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Biographical Sketch

Norman Riggins and daughter Fannie

Norman A. Riggins was one of Lakeland's early settlers. He originally passed through what is now Lakeland on a trip through Florida in 1882. He returned from Missouri to live in the fledgling community in 1884 with his wife Sally, his parents Mann and Frances Riggins, and an aunt and uncle, Calvin and Margaret Waggoner. Riggins built a small home and he, his father and his uncle constructed a building to house their new general merchandise firm of Riggins and Waggoner. After only three years in Lakeland, Riggins sold his property in Lakeland, and he and his wife moved to Dexter, Missouri where Sally had relatives. The couple returned to Lakeland for good in 1895 upon the death of Norman's father. Both Norman and Sally remained residents of Lakeland until their deaths in the 1940's.

Riggins was born in New Providence, Tennessee in 1858. Shortly after his birth, his family moved, first to Kentucky and later to Missouri. He became enamored of Florida after his vacation trip through the state in 1882 and persuaded his extended family to move to Lakeland with him two years later.

Once Riggins became a permanent resident of Lakeland in 1895, he became active in the business and civic affairs of the community. He served as a city commissioner, city and county school board member, founding member of the Polk County Agricultural Association, and as a member of numerous boards and committees whose goal was the betterment of Lakeland. In addition to remaining a partner in Riggins and Waggoner, the business he, his father and uncle had started in 1884, Riggins had an interest in a lumber mill, an ice plant, a novelty company, and a large commercial farming enterprise.

As his prosperity grew, Riggins decided to build a new and larger home for his wife and three children, Mary Pattie, Margaret Frances, and Leonard Wallace. He purchased six acres of Land on Lake Morton in 1904 and built what remains one of the most distinctive structures in Lakeland. The stately Victorian home which he constructed came to be known as Mosswood for the Spanish moss draped oak trees that surrounded the house. It was home to several generations of the Riggins/Darracott family and survived a move across the street in 1952 and conversion to apartments in the 1950's. Once again a private home, it remains one of Lakeland's most visible historic landmarks.

The Riggins and the Darracotts, two of Lakeland's earliest families, were linked in 1907 by the marriage of Riggins' daughter, Mary Pattie, to John W. Darracott. The Darracott family had moved to Lakeland in 1895 at about the same time that Norman and Sally Riggins had returned to the city after their eight year sojourn in Missouri.

Norman A. Riggins died at his beloved Mosswood on June 26, 1941. He was 82.

For additional information about the Riggins/Darracott family history and family genealogies, see Pinkston, Margaret Darracott. Mosswood Remembered. Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1995.