Friday, May 13, 2011

Genealogy Serendipity Moments – The Riggs Family

Writing this blog is a very compelling thing for me. Before I share the moment of the week, I want to thank those of you who have written to me with words of encouragement, advice and support. Thank you so very much.

It has been a fun week, spending five days on the Oregon coast, and then coming home to work on completing another major project. Each project I work on is unique and educational. Many of my projects are for people in their later years of life. Their desire is to tie up the loose ends of their family history and research, so their knowledge of their families will not be lost to future generations. Preserving this information in a format that can be passed on is a critical culmination to these projects.

The Riggs family was a lengthy project, which we have worked on for the last four years. In the process we created a genealogy database of over 4,000 people, a computer file of over fifty document files and thirty email connections. Within the computer database are numerous items in the personal note files. The main line surnames in the first six generations include: Riggs, Van Wickle, Bagley, Durgan, Stillson, Rowland, Craven, Anthony, Westfall, Sutton, Grinnell, Warrick, Weimer, Miller, Harbaugh, McMillen, Bungard, Miller, Dick, Shultz, Lyons, Seneff, Miller, Clark, and Geary.

The time period covered for the Riggs family direct line is from 1954-1525. In such a project the focus is on the most recent person and working back one generation at a time, to create an accurate and documented history. We covered well the first six generations of the Riggs line, which leads to John P. Riggs born 25 March 1769. He married Sophia Van Wickle who was born on 16 August 1771. We tracked John and his family in the census as follows: 1800 and 1810 Sodus, Ontario, New York, and 1820-1850 in Lyons, Ontario or Wayne, New York. The family information was helpful in understanding the make up of the family units, but when research gets back to the early 1800s it becomes more challenging.

One day I was working at the Genealogical Forum of Oregon on another project, and after several hours I needed a break for a snack and to rest my brain a bit. As I sat in the break room I chose to browse through two publications, looking mostly at the book reviews because I am the book review editor for the GFO quarterly. In the second publication, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register of October 2010, I was glancing through the articles when towards the back I flipped to a two-page transcription of information from the Riggs Family Bible of John P. Riggs. Yes, the same man as mentioned above.

The lead paragraph mentioned that the bible was acquired by NEHGS in 2008 and is the record o John Riggs (1769-1854) of northern New Jersey and Lyons, Wayne County, New York. The bible was printed in 1819 and all the entries appear to be in one hand, except the last few. It provides evidence for the children of Joseph and Leah (Cosad-Cosart) Riggs, the parents of John P. Riggs. Dr. Alvy Ray Smith, Ph.D, FASG identified the Bible records and noted that they had not previously been available to Riggs family researchers.

This bible record identifies the three wives of John P. Riggs and their children. It is a key discovery, which provides validation to the other information we gathered. The best part of this special moment of identifying a valuable source of family information, is that a friend was planning to visit NEHGS in Boston and was willing to obtain for us a copy of the original record. This treasured digital copy has now flown across the country to us in a format that we can share with all family members. These are the moments, which make the search for our ancestors so worthwhile. The genealogy happy dance is often performed when such findings are made.

Well, it is after midnight and I am a little late in getting this posted. Next week we will share another family’s amazing discovery.

This article appears to have been deleted in the recent update of It was originally posted 12 May 2011.

No comments:

Post a Comment