Briggs, Elisha Andrews (1819–1905)

By: Jeanette H. Flachmeier

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: August 20, 2021

Elisha Andrews Briggs, Texas Ranger, merchant, and Baptist minister, the son of Dea Isaac Briggs, was born at Amherst, Massachusetts, on August 19, 1819. Because of ill health he left college at Gull Prairie, Michigan, and went to live with his father, a government agent on an Indian reservation. In 1841 he started for Texas on a log raft on the Mississippi River, worked his way on a steamboat to New Orleans, and studied law and Spanish there for a year with his uncle, Thomas B. Andrews. The uncle sent him to Texas as manager of his land in Fort Bend County. A flood on the Brazos River ruined the buildings and plantation, and Briggs moved to Austin in the summer of 1843.

He became a Texas Ranger in 1844 and recruited men for a special detail to protect Castroville and Quihi in Castro's colony. He scouted, trailed, and fought Indians in the San Antonio area for two years under John Coffee (Jack) Hays and William A. A. (Bigfoot) Wallace. In 1846, under Maj. Samuel Highsmith, he joined the United States Army in Mexico. When he left ranger service, he bred fine horses and became manager of the Vance ranch. He married Frances Weber of Castroville on October 28, 1848. In 1859 he moved to San Antonio, where he opened a mercantile business in 1861. During the Civil War he opened the first direct road between San Antonio and Matamoros to carry the Confederate mail between those cities. He was appointed by Governor Pendleton Murrah to receive and record claims of ranchmen for stock stolen by Indians. Briggs married Eliza Jane Newton on June 27, 1864. In 1866 he moved twenty miles from San Antonio to a homestead where he farmed and raised stock while serving as justice of the peace and notary public. In 1874 he entered the Baptist ministry. He assisted in reorganization of the Medina Baptist Church at Somerset and helped organize the Rio Grande Baptist Association at Frio Town. He traveled as a missionary over his trails of Indian fighting and preached in Spanish and English. He died at his home on December 29, 1905, and was buried at the Lytle Community Cemetery in Atascosa County.

Andrew Jackson Sowell, Early Settlers and Indian Fighters of Southwest Texas (Austin: Ben C. Jones, 1900; rpt., Austin: State House Press, 1986).

  • Religion
  • Baptist

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Jeanette H. Flachmeier, “Briggs, Elisha Andrews,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 22, 2022,

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August 20, 2021