From Biographical Memoirs of Huntington County, 1901, pages 362-363
The subject of this sketch belonged to that once great but now rapidly diminishing army of patriots which so fearlessly did battle for the flag when one gallant ship of state was almost stranded upon the rugged rocks of dissension. As such he is entitled to the gratitude of every lover of his country, and richly merits the meed of praise he received from the government for which he sacrificed some of the best years of his life.
Mr. Riggs was born in Fayette county, Indiana, August 15, 1840. His father and mother were natives of Virginia, but moved to Indiana a number of years ago, settling in the county of Fayette. The father's name was Denton Riggs, and the maiden name of the mother Barbara Lauderback. They were married about the year 1833, and reared a family of ten children, viz: Ruth, the oldest, married Dr. Daniel Palmer, of Warren, and died in 1878; Mary J. married the late Joseph Wiley and is now living in Pana, Illinois; Elizabeth, Mrs. James Clark, of Fairmount, Indiana; John J. is the fourth in order of birth; Samuel married Sarah Harring and resides on a farm in Wells county; Mariah, now Mrs. John Manning, lives in the town of Fairmount; Denton J. married Adaline Alexander, and is also a resident of the town of Fairmount; D. T. married Catherine Spangler and resides in the village of Dillman, Wells county.
The father of these children became a resident of Huntington county about the year 1850, having settled in Salamonie township, where he purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land, making his first payment on the same with money earned by splitting rails. He began life poor in this world's goods, but being a hard working man succeeded in clearing his place of financial encumberance, and, with the aid of his boys, strong and robust young fellows, soon had the farm in a successful state for tillage. He added to his original purchase from time to time, and is now one of the well-to-do farmers and substantial men of his township.
John J. Riggs assisted in clearing his father's place and bore his share in the support of the family during the early experience in the woods of Salamonie. He grew to manhood possessed of a strong physique, and until the breaking out of the great Rebellion worked at home and in the immediate neighborhood, earning some money as a farm laborer.
In August, 1862, he responded to the country's call for volunteers by enlisting in Company E, Seventy-fifth Indiana Infantry, with which he shared all the perils and horrors of war until the Confederate cause went down before Grant at Appomattox. Few soldiers can present a more honorable record than is exhibited by his more than three years of service during many of the most trying scenes of the Rebellion. Among the battles in which he took part are the following: Hoover's Gap, Chattanooga, Chickamauga, Mission Ridge, Griggsville, Tunnel Hill, Rocky Face Ridge, Adairsville, Dalton, Resaca, Ackworth, Cassville, New Hope Church, Pickett's Mills, Culp's Farm, Lost Mountain, Pine Mountain, Marietta, Kenesaw Mountain, Chattahoochee River, Ezra Church, Utory Creek, Ebenezer Church, Savannah, Jonesboro, Allatoona, Barnwell Court House, Bentonville, Smithfield and numerous minor engagements on Sherman's celebrated march to the sea. He passed through all the above with an untarnished record, never having shirked a duty however perilous, nor shrunk from a danger when confronted by death in its most hideous form. Mr. Riggs served until the close of the war, and received his discharge at the National capital, after which he returned home and resumed the vocation of farming on his father's farm.
On the 6th day of April, 1866, he was married to Miss Jeanette Lemon, daughter of a Civil war veteran, and became the father of nine children, only four of whom are living at the present time: James married Emma Jackson, of Warren; Alice, born May 2, 1873, married John Overpeck, of Jefferson township, this county; Lulu, born September, 1875, is the wife of Benjamin McClurg, of the township of Rock Creek; Denton J., born December 3, 1878, lives in the town of Warren.
Mr. Riggs is a citizen whom everybody respects. He is a member of the Christian church, and, believing that politics should go hand in hand with religion, is an earnest supporter of the Prohibition party. His once strong and vigorous constitution, considerably shattered by the exposure and hardships of military service, unfitted him in some degree for the active duties of life, and is now the recipient of a very liberal pension from the government. He has a comfortable home in the village of Majenica, and bears the reputation of an intelligent and model Christian gentleman.
Among the pleasures of his declining years is the meeting with his old companions in arms and recounting the many thrilling experiences through which they passed while battling for the preservation of the Union. His numerous friends unite in wishing that many years may still be spared the old veteran, and that the closing scenes may be as peaceful as his former experiences were exciting and dangerous. His paternal grandfather, Samuel Riggs, was a native of Virginia, and there married Elizabeth Ross. They had eight children. He sold his place for a lot of grindstones, loaded these on a flat boat, running them down the Ohio, from Harpersburg, Virginia, to Cincinnati, where he sold his grindstones, purchased a yoke of oxen and came to Fayette county, Indiana, where he entered a quarter section of land, bringing his family with him, and lived here the remainder of their lives. Mr. Riggs for thirty years has followed the profession of a veterinary surgeon and is now engaged in his profession. In 1874 he started west in a wagon with his family, traveling through Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Indian Territory and Arkansas, landing finally in Texas; thence back home into Indiana, traveling over three thousand miles in two years and a half.