THOMAS JEFFERSON RIGGS
Thomas Jefferson, our first child, was born 14 May 1857 in Travis County Texas. When we moved to Bandera County he was 9 years old and attended the school there. Thomas was 13 years old when our family moved from Bandera County Texas to the Trinidad area in Colorado. TJ helped with the herd of milk cows and cattle we took with us. After our family settled in the Trinidad area he attended the school that was made available for our family and the neighborhood children. At that time it didn’t matter what age you were, you attended school whenever one was available. Thomas was 20 years old when the family moved to Arizona. TJ stayed in Colorado and went into the cattle business with his cousin, William Carrol Riggs, son of John C. and Jane Riggs. Soon after we arrived in the Sulphur Springs valley, Thomas and “Colorado Billy” (William Carroll) made a trip horseback from Trinidad to Arizona. They stayed and helped the family until we had settled onto our home ranch. He helped our family build a home and outbuildings, develop water sources on the ranch, and in general get the Home Ranch into operation. Thomas returned to Colorado, sold out to his cousins and joined his family in Arizona.
When he returned from Colorado to Arizona TJ and William secured a contract to haul wood to Fort Bowie. He learned a lesson from this venture that served him well the rest of his life. An older man who had been helping them showed them how to stack the wood so that by taking advantage of the crooked limbs there would be cracks and crevices left between the wood, giving the appearance of full cords of wood. The officer that took delivery of the wood at Fort Bowie examined the cords and found the “trick”. TJ received a severe lecture about dishonesty that stayed with him from then on.
Thomas J. decided the Bowie side of the Chiricahua Mountains held possibilities for him to establish his ranch. There was land and he was still close to his family. After the Fort closed the land that encompassed Fort Bowie was auctioned off. TJ had lived in that area for some time so he bought some land and one of the houses from Fort Bowie, had it moved to a nice hill overlooking the San Simon valley and there established his Home Ranch.
On 11 July 1883 Thomas married Eula Lee Murry, who had been a teacher at the Riggs Home Ranch. They had three sons, Frank Thomas, Edward Murry and Charles Pinckney. Our first grandchild, “Little Frankie T” died 28 July 1885. Our family chose a peaceful spot on a little rise beside the road near where we first camped in the Sulphur Springs valley to make our family Cemetery. Frankie T. was the first person buried in the cemetery. Eula Lee died of smallpox in 1890 and is also buried in the family Cemetery. Edward and Charles were mostly raised by us, their grandparents.
Education is important to our family. When BB and JJ went to Valparaiso, Indiana to school it was talked about TJ going to school also. But he decided that he had two small motherless boys that would be left behind and he felt it was his duty to remain near them so he denied himself that opportunity for more education.
After Eula Lee died, Thomas went back to the Trinidad Colorado area and married Louise ‘Lizzie’ M. Sneyden in 1894. They had one son, Brannick T. born in April 1895. He died 13 June 1896 (age 14 months) and is buried in the Riggs Family Cemetery. This was not a happy marriage and in 1901 they divorced.
In April 1904 Thomas married Anna Mae Stafford, daughter of Ja Hu Stafford, a neighbor of the Riggs family.
Their first child Thomas Bell was born on 20 March 1905 and died on 8 Nov 1909 (age 4 yrs.).
How sad for Thomas and his wives, as he lost the first born son and child in each marriage. Thomas and Anna May have five children: Thomas Bell, Pauline Amelia, Lillimae Evelyn, Richard Dana and Donald Lee. Tom’s two oldest boys, Ed and Charlie, lived with us after their mother died and were schooled in the El Dorado school. The boys are 19 and 17 years older than their younger brothers and sisters.
As TJ’s younger children grew it became apparent they needed to live closer to schools so TJ and Anna May obtained a house in Bowie. They live there during the school year and on the ranch in the summer. TJ encouraged his children to get an education. He has served on the Bowie school board. Edward and Charles both went to school in Valparaiso, Indiana, for a time and attended the University of Arizona as well. His sons Dana and Donald attended the University of Arizona
After Thomas established his ranch and it was operating well, he turned to some of his other interests and began to develop them. He is a forward thinking man and can see the benefits of progress. The Riggs Cattle Company was spread out over a large area. The cowboys and the various members of the family didn’t see each other every day. In order to keep the various ranches operating well it was necessary to have a system that allowed them to communicate with each other about the need for supplies or work that needed to be done on various areas of the ranches. It was worked out that a pocket notebook would be left at the Riggs Cattle Company headquarters building. Messages were written in the notebook telling what work needed to be done and what supplies were needed. A reply would be written in the notebook if warranted (Cowboy Texting).
Some examples of the notebook: Are you going to work ZZ tomorrowI think we are more liable to be losing calves at ZZ and Seinega than ever before.
Tom Stafford is threatening to quit. I think you are being too hard on him If he goes so will the cook
Apples for Nettie2 cans Prince Albert
The telephone was new to the Territory of Arizona. TJ understood that a phone system in the Riggs neighborhood would make communications so much better so he installed phone lines between ranches and phones in each ranch house. When the phones were first installed they just connected the various ranches but were not tied in to the outside world. The phone hung on the wall and had a handle on the side that would make a connection with the phone line as it was turned. Because everyone was on the same phone line, there was an interesting system set up so we would know which ranch was being called. It was a series of rings such as one long ring was for Home Ranch and two short rings was for Star Ranch, etc.
After TJ connected all of our ranches to each other with phone lines, he worked to have telephone lines connecting our ranches from the Chiricahua’s to Dos Cabezas, and then extended the line to Willcox and to Bowie. He was also involved with telephone lines connecting Globe, the Gila Valley, Solomonville, Bowie, El Paso, Tombstone, Douglas, and Bisbee. Although BB didn’t have the saw mill anymore, phone service was even made available at the saw mill.
Tom Adams, has a ranch in Texas Canyon and was setting up phone systems in his area. There is also a phone system in Courtland. Telephones are used every day, and more and more small phone companies went into business. As more and more of these companies were connecting to each other, a system needed to be established to connect phones to more than just a local area. Thomas joined with the Adams Phone Company and the Courtland Phone Company to combine their phone companies for the mutual good of all. They incorporated as the New State Telephone and Telegraph Company with headquarters in Willcox. By combining they were able to improve phone service by installing metal wire on poles in places where some phone line had just been lain on the ground. They were now able to cover about 400 miles with phone service.
Besides ranching and the phone company, Thomas had other business interests. Since he was a little boy watching his grandfather Thomas Riggs rob the “bee trees” in Bandera County, TJ had an interest in raising Bees. To his mind no place was home without some stands of bees. He heard of wild bee swarms in the Graham Mountains so he and a neighbor went to the mountains and captured several swarms of bees, along with many painful bee stings. Although he wasn’t very successful with those bees, with time and experience he developed a thriving honey business. He made long cement platforms to put his stands of bee boxes on and placed them among the cat claw and mesquite bushes on his ranch. A room, under a second story room in the house at his ranch, was equipped to be used as the “Honey House”. This is where the frames full of honey were brought to be extracted. This room was cool and after being extracted the cans full of honey could be stored here. You may be interested in how honey is made and extracted. On frames that are placed in the hive, bees make six sided cells from wax they make in their own bodies. These cells are where they store the honey. When the bees complete filling each cell they cap it over with more wax. When all or at least most of the cells in a frame have been capped the honey is ready to be extracted. Using a smoker to quiet the bees and wearing protective gear, the beekeeper removes the frames, takes them to the honey house where the honey is extracted. At the honey house the caps are cut off the cells of honey with a long knife that has been kept hot in a can of water over a fire. The uncapped frames are then placed in an extractor. The extractor is a large barrel type container outfitted with baskets, where the frames of honey are placed. The handle attached to the apparatus that holds the frames of honey is turned rapidly and the honey is flung out of the frames into the barrel. After all of the honey is removed from the frames that have been brought to the honey house, the frames are returned to the hives and the process starts over again. The honey is then drained from the extractor into containers such as 5 gallon cans and is ready to be sold. There is nothing that tastes as good as honey that has been freshly extracted, well maybe chewing the honey right out of the honey comb! TJ kept all of his family in good fresh honey. In good years the honey business could be profitable. As much as 6 tons of honey could be sold and shipped in one year. As his business grew it was necessary to hire men to help him in gathering his honey crop each year. TJ became known as the “Honey King of Southeast Arizona”. TJ’s nephew Thomas, son of BB Riggs, likes to tell about his uncle cutting his hair when he was just a small boy. The hair just kept getting cut shorter and shorter. TJ told him “I’m looking for a bee man. I just want to see the shape of your head to see whether you are going to be a bee man or not.” Finally when the hair was short TJ announced that Thomas was to be a bee man.
Main Street Bowie Arizona
Bank and Opera House
After Thomas moved his family to Bowie, so they could attend school there, he became involved in some business ventures in Bowie. He had an Opera House built on the main street of Bowie south of the railroad tracks. Picture shows were shown in this building, and dances were held. Later one of the buildings on that block was used for a branch of the Riggs Bank. He also had a Telephone office in this same area.
TJ lost at least two homes to fire. One home at his ranch site and his home in Bowie to fire. TJ’s wife, Anna May, was at her home in Bowie and was using gasoline to clean some clothing when there was an explosion. She was quite badly burned about the arms in her efforts to extinguish the flames. The contents of the home were practically all saved before the house burned to the ground.
Thomas Jefferson Riggs died 9 Dec 1926 and is buried by his sons in the Riggs Family Cemetery.
(Riggs Family Cemetery location, row 4 headstone f)
Riggs Family – Edward by his Grandfather Brannick, Charles on chair
EDWARD MURRAY RIGGS
Edward Murry Riggs was born 22 Sep 1885. He is my oldest living grandson. Edward’s mother died when he was 5 years old. After she died Edward grew up living between his Father’s ranch and living with us. Most of the time he lived on our ranch so he had the skills of a rancher and always helped with the work of the ranch. When he was old enough he started school at the Home Ranch School. After the new El Dorado School was built he attended school in that building. Edward also attended school at Valparaiso, Indiana and the University of Arizona in Tucson.
On 12 Jan 1908 Ed married Gaye Moore, the sister of my son-in-law Gus Lee Moore. They had 2 children Eula Lee Riggs born 3 July 1911 near Dos Cabezas and Edward Murry Riggs, Jr. born 14 Oct 1913 in Douglas.
After Ed and Gaye moved to Douglas he opened an automobile repair shop. He loved to race cars and came in third in a race, driving a Ford car. The course was over the city streets of Douglas, triangular in shape and was 50 miles long. It took a little over an hour to finish. It was while Ed and Gaye were living in Douglas that Gaye took smallpox and died 5 June 1917. She is buried in the family cemetery.
After Gaye died, Edward enlisted in the Army Air Corp during World War I and served in France.
After the war Ed became a ranger with the forest service and worked in the area of the Chiricahua Mountains. The following was found in the Arizona Range newspaper.
“In 1879 a large cave was discovered underneath the Chiricahua forest, but it had never been explored until just recently. Forest Supervisor Chas. T. McGlone and Forest Guard E.M. Riggs did some exploring in the cave. It has not been fully explored yet, but enough has been done to prove that it is very large and has numerous caverns of great size and extreme beauty and a great many long winding passages.”
Edward married Lillian Erickson on 26 Feb 1923.
They had no children but Ed’s two children, Eula Lee and Edward Murry, lived with them at Faraway Ranch. Ed helped Lillian develop the Faraway Guest Ranch. The family spent many hours building trails through the Wonderland of Rocks. They were also instrumental in the work enabling the Wonderland of Rocks to become the Chiricahua National Monument on 18 Apr 1924. Later Ed worked with the Civilian Conservation Corps, the CCC, developing trails and making improvements.
“Wonderland of Rocks”, Chiricahua National Monument
CHARLES PINCKNEY RIGGS
Charles Pinckney Riggs was born 31 March 1888, the third son of Thomas J and Eula Lee Murry Riggs. After the death of his mother he lived with us along with his brother, Edward.
Sometimes tragedy strikes a family. When Charley was about 12 years old he was badly burned about the face. Charles was at his Uncle Brannick’s saw mill in Barefoot Park. He and his Aunt Mattie’s nephew, Charles Plumb, were in the mill. Charlie had a six-shooter and a shell got hung in the cylinder. He tried to drive the cartridge from the gun when the cartridge exploded. It blew black powder all in his face. They went to the spring and tried to wash it off. The grownups found them and took Charlie to the Doctor in Willcox.
Charles attended the Home Ranch School. After the El Dorado school was built he went to school there. He also got additional education at Valparaiso Indiana and at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Charles Pinckney married Mary Moore on 11 June 1911. She was the sister of his uncle Gus Lee Moore, and of his brother‘s wife, Gaye Moore.
Charles and Mary were the parents of Mary (died the day she was born), Katherine M., Charles P. Jr. and Tom Jefferson Riggs. During WWI Charles Pinckney Riggs served two years in the National Guard on the Mexican Border at Douglas. Charles worked on the Coolidge Dam. He also worked at the Indian Service Irrigation Bureau at Coolidge dam. For a number of years he worked in the prison system in Florence.