The Shelby Museum Of History
Recorders of Shelby Pictorial History


Early Shelby Photographers and their Photographs

W. Jesse Briggs c. 1909
The only current photo example of W. Jesse Briggs dates from 1909.
As can be seen (below) on the reverse of the Marvin Library photo shown above, it is stamped "Photo By W. JESSE BRIGGS, Shelby, Ohio". The writer of the post card writes, " This is where I get my reading to keep me busy on Sundays. It is not so fine from the outside but the interior is elegantly furnished."
The photo is composed nicely, quite sharp, and the photo production process was well done. The card has weathered 100 years very well.
Who was William Jesse Briggs? There were two living in Shelby at the time (August 29, 1909) this photo was mailed.
Jacob P. Briggs was born in England in 1846 and came to the US in 1848 with his parents, Jesse and Ruth Bartram Briggs and three sisters: Eliza, Martha and Mary.
Jesse and Ruth Briggs settled on a farm in the Plymouth Township area of Richland County and lived here most all their lives. Jacob's older sister Martha (born 1842) married Samuel Whitney, George and Catherine Salsbury Whitney's oldest son in 1861. Jacob continued to work on his father's farm until 1866, when he married Mary Melinda Lucinda Whitney (born 1850) who was Samuel Whitney's younger sister.
Soon after their marriage, Jacob and his new wife moved to the area of North Bloomfield in Morrow County, Ohio. Jacob listed his trade on the 1870 census as "ditcher". It was here in Morrow County that William Jesse Briggs Sr. was born on September 20, 1867. He was to be the oldest of 13 children, born to Jacob and Lucinda Whitney Briggs.
Jacob continued to work as a ditcher in the Morrow County area through the time of the 1880 census, but by 1900 he and Mary were again living in Shelby, this time at 13 Seltzer Avenue. Son William Jesse Briggs had married in 1887 to Emma Black and they were living at 41 West Street . William Sr. was employed at the Shelby Spring Hinge working as a shipping clerk. while wife Emma was busy with their family of 3 children: Gertrude 11, William Jesse 9, and Emma Estella 6.
Now in 1909 when the above photo was sold, we have William Jesse Briggs Sr. 44, employee of the Shelby Spring Hinge and William Jesse Briggs Jr. 18 who is listed in the 1908 Shelby directory as "student boarding at 41 West Street".
William Jesse Briggs Sr. was to continue his employment at the Shelby Spring Hinge in the shipping department for the rest of his working career (according to 1920, 1930 censuses as well as Shelby directories).
On his WWI draft registration William Jesse Briggs Jr. listed his occupation as "druggist at the H. L. Crowell store" in Shelby. He was a "student at college" in the 1920 census. On his WWII draft registration in 1942, he signed his name as: "W. J. Briggs - O. D." ( Doctor of Optometry; Optometrist. ) When he provided information for his mother's death certificate in 1949, he signed: "Dr. W. J. Briggs". Dr. Briggs died in 1954 and is buried in the Oakland Cemetery in Shelby.
It is this researcher's opinion that the photographer "W. Jesse Briggs - Shelby, Ohio" was William Jesse Briggs Jr. He seems to have been the type that was searching various avenues for his career. It appears that in 1920 at the age of 30 he was back in school probably preparing himself for his final career as an optometrist. He was associated with the Crowell's Drug Store and there have been many post cards of the Shelby area that were produced by, and marked "published by H. L. Crowell". Most of these cards were of 1907 - 1912 vintage, so William Jesse Jr. could have been exposed to this (or perhaps been a part of it) with his association with the H. L. Crowell Store.
Since we are only aware of this one card, it would be unwise to speculate over what period W. Jesse Briggs produced photo post cards, but as more cards are discovered the results will be included here.
July 2017 - A second W. Jesse Briggs photo has been discovered. The subjects in the photo are
unknown at this time, however, the photo was taken at the front door of either Grant or Hayes
elementary school.
Unfortunately the post card was not used and therefore has no cancellation date stamp
to aid in establishing a time frame. It does appear that the "W. JESSE BRIGGS" back stamp
is identical to that used on the reverse of Shelby Public Library card (above). The fact that
it was applied at an angle would indicate that a hand stamp was used.
Please contact us at the Shelby Museum if you have information re. the subjects in
the photo, or if you can determine which school is pictured.
If you have examples of Briggs photo post cards, please contact us at the Shelby Museum.
If you have questions or if you would like more information, please contact :
The Shelby Museum of History
% Sally Maier
76 Raymond Ave.
Shelby, Ohio 44875
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