Among the early settlers who bore a prominent part in the work of public progress and development, and who have now passed to their reward, is Isaac Briggs, who resided upon section 20, Gilman township. He was a native of West Virginia, his birth having occurred in the city of Wheeling, on September 28, 1832. His father, Henry Briggs. was also born in the same locality and was of French and German extraction. He devoted his energies to agricultural pursuits. For his companion and helpmate on life's journey he chose Miss Sarah Enochs, a native of the old Dominion. Our subject was their second child in a family of five sons and two daughters. He was reared in his native county and was indebted to the public school system for the educational privileges he received. On attaining his majority he removed to Vermilion county, Illinois, where he engaged in farming, and there he was married, on August 2, 1857, to Sarah I. Courtney. They began their domestic life upon a farm in Vermilion county, where they remained until 1880, the year of their arrival in Nemaha county, Kansas. Here they settled on section 2, Gilman township, their land being wild and unimproved. To the original purchase Mr. Briggs added until he became the owner of three hundred and twenty acres of valuable property, whose well developed fields and splendid buildings indicated to the passerby his careful supervision and progressive business methods. During the last three years of his life he rented his farm and carried on the lumber business in Oneida, to which place he removed in 1893. His well directed efforts, honorable dealing and reasonable prices secured to him a liberal patronage, and his income was likewise increased by the annual dividend from the Bank of Oneida, in which he was one of the stockholders.
His wife was born in Trumbull county, Ohio, September 8, 1836, and is a daughter of Robert and Mary Courtney. Her paternal grandfather, Robert Courtney, was a native of Ireland, and on crossing the Atlantic to the New World took up his abode in Virginia, but died in Ohio. His son, Robert Courtney, Jr., was born in the Emerald Isle and accompanied his parents to the New World, removing from Virginia to the Buckeye state about 1820. He served in the war of 1812, enlisting as a private, but winning promotion to the rank of lieutenant and afterward to that of captain. His death occurred in 1856. His wife was born in Virginia, in 1794, and was reared in that state, dying in 1859. She was of English lineage, her mother Anna George, having been a native of England. Mrs. Briggs is the eleventh in order of birth in a family of twelve children. She was a maiden of nine summers when taken to Illinois, and was reared in Vermilion county, attending the common schools. By her marriage she has become the mother of nine children: Melissa Jane, now deceased; William H., who resides on section 16, Gilman township; John T., of Marshall county, Kansas; Mary S., deceased; Cora B., wife of George Gilmore, of Nemaha county; James C., who is engaged in the lumber business in Oneida; Charles C., deceased; Harry F., who is living on the old homestead on section 20, Gilman township, and Dora M., wife of Brete Hanson, of Washington county, Kansas.
Mrs. Briggs still retains the ownership of the old homestead in Gilman township and of the lumber business in Oneida. Her husband died January 23, 1898, and the community thereby lost one of its best citizens. He was a well known and prominent member of the Methodist Episcopal church, doing all in his power to promote its welfare. In politics he was a Republican. giving an unswerving allegiance to the principles of that party. Genial and courteous in manner, he had the happy faculty of winning friends and of drawing them closer to him as the years passed by. His strict regard for the ethics of commercial life, his fidelity to duty in every relation and his genuine worth enabled him to leave to his family an untarnished name.