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Finding aid for the Dr. Benjamin Bennett Briggs family papers 0394
0394  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Additional Resources
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Processing Note

  • Title: Dr. Benjamin Bennett Briggs family papers
    Collection number: 0394
    Contributing Institution: USC Libraries Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 0.42 linear ft. 1 box
    Date (inclusive): 1849-1916
    Abstract: Dr. Benjamin Bennett Briggs was a horticulturist and medical doctor who originally came to California from Ohio during the Gold Rush but returned to Ohio where he married and established a medical practice. He later returned to California to continue with horticultural pursuits and was one of the founders of La Crescenta, where he hoped to establish a health resort. Though he died before he could accomplish all his dreams, today's Crescenta-Canada valley was home to many sanitariums and health resorts owing to its excellent quality of air. Briggs is also remembered for having started the first school in the valley, the first church, the first public park, and the first full-time medical practice in the area. Shedding light on the daily lives of one of Southern California's pioneer families, the Briggs family papers is a small but historically important resource.
    creator: Briggs, Abby Crane, d.1863
    creator: Briggs, Benjamin , fl. 1873-1879

    Preferred Citation

    [Box/folder# or item name], Dr. Benjamin Bennett Briggs Family Papers, Collection no. 0394, Regional History Collection, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California

    Acquisition

    The collection was presented to USC Libraries by Benjamin Briggs' great-great-grandson, Dr. Chester Ward, and his wife, Sally Ward.

    Conditions Governing Use

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Advance notice required for access.

    Additional Resources

    Additional information on the Briggs family history:
    La Crescenta History: http://www.freewebs.com/lacrescentawomansclub/lacrescentahistory.htm
    Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley: http://www.cvhistory.org/histsites/histsites.htm
    History of La Canada-Flintridge: http://pasadenahomesandlifestyle.com/surrounding-cities/la-canada-flintridge/

    Biographical Note

    In 1986, Sally Ward, the wife of Dr. Chester L. Ward, M.D., wrote a short description of Benjamin Bennett Briggs' life and his descendents based upon information compiled earlier by Irene Ward Kennedy, the sister of Benjamin Briggs Ward, Sr. The document that Sally Ward created is the first folder in the collection and helps to identify various family members through the generations as well as summarize the life of Benjamin Bennett Briggs specifically.
    Benjamin Bennett Briggs was born on June 2, 1827 in Bristol, New York. The seventh of at least nine children born to Thomas Briggs and Abigail Gregg, Benjamin and his family moved to Ohio in 1835 where they farmed and where the children learned about horticulture.
    In the spring of 1849, Benjamin and two of his brothers as well as a neighbor, set out for California (from Missouri) across the plains with an ox team. Benjamin was 22 years old; the youngest brother on the journey, John, was only 18. It took the group nine months to make the trip, during which time Benjamin was accidentally injured by a bullet which affected his health for the rest of his life. When the men arrived in California, two of them went to the mines as planned; Benjamin and his brother George became successful gardeners. Eventually, however, Benjamin's poor health led him to return to his Ohio home while George continued to plant orchards in Knights Landing, Oroville, and Marysville, California. Unfortunately the floods of 1861-62 destroyed the 300 acres of his Marysville orchard which was eventually completely covered by mining deposits.
    Upon returning to Ohio, Benjamin married Abby Crane in 1852; their only child Irene was born in 1853 in Wadsworth, Ohio. Benjamin and his family later spent time in California again looking at property and prospects; Abby died of tuberculosis in Santa Paula in 1863. Benjamin and his daughter returned to Ohio where, at age 35, Benjamin enrolled in medical school. Continuing his medical studies in 1865, Benjamin traveled to Heidelberg, Germany and Paris, France, accompanied by his daughter Irene and her cousin Louise N. Crane, daughter of his oldest sister, Louise Briggs Crane.
    After their return to the United States, Benjamin had a medical practice in Crawfordsville, Indiana for about 13 years. His daughter Irene married Reverend Samuel Lawrence Ward in 1873 and they went to Persia as missionaries of the Presbyterian Church for over twenty years.
    In the early 1880s, Benjamin returned to California to continue with horticultural pursuits and was one of the founders of La Crescenta, where he hoped to establish a health resort. (Briggs coined the name "Crescenta" to indicate the crescent-shaped valley nestled between the Sierra Madre mountains and the Verdugo Hills.) Though he died before he could accomplish all his dreams, today's Crescenta-Cañada valley was home to many sanitariums and health resorts owing to its excellent air quality. Briggs is also remembered for having started the first school in the valley, the first church, the first public park, and the first full-time medical practice in the area. Dr. Benjamin Bennett Briggs died in 1893 at the age of 65.

    Scope and Content

    This small collection of family papers centers around Dr. Benjamin Bennett Briggs (1827-1893) whose 1849 diary chronicles his account of moving from Ohio to California by covered wagon. Briggs was the great-great-grandfather of the collection's donor, Dr. Chester Ward. In addition to the diary, the collection includes a small account book/diary from 1862--also kept by Briggs--as well as a number of letters to and from family members. There are also a few Presbyterian missionary materials because Benjamin's daughter, Irene, married Samuel Lawrence Ward; they went to Persia as missionaries of the Presbyterian Church from 1876 to 1897. Other noteworthy items in the collection include a very small (and fragile) Arabic prayer book and an 1896 book of "pressed flowers from the Holy Land" in excellent condition.

    Processing Note

    Assistance in processing the Briggs papers was provided by Tiffany Chu.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Briggs family -- Archives
    Briggs, Abby Crane, d.1863 -- Archives
    Briggs, Benjamin , fl. 1873-1879 -- Archives
    Briggs, Irene Crane, 1853- -- Archives
    Presbyterian Church in the U.S.. -- Correspondence
    Ward, Samuel Lawrence -- Archives
    Correspondence
    Diaries
    La Cañada (Calif.)--History--Archival resources
    La Cañada Flintridge (Calif.)--History--Archival resources
    La Crescenta (Calif.)--History--Archival resources
    Overland journeys to the Pacific--Archival resources
    Panama--Photographs
    Pioneers--California--Biography
    Pioneers--West (U.S.)--Diaries
    United States--History--1849-1877--Archival resources