HISTORY OF TUSCOLA COUNTY
John H. Richardson, senator from the
Thirtieth District, is a native of Vermont, born in Randolph, January 24,
1814. His father, Harper Richardson, was
born in Royalton, Vt., and is of Scotch orgin. Three Richardson brothers emigrated from
Scotland in an early day, probably in the sixteenth century, one locating in
Connecticut, one in Philadelphia and the other in New York City. His mother was Roxy Belknap, born in
Randolph, Vt., a descendant of the Kibby family, who
also were among the first settlers of Connecticut.
Mr. Richardson’s father was a blacksmith by trade, and followed that calling in Randolph, Vt., until a few years previous to his death, which occurred in 1838. His means were somewhat limited, and the only educational advantages our subject enjoyed were those afforded by the district schools of that day. As soon as he was old enough to command wages he worked at farming by the month during the summer season, getting but a few weeks’ schooling each winter. At the age of nineteen years he gathered his personal effects into a pack, and with this on his back he traveled on foot from Randolph to Old Ipswich, Mass. Arriving in that vicinity he worked one summer on a farm, and in the fall commenced work in a cotton factory. He was employed in the preparation department one and a half years, and was then tendered the position of overseer of the department, which duty he assumed and discharged satisfactorily for seven years, his salary of $1.50 per day being then considered big wages. He next went to Chicopee, Mass., and worked one year in refitting an old mill, after which he removed to Palmer, where parties were putting up a mill for the manufacture of the finest cambric goods. He filled the position of overseer in this mill for seven years.
In the year 1847 he removed to Michigan, and located near Tuscola. He entered a tract of pine lands, built a saw-mill, and engaged in the lumber business, which he followed until 1877, when he erected a flouring-mill and a sash and blind factory. He has been eminently successful n business, and has acquired a fine competence, all the fruits of his own labor. He has two large farms in the immediate vicinity of Tuscola, which he also conducts.
Two years after settling in Michigan Mr. Richardson was elected to the office of supervisor. Tuscola County was then attached to Saginaw for judicial purposes. It was organized as a county in 1850, when our subject, in company with the clerk, constituted the whole county board. He has held the office of supervisor at different times aggregating about seventeen years.
In 1861 he raised a company of volunteers and tendered its services to the governor. He was elected captain. His services at Balls Bluff, Maryland, where Baker was slaughtered, were recognized by his promotion to major of the Seventy-Seventh Michigan Volunteers. His company being mostly lumbermen, and able to “ride a log,” they were detailed to man the boats being used to convey the army to the Maryland shore in their retreat. He was interviewed by General McClellan, who asked him if he thought he could get the whole army safely over by daylight. Receiving an affirmative answer, the general said: “For God’s sake do it. Command the whole army; they are in your hands.” The feat was safely accomplished and the Army of the Potomac, or at least a portion of it, saved from capture. His regiment went through the Peninsular campaign, where Mr. Richardson proved to be of great service in superintending the building of bridges and the log roads approaching Yorktown, over which heavy ordnance might be drawn. At the battle of Fair Oaks and Seven Pines he led his regiment, the colonel being sick and the lieutenant-colonel having resigned. He was situated in the break between the two divisions of the Union army, the one at Seven pines and the other at Fair Oaks, and was pitted against three rebel regiments, far outnumbering his force; but by a charge of bayonets he drove them from their positions, thus connecting the two divisions of the Federal forces and preventing what might have been a serious break in their lines.
At the close of the Peninsular campaign he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel of the Twenty-Seventh Michigan Volunteers, and was sent with his regiment to Vicksburg, where they participated in Grant’s campaign. He was taken ill with rheumatism and a pulmonary difficulty in the fall of 1863, and was advised to resign, which he did. He did not recover sufficiently to again enter the army; in fact, has never been in sound physical condition since.
In the fall of 1864, he, with others, was commissioned to go to Decatur, Alabama, to take the soldiers’ vote. He was also appointed commissioner to lay the State road from Saginaw to Mackinac.
Mr. Richardson has held some office of trust ever since he became a resident of Michigan, and has served the public faithfully in whatever capacity it has seen fit to have him represent.
In 1868 he was elected a delegate for the State of Michigan to the Chicago convention that nominated U. S. Grant as president of the United States. In the fall of 1882 he was tendered the nomination, as representative to congress, by the Democratic and Greenback parties of his district, but declined on account of his own pressing business which demanded his personal attention.
He was elected to the State senate in the fall of 1882, by the Greenback and Democratic parties, of the Thirtieth District, which includes the counties of Bay and Tuscola. His majority was 1,629 votes over the Republican nominee. He had been a Republican until the Liberal Republican movement of 1872. Was tendered the nomination for representative in congress by the Greenback party of his district, but they were in the minority, and he failed to get the election.
In the senate Mr. Richardson was chairman of the committee on school for the blind, and member of committee on cities and villages, military affairs, public health and saline interests. Among other bills introduced by him is the one requiring the State to pay to the soldiers of the late war, the $100 bounty promised those who enlisted in 1864, and which they have never been able to get.
Mr. Richardson was married in 1841, to Miss Cynthia Henry, of Connecticut. They have had seven children. The eldest son, Lieutenant Harper S. Richardson, entered the army with his father, and was wounded at Jackson, Miss., form the effects of which he died in the hospital at Detroit. His eldest daughter died of consumption, in May, 1880.
Mr. Richardson has a fine residence in the village of Tuscola, where he has won the confidence and esteem of his many friends, as attested by their gift to him of the honorable position he so ably occupied in representing the in the senate of Michigan.
P. B. Richardson is a native of Springfield, Massachusetts, and was born in 1814. For a time worked in the United States armory there, and for the Boston & Springfield Company, making and repairing cotton machinery; came to Tuscola in 1854, where he has since resided, and engaged in mercantile business, occupying for two or three years the Tuscola store, built by Col. J. H. Richardson-the first store built in the county. He then built his present store and has since been doing a general mercantile business in the building then erected. He also has a fine farm of 160 acres on section 22, Tuscola Township, and has built thereon a residence, at a cost of $2,000; keeping some of the finest stock in the county, among which may be mentioned a number of Holstein cattle, which he imported from Germany, three Norman Percheron horses, brought out from France, and a Hambletonian stallion. He also brought with him from the East two Morgan horses. He sold, in 1882, two Holstein cows for $525, and two calves and a yearling for $425.
Mr. Richardson has been under-sheriff a number of terms, and also constable. He was married at Chicoppe Falls, Massachusetts, to Miss Abigail S. Graves, by whom he has had two sons and one daughter.
S. L. Richardson was
born at East Randolph, Orange County, Vermont, in 1816, and at the age of
nineteen years went to Ipswich, Massachusetts, remaining there till 1841, when
he removed to South Danvers, where he remained fifteen years. At Ipswich he learned the tanner and
currier’s trade, and worked at it there and at South Danvers. He came to Tuscola the 17th of
May, 1848, and bought a farm in the edge of Saginaw County, on the Indian
reserve, which he cleared and improved.
It being very fertile soil, he reports a yield of 406 bushels of wheat
from thirteen acres, and remarks of it that it was sold for sixty-two cents per
bushel, and was taken up the Cass River to be fed to oxen. He probably brought in the first mower and
threshing machine used in the county.
In connection with Col. Richardson and Mr. Deiderich he built the Tuscola grist-mill, in 1869, and on February 17, 1870, it commenced running. After six years he sold his interest in the mill, but now, in company with his son, is running it.
Dr. Paschal Richardson was born at Randolph, Vt., and commenced the practice of medicine in Massachusetts. In 1844 he came to Michigan, and settled on a farm in Genesee County. He afterward moved into the village of Flint, and in 1848 came to Tuscola with Colonel Richardson and engaged in business as already stated. He died in April, 1878. He was three times married, and left a widow at his death who still resides in Tuscola. Dr.
Richardson was one of the prominent men of the county. He held several local offices, and was at one time a member of the legislature.
John L. Richardson is a native of Ipswich, Essex County, Mass., and was born in 1834. In 1844 he came to Michigan with his parents, and settled in the township of Thetford, Genesee County, and in 1849 came to Tuscola. Mr. Richardson graduated from the law department of the University of Michigan, in 1867, and has since practiced his profession. Has been township clerk two years, township treasurer four years, and supervisor five years, holding the office at the present time.