Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cilbey Lihu Wiggins (1847-1910)

Cilbey Lihu Wiggins, from the Pensacola Journal, November 4, 1908.

    Hailing from the county of Escambia in Florida, Cilbey Lihu Wiggins accumulated a fortune through the manufacture of timber, and through his work gained a reputation as a prominent business figure in the South. Towards the end of his life, Wiggins was honored by being elected as Pine Barren, Florida's representative in the Florida State Assembly, taking his seat in January 1909.
   The son of William David and Sarah Ann Noble Wiggins, Cilbey L. Wiggins' birth occurred in Pike County, Alabama on July 5, 1847. Wiggins was left fatherless at a young age (his father having died in 1849) and shortly thereafter was sent to live with the Emmons family of Escambia County, Alabama. He would reside in their home until reaching his "twenty-fifth year" and married in March of 1872 to Martha Hamac, and they are recorded as being childless through the duration of their nearly forty years of marriage. Though they may not have had any children of their own, Wiggins and his wife were the guardians of two brothers, John L. and Walter B. Jernigan
    Shortly following his marriage Cilbey Wiggins entered into a partnership in a mercantile firm with Neil McMillan. The firm of Wiggins and McMillan lasted for about a year when Wiggins decided to withdraw from the business. Sometime later he turned his attention to the lumber industry, and, after meeting up with A.R. McMillan (presumably a relative of the previously mentioned Neil McMillan), the two men established a sawmill located near Pollard, Alabama. This business was sold in 1881, and soon after Wiggins and McMillan set their sights on property located in Pine Barrens, Florida where they would erect another lumber mill.  This mill (described by the Memorial Record of Alabama as being one of the "best of its kind in the lumber region") would put out "60.000 to 75,000" board feet a day, and was furnished with then state-of-the-art machinery and kilns.
   Through his dealings in lumber and milling Cilbey Wiggins amassed a fortune, and was recorded in his Montgomery Advertiser death notice as having an estate worth nearly $500,000. Mentioned as being a man of great "personal popularity" amongst his fellow Escambia County citizens, Wiggins had substantial real estate holdings in the area, as well as a large share of stock in various local banks. Though not an office seeker, Wiggins' name was put forth as a Democratic nominee for the Florida House of Representatives in 1908, and in November of that year was elected with a vote of 1, 460. Taking his seat at the beginning of the 1909 term, Wiggins was named to the house committees on Forestry, Game and Public Health. During his service, Wiggins introduced "a bill to protect gophers" which was later given to the committee on bills in the third reading. The bill eventually came up for vote and passed, 41 votes to 5, in May 1909
   Cilbey Lihu Wiggins died in office on March 26, 1910 at age 62, his cause of death being attributed to "heart trouble." In his will, Wiggins left a number of bequests to institutions in both Alabama and Florida, including a $10,000 donation to the Summerfield Orphanage in Summerfield, Alabama and a $10,000 donation to the Downing Industrial School for Girls. Wiggins also left $30,000 to both his brother John and Walter Jernigan, the latter of whom also received twenty-five shares of stock in the McMillan Lumber Company as well as real estate holdings. 
  Following his passing Wiggins was entombed in a mausoleum at the Pollard Cemetery in Pollard, Alabama. He would later be posthumously recognized by the Downing Industrial School by having Wiggins Hall named in his honor. 

From the 1909 Florida House Journal.

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