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Rev. William Briggs:

Born: April 4, 1853 in Leesville, Henry County, Missouri
Married: April 9, 1874 in Leesville, Missouri
Died: August 10, 1939 in Leesville, Missouri

In 1879, William was ordained to the gospel ministry at the Tebo Baptist Church in Leesville.

During his life as a minister, William would become affectionately known as "Uncle Billy." William worked in the ministry for over 40 years, serving as pastor and district missionary, and for a long period continued to preach, conduct funeral services, and comfort the sick and sorrowing.

Laura Etta Gray:
Born: October 3, 1856 in Preble County, Ohio
Died: November 3, 1941 in Leesville, Missouri

Laura moved into Missouri from Iowa with her parents in 1866 by wagon, crossing the Missouri River at Boonville on a ferry, on their way to Henry County in Missouri's Golden Valley. She was married in the home of her groom, who drove to pick up his bride in a lumber wagon. It was a cool and windy April day, and the ceremony was conducted by the groom's uncle, Thomas Briggs. See the account of their Golden Wedding Anniversary.


Euna Belle Briggs - April 1, 1875
William Henry Briggs - October 22, 1876
Jesse Blanchard Briggs - October 9, 1878
Julia Etta Briggs - June 3, 1880
John Robert Briggs - May 29, 1882
James Daniel Briggs - July 14, 1885
Joseph Francis Briggs - July 14, 1888 died June 22, 1889
Jennie May Briggs - March 29, 1892

A Brief Account of the Life Of William Briggs In His Own Words

I was born April 4, 1853, on the farm near Leesville; the son of James and Nancy Briggs. Was converted in January 1866, and joined the Tebo Baptist church the fourth Sunday in February, 1866. Was baptized by Elder W. A. Gray the same day. The creek was bank full. I was so small the pastor lifted me up in his arms and carried me out.

I grew up under the care of a godly father and mother who took me to church and Sunday school. I was married to Laura E. Gray, by Rev. Thomas Briggs, April 9, 1874. To this union eight children were born, two have died, two of the boys are in the ministry, W. H. and James D.

I was ordained to the ministry in 1880. During my ministerial life and work for two years I was missionary of the Osage association, which was the cause of many souls being saved. I have served the following churches as pastor in Benton county--Shady Grove 14 years; Spring Grove 6; Post Oak 3; Pleasant Hill 3; Fredonia 2; Cold Springs 1; Clear Creek 2; Oak Grove 3; Bethel 4. In Henry county--Old Tebo 2; Mt. Olivet 2; Good Hope 1; Stone Mission 3; Mount Zion 3; Finey 4; Pleasant Ridge 2; Grand River 1, all of which were pleasant people and pastorates to work with. Many of God's dear people were there, but many have gone on to their reward.

I have not kept a record of conversions and baptisms, but the Lord knows. That is enough for me. My ministerial life has been pleasant and not all in vain, so has my home life. My God given companion has been a true and loving helpmeet in the home in my ministry and in every way. Her children call her blessed like the virtuous woman Solomon spoke of in Proverbs 31:10-30.

When I look back over my life, I say surely goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places. I have a goodly heritage but like Paul, these hands have ministered to my wants many days. I followed the plow and got my text lide the sower, so I have no regrets. We never wanted in the home life, and ministerial does not conflict. We have had plenty by putting the kingdom of God first. All other things have followed. We are happy, spending much time in reading the Bible. I read the entire Bible through once and twice each year and it is better every time. The Lord fills every promise. Praise his name.

----William Briggs

January 1931

Golden Wedding Anniversary of William and Laura Briggs

On Wednesday, April 9, 1924, about 150 relatives and neighbors gathered at the home of William Briggs, near Leesville, Mo., to celebrate the fiftieth wedding anniversary of William Briggs and his wife.

After a carefully planned program, consisting of songs, reading "A visit to grandma's," by Miss Dorris Sheek; Riley's, "That old Sweetheart O' Mine," by Miss Corine Chastain; an autobiography of William Briggs and his wife was read by J. D. Briggs; then followed the golden wedding ceremony, read by William H. Briggs, and congratulations by those present, wishing the bride and groom much joy and happiness as they journey on down the hill of life.

Following congratulations, we gathered around long tables in the yard, that groaned under the weight of the good things to eat, that had been prepared by the family and friends that were present. The family furnished the meat and potatoes, coffee, etc., and the friends brought salads, cakes, pies, pickles, other vegetables and things that go to make a great feast, which was heartily enjoyed by us all. The anniversary cake was a three story angel food, made pyramid fashion on which glowed 50 golden candles. Those who made it were Miss Laura Sheek, Mesdames Robert and Allie Sheek.

There were sixteen couples present whom William Briggs had united in holy matrimony.

After dinner William H. Briggs, the son of William Briggs, preached a sermon on, the "Blessings and Responsibilities of Children in the Home."

All the children were present for the occasion--William H. Briggs, of Neodesha, Kansas; Jesse B. Briggs, of Coal, Missouri; Julia E. Vanhooser, St. John, Kansas; John R. Briggs, Ft. Scott, Kansas; James D. Briggs, living at home; and Jennie M. Sheek, of Coal, Missouri. One sister of the groom was present--Mrs. J. B. Chastain, Coal, Missouri, and a brother of the bride, John Gray, of Roseland, Missouri. Sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, other relatives and a host of friends were present and helped make it a joyous occasion for us all.

The children, grandchildren and a niece gave the bride and groom a purse of $52 as a small token of their love and appreciation.

The Christian influence of Rev. William Briggs, or "Uncle Billy," as all love to call him, is outstanding. His influence will ever be felt. We cannot measure such lives as those of this good couple. Every soul that has been won to the Master through their influence has meant the winning of many others; in turn, winning those of younger generations, so the work is unending. If any one of our lives would even count for a tenth as much , how much it would mean to the Master's kingdom.

[April 1924]

William Briggs, son of James L. and Nancy Briggs, was born on a farm near Leesville, Henry County, Missouri, April 4th, 1853. He lives at present about one-half mile from the place of his birth. He has lived on the same farm all his life with the exception of one year which was spent on a farm just one-half mile away. When a boy growing up he had poor health and found it exceedingly difficult to attend school regularly. His first school was in the old Tebo Baptist church taught by his grandfather, Rev. Daniel Briggs, during the Civil War. His father, James L. Briggs, was also a Baptist minister and spent about thirty years as paster of churches within reach of his home and missionary work in the surrounding counties.

William Briggs was converted at the age of twelve years in a prayer meeting held in his father's home. He joined the Tebo Baptist church in 1866, and was baptized by Rev. W. A. Gray.

While attending school he met Laura E. Gray, daughter of Joseph and Unity Gray, who was born in Preble county, Ohio, but who moved with her parents to the state of Iowa and on to Missouri by wagon, crossing the Missouri river at Boonville on a ferry. They settled on a farm north of where Roseland now stands. Their acquaintance grew into courtship and their courtship into marriage. They were married at the home of the groom on April 9th, 1874. He drove for his bride in a lumber wagon accompanied by his sister, Tobitha Chastain, nee Briggs, of Coal, Missouri, and Bettie Carleton, nee Parks, of St. John, Kansas, both of whom are still living.

Besides the family of the groom, Joe Gray and Bettie Carleton are the only ones living that attended the wedding.

The wedding day, as recalled by the parties, was a cool and windy April day. The ceremony was performed by the groom's uncle, Thomas Briggs. The bride wore a dress of lead colored cashmere trimmed in white silk ribbon. The groom wore his first store bought suit, as all his other suits had been spun wove and made in the home by his parents. The wedding cake was baked by Aunt Fannie Briggs, wife of Rev. Thomas Briggs.

William Briggs was ordained to the gospel ministry at Tebo Baptist church in May, 1879. Rev. James H. Sands was moderator, and Rev. W. H. Stone was clerk of the ordaining council. He was actively engaged in the work of the ministry just about forty years. Two years of the time he was missionary of the Osage Association. The rest of the time he served as pastor of the following churches: Tebo, Shady Grove, Spring Grove, Bethel, Mt. Olivet, Oak Grove, Fredonia, Pleasant Hill, Cold Springs, Post Oak, Mt. Zion, Peaceful Home, Pleasant Ridge, Clear Creek, Stone Mission and Finey.

While he has had no regular pastorals for the last few years he has served as supply much of the time and at the present time preaches regularly once a month at the Logan school house. He has kept no definite record of his ministerial work. Many were converted under his ministry and he has baptized many. He has preached some five or six hundred funerals and performed 205 marriage ceremonies. His work of the ministry has taken him away from home a good part of the time. He would often walk 12 or 15 miles to fill an appointment when the roads were too bad to take horses out on them. In his absence much of the home duties fell to his companion who had the care of the children and the other home duties to perform, but it was a service that she did gladly and well.

She was converted when she was fifteen years old and joined the Mt. Olivet Baptist church. She was baptized by Rev. W. A. Gray. After her marriage she moved her membership to Tebo where she remains a member. She has always been faithful to her church, her family and to her Lord.

To this union eight children were born as follows: Euna Sheek, who died May 22, 1915, at the age of 40 years; William Henry, pastor of the Baptist church, Neodesha, Kansas; Jessie Blanchard, of Coal, Mo., near his father; Julia Vanhoozer, of St. John, Kansas; John Robert, of Ft. Scott, Kansas; James Daniel, who lives in the home with his parents and is pastor of two of the churches his father served years ago; Joseph Francis, who died in 1883, before he was a year old; Jennie Sheek, of Coal, Mo., near her father and mother.

These seven children, who grew to maturity, formed homes of their own and into them have been born eighteen children, all of whom are living today. Some of these grandchildren have homes of their own, there being four great-grandchildren, (the last one arriving on April the sixth, 1924).

William Briggs is one of a family of 12, seven of whom are living today.

Robert Allen, of Oklahoma, 73 years old; William, 71 years old; Daniel, of Coal, 68 years old; Tabitha Chastain, of Coal, 64 years old; James Louis, of Oklahoma, 61 years old; Mollie Wears, of Oklahoma, 60 years old; Fannie Scovel of Oklahoma, 52 years old.

Mrs. Briggs had eight brothers and sisters, only three of them are living;: John Gray, of Roseland, 79 years old; Joe Gray, of Windsor, 72 years old; Mary Williams of Clinton, 75 years old, and Mrs Briggs will be 68 years old in October.

------Author Unknown

(Suspected Author- J. D. Briggs)

April 1924

He's Only Departed From Life's Little Room

Composed by Carleton Briggs for his grandfather, William H. Briggs, and read by the author at William's funeral.

He's only departed from life's little room,
Out through the doorway that's known as the tomb;
Out of earth's sorrow and turmoil and strife,
Into God's love and a heavenly life.

Then why should we sorrow and offer our tears,
When after the fullness of bountiful years,
He moves to his storehouses where treasures await,
And closes behind him the latch on the gate!

For earth is so narrow, and heaven so wide,
And countless the joys on that "bright other side;"
So why should we selfishly want him to stay-
He's happy and peaceful and not far away.

For after the labor, a haven of rest,
And after the struggle, sweet peace to the breast;
After the trusting a blissful repose,
'Tis but the beginning, say not 'tis the close!

For by the same God are our spirits all led,
Both we of the living, and they of the dead;
Both now and forever God's love is in store,
For those who are waiting, and those past the door.

Then why should we sorrow to hold him on earth,
When God took his measure and valued his worth,
And called him to glory from out of the gloom,
Through life's final doorway that's known as the tomb!

August 11, 1939