F.G. Richards
Morris Co. Up


Biographical and Genealogical History of Morris County New Jersey. Illustrated. Vol. II., Lewis Publishing Company, New York and Chicago, 1899.

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Francis G. RICHARDS was born March 6, 1815, in Amity, Orange county, New York, and was a son of David and Ann Frances (HEBRON) RICHARDS. His maternal grandfather, Davis HEBRON, was a successful and enterprising farmer of Orange county and donated the ground in Amity upon which the court house is still standing. He was a very progressive and public-spirited citizen, and did much for the advancement of his locality. He was a consistent Christian gentleman and his life span covered more than four-score years. David RICHARDS, the father of our subject, was a well-to-do farmer of Orange county, and was a man of good judgment and integrity above question. He married Ann HEBRON, also a native of Orange county, and to them were born the following children:

  • Mrs. Catharine STAGE, of Orange county;
  • Francis G.;
  • William, who married and removed to Illinois, where his death occurred,
  • John, who married Elizabeth BEACH, of Newark, New Jersey, where he followed harness-making for a number of years;
  • Edward, who married and reared a family and spent his entire life in Orange county;
  • Mahlon, who enlisted and served in the Union army during the war of the Rebellion, after which he went to the west and is supposed to have taken up a government claim, but nothing has been heard from him for a number of years;
  • Jesse, who married and removed to Mount Vernon, where he successfully followed farming and a trade.

Francis G. RICHARDS, acquired his education in the public schools of his native county, and in early life served an apprenticeship to the cabinet-maker's trade, in Newark, New Jersey. He remained there for three years and became an expert workman. Afterward he entered one of the largest establishments of the kind in New York city, where his excellent workmanship, his fidelity to duty and strict integrity won him promotion from time to time until he had attained the highest position in the works. He afterward became foreman in the cabinetmaking factory of John OGDEN, at Elizabeth, New Jersey, and for some time was regarded as one of the most valued employees ever connected with that house. After several years passed there, he came to Pompton, New Jersey, in 1840, and located at the present home of his widow, residing there until his life labors were ended. Here he entered upon a successful career as a cabinet-maker and undertaker, and today scarcely a home of any prominence can be found within a radius of many miles that does not display some of his workmanship in the furnishing of parlor or reception hall. There were also many interesting incidents connected with the other department of his business. In those days prices paid for undertaking were very small. He made and always kept on hand a large number of coffins, and a funeral bill rarely exceeded twelve dollars, which included the price of a waxed coffin of cherry or walnut, then one of the best kinds of burial cases made. On one occasion one of the most prominent merchants of Pompton called upon Mr. RICHARDS for a burial outfit, and when told that his bill was eight dollars he remarked with a pained expression; "It is very dear times for people to die?" At another time he made a cradle, the father promising to pay for the same, but no money was ever received by Mr. RICHARDS. The child for whom the cradle was made, grew to manhood, but was rather a worthless fellow, leaving Pompton soon after he grew up. He married, and after many years again returned to Pompton, where he died. Then his widow came to Mr. RICHARDS for a coffin, promising to pay for the same at any early day, but no money was ever forthcoming, and thus "from cradle to the grave" it was all promises! Another neighbor of Mr. RICHARDS became very indignant because he refused to take his measure and make him a coffin which he would retain until the day of his departure from the scenes of this life. However, Mr. RICHARDS did a good business and acquired a comfortable competence.

While employed in New York he was married in that city, March 17, 1838, to Miss Sarah M. BROWN, a daughter of Henry and Catharine (DE BOW) BROWN. Mrs. RICHARDS was born January 18, 1824, and is a woman of exemplary character, whose upright life, covering a period of seventy-five years, has won her the love and esteem of many friends. She possesses excellent business qualification, and often assisted her husband in the store, while at the present time she is interested in the business which since her husband's death has been carried on by her sons, John and Edward. To the care of her eleven children she has devoted herself untiringly, and all of the number are yet living with the exception of Jesse, who died several years ago, at the age of forty-two, as the result of an accident.

The record of the family is as follows:

  • Francis, the eldest, is the wife of Jacob VREELAND, of Boonton, and has one daughter,
    • Jessie;
  • Emily is the wife of J. H. WHITE, of Hoboken Heights, New Jersey, and they have two children,
    • Wallace, who is a practicing physician of Hoboken, and
    • James H.;
  • Chillian D., a resident of Mountain View, Morris county, who married Ella VREELAND and has two daughters,
    • Hester and
    • Julia;

he enlisted during the Civil war and faithfully served as a defender of the Union.

  • Jesse W., who was born June 14, 1846, and died August 19, 1888; he married Emma MAINS and resided at Lincoln Park, New Jersey,
  • Gordon, a resident of Lambertville, New Jersey, married, and has one son,
    • David;
  • Zenas married Ida Francisco and makes his home in Pompton; they have six children,
    • Chester,
    • Nellie,
    • Sarah,
    • Ida,
    • Alonzo and
    • Russell 
  • Edward, also of Pompton, who married Josephine SLOAN, and their children are
    • William,
    • Maud,
    • George and
    • Belle;
  • Herman, who married Mary A. SHULTZ, and they had two children,
    • Francis and
    • Gordon;

the mother died and Herman RICHARDS afterward married Elizabeth PERRY; his elder son is a graduate of the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania, at Philadelphia, and is now a surgeon in the United States army;

  • Mary F. W., who resides on the homestead with her mother;
  • John C., who is also living with his mother, and is associated with his brother Edward in the funeral-directing and cabinet-making business, in which his mother is also financially interested; and
  • Catharine Louise, the youngest of the family, is the widow of George DuBOIS, of Brooklyn, New York, and their only child,
    • Inez S., died at the age of thirteen years.

In his political views Francis G. RICHARDS was an ardent Republican and always kept well informed on the issues of the day, but never sought public office. He took a deep interest in all that pertained to the advancement and welfare of the community and was not slow in giving his support to the measures and movements which were intended to benefit his town, county and state. He was a member of the West Milford Presbyterian church and lived a consistent Christian life, in harmony with the teachings of that denomination. He passed away April 12, 1885, at the age of seventy years, leaving to the family the priceless heritage of an untarnished name.

This biography was scanned and contributed by Catherine Smith DeMayo.


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