"SHSI Certificate of Recognition"
"Best on the Web"

Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


From Encyclopedia Dubuque
Jump to navigationJump to search


Ansel Briggs

BRIGGS, Ansel. (1806--Omaha, NB, May 5, 1881). Briggs came to Iowa in 1836 from Guernsey County, Ohio where he had been twice elected sheriff. He settled in Davenport where he contracted with the post office department for establishing mail routes and carrying mail between Davenport, Dubuque, and Iowa City. (1)

Briggs successfully operated a stage and mail route over the MILITARY ROAD between Dubuque, Davenport, Iowa City and Burlington, Iowa, before his election in 1842 to the Territorial House of Representatives from Jackson County. Briggs owned two jerkies, a two-horse rig capable of carrying five passengers, and a Concord coach that carried nine passengers. (2)

Jerkies made the run to and from Dubuque once a week at a cost of three dollars per passenger with baggage charged extra. Briggs was one of the few Iowa stagecoach operators who could afford to own a Concord coach. (3)

In 1846 after Iowa became a state, Briggs was nominated for governor on the Democratic ticket. He defeated Whig Thomas MCKNIGHT of Dubuque in the general election by 247 votes. Even after being elected, Briggs remained in Andrew although he sold his mail routes to concentrate on official business. (4)

Briggs served as governor from 1846 to 1850. Under his guidance, state government was organized and the free school system was created. (5) He died in Omaha, Nebraska and was buried there. His remains were returned to Andrew, Iowa in 1909 where a monument had been erected by action of the Iowa legislature. (6)

In 1943 Briggs was honored by the California Shipbuilding Corporation yards in San Francisco when his name was given to a Liberty ship manufactured there. (7)



1. "Liberty Ship Honors Briggs," Telegraph-Herald, March 11, 1943, p. 9

2. Bergman, Marvin; Horton, Loren; Hudson, David. The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa. University of Iowa Press, Iowa City, 2008

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. "First Governor of Iowa: Ansel Briggs of Andrew," Telegraph-Herald, September 15, 1946 p. 47

7. "Liberty Ship..."