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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



The history of the Richards family extends back through many generations of English history and indicates their long identification with the mining industry in Cornwall. A century or more has passed away since Charles Richards began to work as a miner, and throughout all of his industrious existence he followed that occupation, together with the occupancy and cultivation of a small farm in his native shire. After him came his son, John, born at the old homestead August 20, 1826, and early trained to a knowledge of farming as well as to familiarity with work in the mines of lead, tin, copper and silver that to this day abound in Cornwall, bringing large profits to their owners. During 1845 he left the old home for the unknown possibilities of the new world, and while fortune came to him later in unstinted measure it was not his happy fate to again behold the land of his birth. His father, Charles, however, continued there until death, as did his mother, who bore the maiden name of Honor Warner and was a member of an ancient Cornish family.

Upon landing in the new world and seeking a place of employment, John Richards went to the lead mines of Southern Wisconsin, at Shullsburg, seventeen miles from Galena, Ill., and there he earned a livelihood by the most arduous of labor. When news came of the discovery of gold in California he immediately determined to come to the west. With three fellow-miners and six ox-teams he started for the Eldorado of his hopes. At St. Joseph, Mo., they were joined by three other young men, each of whom owned one team of oxen. The party left St. Joseph April 7, 1849, on their long journey, which came to a safe conclusion at Dutch Flat on the 9th of September. The young men at once began to prospect and mine. Within six weeks Mr. Richards had taken out $5000 in gold, one single nugget having brought him $252. During 1851 he returned east, and November 17 of the same year he married Miss Elizabeth Mitchell, who was born January 31, 18.30, being the daughter of Joseph Mitchell, a farmer of Lafayette county. Wis. During this trip he invested considerable money in cattle and these he drove across the plains in 1853, with the assistance of seven men.

Shortly after his second arrival in the west Mr. Richards purchased the squatter's right of a Mr. McHenry for $1500, but afterward he relinquished the claim upon the advice of John P. Rhodes. The land was included in the Mexican grant to the Sheldon ranch, and Mr. Gunn, the administrator of the Sheldon estate, obtained judgments against other claimants, so that Mr. Richards preferred to relinquish rather than contest the matter in expensive litigation. In 1855 he bought about five hundred acres of the same estate, which he held for many years. In addition he took up about one thousand acres of government land. About two hundred and fifty acres of his ranch was bottom land on the Cosumnes, peculiarly rich in its soil, but subject to the disasters of occasional overflows. Not only did he raise general farm crops and large herds of stock, but he also made a specialty of the fruit business and on his land planted trees of almost every variety of fruit. For years he retained large mining interests, including profitable quartz mines in Amador county. On two occasions he and his wife returned east for protracted visits, the first trip occurring in 1869 and the second during the World's Columbian exposition at Chicago in 1893. His death occurred in October of 1896, and two years later his wife also passed away.

There were ten children in the Richards family, but two died in infancy, and Lizzie Viola was also taken from the home when still young. The eldest child, Ellen Alfrena, married Lafayette Miller, but died in 1910. The second child, Emily Jane, is the wife of Alexander Milne, a rancher and dairyman in Sacramento county. The third daughter, Annie Sophia, became the wife of Henry Band of San Francisco, now deceased. The two sons are Charles Joseph and John Lincoln. Mary Hattie is the wife of E. A. Piatt. William Freeman Richards, born December 22, 1870, on the home farm in Sacramento county near the village of Sheldon, is the youngest member of the family circle. After he had completed the studies of the common schools he entered the revenue service, but later re- signed the position in order that he might take up the study of dentistry in Northwestern university, Chicago, Ill. When he had completed the regular course and had received the degree of D. D. S., he returned to Sacramento, where he at once bought one-half interest in the business of Dr. T. B. Reid. Early in 1904 he took over the remaining interest held by Dr. Reid, and since then he has continued alone.

The political views of Dr. Richards bring him into active sympathy with the Republican party. Fraternally he is a Mason of the Scottish Rite degree and is also a member of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. In the line of his profession he is a member of the Sacramento Valley Dental association and the State Dental association. His family comprises his wife and their only child, Leland Jerome, born September 16, 1903. Prior to her marriage November 1, 1902, Mrs. Richards was Miss Clara Kruttschnitt, a native daughter of Sacramento. Possessing excellent educational qualifications and the highest culture, she naturally occupies a prominent position in the most select society of Sacramento. The family of which she is a member has been prominent in many lines of business enterprise, and her first cousin, Julius Kruttschnitt, is director of maintenance and means with the Harriman (Southern Pacific) railroad system. 

History of Sacramento County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011