RIGGINS, WILLIAM MITCHELL. - Both the maternal and paternal ancestors of William Michael Riggins fought in the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War and the Civil War, thus having been identified with the history of their country during its four greatest struggles. They have always been patriotic law-abiding citizens, and active in promoting the welfare and progress in any community where they have lived. William M. Riggins was born in Burlington, Iowa, October 15, 1843, son of Green Washington and Mary Maria (Stafford) Riggins. The father was born in Raleigh County, N. C., son of James Riggins, who came to North Carolina from Virginia. The Riggins family came originally from England and Green W. Riggins was of Scotch and English descent. He was engaged in business at Burlington, Iowa, moved from there to Wapella, thence to Beardstown, Ill., and in 1848 located in Hancock County, Ill., where he again engaged in business. In 1852 he went to California, and afterward returned for his family and located in Colusa County, Cal., where he died in 1855. His wife died in California, in 1907. They had seven children, of whom three survive. William M. was the third child, having two sisters older. His mother was born in Raleigh County, N.C., daughter of Noah and Mary (Jackson) Stafford, her father being a native of Tennessee, whose ancestors were from Staffordshire, England. Mrs. Stafford was a relative of "Old Hickory" Jackson.
William M. Riggins received his early education in Hancock County, Ill., where he attended subscription schools until he was eleven years of age, then accompanied the family to California and attended excellent public schools there. He worked in the store with his father after leaving school, and upon the death of the latter worked on a frm for a time, where he learned the trade of carpenter. He worked two years in the wholesale and retail store of A. Walker, in Marysville, Cal., then went on a prospecting trip and was fairly successful. He worked some time at the trade of carpenter, then learned the wagon-making trade, and worked for a time as constructing engineer in a quartz mine, after which he worked fifteen years in the quartz mills and became a millwright.
Mr. Riggins was married, in Sierra Valley, Cal., October 30, 1881, to Miss Louise Adeline Piante, daughter of Paschal and Caroline (Forsant) Piante, both natives of St. Louis County, Mo. Mr. Piante was a farmer and became a mechanical engineer. He acted as engineer of the boat "Gazelle," wen it took part in the historic boat race with the "Natchez," which has been much written of in song and prose, and is thus known the world over. By the orders of his superior officer Mr. Piante was crowding the engine of the boat beyond its capacity and her boilers exploded. His wife and one child (Mrs. Riggins), the latter about one year old, were aboard the vessel, as it was an excursion day. Mrs. Piante saw the impending danger, caught up her child and jumped into the water, swimming to safety. Mr. Piante, however, remained at his post and was scalded to death. This tragic episode occurred in 1857, and many lives were lost. Mr. Riggins and his wife became parents of four children, of whom but one survives, Alva Leslie.
After his marriage Mr. Riggins worked tow years at his trade as carpenter, after which he spent two years in mining. Then coming to Illinois he located at Bath, Mason County, there followed his trade for a time but later moved to Chandlerville, where he lived two years, then moved to Jacksonville, where he lived until October, 1890, the date of his locating in Springfield. He has worked at his trade of carpenter since coming to Springfield and is skilled in this line. He is respected and liked by his associates and popular with his many friends. He is a devout member of the Methodist Church and in politics is a Democrat. He is a prominent member of Carpenters' Union No. 6, of which he has served as Treasurer six terms.