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Samuel Briggs (1744-1803), Revolutionary War Soldier

Samuel Briggs, son of John Briggs (the younger) and Tabitha (Allen) Briggs, was born on November 18, 1744, in Berkley, Bristol County, Massachusetts. He married Ruth Paull there on August 28, 1770. Throughout the 1770's Samuel acquired small acreages in the vicinity of Berkley and Taunton (four miles north). As a young man Samuel was captain of a whaling ship that sailed out of New Bedford, Massachusetts.

During the Revolution, Samuel served in the Massachusetts Line, the formation of Massachusetts infantry regiments which was part of the greater Continental Line. On June 17, 1775, Samuel enlisted in Captain Macey William’s Company, Colonel Timothy Walker’s regiment [the Third Massachusetts Bay Regiment], serving one month and sixteen days. His name appears on a muster roll dated August 1, 1775; in company returns dated October 6, 1775; and in an order for a bounty coat, or the equivalent in money, dated November 6, 1775.

Samuel and Ruth (Paull) Briggs were the parents of eight children:

Shubal Briggs, born in Berkley on February 12, 1773, who married Sally Goddard; he died in Erving, Massachusetts, in April 1856 at age eighty-four.

Samuel Briggs, born in Berkley on April 21, 1775, who married Philinda Davis; he died in Orange, Massachusetts, on August 27, 1855 at age seventy-two;

John Briggs, born in Berkley on October 22, 1778; he died in Orange, Massachusetts, in 1806.

Simeon Briggs, born in Berkley on November 9, 1780, who married Elizabeth Sadler; he died in Orange, Massachusetts, on May 10, 1870, at age eighty-eight.

Ephraim Allen Briggs, born in Taunton in 1783, who married Sally Townsend;

Silva Briggs, born March 25, 1785, who married Sylvenus Bates;

Nancy Briggs, born September 11, 1787, who married John Cobb; and

Ruth Briggs, born February 7, 1790, who married Nathan Goddard.

In the late 1780's Samuel and Ruth moved to Orange, Franklin County, Massachusetts, about 100 miles northwest of Taunton and Berkley, where they bought farm land and, in the town of Orange, mills on the Miller River. During a flood on September 14, 1803, Samuel attempted to save some logs from going over a dam but was struck by one of them and knocked over the dam, falling to his death on the rocks below. A young man named Tyrer, who was working for Samuel, retrieved the body and carried it to the Briggs home.

Samuel’s son John was named administrator for the estate in a bond dated November 29, 1803. Distribution of Samuel’s property was divided between his widow Ruth (Paull) Briggs and eight of their nine children; Shubal, the eldest son, had already received his portion of his father’s land. A year later John and his younger brother Simeon were appointed guardianship of their three younger sisters Silva, Nancy and Ruth.

In the winter of 1811-1812 Sylva Briggs and her husband Sylvenus Bates traveled by ox-sled to Erie County on the western edge of New York State, settling in the town of Collins.

In 1815 Sylva’s older brother Ephraim Allen Briggs, his wife Sally (Townsend) Briggs and their five children moved to Erie County, traveling from New Salem, Franklin County, Massachusetts, by horse and wagon over four weeks’ time. They settled on a farm at Concord.

In 1816 Nancy Briggs and her husband John Cobb passed through Erie County on their way to Olean in Cattaraugus County, where they began a river journey down the Allegheny and Ohio, and then up the Wabash, settling in Crawford County, Illinois, where they raised a large family and spent the rest of their lives. One of their sons, Amasa Cobb, enlisted in the military during the Mexican War, after which he studied law and was elected to the Wisconsin state legislature. He raised a regiment at the start of the Civil War, served as its colonel and was breveted to brigadier general. After the war, resuming his political career he was elected to Congress from Wisconsin. Eventually he moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he briefly served as mayor and then as a Nebraska supreme court justice.


Briggs, Erasmus. History of the Original Town of Concord, Being the Present Towns of Concord, Collins, N. Collins and Sardinia, Erie County, New York. Rochester, New York: Union and Advertiser Company, 1883.

Hannibal, Edna Anne and Claude W. Barlow, Ph.D. Clement Briggs of Plymouth Colony and His Descendants 1621-1965. Vol. 1. No pub. No date.

Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Revolution, 17 Vols. [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 1998. Original data: Secretary of the Commonwealth. Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Revolution. Vol. I-XVII. Boston, MA, USA: Wright and Potter Printing Co., 1896. (Notation for Samuel Briggs: Vol. 2, p. 520.)

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