Monday, March 11, 2019

Riggin/Pesold House, Lebanon, Illinois

I was recently contacted by the current owner of the Riggin/Pesold House in Lebanon, Illinois. She wanted to know a little about the history of James Riggin's life. He was thought to be the man who constructed and first lived in the house.

Riggin/Pesold house; courtesy of Michele Hellstern

A description of the house from the National Register of Historic Places Inventory -- Nomination Form:

A description of the Riggin/Pesold House; courtesy of Michele Hellstern

Southeast Corner St. Louis and Monroe
Built ca. 1838; alterations ca. 1847; present appearance probably dates from ca. 1866

James Riggin has been documented at this address beginning in 1838 and was assessed for a 2-1/2 story building -- the height of this structure -- in 1847. It is highly improbable that that 2-1/2 story building is, however, the same as the one now extant, unless that earlier structure was radically altered to become the present Italianate Villa. Most likely, the present appearance and/or building  dates from ca. 1866 when George Bernays, a prominent and wealthy St. Louisan removed from that city to Lebanon for reasons of health. One member of that family Augustus C. Bernays, later to become one of the most distinguished members of the medical profession in the St. Louis area. He graduated from McKendree in 1872 and then went to Germany to pursue medical studies at Heidelberg. After work in Berlin, Vienna and London, where he was admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons, he settled in St. Louis. Dr. Bernays was a pioneer in abdominal surgery and in the introduction of antiseptic treatment, a noted teacher, and invented surgical instruments long in general use.

Around the turn of the century, this was the home of Fred Pesold, head of the musical department at McKendree College."

One of my great grandmothers was Ida Mae Riggin, born in Troy, Illinois. I have been researching the Riggin surname for several years. For a long time, I thought Ida Mae was a descendant of Rev. James Riggin (1756-1826), himself a descendant of Teague Riggin, an indentured servant sent to the American colonies after the Irish Civil War of 1641-1652, who became one of the wealthy planter class. But it seems two unrelated Riggin families came to Troy about the time Illinois became a state.[1]

So what do we know about James Riggin, the man who likely erected the first house at the location of the Riggin/Pesold house in Lebanon, Illinois?

According to a biographical sketch of Rev. James Riggin written by his son John C. Riggin, which appeared in Index of Riggins Families by Mrs. Daniel Stone Kelty, Rev. James Riggin's father died while he was young and he was bound as an apprentice to a tailor. He practiced this profession for several years and attended a Methodist revival, which affected him deeply. He became a minister and by 1784 was assigned to the Orange County, Virginia, circuit according to Minutes of Methodist Conferences, 1773-1813. For the next eight years he was assigned to circuits in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. He married Mary Howard on 27 January 1791 in Washington County, Virginia. After their marriage, they removed to Tennessee and settled on the banks of Little Pigeon, now in Sevier County. He purchased 12 acres of land and began farming in order to better support his growing family. The family survived a war with the Cherokee by retiring to the nearby fort every night. After peace broke out, he sold his land and moved Waldrons/Waldens Creek in 1807, farming over 300 acres. It was on this farm, James and Mary Riggin raised eight children, four boys and four girls, all lived to adulthood.

James Riggin, the subject of our post, was born on 1 December 1794 in Sevier County, Tennessee. He was James and Mary's second son. He and his elder brother, Harry, came to Illinois in 1818, the year the territory became a state. Harry taught school for a couple of years. James Riggin and a man named David Hendershott purchased a tract of land in Madison County for $10 per acre. Hendershott surveyed and platted a town James Riggin named Troy. On one of the new lots, James and his brother, Harry, and Reid built a store. None of the men had previous experience in the mercantile business. With financial backing from Henry Hayes the partners bought $300 worth of goods and began their business. Soon afterwards, George W. Carr came out from St. Louis, and ran the store. Carr was a good businessman and taught James Riggin the mercantile trade.

Shortly after Troy was founded Colonel Matthew Rogers and his family arrived in Troy. He was a descendant of John Rogers of England, who was burned at the stake in 1555 for his Protestant preaching. He had served as a colonel in the 54th Regiment, New York Militia during the War of 1812. Matthew's daughter, Miriam Lee married Harry Riggin in 1820 and another daughter Elizabeth Morse Rogers married James Riggin. Harry Riggin and Matthew Rogers left Troy in 1821 and settled in Sangamon County. James Riggin and his new wife left Troy and settled in St. Clair County, in what became the city of Lebanon.

In Lebanon, James Riggin engaged in the mercantile business and accumulated considerable property. He was one of the 105 founding subscribers of the Lebanon Seminary, which became McKendree College; therefore James Riggin is considered one of the founders of today's McKendree University. He was on the Board of Trustees for the college and served as secretary for several years.

James Riggin died in 1858. When the 1860 census was enumerated his widow lived in Lebanon with her son, James, and stated her total estate (real and personal property) was valued at $20,000. Adjusted for inflation that would be almost $600,000 in today's dollars.

Elizabeth Morse (Rogers) Riggin died on 24 July 1875. She and her husband are interred in College Hill Cemetery.

James and Elizabeth had two known children:
  • William Bolivar Riggin born 11 December 1826 in St. Clair County; died 8 August 1856 in Asheville, North Carolina; married Adeline Cumming(s) on 26 September 1852 in St. Clair County.
  • James H. Riggin born about 1832 in St. Clair County; died after 1870 at the State Institution for the Insane in Jacksonville, Illinois.
The centennial yearbook of McKendree College, published in 1928 included brief biographies of James Riggin's sons:

Dr. William B. Riggin
William Bolivar Riggin was born in Lebanon, Illinois, 11 December 1826. He belonged to a prominent Lebanon family whose name appears in the story of the founding of McKendree. He was for several years a student in the college, and graduated in the class of 1851. He was a member of the Philosophian Society. He studied medicine, and received a degree of M.D., but was not permitted to practice his profession long. His career was cut short by his death in Asheville, North Carolina, August 8, 1856.

James H. Riggin
James H. Riggin was a native of Illinois. He was educated in McKendree; where he graduated in the class of 1850, receiving a B.S. He was a member of the Platonian Society, being one of the original founders of that organization. After his graduation, he engaged in mercantile business in the city of Belleville, but after a few years, having suffered some mental derangement, he was taken to the hospital for the insane at Jacksonville, where he died some years later. His remains lie buried in College Hill Cemetery.

We know from the wills of James and Elizabeth Morse (Rogers) Riggin, that their son, James' mental affliction began sometime after his father's death in 1858. His father's 1857 will leaves him a $10 bequest, but his mother's will, written nine years later, made provisions for his perpetual care after her death.

Elizabeth also left $23,000 to the endowment fund of McKendree College. This bequest was mentioned in The History of St. Clair County, Illinois.

[1] I still think there is some connection between these two Riggin families but have not yet been able to prove it.

Indentured Servant to Landed Gentry
What Does the Headstone Say?
On the High Road to Ruin
Unrelated Riggins?

No comments:

Post a Comment