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Posted By: Annette Lucas (email)
Date: 5/22/2021 at 22:54:45

SOURCE: Biographical and Genealogical History of Appanoose and Monroe Counties, Iowa. Compiled under the Editorial Supervision of S. Thompson Lewis. Illustrated. New York Chicago The Lewis Pubishing Company, 1903


The gentleman above named, who is now spending the evening of his days raising fine poultry and stock on his farm near Moulton, has had an adventurous career and is able to tell some thrilling stories of his early experiences. Before he had reached his majority he took the then perilous trip across the plains to California, and encountered all the dangers and hardships incident to pioneer life in that western wilderness. It was the period of the first gold excitement in that region, and Mr. Richardson's tales of his mining life, with its fits of alternate hope and disappointment, success and failure, "flush times" and starvation, have diverted many a party of friends as they assembled around his hospitable stove in the long winter evenings. The family was of eastern origin, but by early migration were long identified with different states of the west. Samuel Richardson, who was a native of Maine, was married in New York to Susan Granger, a lady of Canadian parentage. They farmed for a while in the state of their nuptials, and they removed to Michigan, where the same occupation was taken up and followed for many years. In the spring of 1844 the family again turned their faces toward the setting sun and entered upon a tedious journey, which did not end until they drew up in Jackson County, Iowa. A home was secured in that locality, which continued their place of abode until 1869, when they came to Appanoose county and settled in Washington township, where both parents found their last resting place.

Fares Richardson, one of the children of this estimable couple, was born in McComb county. Michigan, thirty miles north of Detroit, April 22, 1839, and was consequently five years old when his parents came to Iowa. He grew up with the restless and roving disposition characteristic of the game western spirits of those days, and it was his fortune to have his love of adventure fully gratified. In 1859, in company with his brother Josiah, Mr. Richardson started on foot for the distant shores of California, and, after a wearisome tramp over plains and mountains, amid hardships and dangers, and undergoing many privations, arrived without serious mishaps at Sacramento. After spending three years in California without notable result, these courageous young men made their way to the wilds of Oregon and found a lodgment on John Day's river, where they discovered the gold mine afterward known as Canyon City. In the spring of 1862 they purchased horses and mules and engaged in packing supplies to various points in the surrounding country where mining was in progress, and were themselves engaged in mining a year or two with fair success. When they first landed in Oregon the Richardson boys had only twenty dollars, which they soon exhausted for food, and then "staked a claim." The early returns from this, however, were rather disappointing, as the first pan from their new mine netted only a half dollar's worth of gold dust. Nothing daunted, however, they secured additional claims, and their hard work was rewarded for a while by taking out gold dust at the rate of ten to fifteen dollars a day. At this juncture the two brothers formed a partnership with Bid Coons, Jerry Growdivant, Lewis Martin, Arthur Sacket, George Chamberlin and Thomas Sitton, all of whom were adventurous spirits in search of fortunes in the mines of Oregon. Shortly after this party began operating together provisions ran out, and four of the squad were detailed to go in search of food. Taking eight mules and all the available cash, amounting to about four hundred dollars, the four men started on the perilous trip to the distant Dalles of Oregon, not less than three hundred miles away, on the lower Columbia river. Their journey led them through the country of the Indians, who at that time were very hostile to the whites, and the traveling over the roadless mountains and across innumerable streams of torrential rapidity made the trip one long to be remembered. During their absence there were hungry times in camp, the boys finding it difficult to get anything to eat, and being forced to subsist on two ounces of bread and three of meat as a daily ration. When the exploring party returned after twenty-one days, they re- ported having met many prospectors leaving the country in disgust, and declaring that no gold was to be found in that section. In reply to this Bid Coons, who had remained with the party in camp, drew out one thousand dollars in gold dust, which he exhibited to the returning pilgrims. This, with the newly brought food, made all hands very happy, and the next few days were spent in feasting and resting. Shortly afterward the party located what was subsequently called the Richardson claim, from which they took forty thousand dollars' worth of crude gold. It took fourteen months to do this, however, and as expenses were heavy, flour, meat, tea, coffee and tobacco selling each at the rate of one dollar per pound, not much was saved by the miners as the result of their arduous labors.

Having had enough of mining and its inevitable privations to last him a while, Mr. Richardson turned his face homeward and arrived at the house of his parents in Iowa some time during 1864. Shortly afterward he was married to Margaret Wirt, who died in 1876, leaving three children : E. J. Richardson, Mrs. Martha E. McCoy and Mrs. Jessie Haynes. The four years subsequent to his marriage Mr. Richardson continued to reside in Jackson county in the vicinity of his father, and accompanied the latter on his removal to Appanoose county in 1869. In 1876 he contracted a second marriage with Miss Sara Leach, by whom he has one child, now Mrs. Belle Briniger. Mr. Richardson has devoted his time of late years to the breeding of fancy poultry and Aberdeen polled cattle on his fine farm one and one-half miles north of Moulton.


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