|On guard at the Pasetta House in History Park|
One of the most interesting characters to adorn the streets of San Jose was Captain Briggs who led three lives, first appearing on the street as ‘The Jolly Tar,’ a three foot tall British Seaman. Today, he would be known as a Cigar Store Indian, but while he adorned the front of many cigar stores, he certainly wasn't an Indian. Unique and rotund, he was carved out of redwood and first appeared in front of the Pioneer Cigar Store in 1872. Cigars were big business at the time and at the turn of the century, fourteen cigar manufacturers were listed in Santa Clara County and tobacco was grown in the south valley Gilroy area.
|Dick Meade, new owner of Captain Briggs, and Julius Krieg,|
a former city councilman, who helped carve the status with his
father in 1872 (Mercury Herald, 24 August 1936)
He was moved from one cigar store to another and in 1936 he was finally retired when purchased by Dick Meade. He completely disappeared and it has been rumored that he is now in an East Coast Museum.
He was recently re-carved by Cliff Short. The original Briggs greeted Rutherford B. Hayes and General Sherman when they spoke in this city, he saw the first automobile arrive, the erection and fall of the famed Electric Tower, the first paving of downtown streets, and Victory Parades of the Spanish American War and World War 1.
We wonder what our revived Captain Briggs will see?
After the September 1995 radio interview, the re-carved Captain stood guard outside Leonard McKay’s store at 250 West St. John Street. Today the good Captain watches over the Leonard and David McKay Gallery in the Pasetta House at History Park.