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Anna Stella Frazier

"Annie Riggs"



Annie's Life

Born November 24, 1858 near Las Cruces, New Mexico, Anna Stella was the first child of George M. and Mary Edgar Frazier. The family moved to Fort Stockton after the Civil War.

On June 16, 1877, Annie married James Johnson at St Joseph Catholic Church in Fort Stockton. Johnson was the first sheriff in Pecos County. While bearing six children, Annie ran the Johnson Hotel, a popular boarding house. By the late 1880s, the marriage failed and James moved to Toyah.

In 1891, Annie married Barney Kemp Riggs in a civil ceremony. Riggs was considered by many to be a gunman. He had received a life sentence for murder in the Arizona Territorial Penitentiary at Yuma. When a riot broke out there, Riggs saved the warden's life and was later pardoned by the governor, although told to leave the territory and "never return".

Annie brought four children into the often turbulent marriage, Barney brought a son from a previous marriage, and together they had four children. Annie was granted a divorce in 1901. Her son-in-law, from her first marriage, Buck Chadborn, was named as trustee for Annie's settlement. Barney had threatened Buck's life and on April 7, 1902, Buck shot Barney in self defense. Annie had her ex-husband carried to the Koehler Hotel (now the Riggs Museum), where she sat with him until he died the next day.

Riggs did not leave a will, and the courts awarded his estate to Annie. She used those assets to purchase the Koehler Hotel in 1904. Changing the name to the Riggs Hotel, she operated it as a hotel or boarding house almost to the time of her death on May 17, 1931 at the age of 73.

Riggs Hotel

Six local businessmen recognized the community's need for a hotel and organized the Fort Stockton Hotel Company. A site on a hill above Comanche Sprigs was selected, and construction began on the town's first substantial hotel in 1899. It opened in 1901 as the Koehler Hotel, named in memory of Herman Koehler, a benevolent, early Fort Stockton merchant.

The sprawling, single-story, exposed adobe brick building with its wrap-around verandas and gingerbread trim is a prime example of Territorial architecture. It has fifteen rooms, nine of which were guest rooms. All of them have both a door and window that open onto the veranda. The walls are two feet thick and the ceilings fourteen feet high.

Annie Riggs purchased the hotel for $5,000 in 1904; she paid $3,000 down and the rest on terms. The rate for a bed (not a room) was 50 cents. Family style meals were 35 cents. Baths were available at the bathhouse at Comanche Springs. Annie initially operated the facility as a hotel, then as a boarding house. She employed a full time cook, maintained a separate residence, and frequently employed a manager for the hotel. After her death in 1931, one of her sons, Ernest, with wife, Tina, operated the boarding house into the 1940s. Various family members resided in parts of the building during the Depression years and later.

In 1955 fourteen heirs of Annie Frazier Johnson Riggs deeded the old hotel to the Fort Stockton Historical Society to be operated as a museum, which opened in November of the same year.

Riggs Hotel Rules

  1. Guests without baggage must pay in advance

  2. No account carried longer than one week

  3. All boisterous and profane language strictly forbidden

  4. All drinking or gambling in rooms strictly forbidden

  5. Please do not spit or throw ashes or matches on the floor

  6. Guests wishing early calls must notify clerk before retiring

  7. And damage to furniture, other than ordinary wear, will be charge to occupants of rooms

  8. Guests must refrain from all singing or loud talking after reasonable hours for retiring

  9. Persons engaging rooms will be charged for same from time rooms are place at their disposal whether occupied or not

  10. Please extinguish lights on leaving rooms or retiring. Extra charge for burning lights unnecessarily

  11. It is expected that parents will exercise proper care over children and not allow them to make a playground of halls and parlors

  12. Money, jewels and valuables must be left with clerk in office, otherwise proprietor will not be responsible for any loss.

Meals a la carte from 6:00 AM to 10:30 PM






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Last updated: Sunday, May 06, 2007 06:43 PM

Copyright 2009 by Eddie Cope