17 Dec 1895

B. Riggs of Ft. Grant, spent Sunday in town.


Arizona Range News

Wednesday, 19 April 1899

Brannick Riggs, Jr., was elected as a trustee of El Dorado school district.


Bisbee Review

30 July 1902

. . . . Brannick Riggs, Jr., (Democrat) may be available to run for probate judge. . . . 



    Martha (Mattie) Smith was one of Brannick’s students at Wilgus.  He later asked her to marry him.  B.B. was 29 years old and Mattie was 20 years old when they married.  

16 Nov 1896          BB and Mattie was Married at Willcox 1896



Brannick Benjamin and Martha Alfretta Smith Riggs


Arizona Range News

Tuesday, 17 November 1896


Last night at eight o'clock, at the residence of Mrs. Hudson on Haskell Avenue, Judge W.F. Nichols pronounced the words which united in marriage Mr. Brannick Riggs, Jr. and Miss Martha Smith daughter of C.P. Smith, of Wilgus, Ariz.  The News wishes the young couple every happiness in life and regrets that lack of space precludes the giving of a more extended notice.

    To this marriage were born seven children: Mary, Benjamin, Walter, Thomas, Brannick, Martha and Rhoda



    From the time BB was a little boy the lumber business had been a part of his family’s life. His Grandfather Thomas, his father and his uncle James had a saw-mill in Bandera County Texas.  Again in Colorado his father and uncle James set up a saw-mill.  It provided a large part of the family income. The country in Cochise County and the surrounding areas was developing.  Homes were being built and large mines were being developed.  The need for lumber was great and the nearby mountains provided the availability of trees.  BB was not a rancher at heart.  He loved being in the mountains and the work of a lumberman.

    In the summer of 1896 Brannick, age 29, and his brother, James J., bought the saw-mill in Barfoot Park in the Chiricahua Mountains from Major William Downing.  Brannick was able to use his degree in Civil Engineering as he used and maintained the saws and machines in the mill and located appropriate sites and grades for the tracks used to bring the felled trees to the mill for sawing.  

the 17 Feb 1896          BB and JJ bought the Saw mill  

the 2 Mar 1896           BB and JJ started to work at Saw Mill

Arizona Range News

Tuesday, 15 Sept 1896

Messrs. Jas. J. and Brannick Riggs went to Tucson on Wednesday to make application in the U.S. Land office for permission to cut timber on public lands in the Chiricahua Mountains, as per notice previously published in our columns.  The Riggs brothers are enterprising and deserving young men, and we hope their application will be allowed.



B.B. & Mattie’s home at the sawmill in Barfoot Park



Brannick Riggs Saw-mill   Barfoot Park, Chiricahua Mountains


24 June 1897         Mrs Dowing comewe      had honey

1898          BB and Jo Smith has a Silver and copper mind

9 Sep 1902          BB taken the timber man to Willcox

27 Sep 1902          BB an Mattie has a fine boy

Walter Riggs, their second son, third child.

22 Oct 1902          BB is Seling out       going on the Sancimoan Side

Brannick B. did eventually sell his sawmill because of the timber laws.  He was required to pay a tax on every stump on the mountain not just on the trees he cut.  He did not however sell it at this time.


Arizona Range News

Friday, 30 Jan 1903

B. B. Riggs was in Willcox Tuesday.  He informed this paper that he has just been granted the sale of 2,000,000 feet of timber in the Chiricahua Mountains by the Department of the Interior.


Arizona Range News

Friday 13 Feb 1903

Brannick B. Riggs was in town Tuesday and left Wednesday for Clifton on business.  Mr. Riggs reports the snow knee deep in the vicinity of his saw mill in the Chiricahuas and states the water supply for the year is now an assured fact.  In some places the snow is so deep that it will not disappear till May or June.


Arizona Range News

Friday 3 April 1903

B.B. Riggs, the lumber king of the Chiricahuas, has just closed a contract with the Troy Copper Co. of Morenci, to furnish 600,000 feet of lumber.  Mr. Riggs expects his saw mill will supply between 3,000,000 and 5,000,000 feet of lumber to the various camps this coming season.


Arizona Range News

Friday 8 May 1903

Wanted--Fifteen or twenty teams to haul lumber from Riggs’ sawmill to Pearce, Rodeo, and Black Diamond.  Apply at Soto Bros. & Renaud, Pearce, Arizona.


    Entrepreneurship is not without its tragedies!


Bisbee Daily Review

6 Sept 1903

Teamster Is Killed 

Run Over by Heavy Load While Inspecting Faulty Brakes

Tombstone, Sept 5. -- Advices, which reached here today, are to the effect that a teamster named Sharpe, while driving toward this town from the Riggs ranch in the Chiricahua’s was run over by the wagon and instantly killed.

   The most acceptable explanation of the fatality is that the brake refused to work while Sharpe was driving down a steep grade and that he leaned over to see what was the matter with it and he fell or was thrown from his seat, and the wagon, containing its heavy load, passed over his body, crushing his life out instantly.  Sharpe is said to have a family in either Lordsburg or Silver City, N.M. where he formerly resided.


Arizona Range News

4 Sep 1903


A very sad accident occurred on the road near the Riggs' saw mill about noon yesterday which resulted in the death of Mr. Cortez Sharp, who has been acting in the capacity of sawyer for B.B. Riggs. While riding down the mountain on a wagon loaded with lumber, something went wrong with the brake which deceased was manipulating, causing him to lose his balance and fall to the ground.  One wheel of the wagon passed diagonally over the stomach and between the hips crushing the pelvis and left kidney, causing almost instant death.  Deceased formerly resided in Silver City and Lordsburg N.M., but nothing is known of the where abouts of his relatives.  The remains were carried by wagon to Rodeo last night where they will be taken in charge by the Odd Fellows lodge of which order deceased was a member.


Bisbee Daily Review

27 Mar 1903

. . . . Another recent deal, which will greatly add to the commercial importance of Rodello, was a contract taken by Brannick Riggs, Jr., to supply the Detroit Copper Company at Morenci with six hundred thousand feet of lumber.  This lumber will be cut at Mr. Riggs’s sawmill in the Chiricahua Mountains and will be hauled to Rodello and shipped from there by rail. . . . .


Arizona Range News

Friday, 10 July 1903


     Mining Operations in This District Are very Active  

A few Brief Notes From This Interesting Mineral Field

    Through the kind invitation of Brannick Riggs to spend the Fourth at his saw mill camp in the Chiricahuas, and which we accepted, enables us to give our readers a few interesting lines concerning this interesting mineral field.

    Friday we arrived at the saw mill, where Mr. Brannick Riggs has a number of experienced lumbermen engaged in converting pine trees into all kinds of mining timber.  The output from the mill is from 12,000 to 15,000 feet per day.  The lumber is shipped to the Common Wealth mine at Pearce and the Morenci and Clifton mines.

    Mr. Riggs says he could use a few more men with teams to haul lumber to the Pearce mines and to Rodeo, where it is taken to Clifton and Morenci.

    We had often heard of the Chiricahua saw mill, but one has to pay it a visit to appreciate the nature of the enterprise.

    Good roads lead to the mill from both sides of the mountain.

    The Fourth was spent knocking around camp and building a platform for the dance which took place in the evening and was well attended.


17          BB an Mr Mcgloan went to Willcox

Mr McGloan was the Forest Service Supervisor.

    July 14, 1903

    W.E. Estes and family of Pinery canyon have moved to the saw mill. Mr. Estes will work for B.B. Riggs.


Friday, 31 July 1903


    Special correspondence to the Range News

July 20, 1903

    Messrs. B.B. Riggs and Chas. McGlone are in Tucson on business and will return to the saw mill the first of next week.

    A crowd of men from the saw mill and Eagle City were in Paradise over Sunday and should have been happy, as they were in "Paradise."

    Mrs. B.B. Riggs is visiting relatives and friends in the Sulphur Spring valley.

    The Rev. Dicky and wife of Lordsburg are spending a few days at the saw mill.

    Dr. H.R. Hitchins and wife will spend Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the saw mill.

    Mr. Chas. T. McGlone, the forest supervisor, has returned to the saw mill after several days absence.

    B.B. Riggs left today for Safford, where he will remain several days on business.

    Miss Anna M. Stafford and Miss Lillian Erickson of Bonita canyon, spent Tuesday at the saw mill.

    Mr. Jim Hudson is going to move his family to the saw mill.  Mr. Hudson is the bookkeeper for B.B. Riggs.

     Little Mary Riggs and Walter, infant son of Mr. and Mrs. B.B. Riggs have been quite sick the past few days, but both are now convalescent.

    A box social and ball to be given in Sulphur Spring valley Saturday night is expected by all to be a grand affair.  Most of the saw mill picnickers are going to attend.

    Mr. and Mrs. W.E. Estes are rejoicing over the arrival of a baby boy.  Mother and son are doing nicely and the father--well we have hopes of his recovery.  The baby made its advent into this world July 20th.

    F.W. Murdock, who is spending his vacation at the saw mill, was out hunting his horses last Sunday and when he found them, some unknown "friend" had taken their hobbles and bells off.  Upon his return, we judged from the tone of his voice that he did not appreciate the joke.

    A large party of picnickers are camped at the saw mill, among them being Mr. and Mrs. J.P. Cummings, Miss Daisy Miller, Miss Ethel Morgan and F.W. Murdock.  The ladies are spending their time riding horse back, climbing mountains and gathering flowers, while the men go out looking for game.  They have had very good luck, but say the game is scattering.


    A number of people from the Sulphur Spring valley went out on a picnic in Pinery canyon several days ago.  Their object was to search for a copper hammer Mr. Archie Shaw lost about a year ago.  Most all the ladies joined in the search, some with picks, some with shovels and after several hours work the hammer was found by Miss Rhoda Riggs.  After lunch the merry picnickers enjoyed themselves for several hours and departed for home.


Arizona Range News

11 Sep 1903

    B.B. Riggs, proprietor of the Chiricahua Lumber mills, was a visitor to Willcox Friday and Saturday.  Mr. Riggs informs us that he is busily engaged supplying the Morenci and Clifton mining camps with large quantities of lumber for timbering purposes and that business never was better.


Arizona Range News

9 Oct 1903


    Levi Curtis is no more.  He met a tragic death last Friday, by a load of lumber tipping over on him, crushing him into a shapeless mass and causing almost instant death.  The accident occurred at the camp of the Chiricahua Lumber Mills in the Chiricahua Mountains, while Curtis was starting out with a load of lumber for Rodeo.

    What caused the wagon to tip over is a mystery.  It was just one of those sad accidents that seem to occur in the ordinary routine of life and from no apparent cause whatever.  The remains were brought to Willcox by wagon and shipped to Safford for interment.  The deceased was a man about 50 years of age and single.  He was well known on the Gila where he made his home on a small farm.

28 Mar 1904

Thomas Riggs, son of BB and Mattie Riggs, was born this day at the home of JJ and Maggie Riggs.  He was born prematurely .

29          William passed going after BB neace

1904 April the 1          Mary an Beny Riggs is with us

Miss Alas Saving is here until BB comes

    Alice Sabin is the niece of Martha and BB Riggs

April 1904

BB taken his people home with him

18          Mr hand brought Mattie over

19          BB come after her an the children

20 May 1904         BB has Sold his Saw mill

    After the Forest Service was started they came to the Saw Mill and counted stumps.  BB was taxed for all of the stumps on the mountain, not just the ones that he had cut.  This ruined him financially and he had to sell the saw mill. 


Arizona Range News

Friday, 27 May 1904

B.B. Riggs proprietor of the Chiricahua saw mills, was in town Sunday.  Mr. Riggs has about closed a deal to sell his saw mill plant.  He states that the country in his section is having a great boom.  He has purchased a number of lots in Paradise and will hold them as a speculation.  Keep your eye on those lots B.B. and see that the annual assessment work is kept up on them or some smooth individual with more nerve than principle may jump and relocate them after the clock strikes twelve some quiet night. 


Bisbee Daily Review

17 June 1904

. . . . B.B. Riggs sold sawmill to Crosby & Sweeny and hoped to build a 20-room hotel in Paradise . . . .




Arizona Range News

9 Sept 1904

B.B. Riggs, who formerly operated the Chiricahua saw mill, was in Willcox on business Wednesday.  Mr. Riggs says the Paradise camp is going ahead quietly without any very loud demonstrations and believes it has a good future.  Mr. Riggs has sold the saw mill to eastern parties who will conduct it in the future.  He has not as yet decided definitely as to what course he will pursue in the future.

1 Feb 1905          BB come down from the mill

7Apr 1905          BB an family went to Paradise

2 Oct 1905          BB come  the mill Shut down



    After Brannick B. sold the sawmill he worked at the mine in Paradise for about a year.  That soon proved to not be satisfactory so he went to work for the Copper Queen Mining interests in Bisbee and Douglas.  Brannick spent about a year traveling through the mountains in New Mexico and in Old Mexico in the state of Chihuahua.  He estimated stands of timber and looked for grades where tracks could be laid for hauling lumber out of the mountains for the Copper Queen mining company.  Brannick fell in love with the area and the people of the Mormon Colonies in Mexico and decided to move his family to this area.  

September 14, 1906          Mr Riggs baught BB place



    In 1907 B.B. became interested in the possibilities of saw-milling in Mexico.  He moved his family to Colonia Dublan where they lived for two years, then came back to the U.S. to take charge of some real estate in El Paso, Texas, for his sister Rhoda.

    In the spring of 1910 he again went back to Mexico and bought a home in Colonia Juarez where his family resided while he managed a saw mill in the mountains for L.E. Booker until the Americans were driven out in 1912.

5 May 1907         BB come      him an his Father is playing checkers

7          he went back to mexico

23 September 1908          Mr TB an Martha went to See BB an family

31 August 1910          we jus herd of BB got hurt f ell of a roof

he is getting all rite now

El Paso Herald

29 Aug 1910

    While B.B. Riggs was at work building a house in Pearson he fell from the scaffolding, breaking his collar bone, dislocating and crushing his shoulder, and tearing loose several of his ribs.  He is very sick but there does not seem much fear for his recovery.  He has been taken to his home in Colonia Juarez.



    A Revolution took place in Mexico that changed the life of B. B. and his family.  Poncho Villa and his troops set up camp on the hills overlooking Colonia Juarez where the family lived.  Although B. B. and his family didn’t have any trouble from them, others did. The people living in these colonies were still US Citizens.  The leaders of the Mormon Church and the US Government knew they couldn’t keep these people safe so directions came for all U.S. citizens to come out of Mexico.  B. B. sent his wife and children out on the train but he stayed.

July 1912

Mattie and there children come out of

old mexico      they gave them three dayes

to get out of there     fiting down there

3 Aug 1912          Mattie an there children went up to Rhodas place

17          Brannock got here from old mexico

18          children went to Rhodas to get walnuts

20          Ed an gay come to See Brannock from from ol mexico

22          Brannock is cuting Rhodas alfaltha

    Friday 23 Aug 1912

    Brannick Riggs, who formerly lived in this section, arrived from Mexico the other day.  His family came in a couple of weeks earlier.  They are refugees from Chihuahua, Mexico, and will remain until the unsettled conditions in Mexico are over.

31          Brannock an family went to See Matties Mother and her people

September 1912

4          Brannck went back to El pas tex




    B.B. and Mattie, like many of the other families that had to leave Mexico, hope they can one day return to their home.  Meanwhile B.B. needed work so he can care for his family. Several members of the Riggs family own properties in El Paso.  It was decided that B.B. would take his family to El Paso and he would manage the Real Estate properties for them.  While working on some of the properties B. B. contracted small pox. 

    Before he died B. B. instructed Mattie to take the children and go to St. David, Arizona, where she would be close to her family. William M. and her brother, Bert Smith, helped Mattie to buy some property and have a nice home built.  Mattie is raising her family in St. David. Brannick Riggs was 46 years old when he died and Mattie was 36.

    Brannick Benjamin Riggs died of small pox on 19 Mar 1913 in El Paso Texas.  Because he died of small pox his body could not be brought to the Riggs settlement for burial.  He was buried in El Paso the same day of his death. 



    Arizona Range News (front page)

Friday, 21 March 1913

Brannick Riggs, who formerly resided here and at one time run the old saw mill in the Chiricahuas, died at El Paso Wednesday night. The cause of death was small pox.  Up to the time of going to press no particulars had been received about funeral arrangements. Mr. Riggs is a brother of Wm. M. Riggs, well known in these parts, and his death will be much regretted by the many friends he had throughout the valley. Mr. Riggs leaves quite a large family.


Arizona Range News

Friday, 28 March 1913

Brannick Riggs died at El Paso one day last week from small pox.  All the family was down with it at the time of his demise.  Wm. Riggs and other relatives went to El Paso to attend the burial.  Mr. Riggs had spent several years in Mexico, but on account of the unsettled conditions last summer in that country he was driven from home and forced to take up his abode in El Paso.  He and his family have been visitors with their relatives at this point quite frequently, and Mr. Riggs was here less than a month ago.  Mr. Riggs lived here for many years and owned a saw mill in the Chiricahuas, and was also interested in cattle and mining, and was well known in this section and his demise has cast a gloom over the entire community.


    We continue to have contact with Mattie and her children.  Her son Ben has worked for Rhoda and William.  Her son Tom also has worked for William.

2 May 1923          Mattie Riggs and her girls came from St. David Arizona       stayed at Johnms and Lucy’s

Children went to cave above TB’s

Brannick passed away 19 March 1913.  He is buried in the El Paso Cemetery.