Sunday, April 14, 2013

13595. L. Vernon Briggs

Now this was a nice surprise.

I'm really disappointed that I never got to meet Lloyd Vernon Briggs, but then, I feel that way about a lot of dead people. I mean, he was just so interesting. For all I know he could have been a jerk; I prefer to think otherwise. And they don't put that stuff on tombstones anyway. "Joe Smith, 1823-1878: A Total Ass." Maybe my family will break that mold with me.

But back to Briggs. One of his greatest accomplishments was a book, a tome. He wrote History of Shipbuilding on North River, one of the most important works on local industry I've ever found. Briggs visited all the old families involved in the shipbuilding trade and its itinerant industries in the many communities on the river - Scituate, Marshfield, Hanover, Pembroke, Norwell (which was just named the year before the book's publication) - and collected anecdotes, lists of ships built, even notes fom the inside covers of family bibles. The result was a massive book that reads like the Bible, speaking of generations of families who carried out the business. More than 1,000 ships slid out of the old mouth of the North River from 1690-1870. I wrote North River: Scenic Waterway of the South Shore after inspiration from his work.

But Briggs didn't stop there. He also wrote a history of a local church - the church, in fact, seen from this cemetery. I obviously have to read that one, as the full title reads, History of the First Congregational Church, Hanover, 1727-1865, and Inscriptions from the Headstones. His most interesting work, though? The Manner of Man that Kills: Spencer-Czoglosz-Richeson. After President McKinley was shot in Buffalo, Briggs sat in a room with his murderer, Leon Czoglosz, and gave him a psychological evaluation.

That's a lot of information that's not on his tombstone. Damn, I really wish I could have met him.

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