Tag Archives: Briggs

Challenge: who are these residents of “the valley of the northwestern lakes”

While on GenealogyBank, I found my brickwall ancestor Oren Briggs inside a document entitled ‘Petition of citizens of the United States residing in the valley of the northwestern lakes, praying the adoption of measures to procure the free navigation of the St. Lawrence. April 11, 1850. Referred to the Committee on Commerce. June 4, 1850. Ordered to be printed.’ Publication: Serial Set Vol. No. 563, Session Vol. No.1; Report: S.Misc.Doc. 111;

Is the “valley of the northwestern lakes” the area around Lake Michigan and other Great Lakes? Can anyone confirm? Several of these men lived in Belvidere, Boone County, Illinois in 1850.

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Divorce 1848 style!

My 4x great grandparents Oren Briggs (also spelled Orren, Orrin or Orin) and Susan Bowder have got an unusual and mysterious past. Their marriage was her second and at least his third marriage! She was 25 and he was 51 years old.

The following took place in Belvidere, Boone County, Illinois in 1848.

  • May 16: Sarah Ann Briggs files for divorce 
against husband Oren
  • May 17: Oren’s civil lawsuit settled
  • May 18: Susan’s divorce to John Tittle granted
  • May 20: Oren’s divorce granted
  • May 24: Oren and Susan get married

Busy week!

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Susan Bowder (1823-1902)

Susan BowderSusan Bowder, born 7th Apr 1823, is my 4x great grandmother. She was born in Pennsylvania or New York, though I do not have much yet on her early years. I do know that Susan’s parents were Jacob Bowder and Rebecca Walter(s), who were of German descent, but born in Pennsylvania.

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Oren Briggs (1797-1882)

Oren (also spelled Orren, Orrin or Orin) Briggs is my 4x great grandfather. He is also one of my ‘brick wall’ ancestors. Oren’s story fascinates me. He was born about 1797 in Massachusetts (according to his census entries) or Maine (according to his children’s later census records). Maine was once part of Massachusetts so it probably is Maine. Prior to 1839, I can find no definitive record of him, though two potential matches have been identified. Orren Briggs married at least three times, and I descend from his third wife, Susan Bowder.

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Orren Briggs – where are you?

My research has turned up several other people with the name Oren (also spelled Orren, Orrin or Orin) Briggs on the East Coast that could be the same man as my 4x great-grandfather, Oren Briggs, or related.

Last updated April 3, 2009

Oren Briggs of Penobscot County, Maine

An Oren Briggs was found on the 1830 Federal Census for Blakesburg Plantation, Penobscot County, Maine. He married Betsey Davis, who at the time was the widow of John Forbes, in Blakesburg (known Bradford after 1831) on July 2, 1821. They had two children: Caroline born Feb 1822 and Charles born March 1824, but there are no further records found for these children.

I visited the Penobscot County Courthouse myself a few years ago and found some tantalizing information.

First, Oren is reasonably well documented in Penobscot County, Maine records, both at the courthouse and in the book ‘Bradford Heritage Scrapbook – Glimpses of our Past’, published by the Bradford Heritage Museum & Historical Society in 1981.

In a guardianship case dated August of 1813, Oren Briggs was named a minor child over age 14, son of Walham Briggs, along with brothers Erastus and Chester. Guardianship was granted to Luke Wilder, who I’ve begun researching.

Oren Briggs was elected Bradford town treasurer in 1820, and in 1824 was postmaster at Bradford Village Corner and was licensed to sell liquor until 1828. In June 1827 his occupation is noted as trader.

In June 1827 he was probate executor for James S. Davis of Blakesburg (relationship to Betsey unknown at this time). Oren was also noted as helping to administer the estate of John Forbes — yet not much later he was marrying Mr. Forbes’ widow!

Oren owned a general store (let’s not forget my Oren Briggs owned a store in Stevens Point, Wisconsin!) and was a postmaster during his time in Penobscot County. Interestingly, there is no mention of him after 1832. Betsey was living with a son from her first marriage during the 1850 census, and died April 6, 1854. She is buried in Bradford. There is evidence to suggest she married another Briggs man but I haven’t proved this yet.

There is no record of Oren’s death in Penobscot County. One theory is that he went out in the winter to hunt/trap and didn’t return. So, did he die in the wilderness or did he run off and start a new life in Illinois? Or something entirely mundane?

Or Berkshire County, Massachusetts?

I have also found an Orrin BRIGG in Lenox, Berkshire County, Massachusetts in 1830 age 30-40, who is living with a woman age 20-30, 4 younger males age 20-30, and 1 male age 15-20. I’ve done no further research on this individual yet.


The Orrin Briggs of Grafton County, New Hampshire has been eliminated as a possibility. A descendant emailed me to say this man stayed in New Hampshire his entire life.

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