Crawford County, Iowa, IAGenWeb


John Lee Richardson

A pioneer, a soldier and a farmer, who is now serving as state oil inspector, John Lee Richardson of Denison has led an active and useful life, in the course of which he has made many friends and materially assisted in promoting the public welfare.

He was born in the village of Cassadaga, Stockton township, Chautauqua county, New York, September 6, 1837, a son of Nathan and Asenath (Johnson) Richardson, who were also natives of New York. The father, who was a farmer, was born and reared at Cooperstown, Otsego county, and removed to Palmyra, Wayne county, and from there to Chautauqua county. Subsequently, he came to Iowa and died in Linn county in 1870 at the age of seventy-one years. His first wife was Asenath Johnson, who died in Chautauqua county, New York, at the age of forty years.

There were five children by that union, namely: Nancy, who married James W. Barber, of Lake county, Ohio. and is now deceased; Reuben, deceased; Jane, the wife of Samuel Whiting of Lake county, Ohio, who died in the Civil war. and she is now also deceased; John Lee, the subject of this review; and Martha, who was the wife of H. B. McKean of Linn county, Iowa, and is now deceased. After the death of his first wife the father married Mrs. Morton, by whom he had three daughters: Sarah, of Huron, South Dakota, who is the widow of Leander Batchelder; Abia, the widow of David Cargill, and Julia, of Polo, Linn county, Iowa, the wife of P. A. Yates. All three of their husbands were soldiers of the Civil war. The father served as teamster in the war of 1812, and he and his first wife were members of the Friends church.

The paternal grandfather of our subject was Hill Richardson, a native of Massachusetts. He was a farmer and a soldier of the war of 1812. His wife was Sallie Lee, and they had eight children: Arnmi, Nathan, William, Areuna, John, Freeman, Louisa, and Cynthia.

The Richardson family is of Norman origin and its history dates back to the time of William the Conquerer, Many noted names in English history were identified with this family. The first American ancestor Ezekiel Richardson, arrived in this country from England in 1630. He was soon followed by two brothers, Samuel and Thomas, and assisted in founding the town of Woburn, Massachusetts. Edward and Moses Richardson fought side by side in the Revolutionary war, and at the laying of the cornerstone of Bunker Hill monument, June 17, 1825, not even Lafayette, who was present, excited more interest than these brothers, who rode together and were the observed of all observers.

Moses Richardson, another member of the family, was awakened at midnight, shouldered his musket, and at five o'clock in the morning was dead---one of the first to fall at the battle of Lexington. He with three brothers was buried in a trench in the Cambridge cemetery, and in 1870 the city of Cambridge erected a monument to the three men, upon which is inscribed, "0, what a glorious morning is this!" The coolness of Captain Israel Richardson, who was in the Mexican war, won for him the title of "Fighting Dick." The motto of the family "Trust in God" has ever sustained them, and almost without exception they have been found worthy, whether subjects of the British crown or following the stars and stripes in the land of their adoption.

John Lee Richardson was reared in Chautauqua county, New York, and came west with his parents in 1844. Subsequently, he went to the frontier of Minnesota, where he lived for six years, hunting and trapping. He also drove a government team and carried the mail on foot through a forest of one hundred and sixty miles, only one white man living on the route at Mill Lake, an Indian trader by the name of Fox. He came to visit his parents in Iowa, and while in this state enlisted in Company A, Twentieth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and served with great credit for three years.

During the entire period he never received the slightest injury, although he participated in many important battles and never missed a march in which his regiment took part. He was present at the battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, the siege of Vicksburg, in the Red River campaign under General Banks, at the siege of Fort Morgan, in the Mobile campaign, and also participated in the last fight of his regiment at the storming of the works of Fort Blakely, on the 9th of April, 1865. After receiving his honorable discharge he came home and worked upon his sister's farm in Linn county, Iowa. for several years, her husband' having died in the army. He then removed to northern Missouri, where he continued for five years, but since 1874 has made his home in Crawford county, the first six years being passed upon a farm of one hundred and sixty acres, which he purchased in Soldier township. He moved to Denison on account of his wife's health, but he still owns the farm, one of the highly improved properties of the neighborhood.

On the 14th of October, 1868, Mr. Richardson was united in marriage to Miss Mary McArthur, a daughter of James McArthur.

They are both members of the Baptist church, in which he has for a number of years served as deacon. He is identified with John A. Logan Post, No. 58, G. A. R., and has been its adjutant for many years. Politically, he gives his support to the republican party. He was deputy county treasurer two years and has also served as township assessor and as assessor in Dension. For about eight years he was janitor of the North Side public school, and it is to his credit to say that he has the friendship and good-will of all the children. Although he has passed the Psalmist's three score years and ten, he is still deeply interested in affairs both public and private and discharges his duties as state oil inspector with a fidelity that meets the general approval. As a soldier he was faithful and true and in the various relations of life he has ever attempted to perform his duty, thus meriting the high esteem in which he is held by all with whom he comes into contact.

Source: History of Crawford County, Iowa. Vol. II. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1911.