Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Finding Alfred's Daddy

Last year in total frustration I wrote a post entitled Who's Your Daddy, Alfred Riggin? Alfred was my three times great grandfather who appeared out of thin air in 1833 in Madison County, Illinois, when he applied for a marriage license. He left evidence of a couple of land purchases, was listed in the 1840 and 1850 census...then disappeared never to be heard from again.

Well, I found my space alien's father! I found a family tree on RootsWeb that listed a John and Margaret (Farris) Riggin as the parents of Alfred. However, the tree had no source citations. I emailed the tree owner and got passed around to various people before connecting with a person who had done extensive research on our shared Riggin line. He sent me several documents which proved the relationship between James and Alfred.

Funnily enough, when I was just starting my research, I had James and Margaret as Alfred's parents. Somewhere along the line I deleted them when I realized there were two separate Riggin families floating around Madison County, Illinois, early in its formation -- my Riggin line and the one that descends from Teague Riggin of Somerset County, Maryland. I know these two lines are related in some way because I have a DNA match with a Riggin descendant from Teague's line; but no one has discovered the connection...yet. The Teague Riggin line has maintained for years the two lines are not related.

Alfred's Daddy, John Riggin, was born in 1780 in Warren County, North Carolina. His father may have been a William Riggin but this has not been proved. Margaret Farris was born on 4 April 1784 in Tennessee to James and Anne Farris. John Riggin and Margaret Farris married in 1807 in Tennessee. They followed Margaret's father when he brought his family to Madison County, Illinois, in the spring of 1818.

Farris family biography from the Centennial History of Madison County,
Illinois; courtesy of Internet Archive

John and Margaret had eight known children -- their names were included on a list of heirs his son, James, provided to the court in Gasconade County, Missouri:
  1. Mahala Riggin born about 1808; married Joseph E. Gaskill on 13 March 1828, five children; died 1838.
  2. Alfred Riggin born about 1811; married Sarah "Sally" Piper on 7 April 1833, six children; died soon after the 1850 census was enumerated
  3. Thurza or Theresa Riggin born about 1812; married Elias Hays on 5 March 1828; died about 1860
  4. Louisa Riggin born about 1814; married John Rankin on 22 November 1831
  5. Delana Riggin born about 1818; married Nelson Daniels on 17 March 1836
  6. James Riggin born about 1821; died 27 February 1887
  7. William Riggin born about 1823
  8. Lucinda Ann Riggin born about 1825
John owned a lot of land in Madison County and was in business with two gentlemen from Missouri. John apparently had a wandering eye and in the late 1830s had an affair with Eva Copenberger. He divorced Margaret in 1839 and married Eva on 9 March 1840 a few months after their daughter Susan was born. I am pretty sure this caused quite a scandal and may be the reason the Teague Riggin line does not acknowledge a relationship.

John and Eva had another child, John B. Riggin before John died in 1844. I had quite the time finding evidence of his death mostly because he died in Gasconade County, Missouri, and I was looking in Illinois where he had lived since 1818. The family rumor is that John successfully hid his assets from his first wife Margaret, selling most of his land in Illinois without her knowledge. He used that money to move he and his second family to Missouri.

Missouri Wills and Probate Records, 1766-1988, for John Riggin, courtesy of
Who's Your Daddy, Alfred Riggin?


  1. Hi! Thank you for this. I had some of those names put together but wasn't sure that was right. The marriages made no sense to me but now I understand: what a scandal!! My husband is descendant of Theodore Riggin, his son Alfred who then fathered Arthur Nelson, and Arthur jr (university city, mo) was my children's grandfather. Putting this family tree together for them. This really helped me past the roadblock.

    -paola riggin

    1. Paola,

      Great to hear from you! My email address is psd @ (without the spaces). I have quite a bit of information about Theodore Augustus Riggin I found in the Illinois State Archives if you are interested. Also, I have a public genealogy Facebook page where I post links to my blog posts. You may want to like it to keep up with my Riggin posts. It's:


  2. Oops! Wrong email address. Should be psd11719 @ without the spaces. Sorry!