Thursday, March 14, 2013

Those Places Thursday - William Barlow Briggs' Family & Friends - 1880 Linn Co. Iowa?

This 10 x 8 photograph shows eight people posing outside a home.  It is a quite interesting piece and has puzzled me for some time.  This photograph was surely taken in Iowa although I had my doubts for some time.  If you look closely at the first photo you will see what appears to be mountains or at least large hills in the distance in the far left. I did not think that Iowa had mountains, but initial research shows that this area has what are called "pahas" or sand dunes which could explain this appearance in the photo as well as the woman with the broom. 

1880's Linn Co Iowa Group?

On the back the subjects are identified as:

William Briggs
Olive Jordan Briggs
Lillian Emma Briggs Taylor
Lou Henry Hoover
H. Maria Dobbins
Lillian Nudgett Horn
Jean Henry
Mrs. Henry

I have identified the male as William Barlow Briggs born 27 Sep 1837 in the state of Maine to Ezra and Phebe (Goddard) Briggs.  In 1866 he married Olive Jordan and their daughter Lillian was born in April of 1874.    The 1880 Maine, Linn County, Iowa shows Briggs living with his wife Olive and five year old daughter Lily. By 1900 the Briggs were living in Whittier City, Los Angeles, CA according to the US Census.  

William Barlow Briggs, Olive Jordan Briggs, Lillian Emma Briggs ca 1880-81

In this photo their daughter Lillian or Lily appears to be about five or six years old which would date this photograph about 1880 or 1881.  Additionally the women's clothing suggests an 1880's date.  Briggs appears to be handing his wife a document of some sort, perhaps a deed?  This type of photo was typically not seen until the later 1880's so hence my puzzlement.  I had no luck find any of the other women in the Linn County census so I am not sure of their connection to the Briggs'.  I have also been unable to identify the photographer as parts of the name have been torn off on both side of the picture.


  1. I'm curious about what appears to be a railing on the roof of the house, next to the chimney. Do you know why there's a railing? (Architectural detail or necessary item?)

  2. I didn't even notice that, but I think it was just decoration, of course that is just my opinion.

  3. They had to clean chimneys I think the railing was necessary. It is a wonderful house. Could it be a boarding house? Perhaps

    1. Interesting tidbit about the railing/chimney cleaning, I did not know that. Good idea about it being a boarding house, that is certainly possible although it doesn't look large enough, but you never know.


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