Constable William Ross Riggs

Constable William Ross Riggs

Marion County Constable's Office, West Virginia

End of Watch Wednesday, February 24, 1915

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William Ross Riggs

Constable William Riggs succumbed to injuries sustained 10 days earlier when he was struck on the head with a club and beaten during a riot of Jamison Coke and Coal Company miners near Farmington, West Virginia.

Constable Riggs and a posse of deputy sheriffs and other constables had arrested several of the rioters and were attempting to remove the prisoners when they were attacked. Constable Riggs was struck over the head with a club and suffered severe injuries. He was able to make it to a nearby home where his wound was dressed, but he died as a result 10 days later.

134 rioters were arrested and charged with murder. Four pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting in a malicious attack on a law enforcement officer. Two were sentenced to five years, one to four years, and the other to three.

Constable Riggs had served as the elected constable of the Fairmont District for 14 years. He was survived by his wife.


  • Age 47
  • Tour 14 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Assault
  • Incident Date Monday, February 15, 1915
  • Weapon Blunt object
  • Offender Four Convicted

civil unrest, strike

Most Recent Reflection

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It seems that there was a lot of resentment towards Constable Riggs for his aggressive enforcement of the Yost Law, a state alcohol prohibition law that predated federal prohibition. This frustration boiled over during the riot. In an eyewitness testimony, it was stated that prior to his assault, strikers were told to "go after" Riggs because he was the man that "made West Virginia dry".

Adam Hutson

February 2, 2023

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