The Trials of Helen Briggs

Helen Briggs seems to have gotten the short end of the straw more than once in her life. In 1855, as an organist, she had to sue the Skaneateles Religious Society which owed her $200 in back pay for three years of music she had provided at the Presbyterian church. The case was tried in Syracuse and “the galleries of the court house were thronged with ladies during the trial,” who apparently saw this as a case of one brave woman standing up against a committee of pious but stingy men.  Miss Briggs got her $200, and from the occasional news article we know that she continued to play the organ, at the Baptist Church, and for weddings as well. She was also a member of the Leisure Hour Club, but otherwise kept a low profile, until one day in April of 1905. On that day, she was cleaning her kitchen curtains with gasoline. Heat from the stove ignited the curtains, the dish of gasoline, Helen Briggs and her home, all in a moment. She died the following day and is buried in Lake View Cemetery.

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2 thoughts on “The Trials of Helen Briggs

    • It’s an excellent solvent, and probably a wonderful way to get grease out of kitchen curtains. The downside being that it’s HIGHLY flammable. From about 1900 to 1940, there was at least one such article in the newspaper each year, sometimes more, before society got the memo.

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