Sunday, April 5, 2015

52 Ancestors #14: Photographs of my Great Great Grandmother

Ancestor: Clementine (WELLS) Riggin Collins (1846-1932)

For a long time I thought the only photograph I would have of my great great grandmother was one of a Riggin family reunion in which I didn't know which person was Clementine. But before I share with you my new favorite photographs, I'll tell you a little about her.

Clementine Wells was the eldest daughter of James M. and Mary (Hearelson) Wells, born in Virginia and North Carolina, respectively, who had migrated west to Illinois before 1839 or 1840 when their eldest son was born. Clementine was born on 16 November 1846 in Illinois. She was one of seven known children.

By 1860 James Wells and his family were living in Township 4 North, Range 7 West in Madison County. The township was later named Pin Oak. James' personal estate was valued at $868 but no value was assigned to his real estate. I believe he rented the land from someone else as no record of a land sale has been located for James Wells. All seven children were still living at home. The township was 25 miles east of St. Louis, and a horse ferry had been established across the Mississippi river by 1863.

A prosperous farm in Pin Oak Township; image courtesy of the book,
History of Madison County, published in 1882 by W. R. Brink

When Clementine was 15 years old her father died in 1861. She and a widower, John Wesley Riggin, received a marriage license from Madison County, on 20 February 1870. However, when the 1870 census was enumerated on 25 August 1870, John W. Riggin and his three young children were living at the home of his younger brother. His mother, a sister and her child also lived there. There was no mention of Clementine.

By 1880 John and Clementine lived in Pin Oak Township. John was a farmer of about 25 acres, which he rented. His two younger children by his first wife lived in the home and he and Clementine had five of their six children. My great grandmother, Ida Mae, was 9 months old. All of the other children had attended school during the census year. Their youngest son was born in 1881.

Their children were:
  • Orlando Marion Riggin: born 6 December 1871, died 27 April 1952, married 1) Ethel L Voorhus in 1895 (divorced), one child and 2) Marguerite Lillian Opitz in 1903. Removed to Chicago between 1880 and 1895. 
  • Lawrence Wesley Riggin: born 14 October 1872, died 12 March 1938, married Mary Korbut in 1905, no children. 
  • Henry Wilburn Riggin: born 17 May 1875, died 21 January 1954, never married. Removed to California sometime after his mother's death.
  • Thomas Albert Riggin: born 23 April 1877, 3 September 1952, married Triphosa Bowker in 1904, one child.
  • Ida Mae Riggin: born 8 August 1879, died 3 August 1909, married Robert Muir in 1902, two children.
  • John Andrew Riggin: 15 October 1881, died 3 June 1970, married Elise Prall in 1906 (divorced), one child and 2) Barbara Alice Hatherly before 1929. Removed to California between 1912 and 1918.
The farm, while small, seemed to be a going concern, used primarily to raise stock. Only two acres were tilled. The remaining land was pasture. The family had two horses, two cows, two sheep, eight swine, and thirteen chickens. They gathered eggs and made their own cheese and butter. The family did grow Indian corn, oats, wheat and Irish potatoes, some of which I imagine was feed for the livestock. After John's death, the family left the farm.

John W. Riggin died between 1881 and 1897, for it was in the latter year that Clementine remarried. On 29 April 1897 she and William Collins received a marriage license from Madison County. He was a widower with 13-year-old and 9-year-old sons.

A photograph from one of my grandmother's albums of a Riggin family
reunion in Troy, Illinois, sometime in the 1920s

The arrows along the bottom identify three of Grandma's uncles sitting in the front row. From left to right, Henry, John, and Lawrence. Another uncle, Albert, was identified standing in the back row second from the left. Grandma also wrote, "Granny and Aunt Becky straight back from Uncle John." (Aunt Becky was actually Grandma's grand aunt, who was the second wife of John W. Riggin's brother, James Carroll Riggin.) From the social columns of the Troy Call and Edwardsville Intelligencer, I've deduced Clementine and Rebecca were great friends. The problem: I didn't know which one was which!

They were married twenty years before William Collins was mortally injured by a fall of slate at Donk Brothers Coke & Coal Co. on 23 July 1917. His badly injured body was taken to their home where he died a few hours later.

In 1920 Clementine and her unmarried son, Henry, were living with Thomas Albert, who went by Albert, and his wife and daughter. I met "Aunt Fosie" as my grandmother called her in 1974. She died the next year at the age of 89. Oh, how I wish now I would have asked her about memories of her mother-in-law! Ten years later, Clementine and Henry lived in the town of Troy and owned their own home, which was valued at $1,500. They didn't yet have a radio.

Clementine (Wells) Riggin Collins with three of her five sons; photograph
courtesy of William A. Shaffer, who likely received it from Stacey Evans

Last October I received a message on my personal Facebook page from a grandson of one of William Collins sons, John Henry Collins. He ended up with all his grandfather's photographs and had two of Clementine. From left to right: Thomas Albert, Henry Wilburn, and Lawrence Wesley Riggin standing behind their mother.

In the next photograph, Clementine is standing second from the left in the light colored skirt. Her second husband, William Collins, is behind her to the right.

Collins Family Gathering; photograph courtesy of William A. Shaffer

Clementine (Wells) Riggin Collins died on 1 April 1932 in Troy at the age of 86. She was buried three days later in Troy City Cemetery with her second husband, William Collins. His son, Julius Franklin Collins, who was killed in action in 1918 during World War I was buried beside them.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge optional theme Favorite Photo.

Newly Discovered Photos
A Wanderer Returns
The Too Brief Life of Ida Mae (Riggin) Muir
A Gift in My Inbox
Genealogy Happy Dance of the Year...Maybe the Decade
A Surprise in My Inbox
A Real Find

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