Riggs, William Bates

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Riggs, William Bates

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1853-1937

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William Bates Riggs played an important role in the history of Belleville, Ontario. He was a Bandleader, businessman, and at one point, the Mayor. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on August 17th, 1853, he moved to Belleville in 1881 to become the Bandmaster of the Oddfellow's Band, which later amalgamated with the 15th Battalion Band to become the Consolidated and Oddfellows Band. Under his direction for 20 years, it became one of the finest bands in eastern Canada.
He married Mary Priscilla Riggs (nee Nelson), and together they had four children: Leo Bates Riggs, Lester David Riggs, Wanda E. Riggs, and Vera Lewis (nee Riggs).
In 1889, William Bates Riggs became a piano and organ retailer in Belleville, Ontario, also selling other musical instruments and sheet music. As the demand for automobiles rose, he realized their potential, and established the Riggs Motor Sales in 1914. His garage and showrooms were successful from the start, and he held the first agency for Ford motor cars in Belleville.
William Bates Riggs was involved in the civic, social, and religious life of Belleville. He served as a member of the City Council for three years, and in 1920 was elected Mayor. He was a Life Deacon of Victoria Avenue Baptist Church, and was Sunday School superintendent for several years. He also served as a choir master for over 30 years. He took an active role in the organization YMCA, serving on its board and as president for 1 year.
William Bates Riggs was also a keen sportsman; he was an expert rifleman, and enjoyed hunting, fishing, and lawn bowling.
On July 3rd, 1937, William bates Riggs died in Belleville, Ontario.

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