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vital records sources
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Elizabeth grew up on her father's farm in Fairhaven. When she was about 18, her father, facing uncontrolled debts and perhaps the backlash of years of infidelity, abandoned his family and moved to central New York State with his girlfriend. The gender and age of people in her mother's household in the 1810 census infers she was there with her little brother Jethro, her mother and her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth (Burges) Landers. Since Abner likely lost his homestead among all the debt executions against him, it's not apparent where in Fairhaven they were living, but it was in the same part of town.
     They may have met through her brother Luther. Both were seamen, John definitely and Luther perhaps as whalers. Although he was a native of nearby Berkley, Massachusetts, John was living in Fairhaven at the time they married, so there are several factors that may have led them to meet.



Elizabeth married when she was about 21 and committed to a life without her husband for 2 to 3 years at a time. During his time on land, John fathered three boys. In 1821 the two youngest probably became sick with the same affliction and died two days apart. Only Luther Jenney Briggs, surely named for his mother's brother, survived. Elizabeth herself died three years later and was buried next to her boys in Naskatucket Cemetery, Fairhaven. She was given the following epitaph:

My days are but (dust?) on the earth,
since Jesus had taught me to pray,
and Jesus my saviour I knew,
before I was summoned away




Elizabeth's gravestone in Nasketucket Cemetery, Fairhaven, MA



John, Jr., and James are buried next to their mother






children of Elizabeth Jenney and John Briggs:

i. Luther Jenney Briggs b. 7 October 1813
ii. James b. June 1815, d. 20 December 1821
iii. John b. September 1818, d. 22 December 1821





vital records sources: Elizabeth's gravestone says she was in her 31st year when she died, making her 30 and putting her birth in 1791 or 1792. Her marriage to John can be inferred from circumstantial evidence, but it was announced in The New Bedford Mercury on 8 January 1812. No day is mentioned.

all text and photographs © 1998-2021 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted