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Hi, My name is Vickie and to tell you a little bit about myself, I was born and raised in Kentucky and the majority of my ancestors have been in Kentucky since the 1790’s. I have always loved history, a good mystery and puzzles and that is what Family History Research is all about. As a child we would take day trips on Saturdays and head down some dirt road looking for old cemeteries. A lot of the time we weren't looking for anyone in particular, we just like to read the epitaphs. We would have a picnic lunch packed and have lunch at whatever cemetery we were at. If the weather was bad my Dad and I would go to a court house and dig through old records in musty old basements looking for our ancestors. So as you can see I have had an interest in Family History for quite some time.View my complete profile

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Riggs Family & Mark Twain in Missouri

My next blog post while on our vacation from May 23rd to June 5th is after we left Kansas City and before we headed on over to Kentucky.  This day was Friday, May 26th and we followed the trail that my husband, Roy's 2nd great-grandfather, Nathaniel Riggs, followed back in 1834, except we started at the ending spot in Independence, Missouri.  Nathaniel had been part of Zion's Camp with the Prophet, Joseph Smith and had joined the camp near his home in eastern Missouri when the camp stopped to recruit more members somewhere between Paris and Florida, Missouri.  Nathaniel had joined the Mormon Church in 1831, less than a  year after it had been established.  I have a book entitled, "Sacred Places, Missouri A Comprehensive Guide to Early LDS Historical Sites, Volume 4" which told about the camp and where the trail followed and so that is why we took the roads we did across the state from west to east.

We went from Kansas City to Independence then over to Richmond where we got on MO10 and stayed on that road until we got to Carrollton, where we got on Hwy 24 and followed it over to Keytesville.  We stopped in Keytesville and took some pictures of the historical marker and the county boundary sign, because my good friend Malia's, mother-in-law had ancestors, Houston Moore and Thursa Ann Miller that were married there on 18 September 1838. Here are the county boundary sign, city limit sign, and the historical markers from Keytesville.

After leaving Keytesville we stayed on Hwy 24 and followed it until around the tiny town of Goss where we turned south on to Hwy U and followed it east over to Mark Twain State Park.  We went through the visitor center and took the tour there since Roy and I are both related to Mark Twain. Roy through his Mom's side, through their Reynolds line and me through my Daddy's side through our Clark line.  Mark Twain is Roy's 8th cousin twice removed and he is my 4th cousin three times removed from our common ancestors.  Mark Twain Lake is right by the tiny town of Florida, Missouri and this is where Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain was born in 1835. The Clemens family lived in Florida until Mark was about 7 or 8 years old when they moved up north to Hannibal, Missouri where Mark grew to manhood.  Following are just a few pictures of the Visitor Center and some of the area around there.

The Clemens home, that has been preserved.

Some of Mark Twain's famous sayings.

Mark Twain Lake from the Visitor Center.

The town of Florida, Missouri.

Roy's ancestor, Nathaniel Riggs who was with Zion's Camp owned almost 400 acres of land in Monroe County, Missouri and this property was located approximately 4 miles south and east of Florida, Missouri.  Nathaniel probably even got supplies from Mark Twain's father as Mark's father owned the mercantile store there in Florida when Mark was born and until the family left and went up to Hannibal, Missouri.

There was also one of the earliest branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Mormons, at the Allred Settlement just a couple of miles south of Florida, Missouri and we believe this is probably where Nathaniel meet with Joseph Smith and decided to join up with Zion's Camp and go over to Independence, since his property was only a couple of miles from the Allred's.  This area is about 130 miles northwest of St. Louis.

I had found on the BLM site the land grants that Nathaniel had and so we were able to go very close to where his property was located.  Most of it is now under water as there was a dam built back in the 1960's or 70's I believe it was, that now covers a lot of his property,  I found maps that showed the modern roads and then we were able to drive almost right up to the property lines in some places.  We did take quite a few pictures and got really close, if not right on some of the land and it was so cool to be able to feel the presence of this family, the struggles, the hardships, the love that was probably felt while they lived in this area.  Following are just a few pictures of where Nathaniel's property was.

After leaving Monroe County, Missouri we headed southeast to Lincoln County, Missouri and the area that Nathaniel Riggs, parents and some of his siblings lived.  Nathaniel's father, Bethuel Riggs was a Baptist Minister and started a church in his home just north of Troy, Missouri in either 1813 or 1823, depends on which history what the year was, but nevertheless he did start a church which was called the Sulphur Lick Baptist Church.  I personally believe the year was really 1823 as I don't find him in the state of Missouri for the first time until 1809 when he came to Missouri and first settled on Dardenne Creek, in St. Charles County, where he lived for the next eight years.  He then left St. Charles County and settled north of Troy, Missouri by the Sulphur Lick Spring.  If he indeed lived for eight years on Dardenne Creek then that would put the year he first moved into Lincoln County at around 1817.  However, I have found him listed on a state territorial census record in 1817, living in Upper Cuivre Twp, St. Charles County, Missouri Territory so he could have moved up to Lincoln County shortly after that time.

According to one history I found, Bethuel started the church in his own home and then around 1827 or 1828 they built a meetinghouse approximately four miles west of his home.  That church was replaced in the 1850's with a new building and when we went to the church, which is one of the oldest continuous Baptist Churches in the state of Missouri, the date on this newer brick building said it was built in 1977 and it is on the same spot as the original church which was built in 1827/1828, how cool is that????

Bethuel Riggs was born in Mendon Twp, Morris County, New Jersey on December 13, 1757 and died on July 25, 1835 in Lincoln County, Missouri. He was married to Nancy Lee on February 15, 1778 in Wilkes County, North Carolina.  Nancy was born in about 1758 and died sometime after Bethuel, but before 1840 it is believed.  They became the parents of nine children with Roy's ancestor, Nathaniel being their youngest.  The other eight children were the following: Jane Riggs, 1781-1959, married Clayton Webb; Elizabeth Riggs, 1783-1851, married Andrew F, Smith; Mary Riggs, 1785-1855, married James Shaw II; Jonathan Riggs, 1788-1834, married Jane Shaw; Margaret Riggs, 1790-????, married ? Durham; Sarah Bell Riggs, 1792-before May 1869, married Statia Webb Sr.; Rebecca Riggs, 1794-1871, married Leonard Armstrong; and Samuel Riggs, 1796-1835, married Elizabeth Sutton.

Bethuel Riggs was also a Revolutionary War soldier and served at the battles of Ramsour's Mills, Catawba River, Guilford Courthouse and Kings Mountain. He had enlisted as a private, but was at the rank of captain when he was discharged after the war.  His son, Jonathan Riggs also served during the War of 1812 and in the Indian Wars as a  Lieutenant under Captain Callaway and because of his bravery his was made a general of the militia and was known as General, Jonathan Riggs until the day he died.

Here are some pictures of the church and the cemetery by the same name which is just a couple miles further west from the church as well as a video I did at both places, the Sulphur Lick Baptist Church and Sulphur Lick Cemetery.

The following is the video I did at the church.

The following is the video I did at the cemetery.

It was such a neat experience to be able to walk on the same ground some of our ancestors walked. They felt so alive while we were there and we could feel their spirits and almost hear them talking to us, asking us to never forget the hardships, the things they did to help make this country a free place for us as their descendants to live.  If you get the chance, walk in the footsteps of your ancestors, you won't regret it.


  1. I so enjoy reading your posts about your family and your travels as well. In 2011 my husband and I took a little trip to Hannibal, MO and had the best time visiting in that area. We met a very nice Mennonite gentleman who directed us to a rural area mercantile called Windmill Ridge where one could purchase almost any kind of bulk or dried foods. We loved that area and the people were so friendly.
    Thanks for all the stories, keep em coming!
    Vera C.