Photo of Capt. Briggs Homestead located on west side of 117th Street in 1922 with cupola on roof.
This house although it has been remodeled still stands today on 117th
Street between Jamaica and 89th Avenues and is one of the very few that
existed before Richmond Hill was developed. Unfortunately, the cupola on
the roof is no longer there, where Capt. Briggs would enjoy to view with
his telescope the ships on Jamaica Bay.
Born on Block Island 1792, died in Richmond Hill 1876
Captain of Gunboat during War of 1812 and one of the early farm settlers on what is now part of Richmond Hill
The Following article was published in 1906 from a Richmond Hill newspaper
Researched by Carl Ballenas
LIFE OF A CAPTAIN
Sailor Retired To Farm in Richmond Hill Near the Bay
No man who has sailed before the mast has ever quite forgotten the sea, nor is he entirely happy very far away from it. Although Captain Jeremiah Briggs gave up the life of a sailor when he was in his 40's to become a farmer in what is now Richmond Hill, he always wanted to be within sight of the sea.
To his home which stood on a site back of the present Richmond Hill police station he added a cupola and there he would spend many hours during the later years of his life, with spy glass in hand watching the ships on Jamaica Bay. One who visits his grave in Cypress Hills Cemetery up near the ridge of ground in the northern end, need only look south to see the Atlantic Ocean on a clear day.
Capt. Briggs was born on Block Island in 1792 and like many of the boys of that place, he went to sea at an early age. It is fair to assume that he was a good sailor for at 20 he was captain of a gunboat during the War of 1812. After the war, young Briggs sailed ships all over the world. Later he founded the Briggs Swift Shore Line of Freight Propellers which operated on the inland canals of New Jersey hauling freight between New York and Philadelphia.
Briggs married Jane Maria Hedges of Sag Harbor and with her came to live in the farm in Richmond Hill. Their farm lay south of Jamaica Avenue from Briggs Lane, (now 117th Street) to 116th Street.
Several children were born to the couple there. One of daughters, Nina, became the wife of Joel Fowler, a native of Guilford, Conn., who had spent his early life in building railroads in Kansas and Tennessee. After his marriage Fowler engaged in the real estate business in Richmond Hill and was elected Alderman 1917. He died in 1922. Capt. Briggs though active in village life never held public office though in 1855 he was a candidate for state senator but he withdrew before election time.
The old Briggs homestead, with the cupola from which the captain looked out over the sea was later moved from its original site to the west side of 117th Street. It is now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Jetmore DeForest, the later being the daughter of Alderman Fowler and Nina Briggs. Jetmore, a native of Topeka, Kansas, is an attorney.
Captain Briggs lived to the age of 84, and died in May, 1876.