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Below is a family biography included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Yell County, Arkansas published by Southern Publishing Company in 1891.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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William D. Briggs, after whom the township of Briggsville was named, was born in South Carolina, June 26, 1818, and was the eldest son of James and Rebecca (George) Briggs, and grandson of Thomas George, of South Carolina. Of the eleven children born to this union five are now living. William D. Briggs came to this State in 1835, settled first in Johnson County, near Clarksville, where he lived with his father, cultivating the soil, for two years. He then began clerking in a grocery store in Clarksville for William J. Parks and Samuel Hayes, and was thus employed for one year. He then came with his father to Yell County, settled in Fouche Valley, and there remained working on a farm with his father, and taking charge of his father’s business for some time. When about twenty-five years of age he bought a farm near his present residence, remained on the same for five years, and during that time he cleared about forty acres, erected buildings and improved the place. Then he engaged in general merchandising with his brother at Bluffton, this county, and was very successful in this venture, but his father, being well along in years, wished him to return home and assume charge of the farm. This he did, and he and his father were engaged extensively in the raising of hogs, cattle and horses. Here he remained seven years, but at the end of five years his father died, after which our subject remained to take care of his mother and look after the farm. Previous to this, in 1845, Mr. Briggs, with his father, erected a cotton-gin on the latter’s place. This was the first of the kind in the county, and William drove hogs to Red River, a distance of 110 miles, to exchange them for the gin head which he then hauled in a wagon over the mountains and through an almost trackless forest to his home. This took him several weeks, as he was obliged to find market for his hogs, consisting of 300 head, selling to the farmers as they might want for their immediate use. The other parts of his gin he made on his place. This he worked for several years, when he sold it and it was moved to Bluffton. Mr. Briggs then erected a large steam mill, grist, saw and cotton mill, all costing about $7,000, and this was destroyed by fire in 1875. Being uninsured it was a total loss. Soon after this he erected another mill, which he operated about four years, when it took fire and was burned to the ground. At the end of a year he erected still another steam-mill which he operated for four years, and then sold it to his sons, who still continue to operate it. Mr. Briggs was married, September 24, 1857, to Miss Gelissa A. Coleman, who bore him nine children—six sons and three daughters—seven of whom are still living: James C. (born December 25, 1858, and married Miss Amanda Albright October 29, 1880), Anna (wife of James Bogle), William (married Miss Docia Scroggins), Louisa (married J. B. Stevenson), Edna (married Eli Gladden), Levi L. and Wallace, the last two being single. When the war broke out Mr. Briggs was obliged to leave his home to save himself from the bushwhackers who were concealed in the mountain districts, and he was from home about three years. Returning at the close of hostilities he found his property laid waste and great damage done to the same. He did what he could at farming with the stock he brought with him, and the first year’s work was not very successful. However, the next year he made $3,000 on his farm and with his gin, the latter being the only one in the county. In connection with his brother he then opened a store at Bluffton, which they conducted for about five years, at which time our subject sold out and returned to the farm. Since then he has devoted his time and attention to tilling the soil. He was county surveyor of his county for twenty-two years, and is a Democrat in politics. He and family are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which he has been steward for many years and a member of the board of trustees. He is a member of the A. F. & A. M. lodge at Bluffton, and gives liberally of his means to support all worthy movements. Soon after his marriage Mr. Briggs purchased 440 acres of excellent valley land as productive as any in the county, and this he has improved until he has 120 acres under cultivation. He has a good comfortable farm-house, good barns, etc. He added to his land from time to time until he was the owner of 1,300 acres, but has divided with his children, until he now has but about 500 acres.

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This family biography is one of 124 biographies included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Yell County, Arkansas published in 1891.  For the complete description, click here: Yell County, Arkansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

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