History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/Ansel Briggs
ANSEL BRIGGS, first Governor of the State of Iowa, was born in Vermont on the 3d of February, 1806. He attended the common schools when a boy with but one term at an academy. In 1830 his father removed with his family to Cambridge, Ohio, where the son established various stage lines. In 1836 he came to Iowa, locating at Andrew in Jackson County, where he established several stage routes and took contracts for carrying the mails. He had been a Whig in early life but after coming to Iowa became a Democrat. In 1842 he was elected to represent Jackson County in the Territorial Legislature. He was chosen sheriff of the county at a later period. At the Democratic State Convention held at Iowa City on the 24th of September, 1846, there were three candidates for Governor, Ansel Briggs, Jesse Williams and William Thompson. On the first ballot the vote stood sixty-two for Briggs, thirty-two for Williams and thirty-one for Thompson. The other candidates then withdrew and Briggs was nominated by acclamation. At the election he was chosen over the Whig candidate, Thomas McKnight, by the small majority of two hundred forty-seven. His political adviser was Philip B. Bradley, a shrewd politician who had successfully conducted his campaign. Governor Briggs served his term of four years in a quiet manner in harmony with his party, retiring to private life at its close with many warm friendships. In 1870 Governor Briggs removed to Council Bluffs and the last six years of his life were spent with his son, John S., in Omaha, Nebraska, where he died on the 5th of May, 1881. Governor Gear issued a proclamation reciting his services as the first Governor of the State and the national flag was floated at half-mast from the State House on the day of his funeral.