Jacob Briggle, Bedford County, Pennsylvania gunsmith (Jacob Briggle I)

Introduction: The 2001 book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Fulton, Huntington, & Somerset Counties" by Whisker and Yantz describes two gunsmiths named Jacob Briggle in Bedford County -- one the uncle of the other -- and refers to them as Jacob Briggle I & II. The book reports that Jacob Briggle II (Jacob G. Briggle) moved from Bedford County to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and then moved to someplace near Carthage, Missouri. Jacob Briggle I lived along Pee Dee Creek in Cedar County, Iowa, about 34-miles (straight line) from the center of Cedar Rapids. I wonder if the presence of Jacob Briggle I in Iowa somehow influenced Jacob Briggle II to moved there temporarily.

The 2001 book indicates that Jacob Briggle I was the brother of Christian Briggle, who was the father of the gunsmith Jacob Briggle II, and indicates that Jacob Briggle I emigrated from Bavaria and landed in the United States on October 15, 1828. The authors of the 2001 book didn't know of any rifles attributed to Jacob Briggle I.

1806: According to a biography in the 1878 book "The History of Cedar County, Iowa..." that was written while Jacob Briggle I was still alive, he was "born March 15, 1806 in Germany..."

1828: The 1983 booklet "Gunsmiths and Gunmakers of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1770-1900" indicates that Christian Briggle's brother Jacob Briggle arrived in New York from Tzarzelbergdorf on October 15, 1828. I can't find a place named Tzarzelbergdorf in Bavaria, or anywhere else.

1831: According to his tombstone, Jacob G. Briggle (Jacob Briggle II) was born on September 16, 1831.

1832: According to a biography in the 1878 book "The History of Cedar County, Iowa..." that was written while Jacob Briggle I was still alive, he "came to Bedford Co., Pa., in 1832..."

1834: The 2001 book indicates that with his brothers Christian and Adam, Jacob Briggle I purchased the Hunter Grove tract in Cumberland County on July 18, 1834.

1834: According to the book "A History of the Old Greenfield Township Historical Society" Union Township was created from the southern part of Greenfield Township in 1834, and later became Pavia Township.

1835: The 2001 book indicates that Jacob Briggle I appeared on the tax roll of Union Township as a single free man in 1835. The 1983 booklet indicates that Jacob Briggle is identified as a single freeman in Union Township in 1835. The book "A History of the Old Greenfield Township Historical Society" reports that Christian Briggle and Jacob Briggle were residents of Union Township in 1835.

1840: According to a biography in the 1878 book "The History of Cedar County, Iowa..." that was written while Jacob Briggle I was still alive, he "married Elizabeth Burgett in 1840, in Pennsylvania; she was born in Pennsylvania..." In a transcript of the 1840 census of Bedford County, I found three Brigal households, but no Jacob Brigal/Briggle household. The Brigal households that I did find (Adam, Eve, and Christian) were all in Union Township.

1844: The 1983 booklet indicates that Jacob Briggle, the brother of Christian Briggle and the uncle of another Jacob Briggle, was identified as Jacob Breaghill in an 1844 document related to Middle Woodbury Township. According to a biography in the 1878 book "The History of Cedar County, Iowa..." that was written while Jacob Briggle I was still alive, Jacob Briggle I migrated to Cedar County, Iowa in 1842. I doubt that the 1842 date is accurate, because the 2001 Whisker and Yantz book indicates that an individual identified as "Jacob Breaghill" appeared on the Middle Woodbury Township tax roll as a "gunner and riffle maker" in the year 1844. Logically, the individual on the 1844 tax roll would not reference Jacob Briggle II, because he was born on September 16, 1831 and would have only turned 13 years old in 1844.

I trust the tax record more than I trust the statement of someone trying to remember the exact year they moved after more than three decades have passed. I say this because I moved from Pennsylvania to Texas as a young man, and now at age 67 I have to mentally sift through those events I can remember clearly to determine the year I moved. For example, I know I made the move in a 1978 sports car that I replaced with a 1980 Jeep in Texas.

1855: Volume 1 of the 1904 book "History of South Dakota" (page 764) indicates that the gunsmith Thomas Oldham moved to Iowa in 1855. I do not know if he was influenced to move to Iowa by Jacob Briggle I.

1855: Jacob Briggle's first wife Elizabeth is buried at the Pee Dee Cemetery in Cedar County, Iowa where he is buried. Her tombstone is still very legible. It states "Elizabeth Wife of J. Brigal died Nov. 19, 1855 Aged 35 Ys. 9 Mos." According to a biography in the 1878 book "The History of Cedar County, Iowa..." that was written while Jacob Briggle I was still alive, Elizabeth Burgett was the mother of John, George, and Joseph.

1857: According to a biography in the 1878 book "The History of Cedar County, Iowa..." that was written while Jacob Briggle I was still alive, "Second marriage to Mrs. Harriet Cottar, Jan. 1, 1857; her maiden name was Sutliff..."

1860: A 53-year-old Germany born farmer Jacob Briggle was enumerated in the Iowa Township, Cedar County Iowa federal census of 1860 with real estate valued at $1,000.00, a personal estate of $1,335.00, and a Rochester post office address. In his household were 33-year-old Ohio-born Harriet Briggle; 11-year-old Ohio born John Briggle; 7-year-old Iowa born George Briggle, 5-year-old Iowa born Joseph Briggle; 2-year-old Iowa born Adam Briggle; 5-month-old Iowa born Mary E. Briggle; 5-year-old Missouri born Flora Bell Cotrel; 39-year-old Germany born Ann M. Briggle; and 14-year-old Illinois born Joseph Whisler.

1860-1863: Jacob Briggle II was not in Iowa in the 1860 to 1863 timeframe. According to Kauffman's 1960 book "The Pennsylvania - Kentucky Rifle", Jacob Breigle is identified as a gunsmith on the 1860 tax list of Union Township, Bedford County; this would in my interpretation be a reference to Jacob Briggle II. The 1884 book "History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania" indicates that a Jacob Briggle served in Company E of the 138th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers. According to the 2001 book, when Jacob G. Briggle joined the 138th Regiment on August 7, 1862, was identified as a gunsmith on his enlistment papers, and was discharged from the army at Philadelphia on December 19, 1863.

Circa 1863: The following excerpt is from a Cedar County, Iowa map that is believed to have been made circa 1863. It shows the location of the Iowa Township Briggle property along Pee Dee Creek relative to the town of Rochester. As best I can determine using satellite imagery, this property was located approximately at 41.655454, -91.168529. This property was the northwest portion of Section 15 that is mentioned below in an 1873 newspaper notice. The property of Jacob Briggle I is approximately 79 miles from the property (42.688709441, -91.21571229) of Thomas Oldham, who was about three years younger than Jacob Briggle I and may have been the mentor of Jacob Briggle II.

1873: The following notice in the May 22, 1873 issue of the "Tipton Advisor" newspaper reveals a legal dispute that involved Jacob Briggle.

1878: The following biographical information on Jacob Briggle is from the 1878 book "The History of Cedar County, Iowa..." and was written while Jacob Briggle was still alive. It indicates he lived in Bedford County, Pennsylvania for about ten years, and was living on Section 15 in 1878. The maiden name of his first wife, spelled as "Burgett" in the biography, was most likely "Burkett" in my opinion.

1880: The following excerpt is from the 1880 census of Cedar County, Iowa:

1881: Jacob Briggle I died on June 26, 1881 and is buried at the Pee Dee Cemetery (41.66992605, -91.21464278) in Cedar County, Iowa. His tombstone is not entirely legible, but clearly uses the spelling "Brigal". The cemetery is about 2.56-miles from the center of Jacob's 1873 property at the northwest quadrant of Section 15.

1885: The following excerpt from the Iowa Township portion of the 1885 book "Illustrated Atlas of Cedar County, Iowa" shows where the Section 15 mentioned in the 1873 legal notice is located.

1885: The following enlargement from the Iowa Township portion of the 1885 book "Illustrated Atlas of Cedar County, Iowa" shows that when he died, Jacob Briggle no longer owned the northwest quadrant of Section 15. Instead, he owned part of the southwest quadrant of Section 15. Also note that Adam Briggle owned part of the northeast quadrant of Section 15.

1909: Jacob Briggle's second wife Harriet is buried at the Normal Hill Cemetery (46.40710806, -117.02564987) in Lewiston, Nez Perce County, Idaho. Harriet's perfectly legible tombstone states "Harriet wife of J. Briggle 1825 -- 1909". Harriet Briggle's obituary appears in the May 25, 1909 issue of the "Lewiston Morning Tribune" newspaper, as follows: "The funeral of Mrs. Harriett Briggel, aged eighty-three years, who passed away Sunday afternoon, was held yesterday from the Vassar undertaking parlors. The aged lady had been an invalid for some time and her death occurred at the St. Joseph's hospital."

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