Harriet Riggs, 3xgreat-grandma.

This is a portion of what I hope will be a longer article about my 3rd Great-Grandmother, Harriet E. (Riggs) (Talmage) Atwood. She lived a long and interesting life, and I hope to tease out all of her secrets. In the meantime, it is best to start at the beginning……

Who Were the Parents of Harriet, Second Wife of Wheeler Atwood of Woodbury, Connecticut?

Pauline C. Merrick

May 2016

Wheeler Atwood, a large landowner of Woodbury, Litchfield County, Connecticut[[1]] married for his second wife Harriet E. Talmadge (also Tallmadge, Talmage) of Oxford, Connecticut 26 Aug 1837.[[2]] Harriet Talmadge is identified in the genealogy Dr. Henry Skilton and his Descendants[[3]] as Mrs. Harriet (Riggs) Talmadge, widow of Jason Talmadge, daughter of Daniel Riggs and Polly (Sackett) Riggs. As there are errors to be found in this family sketch (including Harriet’s date of death), further research was undertaken to verify the information.

Harriet was born 27 Sep 1816 in Watertown, Connecticut.[[4]] She died 28 Aug 1901 at the home of her granddaughter, Susan (Atwood) Warner, wife of Samuel N. Warner, in Thomaston, Connecticut.[[5]] Susan supplied the details information for the death certificate, and presumably for her obituary, which appeared in the Waterbury newspaper shortly after.

Harriet married first to Jason Talmage 28 Mar 1834[[6]] in Oxford, New Haven County, Connecticut. On 28 Sept 1835, Jason Talmage of Oxford published a notice that his wife, Harriet E. Talmage, had left his bed & board, and that he would pay no further debts of her making.[[7]] 26 July 1837, Harriet E. Tallmadge filed a petition for the annulment of her marriage to Jason Tallmadge,[[8]] alleging that on or about 1 April 1835 he committed adultery with one Marietta Balwin, and with “divers women” since that date. The annulment was granted, Harriet was declared to be a single woman, and married Wheeler Atwood shortly thereafter.

Harriet is enumerated in 1850[[9]] in the household of Wheeler Atwood, aged 34 years, which fits the 1816 birth year, although she did not turn 34 until three days after the census was taken. The 1840 census[[10]] tickmark indicates a female in Wheeler’s household aged 20 to 29 years, also fitting the 1816 birth year.

At the time of the 1850 census, Daniel Riggs, age 50, lived near to Wheeler and Harriet, on the neighboring farm of Leman G. Atwood.

Daniel Riggs married Polly Sackett 29 Oct 1814, probably in Oxford, New Haven County, Connecticut.[[11]] The 1820 census in Watertown[[12]] indicates Daniel Riggs as a male 16-25, with a female of the same age, and a male and female both under the age of 10. They are found in Woodbury in 1830;[[13]] a male and female 30-39, a male under 5, and a female 10-14, again fitting the 1816 birth year for Harriet.

The information on Harriet’s death certificate (supplied by her granddaughter) states that her parents were Joel Riggs and Polly Sackett. Susan, born in 1878, never knew Daniel who died in 1856. However, she may have remembered Daniel’s probable brother, Joel Riggs, who was a noted horse breeder/trainer in Oxford, and died in 1886.[[14]] Joel Riggs was born just twelve years before Harriet,[[15]] so could not be her father.

There is no other conflicting evidence to suggest that Harriet was not the daughter of Daniel Riggs and Polly (Sackett) Riggs, so it can be safely concluded that the information is correct.

 Who Were the Parents of Daniel Riggs, father of Harriet (Riggs) Atwood?

Proving the parents of Harriet Riggs leads a genealogist to the next logical question – who were her parent’s parents? Little direct evidence exists, but there are some good clues that point to them.

Knowing the exact date of marriage of Daniel to Polly Sackett is key to his identity. Nine days after the marriage, the following notice was submitted to the local newspapers:[[16]]


Left the house of the subscriber, about a week since, his son Daniel Riggs, who has conducted himself in a disobedient and unbecoming manner; and he therefore forewarns all persons from harboring or trusting him on his account, as no debt of his contracting will be paid. David Riggs, Oxford, Nov. 7, 1814.


Daniel was apparently disowned for marrying Polly Sackett. The probate records for David Riggs do not mention any children. Daniel died in Waterbury 12 Nov 1856.[[17]] He left no probate records, and the City Clerk has no record of his death. He was 58 years old at the time of death, implying that he was born about 1798, so would be the son of David Riggs’ second wife, Hannah Wheeler.

DNA – I have done DNA testing, along with one sister and one brother. My sister’s test is through Ancestry, where she is a member of a large DNA circle with descendants of Lucy Wheeler. This Lucy Wheeler was a sister to Hannah Wheeler who married David Riggs. Lucy had lots of descendants; Hannah relatively few that are known to me. I have not yet found any definite DNA connections to anyone descended from the Ct RIGGS family.

  Who Were the Parents of Polly Sackett, mother of Harriet (Riggs) Atwood?

Polly Sackett did not remarry after her divorce from Daniel Riggs, and was known as Polly Riggs for the rest of her life. She died in Ellington, Tolland County, Connecticut 18 Aug 1893.[[18]] She is buried in Ellington Center Cemetery[[19]] next to her daughter, Jane E. Buckingham.[[20]] The name of the informant for the death certificate is not given, but it was undoubtedly Jane. Polly’s parents’ names are given as Wm. O. Sackett and Polly Ann Sackett; her age was 97 years and 2 months, and husband’s name was Daniel Riggs.

There is more evidence that supports the death certificate information. At the time of the 1870 census, Polly Riggs was living in Seymour, New Haven County, Connecticut, in a household that includes Eliza Sperry, aged 28, Howard Sackett, aged 18, and Emma Sackett, aged 10.[[21]] These are children of William W. Sackett, known son of William O. and Polly Ann Sackett.

Another item is found in land records of Woodbridge, Connecticut. 27 Jan 1815 William O. Sackett and Polly Ann Sackett sold a parcel of land; Polly Riggs witnessed the signing of the deed,[[22]] three months after her marriage.

Genealogical Summary:

Daniel Riggs, son of David Riggs and Hannah (Wheeler) Riggs was born about 1798, died 12 Nov 1856. He married 29 Oct 1814 to Polly Sackett who was born about 1796 to William O. Sackett and Polly Ann (_____) Sackett. They were divorced in August of 1840.


  • 1) Harriet E., born 27 Sep 1816, died 28 Aug 1901. Married (1st) Jason Talmage, (2nd) Wheeler Atwood.
  • 2) Possible son born 1815-1820 (tickmark on 1820 census, no further.)
  • 3) Possible son born 1825-1830 (tickmark on 1830 census, no further.)
  • 4) Jane E., born 1832, died 1915. Married Henry Buckingham.

[[1]] Estate of Wheeler Atwood, Woodbury Probate District, #186, 1859. Microfilm, Connecticut State Library, or Ancestry.com, Connecticut Wills and Probate Records, 1609 – 1999, Hartford Probate packets, Ambler, J through Averill, 1720-1880, accessed May 2016.

[[2]] Wheeler Atwood vs Harriet Atwood, Conn. Superior Court Divorce Files, Record Group 3, Box #63, 1752 to 1922, Abbott to Barnard, Micofilm, Connecticut State Library.

[[3]] John Davis Skilton, ed, Dr. Henry Skilton and his Descendants, S.Z. Field, New Haven, Ct, 1921, page 44. Electronic copy on Google Books.

[[4]] Death Certificate, town of Thomaston, Litchfield County, Ct.

[[5]] Obituary, undated, in possession of author.

[[6]] Harriet E. Tallmadge vs Jason Tallmadge, Conn. Superior Court Divorce Files, Record Group 3, Box #84, 1752 to 1922, Soule to Taylor. LDS # 1671903, microfilm, Connecticut State Library.

[[7]] Advertisement, Connecticut Herald New Haven, Ct. Vol XXXIII, Issue 358 page 4.

[[8]] Ibid, divorce.

[[9]] U. S. Census, 1850, Woodbury, Litchfield County, Ct. Roll M432_43, page 373A, image 154.

[[10]] U. S. Census, 1840, Woodbury, Litchfield, Connecticut, Roll 25, page 149, image 304.

[[11]] Daniel Riggs vs Polly Riggs Conn Superior Court Divorce files, Record Group 3, Box #81 1752 to 1922 Powell to Robinson. Microfilm, Connecticut State Library.

[[12]] U. S. Census, 1820, Watertown, Litchfield, Connecticut, M33_1,Page 425, image 359.

[[13]] U. S. Census, 1830, Woodbury, Litchfield, Ct. M19, Roll 11, Page 403. Indexed as “Gane Rigge”.

[[14]] Oxford Vital Records, 1767 to 1907, microfilm, Ct. State Library, film #3705, LDS #1420658.

[[15]] Ibid, Oxford Vital Records, Joel died 11 Jan 1886 at the age of 82.

[[16]] Advertisement, Connecticut Journal, New Haven, Ct., XLVII:2456, page 4, 21 Nov 1814.

[[17]] Death Notice, Connecticut Courant, Hartford, Conn., Vol XCIII, Issue 4297, page 3, published 22 Nov 1856.

[[18]] Death Certificate, Town of Ellington, Ct.

[[19]] Find A Grave memorial # 83483103. Top of gravestone is engraved “Mother”. Jane is buried next to her, memorial # 83434805.

[[20]] U. S. Federal census, 1880, town of Seymour, New Haven County, Ct. Polly Riggs is enumerated in the household of Jane E. Buckingham, and listed as her mother.

[[21]] U. S. Federal census, 1870, town of Seymour, New Haven County, Ct.

[[22]] Deeds, Woodbridge, Ct. Book 10, page 384. Microfilm, Ct. State Library.

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