Nathaniel Matthew Griggs was born in the mid-1850s into slavery in Farmville, and was the son of Matthew Griggs and Nicy Washington Griggs. Family tradition credits at least some of his success in life to the generous assistance of one or more local white families. Griggs learned to read and write and went to work in one of the local tobacco-processing factories. On July 24, 1879, he married Fannie Evans. They had four sons, three daughters, and an eighth child whose gender is unknown. Two of their children died young. Two of their sons attended Lincoln University, in Chester County, Pennsylvania, including Augustus C. Griggs, who became a clergyman.
Griggs's mother borrowed $100 in 1885 and purchased two town lots in Farmville, which she sold for a $20 profit the following year. In May 1886 Griggs purchased for $400 a tract of land that measured 168 feet by 230 feet on the border between Farmville and the county. The following year he and his wife borrowed $200 from the Farmville Building and Trust Company, using the property as collateral, in order to purchase stock in the company.
Mid-1850s - Nathaniel M. Briggs is born enslaved in Farmville.
July 24, 1879 - Nathaniel M. Briggs and Fannie Evans marry. They will have eight children.
March 14, 1881 - Nathaniel M. Briggs attends a meeting of African American Republicans in Petersburg.
June 1882 - Nathaniel M. Briggs speaks at a Republican meeting in Amelia County.
November 1883 - Nathaniel M. Briggs wins election to the House of Delegates, representing Prince George County.
May 1886 - Nathaniel M. Briggs purchases land near Farmville.
1887 - Nathaniel M. Briggs and his wife purchase stock in the Farmville Building and Trust Company.
1887 - Nathaniel M. Briggs wins election to the Senate of Virginia, representing Amelia, Cumberland, and Prince Edward counties.
Early 1890s - Nathaniel M. Briggs works at the Bureau of Printing and Engraving in Washington, D.C.
1910 - Nathaniel M. Briggs is recorded in the federal census as living in Philadelphia.
June 1919 - Nathaniel M. Briggs moves from Philadelphia to Farmville.
July 5, 1919 - Nathaniel M. Briggs dies in Farmville. He is buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Farmville.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
Tarter, B., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Nathaniel M. Griggs (d. 1919). (2019, April 16). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Griggs_Nathaniel_M_d_1919.
- MLA Citation:
Tarter, Brent and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Nathaniel M. Griggs (d. 1919)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 16 Apr. 2019. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: April 10, 2019 | Last modified: April 16, 2019