ME Riggs     Martha Riggs Stark.jpg



Martha was born 15 March 1865 in Milam County Texas.  She was our 2nd girl, our 4th child. She was about 5 years old when the family left Fort Riggs, Bandera, Texas, and journeyed to the Trinidad Colorado area. 



    Martha attended the school we started for our children in Colorado until 1877 when we started to Arizona.  She was 13 when we left Colorado.  She attended the school at Dos Cabezas with William and Rhoda.  When the school house was built at Home Ranch in 1881, she was age 16 but attended school for a time.  Martha did not go away to school.



    Thomas Bell Stark and his brother William A. Stark came to Arizona from Missouri and were doing some ranching in the San Simon Valley.  T.B. came to Home Ranch to teach at our school.

    Martha and T.B. Stark were married 20 Dec 1886 at our home.  T.B. was 31 years old and Martha was 21 years old. After their marriage they lived for a time in the San Simon Valley. When T.B. and Martha moved back to the Riggs settlement they built a home east of Home Ranch about half way to Bonita Canyon and started ranching. When the Riggs Cattle Company was organized they put their cattle in and participated until the company closed.  They were always involved with the family caring for their growing cattle empire.  Martha came often and stayed with me.  

    Martha and T.B. Stark do not have children



    The following story was found in the Arizona Historical Society in Tucson Arizona.


Reminiscences of Mrs. Stark as told to Edith O. Kitt, Oct 1932.

    My father, Brannick Riggs, and his family came to Arizona in 1877, from Colorado.  We had an ox wagon for the goods and a spring wagon for the family.  But I walked most of the way.  We also drove from 50 to 60 head of milk cows.  We children had a wonderful time.  I guess mother did not enjoy it so much.

    We came by way of Zuni, the Little Colorado and on to Fort Apache.  We were never troubled by the Indians.  When we came onto the reservation the officer said, “Treat the Indians right and you will get along.”  We did.  Mother even divided our provisions with them.  When we moved camp they came along with us on foot.  But when we reached near Fort Thomas and the end of the reservation they stopped and went back.  We were rather glad to get rid of them as they were hard to feed.

    We stopped at Fort Apache the first year and the next winter came on to the Gila between Fort Thomas and Safford, opposite the Hot Springs.  Here we camped and after we left they used to call it Buttermilk Point.  We built a house here and lived on the country.  Next we went to Emigrant Canyon, east of Goodwin canyon, near Fort Bowie and under Helen’s Dome.  There was not a ranch here when we came except a CCC horse ranch.

    Our folks would never let us go to the Fort but they let us have dances at home and the officers would come and bring their music and we had a fine time.  

    As I said, we were never afraid of the Indians, though sometimes they tried to milk our cows.  However, the cows would not stand for it.  The Indian girls used to come around and want us to make dresses for them, which we often did -- just run them up.  An Indian scare was a picnic for us because everyone in the country came flocking to the home ranch.

    I was married at the home ranch on 20 December 1886 to Thomas Bell Stark -- married by the Justice of the Peace from Willcox.  My sister and I married brothers.  

    Mr. Stark came from Missouri for his health.  He taught school at Dunn’s Springs for a while then worked for the CCC cattle company and then came to the home ranch to teach us.  It is a serious thing to marry for life, but I saw what I wanted and I have never regretted it.

    When we were married Mr. Stark and I moved to Animas valley because we thought it was too crowded around here.  When he would go on round-ups I would stay with Mrs. Chenowith.  She was a small spry and interesting woman, very dark.  My brother Tom married her sister and Ed Riggs is the oldest of their sons.  I never had children of my own so took a great interest in hers.  We stayed on the Animas for two years then came back here.

    Twenty years ago, while coming from father’s funeral, I was struck by lightning.  We were in a buggy and it was WINDY AND DUSTY; then lightning, which Mr. Stark said looked like a big ball of fire, struck and killed both horses.  It burned my hair and two long streaks down my back.  The buggy stopped so suddenly that I was pitched out but I did not know what had happened.  I could not see straight and for a long time I could not hear.  I was in bed a month and some said that my wounds would never heal, but they did.


Phoenix Newspaper

Experience With Lightening  

19 July 1907

Thunder Plays Strange Prank

Strikes Party on Road, Renders One Traveler Unconscious and Kills Two Horses

       Phoenix, July 13 --  JJ Riggs, citizen member of the board of control, yesterday received a letter from Mrs. Riggs, at Dos Cabezas, containing news of the narrow escape of his sister, Mrs. T.B. Stark, and her husband, from death of lightening.

       The incident occurred while Judge (incorrect) and Mrs. Stark were driving home from the funeral of Brannick Riggs, the aged father of Mr. Riggs and Mrs. Stark a few days ago at Globe (incorrect).  Mrs. Riggs and several other relatives were driving along a short distance in front of the Starks.  A thunderstorm suddenly came up and both parties hurried onward, bent on getting home before the rain began.


       Suddenly a bolt of lightning struck the Stark conveyance, both horses dropping dead on the spot.  Judge (incorrect) Stark was not injured, but for a time it was feared that his wife was shocked beyond recovery.  Her clothing caught fire, but the flames were quickly extinguished.

       She was carried unconscious to the home ranch of the Riggs Cattle Company, where she quickly revived.  Some of the relatives wished to send for a physician, but she declared that she would be all right in a little while.  When Mrs. Riggs wrote the letter to Mr. Riggs she was getting along splendidly and had almost entirely recovered.

       The escape was a most miraculous one.  Both horses were killed instantly and only a miracle saved Judge(incorrect) Stark and his wife from suffering the same fate.


    Martha’s burns were caused by metal hairpins in her hair and the metal stays in her corset.

    In the summer when there was a family get together Martha would bring “cucumber (which she spelled ‘q u double cow cumber’) and butter” sandwiches.  Martha always rode side saddle.  When she had to ride to help on the ranch, she would put her cream in a quart jar which she tied on her saddle.  As she rode the jar would be shaken until she had butter when she returned home.

    Martha had ordered a new buggy.  When the family started buying and using automobiles she was hesitant.  She felt that they were just a passing fad, but when her husband got an automobile she had the buggy hung in the barn, “just in case”, and she learned to drive the car. The story was told about either Aunt Martha or Aunt Rhoda, that while they were learning to drive they couldn’t conquer using the brakes to stop the car.  They would be pulling back on the steering wheel as hard as they could, saying “whoa Nancy whoa” and running into something to stop the car. 


Martha Riggs Stark side saddle on Lady



    Martha passed away 09 January 1949.  She is buried in the Riggs Family Cemetery.

(Riggs Family Cemetery location, row 2 headstone i)