Marker 245: Clare A. Briggs -- Cartoonist

Photographed October 8, 2014
Erected 1978 by Wisconsin Historical Society
Reedsburg, Sauk County, Wisconsin
43° 31.997′ N, 89° 55.68′ W

Clare A. Briggs was born in Reedsburg on August 5, 1875 to Mr. and Mrs. William Pardee Briggs.

At an early age Briggs became a sketch artist, and in 1896 he accepted a job as an illustrator with the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. After working for several newspapers, he gained national recognition as a cartoonist with the New York Herald Tribune.

Briggs is best remembered for such titles as “The Days of Real Sport,” “When a Feller Needs a Friend,” and “Ain’t it a Grand and Glorious Feelin’?” His most popular cartoons depicted his boyhood in Reedsburg and made the town’s “Old Swimming Hole” and his childhood friend “Skinny” famous.

He died January 3, 1930, and according to his request his ashes were scattered over New York Harbor.

The keen observation and gentle humor of Briggs are evident in his cartoons and make his work just as enjoyable today as when it first appeared.
The marker is located at a highway wayside on westbound East Main Street / Highway 33 / Highway 23, between Wakerly Lane and Northwoods Drive, Reedsburg, Wisconsin 53959.

Signage leading to marker location.


Scott Brundage said...

I thought Briggs had a regular comic strip which was syndicated< is this true. When I was in highschool at Webb High, I was told his swimming hole was in the river near the highschool where it was in the 1960's. But the cartoon names mentioned on the marker, dont "ring a bell" with my memory of what i was told.

Melinda Roberts said...

Several sources (the links on this post) indicate that that Briggs' cartoons were syndicated across the country, and that he was one of the highest paid illustrators in the United States. This historical marker was placed in 1978 -- so almost 40 years ago. I've found in my travels that many of these older markers contain erroneous information. I encourage you to research what you believe are errors in the marker content, and to lead a campaign to make the appropriate corrections. Even though the marker is an "official" State Historical Society marker, it is probably "owned" by a local historical society. You can find that out by contacting Rick Bernstein at the Wisconsin Historical Society at 608-264-6583 or Good luck, and please let me know what happens! :)

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