Biography of George H. Richards



Berrien County

Online Biographies


Also see [Railway Officials in America 1906]

GEORGE H. RICHARDS was born in Bristol, England, July 10, 1817. His father, Henry Richards, was a native of Bath, England, and his mother, Sarah Burge, of Bristol, England. Both were of Quaker parentage, his mother still remaining a Quaker, and living at this date, 1879. The family moved to this country when the subject of this sketch was an infant, settling in Delaware, near Wilmington. When he was eight or nine years old the family returned to England on account of the father’s health, remaining there about a year and a half. During that time he attended a Quaker school, then returned to New York City. Most of the time during which the family remained in the city he attended an academy between Harlem and Manhattanville, receiving early a fair English education. When he was about thirteen or fourteen years of age his father moved to Pennsylvania. From there he was sent to Wilmington, Del., to attend school. While in Wilmington he conceived the idea of learning a trade, and served a regular apprenticeship at jobbing blacksmithing at Brandywine village, Del. Shortly after becoming of age he went to New York City, and worked a short time at machine-work. From there he went to Bridgeport, Conn., and worked at carriage smithing, remaining until the spring of 1839, when he went to Marietta, Ohio, to work at this branch of business, and following it until 1842, when he engaged in engine- and machinework of various kinds. and also did the iron-work for several vessels; ironing two vessels at Marietta, and two at Point Pleasant, Va. One of the latter was a double-decked bark, loaded at the mouth of the Big Kanawha, W.Va., with corn, for Cork, Ireland, during the Irish famine. Feb. 27, 1845, he married Lucy Wood Rickard, of Marietta, Ohio. His family consists of eight children, six girls and two boys, Sarah D. Richards, Joseph L., Martha E., Lucy B., Hattie L., Kitty F., Mary E., and George H., all living. Lucy Wood Rickard was born at Marietta, Dec. 11, 1821.

Having acquired a good knowledge of machinery, and being a practical master mechanic, he commenced setting up engines on steamboats, and going South on them during the winter. He spent several winters in the South at various places, New Orleans, Red River, Onachita, Yazoo River, and many bayous. in the cotton and sugar trade. Tiring of this and of being so much away from his family, he conceived the thought of moving West. Selecting a farm just outside the then small village of Buchanan, he very soon found the change from active life in mechanism and steamboating to opening up a new farm too great, and, as favorable opportunitie.s offered, he again engaged in putting up and working machinery, and in manufacturing; the first work of importance heing the runfling of a large saw-mill at Charlotteville, and doing its general business three summers. Other parts of the years when not compelled to be on the farm were spent in putting machinery in order in mills of different kinds and distilleries. Finding that his business was again leading him from home, and that farming was not suited to his family, he sold his farm and moved to Buchanan, engaging in merchandising. Not liking the confinement of the store, he again engaged in working upon machinery, and took charge of the factory of Smith & Elston, remaining with one of the firm until the fall of 1870, when he engaged with the patentee of the Zinc Collar Pad to mature the pad and introduce it on the market. To speak of their success it will not be amiss to state that they were the largest consumers of zinc in the West for the years 1871, ‘72, and ‘73, using in the three years over four hundred thousand pounds of zinc made expressly for them.

During the years of his life spent in Buchanan, he has been one of the representative men of the place, having been early selected in the interests of its schools, occupying the position of president of the school board most of the time, until he declined being a candidate for re-election. He has also identified himself with the prosperity and growth of the village, and its now extensive manufacturing interests, assisting the latter by freely taking stock, and serving the former as one of the members of the board of trustees for a number of years with credit to himself. In January, 1875, he became connected with the First National Bank, occupying the position of vice-president, which he still holds in the organization known as the Farmers and Manufacturers’ Bank, which succeeded the First National in January, 1879.

History of Berrien and Van Buren Counties, Michigan
With Illistrations and Biographical Sketches
of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers.
D. W. Ensign & Co., Philadelphia 1880
Press of J. B. Lippincoff & Co., Philadelphia.

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