Richard Collins Rigg and Nancy Jane Taylor – pioneers, Civil War vet, land speculators

View to Kentucky side from the Cumberland Gap

View to Kentucky side from the Cumberland Gap

The Rigg family were early settlers of Shelby County, Kentucky. Richard’s grandfather, Peter Rigg, bought land there in 1824. These 195 acres on Beech Creek were sold in 1832 at Peter’s death and the proceeds disbursed to Peter’s five children, including John and Mary Collins Rigg of Shelby Co. (Richard’s parents). I’ll write more on the early Riggs, but suffice it to say that Peter and his family emigrated from Virginia through the Cumberland Gap into the Kentucky area around 1805 when it was mostly unexplored wilderness. Richard’s father, John, would have been a young adult during those travels.

Not long after arriving in Shelby County, Kentucky, Richard Collins Rigg was born on June 21, 1829. Both of his parents were in a second marriage. Life was difficult on the frontier and many couples lost spouses to disease, accidents, and childbirth. His father, John Rigg (b. 1785 in Virginia), had been married previously (wife’s name unknown) and had five children. Then John married Mary Collins (b. 1800 in Virginia), widow of Dickson Johnson, in 1824. Mary had 3 children from her first marriage, so Richard had eight half-siblings total when he was born, and two younger sisters, Lydia Ann and Mary Jane, were born to John and Mary just a few years after Richard.

Richard Collins Rigg and Nancy Jane Taylor family pedigree charts and records

Richard Rigg family photo album


Richard Collins Rigg

At age 19, in 1848, it appears that Richard Rigg moved to Buchanan County, Missouri by himself, without his siblings and parents, who all remained in Shelby Co., Kentucky. He may have found good work in Missouri, or perhaps just had the pioneer spirit. Richard received $50 cash at age 18 from his grandfather Collins as a beneficiary in his will. Wages for farm labor at that time were about 40 or 50 cents per day so he may have been looking for a place to invest his cash and start a new life.

Excerpt from the will of Richard Rigg’s maternal grandfather, William Collings, Shelby County, Kentucky, Book 17, page 171, October 12, 1844:

“I have heretofore given to my two daughters Lydia Dooley and Frances Holland three hundred dollars each, and to my daughter Elizabeth Bristow I have given one hundred and seventeen Dollars, to my sons John, Abraham, William and Zebulon J. I have given four hundred dollars each, or its equivalent. My other daughters Mary Rigg deceased, and Sarah Johnson I have not given anything that I make any charge of. Therefore Mary’s Rigg’s [our direct ancestor] lawful heirs, namely, Zebulon Johnson, Frances Wise, Elizabeth Gray, Richard Rigg [our direct ancestor], Mary Jane Rigg, and to Lydia Ann Riggs Heir three hundred dollars to be equally divided among them as they may severally arrive at proper age to receive, and my daughter Sarah Johnson to receive her three hundred dollars, and my daughter Elizabeth Bristow to receive the balance of her three hundred dollars, being one hundred and eighty-three dollars which when paid make my daughters equal which I desire.”

Nancy Jane Taylor 1833-1909

Nancy Jane Taylor

Richard’s future wife, Nancy Jane Taylor, was born in Harrison County, Kentucky, in 1833, then emigrated in a covered wagon to Maysville, Buchanan County, Missouri in 1847 with her widowed mother, and two sisters. Her older married borther, William Butler Taylor stayed in Kentucky.

There was a connection with the John Daniels’ family of Shelby Co., KY, as Nancy’s mother’s sister, Aunt Mary Briscoe, was married to him. The Daniels had moved to Buchanan Co., MO before 1840, followed by Nancy Jane Taylor’s widowed mother and sisters in 1847, perhaps to be close to her sister. Then Richard Rigg moved to Missouri in 1848 (at age 19) resulting in marriages between all these families.

1850 Census Buchanan Co MO Richard Rigg Family

1850 Census Buchanan Co MO
Richard Rigg Family

In the 1850 Census, Platte Twp., Buchanan, MO, it is interesting to see that Richard, age 21, is head of household, with his wife, Nancy, age 18. Also living in their household is Nancy’s sister, Catherine Taylor Daniel with her husband, Henry Daniel, and their infant baby boy. Next door to them are John Daniel and Elizabeth (Taylor) Daniel, who is Nancy’s remarried mother. (Elizabeth’s sister, Mary Briscoe, had died leaving John Daniel widowed.) Two doors down is Josiah Brawley who was the officiator at Richard and Nancy’s wedding that very same year.

Click to see census records for Richard and Nancy Rigg

Biography in Clinton County History

A brief biography of Richard is found in the “History of Clinton County, Missouri” published in 1881, when he was 52 years old. He was living on Section 29 at the time, about 5 miles north of Plattsburg, Clinton, Missouri. The area was chiefly settled by migrants from Kentucky and western Virginia. They brought their slaves and culture with them. The area became a leading producer of hemp and tobacco. It appears Richard and Nancy were very involved in the community and the Baptist Church.


Richard C. Rigg – History of Clinton Co., Missouri, 1881

Richard C. Rigg - History of Clinton Co., Missouri, 1881

Richard C. Rigg – History of Clinton Co., Missouri, 1881

RICHARD C. RIGG, farmer, section 29, post office Plattsburg, was born in Shelby Co., Ky, 21 June 1829, and received a good common English education. After leaving his native place he emigrated to Missouri, locating in Buchanan Co., 21 Nov 1848. He worked on a farm, and on 21 Sep 1862, enlisted in the army; was made commissary of the First Missouri regiment commanded by Col. Gates; was captured at Vicksburg and paroled. He remained in service until General Lee surrendered and then returned to Buchanan Co. and resumed the cultivation of his farm.

“In 1870, he removed to his present location. He was elected assessor in 1878, served until 1880 and was again elected to the same position. He was also constable and school director for many years. Mr. Rigg owns 315 acres of improved land, with a good orchard, and upon his land is a fine sulphur spring.

“In 1850, he was married to Miss Nancy Taylor, a native of Anderson Co., Kentucky. They were blessed with a family of 8 children:  Amanda J., Joseph C., John C., Robert L., Lydia A., William A., Lucy E., all of whom are living.

“Mr. Rigg is a Mason, a member of the A.O.U.W., a Good Templar, and belongs to the Grange. He is also a member of the Missionary Baptist Church.”

Map of Concord Twp., Clinton Co., Missouri

Map of Concord Twp., Clinton Co., Missouri

The Grange

The Grange

I am familiar with Masonry, however I had not heard of the A.O.U.W nor the Grange.  Here is what I learned:

  • Ancient Order of United Workmen

    Ancient Order of United Workmen

    A.O.U.W. – The Ancient Order of United Workmen was a fraternal organization providing mutual social and financial support after the Civil War.

  • The Grange – The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry is a fraternal organization that encourages families to band together to promote the economic and political well-being of the community and agriculture. It was founded in 1867 and is the oldest agricultural advocacy group.


Real estate investors/land speculators

Richard Rigg deed to Sec. 29 near Plattsburg, MO

Richard Rigg deed to Sec. 29 near Plattsburg, MO

In addition to farming, it appears to me that Richard and Nancy Rigg were involved in real estate investment.  Just from my initial searches in Clinton County, Missouri, I found over 30 real estate transactions in a 10-year period. And some of the properties were “flipped” for significant gain (50% to 100%) in a short period of time. Looks like they were fairly astute in the real estate market.

Click here to see some of their land records


Confederate soldier and POW

When Richard and Nancy were young parents with four little ones at home, seven southern states seceded from the United States and the Civil War erupted.

Missouri contributed a huge number of its men to both sides of the Civil War. Over 109,000 Missouri men enlisted and fought for the Union and at least 30,000 men fought for the Confederacy. This represents almost 60 percent of men of military age and places Missouri first among the states in proportion to the population.

Richard C. Rigg captured at Vicksburg

Richard C. Rigg captured at Vicksburg

Richard enlisted as a private and was made commissary on the Confederate side December 30, 1861 in the Missouri 1st Cavalry, Company E, under Col. Gates and must have deeply felt and experienced the “brother against brother” scenario. The 1st Missouri Cavalry saw much action and served in Little’s Brigade; Gates’ Brigade/Missouri Brigade, Bowens Division and finally in Missouri Brigade, French’s Division, Department of Alabama, Mississippi and East Louisiana. They were taken captive at the Siege of Vicksburg.

Listed on Roll of Prisoners of War, Meridian, Mississippi, May 11, 1865
Captured – R. C. Rigg, Private, Co. E., 1 Regt. Missouri Cavalry, 4 Jul 1863

Nancy was left at home with the children and the farm for 4 or 5 years, probably with little to no contact with Richard. In addition, some war skirmishes came close to their home. Her mother, Elizabeth Briscoe Taylor Daniel, lived near and most likely was a help and support during this time.


Listed on Roll of Prisoners of War, Meridian, Mississippi, May 11, 1865
Captured – R. C. Rigg, Private, Co. E., 1 Regt. Missouri Cavalry, 4 Jul 1863


Battle at Vicksburg

Battle at Vicksburg

Richard Rigg, a confederate, was released on parole from Vicksburg and then fought the rest of the war until Lee surrendered. My great-uncle Bob (Rollie Robert Rigg) said that he thought something had happened during the period of time right after the war, because it took Great-Grandpa Rigg a long time to get back to Missouri to his family.

Click for more info on the Siege of Vicksburg

Due to the war, there is a 7-year difference between the birth of our great-grandpa John Creath Rigg (b. 1859) and the birth of his next brother. Richard must have greatly respected the leader of the confederacy because his first child born after the war was, Robert E. Lee Rigg (b. 1866). Richard and Nancy went on to have four more children after his return.

According to family legend, in a letter from Glenn Bosley, 18 April 1975:

Jefferson Davis spent about four months in Edgerton, Missouri with Richard and Nancy after the Civil War when “they” were hunting him (but not too hard) to hang him to “the sour apple tree” for treason.


Later years

By 1900 Richard and Nancy Rigg removed from Plattsburg to Edgerton, Missouri where they remained for the rest of their days. Both Nancy Jane Taylor Rigg (d. October 9, 1909, age 77) and Richard Collins Rigg (d. October 15,1912, age 83) are buried in the Mt. Zion Cemetery, Edgerton, Missouri.

Jessie Rigg Bosley, granddaughter, wrote in 1965 that, “The Mason’s had charge of the funeral and Grandmother’s brother was there at the time.”

Richard and Nancy Rigg at home in Edgerton, Missouri

Richard and Nancy Rigg at home in Edgerton, Missouri

Richard and Nancy Rigg family photo album

Memories by some descendants:

Some tobacco farmers

Some tobacco farmers

Rollie Robert Rigg (grandson) interview, July 5, 1981, Grand Junction, Colorado:

I saw Grandpa Rigg and Nancy Rigg, Dad’s parents. I think they came out twice when we lived in Palisade, CO. They came from Edgerton, MO. He was an officer in the Confederate Army and they had slaves there in Missouri. I don’t know what all he farmed. He grew tobacco, I know that. Because grandma would come out with a big twist of home grown tobacco and she’d sit and break this up and go out and pick mulberry leaves and dry them, take the veins out of them and crumble that up and mix her tobacco up and smoked an old clay pipe. A lot of the southern women smoked pipes. It’s one of those kind they used to blow soap bubbles with. It had a bowl with the opening about as big as a nickel.

Robert W. Rigg, Sr. (great-grandson) interview July 22, 2007, Fruita, Colorado:

Great Grandpa Richard Rigg came out to visit my grandparents a few times. And it was quite an ordeal in the early 1900’s by wagon or by train or however they got here. But, he had been captured in Vicksburg after they had been surrounded for a period of time, they finally surrendered starving. But, that said… Grandpa told a story about finding a smokehouse in which he looked for food, they were trying to scavenge for food, and there was a smoked ham hanging and he grabbed it and put it over his shoulder and was heading out the back door to his troops, his lines. All of a sudden a bullet went whistling by his head. I think somebody had hollered actually, “Drop that food or you’re a dead man!” He dropped it and ran back to the lines. But, he was captured and spent two years in a POW camp. He nearly starved to death.

He came out to visit in Palisade, Colorado. Dad told me stories about how they would go from Palisade to Meeker, up to the flattops out of Meeker. It was a four-day trip by wagon. They would leave Palisade, horse and wagon, the whole family, maybe a couple wagons probably, and the road used to go up through Plateau Creek, you go up to where it splits to go up to Grand Mesa, they’d take the divide road over to Debeque. The first day, they would make it to Debeque by wagon. The second day they’d get up to above Rifle, maybe up towards the highway going north there. It took them four days to get up to the flat top to go hunting by wagon.

It was in the fall of the year and they would go up there and shoot deer or elk and bring back probably five or six animals, hang them up and that was their winter supply. It was just colder than the dickens, they would all cram in a tent of course. I remember his father, and his grandpa both would say that it’s cold, that it’s freezing. They probably didn’t have a lot of clothes. They had jackets and things, but not like they have now. They’d say, “Jimmy, go run! If you’re cold, get out there and run so you can stay warm!” So, Dad would run around the campsite there to try to warm up in the mornings. That’s what Dad told me, and I’m sure he did.

Dad (James P. Rigg, Sr.) said that his Grandpa Rigg was not a tall man or a large man, but whenever they went hunting he would walk just straight arrow, holding his rifle over his shoulder just as if he was marching into battle. They were farmers, I’ve always heard that they farmed.

They said he was a great guy, just a wonderful man.


Information compiled by Jill Rigg Johnson







2 Responses

  1. Mandy neely says:

    Hi I am a descendant of Zebulon Johnson. I love reading your info. Mandy Neely

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