Riggin Family


A native of St. Louis, Missouri, John Riggin was described as one of the city’s “high rollers.” As a young man, Riggin operated a successful real estate business and was a member of the “Cyclone Club,” the first organized baseball team in St. Louis. In 1861, at the age of 26, he volunteered for service in the Civil War. He first appears in The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, assigned duty as a major and aide-de-camp for Brig. Gen. Ulysses Grant during the organization of the District of Southeast Missouri in December, 1861. He is next mentioned in a series of December, 1862, communications between the War Department and the recently promoted Major General Grant concerning Grant’s use of the army telegraph for private messages. Grant referred to Riggin as “military superintendent of telegraphs within this department,” meaning the now Colonel Riggin was effectively Grant’s chief of communications. Riggin served in this post through 1863, after which he is no longer mentioned in The Official Records. On March 13, 1865, he received a promotion to brevet brigadier general for “gallant and meritorious services during the war.”


Post war, Riggin took up business in New Orleans where he met his future bride, Fannie Motte Hamilton. A southern belle from a prominent South Carolina family where her father had served as a U.S. marshal and her grandfather as governor. Many may consider their marriage somewhat ironic since both her brother and father served as officers in the Confederate Army. After marrying, Riggin relocated to St. Louis, but in 1874 moved to Florida due to a bronchial problem related to a war injury. For $200 ($4,526 in 2020) they purchased a 20 acre parcel on Sarasota Bay that is now the southern portion of Whitfield Estates. They homesteaded an additional 120 acres that adjoined their property gaining nearly a mile of frontage on the bay. In spite of their bright start, Riggin’s health continued to decline and in the summer of 1886, at the age of 56, he died and was interred at the old Manatee Burying Grounds. His wife Fannie was said to have been laid to rest next to him in 1930 but that grave is unmarked and cannot be definitively claimed.

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Riggin, John - #83 Taken 03-2022
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John Riggin - Grave #83 (1973, Courtesy of Manatee County Public Library Historical Digital Collections) 

John Riggin - Grave #83

All images taken by MVHP staff in 2022 unless otherwise noted.