Western Trips

Western Trips

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Texas Museums / Pecos County Annie Riggs

annie riggs hotel

 Visit Historic Fort Stockton Texas

If your vacation in Texas or road trip takes you into west Texas, there is a fabulous museum located at Fort Stockton Texas, a west Texas town easily reached by Interstate-10. The Annie Riggs Hotel and Boardinghouse, which today is a world renown museum and considered Fort Stockton's first real hotel, was bought by a woman  named Annie Riggs back in 1904. Annie Riggs managed the hotel until she died in 1931. The building was wisely turned into a museum in 1954 and contains a fascinating and very high quality display of 19th and 20th century memorabilia.

The museum is comprised of fourteen rooms which display late 18th and very early 19th century furnishings, clothes, kitchen items, artwork and a courtyard with dozens of branding irons, a carriage and an old frontier plow. You'll also find some interesting reading material. You'll see the first electric stove in Ft Stockton TX which Annie Riggs bought in 1922. Another very interesting exhibit is a recreated boarding room with the actual iron bed that Annie bought for $6.75 from Sears. During the days of Annie Riggs hotel, a room might cost .50 cents a night and a family meal perhaps .35 cents. The hotel/boarding house's wrap-around verandas and gingerbread trim is an excellent example of Territorial architecture. This hotel would have been considered quite luxurious in 1900 Fort Stockton Texas.

The Old Annie Riggs Hotel

annie riggs hotel porch
Wrap around porch
For the history minded traveler on a west Texas vacation, you'll find signs inside the old hotel which explain a few rules of the house. Annie Riggs wanted to run a good decent and clean hotel. Rules included not burning lights and electricity unnecessarily and also forbidding spitting on the floor. Probably good rules to have considering the era and remote location.

If you're looking for a 1902 voting ballot box, you'll find one on display that was fished out of the Pecos River. There is an archeology area that displays tusks of a Columbian mammoth found only about eight miles from the museum site. Cowboy artifacts include boots and spurs from the era. You'll also be able to view a good collection of pioneer women clothing. There is a Temporary Exhibit Room that features changing displays and a mural of Pecos County history. The goal per the Fort Stockton Historical Society is to preserve, restore, and utilize the historical past. They have done an excellent job of that.

Other fun activities at the Annie Riggs Museum include country and folk music concerts that are put on every other Thursday during July and August. These outdoor programs are free and visitors are very welcome.When you're ready to plan a vacation to west Texas you may want to check the calendar for special events in and around Fort Stockton.

See these additional Western Trips articles on the links below...

The Nimitz National Museum / Fredericksburg TX

Visit Gruene Texas on the Old Stagecoach Line

Annie Riggs History

annie riggs hotel courtyard
Annie Riggs Hotel courtyard
A few personal facts about Annie Riggs. She was born on November 24, 1858 in Las Cruces New Mexico. Her birth name was Annie Frazier and the family moved to Fort Stockton after the end of the Civil War.

Annie was married in 1877, had six children and then the marriage fell apart in the late 1880's. Annie married for a second time in 1891 to a man named Barney Kemp Riggs. Annie still had a few of her children with her and Barney had one. Barney Riggs had a shaky past, being sentenced to life in prison at the Yuma Territorial Prison for an Arizona murder but later pardoned for reportedly saving the life of the governor. As part of the deal, however, Barney was told to leave Arizona and not come back. Barney Kemp Riggs was shot and killed in 1902 and passed away at the old Koehler Hotel with Annie by his side. Annie went ahead and bought this same hotel two years later and renamed it the Riggs Hotel.

Before Annie Riggs purchased the hotel for a reported $5,000, the structure was known as the Koehler Hotel. The Koehler Hotel was built in 1899 and served as a stage stop on the trans Texas route. Actually, Fort Stockton was a stage and freighter stopover long before Annie Riggs arrived. Originally referred to as Comanche Springs, the area was located at a key junction.

The Butterfield Overland Mail Stage Line came to Fort Stockton from the northeast on it's journey from Missouri to California. Other stage, mail and freight routes passed by Fort Stockton on the San Antonio to El Paso route. The military fort itself was at a key location to protect overland travelers from Comanche and Apache raids. The old military post of Fort Stockton (abandoned during the Civil War but rebuilt later) is located only a few blocks east of the Annie Riggs Museum and is a must stop while on your Texas vacation. The fort consists of several restored buildings around the parade grounds. Also, the fort museum has a lot of information and displays regarding the Buffalo Soldiers who were stationed at Fort Stockton after the Civil War as well as many rare frontier military artifacts. The fort museum also displays a rare Sharps Rifle 1874 Sporting model among many other period rifles.

Nearby Big Bend National Park

Another thing to make note of when you plan a vacation to this part of Texas is that the remote yet beautiful Big Bend National Park is not far to the south of Fort Stockton. Many people who live outside of Texas may ask, where is Big Bend? The question probably is asked because of the remoteness of the park. The fact is that Big Bend Park attracts thousands of tourist annually. Big Bend is also unique for it's ruggedness and is probably the most remote National Park in the country. That's one of the big reasons it attracts so many people planning Texas vacations.

Stay at Fort Stockton


carriage in courtyard
Carriage in courtyard
If you plan to spend the evening in the area there are excellent Fort Stockton hotels along Interstate-10.

The Annie Riggs Museum is located at 301 S. Main St. in Fort Stockton Texas ( corner of Main and Callaghan ). It's a terrific place to visit while take a driving break from Interstate-10.

If you want to get a real taste of old southwest Texas, the Annie Riggs Museum is a place not to miss. The Fort Stockton Historical Society has done a magnificent job there. The museum is open six days per week. Their phone number is 432-336-2167.

(Article and photos copyright Western Trips


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6 comments:

  1. I am so sad I missed this. A few friends and I went out to Texas in hopes of exploring the entire state, with this being one of the stops we made. Unfortunately, we ended up at Memorial Emergency Room in Houston, which is where we ended the trip because my one friend got really sick. If we ever get back out to Texas, this will definitely be one of the places we stop at.

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  2. I am a great grandchild of Annie Frazier Johnson Riggs. While her father, George M. Frazier and wife, Mary Edgar, were up near Las Cruces, New Mexico during the Civil War, Annie Stella was born in 1858. George was a Captain/Major in the confederacy.After the war and some other enterprises of commerce, George settled in Ft. Stockton and became the County Judge. James Johnson was later a sheriff and he wed Annie. One of their daughters, Emma Lee, married a McKay out of Carlsbad, N.M., and had a son, my father, Raymond McKay. Sadly, TB claimed their lives and Raymond was adopted by Annie and taken back to Ft. Stockton. Meanwhile, Annie eventually divorced Johnson and he sort of disappeared altogether when supposedly moving towards El Paso, Texas. Annie, despite having six kids in tow and Raymond, managed to obtain land and become a successful businesswoman. to be continued.

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    Replies
    1. That would be Willie McKay that Emmalee married.

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  3. As for Barney Riggs, he didn't save the governor, he temporarily saved the warden during an attempted break out by a few Mexican inmates. Barney was in the yard and rushed to help the warden who was being held and eventually stabbed. Barney killed one and the tower guard took care of the rest.

    After Annie filed for divorce from Barney, it was Buck Chadbourne who was with her in a buggy when Barney charged over from a bar. An argument ensued and Buck did Barney in by shotgun. That is just old man memory right now. I will have to look at the book again to get it exactly correct.

    Anyway, it sure was the Wild Wild West. My great grandmother Annie Riggs was a good business woman and a wonderful range lady. As for me, I am a son of Raymond McKay and getting old but still 'Putting On the Ritz' what with the 20th anniversary of The El Paso Boxing/Martial Arts Hall of Fame ceremony coming up April 27th, 2013 at Region XIX in El Paso, Texas. I founded the halls back in 1993 and I am again Executive Director. My star-studded guests this year are: Ernie Reyes Jr. Yes, he of the Ninja Turtles, an actor, a producer and a Hollywood entrepreneur. He recently finished Avatar and is working on Avatar II. He will be the speaker for the Martial Arts. Jesse Valdez, the 6-time national boxing champion and Olympic medalist of 1972 who also created Boxercise is our boxing guest speaker. We also have Troy Dorsey, the only fighter in history to win wolrd titles in boxing, karate, and kickboxing. Ishmael Robles is another 3 - time world kickboxing champion and he will be a special guest. George Chung will visit too. He is a 5 time world forms champion. And we have Nico Perez a top conter and 2 time NABA Champion. He is being inducted as is the great champion, Jerry Martinez. And much much more.


    WBA World Champion, Austin Trout, was our guest speaker last year. He will make an appearance too if his fight against Canelo alvarez goes well on April 20th in San Antonio, Texas. For now, that's all folks, have a happy,
    Thomas W. McKay
    Executive Director
    915 5916089
    mckay_thomas@att.net

    ReplyDelete
  4. Seems as though Jim Miller was a serial killer to say the least. Glad someone finally gave him just justice.

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  5. A Redo by Tom McKay

    Annie Frazier Johnson Riggs

    Corrections By Tom McKay

    A few personal facts about Annie Riggs: She was born on November 24, 1858 in Dona Ana,New Mexico, near Las Cruces, New Mexico. Her birth name was Annie Frazier, daughter of Judge George M. Frazier and Mary Edgar Frazier. The family moved to Fort Stockton after the end of the Civil War.

    Annie was married in 1877 to Sheriff James Johnson, had six children and then the marriage fell apart in the late 1880's. Annie married for a second time in 1891 to a man named Barney Kemp Riggs. Annie still had a few of her children with her and Barney had one. Barney Riggs had a shaky past, being sentenced to life in prison at the Yuma Territorial Prison for an Arizona murder but later pardoned for reportedly saving the life of the governor. As part of the deal, however, Barney was told to leave Arizona and not come back. Barney Kemp Riggs was shot and killed in 1902 and passed away at the old Koehler Hotel with Annie by his side. Annie went ahead and bought this same hotel two years later and renamed it the Riggs Hotel.

    Thomas W. McKay October 11, 2012 at 11:56 AM
    I am a great grandchild of Annie Frazier Johnson Riggs. While her father, George M. Frazier and wife, Mary Edgar, were up near Las Cruces, New Mexico during the Civil War, Annie Stella was born in 1858. George was a Captain/Major in the Confederacy. .After the war and some other enterprises of commerce, George settled in Ft. Stockton and became the County Judge. James Johnson was later a Sheriff and he wed Annie. One of their daughters, Emma Lee, married a McKay out of Carlsbad, N.M., and had a son, my father, Raymond McKay. Sadly, TB claimed their lives and Raymond was adopted by Annie and taken back to Ft. Stockton. Meanwhile, Annie eventually divorced Johnson and he sort of disappeared altogether when supposedly moving towards El Paso, Texas. Annie, despite having six kids in tow, and Raymond McKay, whom she adopted, managed to obtain land and become a successful businesswoman.

    To be continued with more research and accuracy. Hopefully!!!
    Tom

    ReplyDelete

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