IT can with exact truth and justice be said that there are few men in our State
who, in later years, have won a higher and broader reputation in business affairs, or who have more thoroughly
and honorably acquitted themselves in official life, thus winning honor and distinction in both, than Hon. Fred.
E. Richards, of Portland. He has behind him a record of twenty years without a stain or blemish, and we doubt not
a brilliant future ahead. His business abilities and good judgment are not doubtful commodities; they have been
amply proven in the past. His integrity and honesty of purpose have won the confidence of all, and into his new
field of labor and responsibility, as President of the largest financial institution of the State, he enters so
well poised and equipped as to win for himself and it, we feel sure, a grand success.
Mr. Richards is a son of Charles and Elizabeth Pierce Smith Richards, natives, respectively, of Sharon and Stoughton,
Mass., who came to Lincoinville, Me., in 1825, where Fred. was born, on August 28, 1841. Young Richards worked
on his father’s farm and attended the district school until he was fifteen years of age, when his parents removed
to Rockport Village, where he pursued his studies in the common and high school for four years. When nineteen years
old he was compelled by ill health to go to California, where he remained three years, during which time he became
perfectly restored to health and strength.
Returning to Maine, Mr. Richards at once engaged in the business of manufacturing lime at Rockport, in which he
continued several years. Although actively and extensively engaged in operations that would take about all of one’s
time, he consented, at the request of his townsmen, to represent Camden in the Legislature, which he did for two
years, 1873 and 1874. In 1875 he was elected a member of Governor Dingley’s Council, and was a member of Governor
Connor’s Council in 1876. The following year he was appointed State Land Agent to fill a vacancy, and in 1878 he
was appointed, by Governor Connor, as one of the Trustees of the Maine Insane Hospital.
Recognizing his sagacity, his fine business abilities, and faithfulness to every trust, the Governor, in i88o,
appointed him State Bank Examiner, which delicate and responsible position he held for nearly nine years, until
December, x888, at which time he tendered his resignation. Mr. Richards entered upon his duties with great energy
and firmness, and it was through his influence that a change was made towards more conservative investments by
our savings banks. His motto was, in the investment of trust funds, safety first, leaving profit as a secondary
During his nine years’ service as Supervisor of the Savings Banks of Maine, the deposits therein increased from
$20,978,000 in round numbers to $41,000,000, which demonstrated, to a striking degree, the confidence of the people
in his supervision of these institutions of savings. Mr. Richards has always strongly favored such investments
as the average depositor could understand the intrinsic value thereof; and consequently he has been an able advocate
of home securities for our savings banks, which fact probably accounts, in no inconsiderable degree, for the great
confidence the people of Maine have in their savings institutions.
In 1889 Mr. Richards opened a banking house in Portland, and he has been the local fiscal agent of some of our
largest corporations, notably the Maine Central Railroad Company, the Rumford Falls Railroad Company, and other
leading corporations of Maine. Mr. Richards was influential in organizing the Portland National Bank, which was
established in 1889, and of which be was elected President, which position he holds at the present time. Although
a comparatively new bank, it has grown to be one of the most prosperous and solid institutions of the kind in the
city of Portland.
Mr. Richards is also a l)irector in the Limerick National Bank, Union Mutual Life Insurance Company, Rockland Trust
Company, of Rockland, Camden and Rockland Water Campany, York Heat and Street Company, of Biddeford, and intimately
connected in the management of the Rockland, Thomaston & Camden Street Railway, which is the most prosperous
and important electric road in the State. He is also connected with the Knox Gas and Electric Company, and a Director
in the Rockland Building Syndicate, which company, the past )ear, erected the fine ‘tSyndicate Building,” which
is a credit and an ornament to the prosperous and progressive city of Rockland.
On October 10, of the present year, 1893, Mr. Richards was unanimously elected President of the Union Mutual Life
Insurance Company of Maine, in place of the lamented John E. DeWitt, who lost his life in the sad disaster on the
Boston & Albany Railroad, at Chester, Mass., August 31, 1893. He entered, November 1st, upon the discharge
of his responsible and arduous duties, as the head of this great institution, with the confidence of its members
and the good wishes of his many friends.
In 1865 Mr. Richards was married to Miss Caroline S. Piper, daughter of Capt. John D. Piper, of Rockport. They
have no children.