W. L. Biggs – Early Citizen of Council Bluffs

Washington Lee Biggs was a tavern keeper in West Liberty, West Virginia. He lived there with his wife Mary and his six children. In 1851 two of his young daughters passed away. In 1854 he put the tavern up for sale and moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa.

In Council Bluffs he became the proprietor of the Biggs House hotel. Over the years he ran for sheriff, was city alderman, coroner, election judge and justice of the peace. He was also active in the International Order of Odd Fellows.

Mary A. Biggs died September 26, 1888 at the age of 77. She is buried in Fairview Cemetery. W.L. Biggs continued as Justice of the Peace and took trips to visit his daughter in Leadville, Colorado.

In 1889 W.L. took rooms at 209 South Main St., the same place as Mrs. Louisa Poteet. This burgeoning relationship was not without controversy. Mrs. Poteet’s husband, W. D. Poteet, had been committed to the insane asylum in Clarinda in January of 1890. Mrs. Poteet divorced her husband shortly after this. After his release Mr. Poteet claims his wife had him committed on false pretenses and that she was having an affair with W. L. Biggs. Mrs. Poteet said her husband had himself committed in order to evade the authorities, who were investigating him on suspicion of counterfeiting.

Everything must have been resolved, as Louisa Poteet and W. L. Biggs married in a quiet ceremony on October 1, 1890.

Not only was W. L. Biggs involved in the occupations listed above, he was also known, as early as 1876, as the “tape worm” extractor. In the 1880 city directory 5 local citizens were willing to endorse his skills. By the last few years of his life he had been bestowed the honorary title of doctor. In 1889 alone he extracted a 21 foot tapeworm from a young Willie Cozad and two 250 foot tapeworms from Elias Sears. Fortunately W. L. Biggs methods were not revealed.

In his will W.L. Biggs left everything to his wife. After his death, Mr. Biggs’ daughter, Josephine Webb, contested the will claiming that her father “was unduly influenced through means of spiritualistic teachings, etc.” The jury eventually sided with Mr. Biggs’ widow.

Washington Biggs died November 27, 1892 at the age of 81 and is buried in Fairview Cemetery.