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Briggs Family of Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

On February 4, 1843, 26-year-old William Adams married 16-year-old Emeline Briggs before Justice of the Peace Louis Gorton in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana. This is the first known record of a member of this particular Briggs family being in Central Louisiana. A few months later, on July 24, 1843, George Briggs, who was just a few days short of his 20th birthday, married 15-year old Louisa Fowler before the same justice of the peace also in Avoyelles Parish. A man named Haydon Edwards witnessed both ceremonies.

Follow this link to a list of Briggs marriage records in this area of Louisiana.

Over the next few decades, members of the Briggs family appeared in this area - more particularly near the settlement of Trinity. It became apparent from census records that the various members of the Briggs family were very likely siblings, since all had been born in Illinois. From census records (and from the Civil War pension records of Louisa Bordelon Briggs Herron - the widow of Thomas Briggs), I came to the conclusion that the following were brothers and sister:

George Briggs, born August 1, 1823
Thomas Briggs, born about 1825
Daniel H. Briggs, born about 1826
Emeline Briggs (Adams), born about 1827
Lewis Parmington Briggs, born October 1, 1832
Benjamin Franklin Briggs, born about 1833

After additional research, I have concluded that these Briggs siblings were the children of Zara Briggs and Sarah "Sally" Penny, who had married in Washington County, Ohio, on 3 July 1817. Zara Briggs was the son of Zadock Briggs, a native of either Massachusetts or New Hampshire, who had moved to Ohio shortly after the turn of the 19th century. Zadock was a veteran of the American Revolution and had been married at least twice. It is unknown for sure which wife was the mother of Zara Briggs; however, I believe his mother was probably Zadock's second wife, Sarah, rather than his first wife, Harriet Seymour. Zara appears to be part of a group of younger children which includes his brothers Ansel Townsend Briggs and Marquis Lafayette Briggs.

Here are some facts I have found regarding Zara Briggs:

He was named in his father's will and was directed to pay his sister, Sally Haynes of Gilford, Vermont, $110 from the estate. He did not do so and forfeited his share of Zadock's estate.

He went with his brother Ansel to Illinois in 1819. By 1830, he was living in Harrison Township, Monroe County, Illinois with the following children:

1 male under 5 years
3 males 5-10 years
2 males 10-15 years
1 male 30-40 years

1 female under 5 years
1 female 30-40 years

He was constable of Monroe County in 1833.

Deed records in Monroe County show that Zara and Sarah Briggs sold lot 58 in Harrison Tnsp. to James A. James for $90.00 in June 1830 (filed Monroe County, Illinois 6 August 1830, p. 330, #166).

In 1840, Zara is found in Randolph County, Arkansas, where he married Sarah Pyburn, who was at least 20 years his junior. Over the next few years, they had the following children:

William Z. Briggs, born 1841
John Briggs, born 1843
Sarah Briggs, born 1844
Mary E. Briggs, born 1847

The last indication of Zara Briggs came in 1850, when he is found in the 1850 census for East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. He is in jail for stealing a horse. His wife Sarah Pyburn Briggs is found alone in Arkansas.

Several years later, John Briggs joined the same regiment as his brothers George and Thomas (Company F, 25th Regiment Louisiana Infantry). All enlisted at Vidalia on either March 17 or March 25, 1862. A "P" Briggs in this same company may have either been Daniel or Lewis P. Briggs, though the later indicated in 1911 that he had been a member of Company D, 3rd Louisiana Infantry. Click here for the roster of Company F, 25th Regiment Louisiana Infantry.

At some time during the war, George may have deserted the Confederate Army and returned home. What is known is that the family moved to either northern Arkansas or southern Missouri during the war. In May 1865, his oldest daughters Martha and Matilda married in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri. In 1870, the family can be found in Marion County, Arkansas. Although I have not located any extended family members from his father's marriage to Sarah Pyburn, it is interesting to note that Marion County is a relatively short distance from Randolph County, where Zara lived with Sarah Pyburn. It is also very interesting to note that George Briggs' son William Austin Briggs can be found in Randolph County, Arkansas, in 1880, and in Lawrence County, Arkansas, in 1900. He had remarried a second wife in 1899; however, he was not living with her in 1910. According to his sister Emily Briggs Gower, he died on July 26, 1926, possibly in Texas.

George and his family returned to Louisiana prior to the 1880 census. Louisa Fowler Briggs passed away on 21 March, 1883, and George remarried a neighbor - Susan Bole Runnels - on 1 August, 1883. George passed away on 29 August 1887

George's children became separated by distance and time, but his daughters kept up a correspondence that lasted many years. See the following links to correspondence between the sisters.

Link to Serena's letter to her sister Matilda. e-mail

My great-grandmother was George's daughter Serena. Serena married Henry Harmon Nichols in 1878 after the family's return to Catahoula Parish. Serena had one son, George Henry, and was either pregnant with her son Lewis Franklin or he was an infant when his father died. The story goes that Henry went out in the swamp to fish or hunt and was missing for some days before his canoe washed up on shore. Henry was inside, dead. The exact nature of the cause of his death is undocumented, but it is believed that he caught malaria and died.

Shortly thereafter, Serena married her first cousin, Lewis Absolom Adams (son of her aunt Emeline Briggs Adams and her husband, William Adams). They moved to Texas shortly thereafter and had five additional children before separately in their later years. Serena died in 1923, when my mother was only 4 years old. Though Mother does not remember Serena, she does remember Lewis Adams, whom she called "Grandpa".

The following is the only known picture of Serena Briggs Nichols Adams, together with a picture of her tombstone in the Mills Cemetery near Rowlett, Dallas County, Texas.



Last Updated: November 23, 2008.

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