Hon. Rees Griffith Richards


HON REES GRIFFITH RICHARDS, judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Jefferson County, and formerly a prominent member of both the upper and lower houses of the state legislature, as well as lieutenant governor, has still further claim to the respect and consideration of his felloe citizens, being one of the honored surviviors of the great Civl War, in which he served gallantly from 1861 until 1865. Judge Richards was born July 22, 1842, in Wales, a country that has contributed largely to the best citizenship of the United States.

In 1852 the parents of Judge Richard's, William G. and Sarah (Griffith) Richards, brought the children to America and the father established himself in the blacksmith business in Tioga County, Pennsylvania. Subsequently he acquired land and engaged in farming in that section until his death in 1863, while his son was absent assisting in maintaining the integrity of his adopted country.

Judge Richard's as a boy was given the best schooling that his father could secure for him; he was also encouraged to learn a self-supporting trade, and thus he became a skilled wagonmaker. While no exigency of life has ever commpelled him to put this knowledge to practical use, he willingly concedes the valus of the discipline. He was only sixteen years of age when he taught his first term of school, and as he continued to teach, he alternated this occupation with school attendance. The out break of the Civil War gave a new current to his life, for in September 1861, he enlisted for service in the Federal Army, becoming a member of Company G, 45th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, in which he served with noted valor until he was honorably mustered out at Harrisburg, Pa., in August 1865. During the long interim he participated in many stirring scenes and memorable battles and his promotion from the ranks was rapid. Pn Septemeber 14, 1862, his commission as Captain of his company reached him, the direct outcome of particularily meritorious service on the filed at South Mountain. He took part in a number of the early skirmishes and fought at South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Blue Springs, Capmbell's Station, Knoxville, Vicksburg, Jackson, the Wilderness, Spottsylvania Court House and Petersburg, being taken prisoner at the latter place on July 30, 1864. His escape from prison on February 16, 1865, and his subsequent four weeks of wandering and concealment in the miasmatic swamps and forests of several southern states before he reached the Union lines, furnishes material for a thrilling story of endurance and sustained courage. He reached Knoxville, Tenn., on March 16, and joined his regiment at Alexandria, being welcomed as one snatched from the jaws of a prison death. From that time on until the close of the war he was a member of the staff of General Curtin. His only wound during the whole period of the service was one received at the battle of Jackson, which only temporarily affected him.

In December 1865, Mr. Richards removed to Youngstown, O. The bent of his mind was in the direction of the law, but at that time he did not clearly see his way to devoting his attention to its exclusive study, and in his new surroundings embarked in a mercantile business, continuing there for two years and then removing to Irondale, Jefferson County, where he engaged in mercantile pursuits for the following six years. In the meanwhile he had become a prominent factor in Republican politics and in 1873 he was elected a member of the state legislature, in which he served two terms. In 1876 he was admitted to the bar, but had scarcely entered into practice before before he was again called into the political arena and in the fall of 1877 he was elected to the state senate. In this honorable body he served for two full terms, and during his last term, on account of the absence of the lieutenant governor, it was necessary to make a choice of one fitted to fill that office temporarily and Senator Richards was selected to that important position. In the fall of 1881 he was elected lieutenant governor and when he retired to privat life after the expiration of his term he had served the state of Ohio four years in one of its highest esecutive offices. Years of successful law practice followed, he having established his home in the meantime, at Stuebenville, and subsequently he was again called into public life, being elected common pleas judge of Jefferson County. Few men are better qualified for judicial position than Judge Richards, and on the bench as in legislative halls his efficiency has been universally recognized.

On November 22, 1865, Judge Richards was married to Miss Catheine C. Rees, daughter of David and Mary (Morgan) Rees, of Tioga County, Pa., and of Welsh extraction. He was married second to Miss Elizabeth Johnson, who is a daughter of Dr. Thomas Johnson and a member of a well known family of Jefferson County. Three children have been born to this second marriage, of whom Catherine and Sarah are deceased and Margaret resides at home. The beautiful family home in Stuebenville is at 609 North Fourth Street. Judge Richards is identified with the Masons and the Grand Army of the Republic.

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