Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917

Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917
William Richardson, Alice Josephine Richardson Dakin, Robert Worthington Richardson, Harry Bogart Richardson
Showing posts with label RICHARDSON William. Show all posts
Showing posts with label RICHARDSON William. Show all posts

Monday, March 23, 2015

More on Mary Curtis and Thomas Richardson

Last month I posted this picture and wrote about it with the caption on the back:
"Robert Richardson
(father of Thomas Richardson
who married Mary Curtis)"

I still not know how Robert is connected to my Richardson family, but maybe the wording indicates that Thomas Richardson married the "well-known of their day" Mary Curtis.

One of my readers from the RICHARDSON roots web list pointed out that there was a Mary Curtis in one of the RootsWeb's World Connect who was married to Thomas Richardson.
Mary Curtis:
b. 9 April 1848 in NYC daughter of Lucien Curtis and Celia Carlton Perkins, 
d. 1 Nov 1931, San Francisco
m. Thomas Richardson, 15 May 1869, San Francisco
On 10 February, I e-mailed the person who posted this information, but have not heard back from that person.

Wikipedia has an article about Mary Curtis Richardson, the impressionist painter who married Thomas Richardson from Canada:
Mary Curtis Richardson (9 April 1848, New York City – 1 November 1931, San Francisco) was an impressionist painter and known as the "Mary Cassatt of the West". Her father, Lucien Curtis went overland to the gold fields of California in 1849. The following year, Mary, her sister Leila and her mother went to California via the Isthmus of Panama to join her father and settled in San Francisco.

Her father was a professional engraver and taught both his daughters to draw and engrave. At age 18, Mary went to New York City and attended Cooper Union for two years. She returned to San Francisco and attended the School of Design.[citation needed] In 1869, she married Thomas Richardson who came to San Francisco from Canada and was in the lumber business. He died in 1913. Mary and her sister Leila established a wood engraving studio. Mary dabbled in painting, but friends encouraged her to seriously take up painting full-time.

An impressionist, she painted landscapes but is probably best known for her portrait paintings with a mother-and-child theme. One of her highly praised paintings, "The Sleeping Child" was eventually acquired by the Legion of Honor. Another child subject, "The Young Mother" won a silver medal at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (1915).

Her other portrait work included that of David Starr Jordan (first president of Stanford University), Susan Tolman (Mrs. Cyrus) Mills, (co-founder of Mills College) and University of California language professor F. V. Paget.

Richardson was a member of the Worcester Group in the 1890s, which met regularly for informal discussions and to socialize under the leadership of Reverend Joseph Worcester (also an amateur architect). Included in this group were artists such as William Keith and Bruce Porter, architects Willis Polk, Ernest Coxhead, John Galen Howard, Charles Keeler and writer Gelett Burgess.

Mary Curtis Richardson died 1 November 1931 at her Russian Hill studio and home.

The Rootsweb and Wikipedia Mary Curtis and Thomas Richardson, seem to be the same couple.

Thomas Richardson comes from Canada and is "in lumber."  Not much more information on him -- yet.

But why would my Richardson family have Thomas's father's picture?  Was he a relative?

There is another Robert Richardson, who may or may not be related to my family -- but might be a "colleague" of my William Richardson, so of my Robert Richardson.   Not sure if their paths crossed, but they did both work for the Bank of Montreal in Ontario.

When I wrote the archives inquiring about William and maybe Robert Richardson working for the Bank of Montreal, I received a letter (8 November 2005) listing two people's employment:

William 1854 - 1876: starting in the home office in Montreal and then going to various branches (Cobourg, St. Mary's Waterloo, Goderich) all over Ontario, then to St. John NB, finishing in Chicago 1871-1876 (setting up after the Chicago Fire).  He left in 1876 to start an insurance agency in Chicago.
Robert 1845 - retirement in 1897: Port Hope, Perth, Peterborough, Belleville (all in Ontario).

Possibly this Robert Richardson, working in various bank branch offices in Ontario, had a son named Thomas who married Mary Curtis.

Based on starting dates, Robert might have been about 10 years older than William.   Could Robert have a son who was married in 1869, possibly born about 1849?  That would mean he had a son Thomas born about 4 or 5 years after he started working at a bank.  It works age-wise.

Would the paths cross for Robert and William?  They didn't seem to work at the same branch of the Bank of Montreal, but possibly they did meet in some professional capacity.  The Bank did seem to move folks around a lot, maybe they did have some training at the home office.

Or maybe they were also related as cousins, since I have no information on our William's father, Robert Richardson ancestors or siblings or cousins.  As Irish, they did name the eldest son after the paternal grandfather, so possibly Robert Richardson the bank employee was named for the same Robert Richardson who William Richardson's father, Robert Richardson.
Or maybe not --  it is a pretty common name!

Still wondering why my family would have the picture -- after all, photographs then were not like photographs today where you can get multiple copies of different sizes to send to all the relatives for a relatively cheap price.  I would expect there to be a reason to have a ambrotype (1855-1865) photograph of someone else's relative in the mid-1800s.

The link to this post is
©Erica Dakin Voolich, 2015

Sunday, March 1, 2015

"Taken with a Large Grain of Salt"

Take a look at that wonderful family pictured above.
They are the case study for my talk: "Taken with a Large Grain of Salt" -- Verifying Family Stories.

I can tell you that the Richardson family did not make it easy to verify the family stories, but I found success with other records beyond the usual (vital, census, immigration, land, probate, etc.)

I will be giving the talk as a webinar on Tuesday 3 March 2015, at 2 p.m. (EST).

I will be giving a longer version of the talk at the Worcester Chapter of the Massachusetts of Genealogists (MSOG) on Saturday 7 March 2015, at 10 a.m.  Non-members are welcome to attend but there is a $3 visitor's fee.

Here is the sign-in information from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies (NIGS) for the Webinar on Tuesday:

Join us on Tuesday, March 3rd at 2:00 PM EST when Erica Dakin Voolich presents "Taken with a Large Grain of Salt" - Verifying Family Stories".

Presenter: Erica Dakin Voolich is an author, blogger and teacher who has transitioned from using her problem solving skills in the mathematics classroom to solving family history problems.

Presentation Description: We collect family stories, but we can't assume veracity. Traditional sources don't always confirm the legend. Doing a case study, we look at other sources to verify the family information.

Time zones: Tuesday, March 3rd - 2:00 PM Eastern; 1:00 PM Central; 11:00 AM Pacific; 7:00 PM in London, England; Wednesday, March 4th - 6:00 AM in Sydney, Australia

(NOTE: No user name or password required. Please type in your first and last name; then click "Enter as a Guest".)  Please sign-in about 10-15 minutes early so that you are all ready to start at 2.

I hope you will be able to join me at one of the venues.

The link to this page is:
©2015, Erica Dakin Voolich

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Robert Richardson, who are you? Mary Curtis, who are you? Thomas Richardson, who are you?

Among the pictures in the box of family pictures was this handsome gentleman.  Written on the back:
"Robert Richardson
(father of Thomas Richardson
who married Mary Curtis)"

From my untrained eye, the photo seems to be an ambrotype (1855-1865).

It was with the photos of my Richardson family.  I have a Robert Richardson (1810, Ireland - 1875, Québec City & Montréal Canada) married twice first to Sarah Allen (abt. 1815 - 1843, Québec City) in 1832 and Harriet Isabella Birch (1818, Québec City - 1902, Montréal) in 1843.

Robert and Sarah had a son Thomas Richardson born 27 October 1837 in Québec City.  I have not found any marriage of him to to anyone, let along a Mary Curtis.

Robert and Harriet had a son Robert who lived less than a year (August 1846 - 13 April 1847).

Maybe, there was another son of Robert who produced a grandson named Thomas who married Mary Curtis.  With a large family you'd expect some potential candidates.

Robert had 14 children with his two wives, at least 5 children made it to adulthood and 6 are known to have died in childhood.  There are potential possibilities of fathers for the Robert shown in the photo:  Thomas (b. 1837), Charles (b. 1848), Frederick (b. 1852), Arthur Henry (b. 1855).  But age wise, any of these sons having a son Robert as early who was an adult to fit the dates of the picture seems improbable.  Their  brother, my Great Great Grandfather William, did not have any son named Robert.

Clearly, this was someone possibly connected to my Richardson family who had very few pictures of family members.  Cousin in Canada?   Cousin in USA?  Cousin in Ireland?

Maybe our Robert had a not-yet-identified brother,  who had a son Robert with a son Thomas?

Another possible clue:  when I was researching my William Richardson (pictured in 4-generation picture above), son of Robert Richardson and Sarah Allen, I contacted the Bank of Montreal.  The Archives shared their records of William and mentioned a Robert Richardson who also worked for the bank.

Any information will be gratefully accepted as I try to figure out my Richardson family.

And if Robert Richardson above is your ancestor, maybe we are cousins!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Blind Agent's Divorce, The Rest of the Story

One of my readers of my last blog post about the blind insurance agent discovery, found the newspaper articles about the back story.  I was sure there had to be more details.  The first article was on page 15 of the 18 March 1916 of The Chicago Daily Tribune.  It not only described the altercation, but it told of Frederick losing his sight, refusing to marry his fiancée, being lured into the marriage, and a rather scary night with a stranger in the apartment.  

“Husband Blind;
Roomer in Home;
Divorce Sought

Romance of Broker and
Fiancee Who Stuck to 
Him Bared by Suit


  Frederick T. Richardson, whose sudden
blindness figured in a romatic marriage
in 1907, and who is a prosperous insur-
ance broker, brought suit for divorce yes-
   Richardson accuses his wife of being
too friendly with Henry F. Baker, 26
years old, a clerk, and a member of the
Richardson household.   Richardson is 47
years old and his wife 35.
   Richardson, who is junior member of
the insurance firm of William Richardson
& Son, was engaged to be maried in 1907.
His eyes were failing, but it was believed
that he would recover their use.  One 
evening as he sat with his father, mother,
and sister he spoke suddenly:
  “Who turned off the lights?”

     Stricken with Blindness.
   He was assured that the lights were still
burning.  For a time it was feared he had
lost his reason.  Then it dawned upon his
family that he had lost his sight.  At first
he was dejected, then determined to make
the most of it.  The girl to whom he was 
engaged came to him.
   “We cannot marry,” he told her.  But
she would not listen.
   “Your affliction shall not keep me from
your side.” she told him.  “We shall be
married and I will always be with you.”
   But Richarson persisted in refusing to 
handicap, as he thought, the future of
his financée.  On Sept. 4, 1907, Richardson
was encouraged to attend a party in St.
Joseph, Mich.  As the story goes, he was
taken on an automobile ride and the end
of the journey was in a justice’s office.
His brave fiancée was determined to show
that she was “with him through thick
and thin.”  They were married.

        Taps His Way Out of Flat.
   A week ago Friday neighbors said there
was a commotion of some sort in the 
Richardson flat.  After it had quieted
down Richardson was heard tapping his 
way downstairs with his cane.  For the
last few months, since he has been en-
tirely without sight, he has been led
about by a boy.
   Last night Mrs. Richardson told of
her domestic affairs.
   “On the night in question,” said Mrs.
Richardon, “Mr. Richardson was in his
room and I was in mine.  Mr. Baker, who
is a boarder at our house, was in his

       Plot, She Charges.
   “I hear a noise and tried to awaken
Mr. Baker, but the boy slept soundly.
Before I could arouse Mr. Richardson
there was a man in the apartment and
another man and a policeman were at
the door.  Mr. Richardson tired to push
me into a room with Mr. Baker, but when
I saw they were private detective I re-
fused to be made a scapegoat.
   “The men then took the poor boy, Mr.
Baker, who was white with fright into a
rear room and forced him to sigh a con-
fession of guilt.”
   The elder Richardson is residing in San
Diego, Cal.  The  younger man could not
be found last night.”

The next article, gives both versions of the events of that Friday night 10 March 1916 and the threats in the months leading up to it.  It sounds like a divorce is a good idea for both of these people described in The Chicago Daily Tribune, on Tuesday 16 May 1916:

Says New Dollar Bills He Put
In Her Bed Were Not Wrin-
kled Next Morning.
   A blind husband and his wife -- the wife
alleging her nerves had been shattered
by treatment she received at his hands--
yesterday testified against each other in
Judge McKinley’s court.  Frederick T.
Richardson, junior member of the insur-
ance firm of William RIchardson & Son,
is the husband, and he is seek divorce
from his wife, Mrs. Frances E. Richard-
son, on charges of infidelity.
   Blindness, the affliction which cast a
halo of romance about their marriage
seven years ago, was capitalized in the
testimony by both the man and the
woman.  Mr. Richardson swore that his
wife took advantage of his condition to
flirt with Henry F. Baker, a one time
friend and roomer in the Richardson
home, at 4021 Lake Park avenue.  Mrs.
Richardson emphasized the assertion
that she married Mr. Richardson al-
though she knew he was doomed to blind-
ness and that she cared for him faith-
fully during the seven years of their mar-
ried life.

     Says He Threatened Murder.
   In addition to denying her husband’s
accusations Mrs. Richardson brought
countercharges against him.  His con-
duct, she said, was “inhuman.”  She
accused him of compelling her to submit
to indignities by threatening to end his
life unless she did as he demanded.  On
several occasions, she said, he had
threatened to kill both her and himself.
   There was also the name of “another
woman.”  Mrs. Richardson said on one
occasion three years ago she overheard
he husband talking over the telephone
with another woman.  She said she cried,
threatened to end his life, and finally
gave her the woman’s name.  Mrs. Rich-
ardson said the woman was “Mrs. La
Pointe, who lives at 2541 Indiana avenue.”

      Broke Into Apartment.
   Mr. Richardson rested his case on cer-
tain occurrences on the night of March
10.  Since that night, he said, he and
his wife have been living apart.  Pri-
vate detectives testified that they went
to the Richardson apartment that night
and found Mrs. Richardson in Mr. Bak-
er’s room, which adjoined her own.  Mr.
Richardson told the jurors that he called
the detectives after his own original 
methods had led him to believe his wife
   Handicapped by his blindness, according-
ing to Mr. Richardson, he put crisp dol-
lar bills between the sheets of his wife’s
bed in the evenings.  In the mornings,
he said, he would enter his wife’s room
after she was out of the way.  If he
found the bills still there unwrinkled,
then he believed that his wife had not
occcupied the bed.

     Story by Wife.
   Mrs. Richardson gave another version 
of what happened in the apartment that
night.  She said she had gone to be “at
the usual time, 10 or half-past.”
  “Between half-past 1 and 2,” the wife
said, “I heard voices outside the window.
Then I saw a hand raising the window.
I jumped out of bed and ran through to
Mr. Baker’s room screaming for help.  I 
locked the door behind me.  He didn’t pay
any attention and then I ran to my hus-
band’s room.  I told Mr. Richardson there
were burglars in the house.  He didn’t
seem to pay any attention.  He grabbed
me, and I had to break a-way.
   “Neither Mr. Richardson nor Mr.
Baker seemed to care about the burglars.
I couldn’t understand.  Neither one of 
them said anything.   Then Mr. Richard-
son opened the door and these men” --
she indicated the detectives in the court-
room--”came in.  I went to my room to
get on some clothes.”
  Mrs. Richardson then denied the
charges of infidelity made against her.”

Traps to show infidelity by one of the "happily married couple" and information on "the other woman" revealed by the other.  Stories of threatened violence and even putting new dollar bills under the other's bedsheets.  The next day is the verdict, 17 May 1916, The Chicago Daily Tribune, page, almost word-for-word reprinted in the Portland Oregon paper quoted in the last post.

Chicago Broker Gets Decree on Mis-
conduct Charge.

CHICAGO, May 22 -- Twelve men
with two eyes apiece marched from
an anteroom into Judge McKenley’s
courtroom, gazed impassively at a
pretty woman, and stood while the
clerk read their verdict finding the
pretty woman guilty of misconduct
and granting a divorce to her sightless
   The wife, severely costumed, turned
to look at the face of Frederick T.
Richardson, blind insurance under-
writer, who began tap-tapping to walk
from the room.  A little later, Mrs.
Richardson, accompanied by her attor-
ney, Robert E. Crowe, also departed.
     She had recited her defense.  Henry
F. Baker, said she had been a roomer
and a family friend in the Richardson
home at 4021 Lake Park Avenue.  Her
Husband had tried to thrust her into 
Mr. Baker’s room when private de-
tectives, prearranged by plan, had ap-
peared at the door.
  “I married Fred Richardson, al-
though I knew he was going blind.”
she said.  “Always I was faithful to
him.  They frightened that that poor boy,
Baker, into making a confession.”

Thinking about a timeline of events:
• 1907 F. T. Richardson marries Frances E. [last name to be determined], his 3rd wife.
• 1916 scandalous divorce makes front page with all the details, including "other woman" (Mrs. LaPointe who lives at 2541 Indiana Ave.)
• 1923 F.T. Richardson dies in Winamac, Indiana, one of his obituaries says he and his wife moved there about 6 years ago.  1923 - 6 = 1917.  The final wife in the court papers (I'm still waiting for from Chicago) is named Sadie Richardson, as is in the land records from Pulaski County, Indiana.    
I checked the 1910 census for Chicago for a "Sadie LaPointe" -- guess who shows up at 2541 Indiana Avenue, married to a Frank R LaPointe?  Sadie LaPointe.
Is this the Sadie who our Frederick marries and moves with to Winamac, Indiana about a year after his divorce?

Maybe the wife was telling the truth and the jury of 12 men didn't believe her!

© Erica Dakin Voolich 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Blind Insurance Agent is Discovered

I've been working on figuring out what happened to various children of William Richardson and Mary A C Bogart, my GG-grandparents.  They died in 1921 and 1910.  There are pieces of the puzzle still missing, but some DuPage County IL probate records led to Pulaski County Indiana for land records.  But that is another story, once I get the last piece of the puzzle from the Cook County Court archives.

Years ago I had finally found that William and Mary were buried in Hinsdale IL, there I learned she died in Downers Grove IL and he in Winamac IN.  Why Indiana?  He died with his son Fredrick, but why was a 50-something Chicago insurance agent in Winamac?  It's not exactly commuting distance from Chicago.

Last month, on my way to the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference, I stopped in Winamac to look for probate records for William and Fred Richardson.  There is a wonderful woman in the County Clerk's office who knows how to help genealogists, and welcomes them.  She looked, no probate, but asked if I had checked the library (they had one of the newspapers "indexed" for vital records and microfilm of the issues).  She called the library to say we were coming and where to direct us.  The index was helpful, we learned when Frederick died, just two years later [new information to me] and that the local paper did have obituaries, which I looked up and copied.

Frederick T. Richardson
     The death of Frederick T.Richard-
son occurred Friday evening, Dec-
ember 14 at ten o’clock at his home
just east of town.  Mr. Richardson
had been sick with menengitis but
was thought to be better and had
been up around the house that even-
ing. He retired about nine o’clock
and Mrs. Richardson was reading to 
him when death came.  The immed-
iate cause of his death was a stroke
of apoplexy.
     The deceased was 55 years of age
and leaves a wife and a foster daugh-
ter. Mrs. Janet Phillips.  Mr. and 
Mrs. Richardson came here from Chi-
cago several years ago.
     The funeral was held Monday af-
ternoon at one o’clock at the Presby-
terian church, conducted by Rev. C.
S. Valder with interment in the Win-
amac cemetery.”
The Winamac Republician, 20 December 1923, vol. 57, page 6.

At that time I didn't know about a lawsuit involving Frederick and his wife.  I learned about that a week later.  So, I contacted that wonderful woman in the Pulaski County office to ask her to look for some land records relating to it.  She did and found the records, I sent my fees and an envelop and then today arrived not only those land records [still to be sorted out] along with a surprise.
Today's was another obituary for our GG'uncle Fred:

  The death of Frederick T. Richard-
son occurred Friday evening at the 
home east of Winamac.  Hed had been
seriously ill for several days from an
attack of menigitis, presumed to
have been a result of severe treatment
that he had been taking in Chicago
in an effort to regain his sight, which
failed totally about fifteen years ago.
He was feeling much better Friday
and had been up and around the
house, but a cerebral hemorrhage
after he had retired for the night
brought death quickly.
   Mr. Richardson was fifty-five years
of age on Nov. 19.  He and Mrs. 
Richardson moved here from Chicago
about six years ago.  His father, Wil-
liam Richardson, died here two years
ago the day of the son’s funeral. which
was held Monday afternoon.  Services 
were conducted at the home by Rev.
C. S. Valder, and interment was given
in the Winamc cemetery."
Pulaski County Democrat, Thursday 20 December 1923

Wow!  He was blind and had been for 15 years!  That might explain why he wasn't still working in his father's insurance agency in the past few years.  It notes that he died two  years after his father, how many years they were in town, gives details about his going to Chicago for treatment for his blindness. Unfortunately, neither obituary gives his wife's name!

This led back to an article in my Richardson-wantabee file:

28 May 1916, Oregonian (Portland OR), Vol XXXV, issue 22, section 5, page 11:
Chicago Broker Gets Decree on Mis-
conduct Charge.

CHICAGO, May 22 -- Twelve men
with two eyes apiece marched from
an anteroom into Judge McKenley’s
courtroom, gazed impassively at a
pretty woman, and stood while the
clerk read their verdict finding the
pretty woman guilty of misconduct
and granting a divorce to her sightless
   The wife, severely costumed, turned
to look at the face of Frederick T.
Richardson, blind insurance under-
writer, who began tap-tapping to walk
from the room.  A little later, Mrs.
Richardson, accompanied by her attor-
ney, Robert E. Crowe, also departed.
     She had recited her defense.  Henry
F. Baker, said she had been a roomer
and a family friend in the Richardson
home at 4021 Lake Park Avenue.  Her
Husband had tried to thrust her into 
Mr. Baker’s room when private de-
tectives, prearranged by plan, had ap-
peared at the door.
  “I married Fred Richardson, al-
though I knew he was going blind.”
she said.  “Always I was faithful to
him.  They frightened that that poor boy,
Baker, into making a confession.”

This piece of news tells me not only was Fred Richardson blind but it tells me where he was living [that Richardson family moved frequently in the past couple of decades], was involved in some sort of scandal with his now former wife [un-named, unfortunately], that he took in roomers.  I'm sure there must have been an article about this that was in a Chicago paper [this was in a paper from Portland OR, a common thing to do with sensational stories].  And what does "severely dressed" mean?

Sounds like it is time to see if there are court records and maybe more newspaper coverage to be found!

©Erica Dakin Voolich, 2013
The link to this page is

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Family Legend and the Rest of the Story

In the 4-generation picture above, the baby is my mother, and the eldest gentleman is William Richardson.

In my mother's autobiography, written when she was in 8th grade, she said:

"... Long ago the Richardsons were great landholders in the north of Ireland.  After awhile they came to Canada and settled in Quebec.  One son went to Belleville, Ontario where he met a Miss Bogart, whose family had come from New York because they had been loyal to the king.  After the revolution the king gave them a grant of land near Belleville.  Richardson married Miss Bogart.  They had a large family, the youngest of it was my grandfather.  He grew up in a boy’s boarding school and came to Oak Park.  They had two boys, Robert and Harold.  Harold never married.  Robert married Adelaide Harvey and they had two children, Alice and Madelon. ..."

I found her autobiography in her papers after she died in 2001.  When I asked her about the Richardsons before I knew about the autobiography, she said they came from Belfast Northern Ireland to Canada.  Then the family came to Chicago after the Great Chicago Fire (1871) to help with the rebuilding of Chicago.  She said her great grandfather William Richardson worked for the Bank of Nova Scotia.  So that was the family legend I was starting with:  Belfast, Ireland to Québec, Canada to Belleville, Ontario to Chicago, Illinois in 1871 in two generations.  As an adult, telling me about the family, my mother named six children, her grandfather was actually child number two, not six.


I found the wedding of Robert Richardson and Sarah Allen, the parents of William Richardson in the Anglican Cathedral Holy Trinity Church in Québec on 25 May 1832.  William was born on 5 November 1835 in Québec City.  Robert was a cordwainer.  Sarah had four children before she died 28 January 1843, in Québec City.  Robert remarried, this time to Harriet Isabella Birch on 20 September 1843.  They had nine children.  Not all of his 13 children made it to adulthood.  In the 1851 and 1871 censuses, Robert says he was born in 1810 in Ireland.

I have not verified the "great landholders" or the "Northern Ireland." Robert did work as a cordwainer in Québec, he sounds like someone who is working for a living rather than managing an estate of some kind in Québec.  I have not found any passenger records bringing Robert to Québec -- so I don't know if he came as a young adult or as a child.  I haven't found any potential Richardson parents for him in Québec.  I have noticed there are many Richardsons in Northern Ireland, many of them named William Richardson and some own land.  Robert's first son was named William.  So, maybe that part of the story is true.  That is left to be investigated further.


Now on to part two of the family legend:   Robert had a son William who went to Belleville, Ontario, married a Loyalist, and then moved to Chicago after the Fire working for a bank helping in the rebuilding effort.

In the 1851 census, William Richardson is living with his father and step-mother in Québec City and is working as an accountant.  In the 1861 census, William (25) is married to Minnie (19), he was born in Lower Canada, she was born in Upper Canada and they are living in Cobourg, Northumberland, Canada West.  He is working as a bank accountant.

William married Mary A C Bogart, daughter and granddaughter of United Empire Loyalists who came to Canada from New York.  I found a newspaper birth announcement in Belleville Ontario for only one of their six children and this became a clue:  William Jr. was born 16 February 1862, baptized in Cobourg.  The newspaper identifies William Jr.'s father as employed by the Bank of Montreal -- not the Bank of Nova Scotia.

In 2005, I wrote to the Archives of the Bank of Montreal, hoping that they might have some records on their employees.  They did!

"William Richardson
Entered service at Québec in June 1854, was a Teller at Belleville (ON) in 1857.  Between 1859 and 1860 he held several positions at HO (Montréal) before becoming an Agent in Cobourg, St. Mary's, Waterloo, Goderich (all branches in the Province of Ontario).  In 1869, W. Richardson is Manager of our St. John (NB) branch, and in 1871 he is the Manager of our Chicago branch.  He resigned in 1876 when in office at Chicago."

Also in that letter were copies of two newspaper clippings about the Bank, the first was from an 1943 Belleville paper telling about the history of the 100 years of the Bank of Montreal in Belleville.  The other article was from a corporate newspaper, FIRSTBANK NEWS, September/October 1981, page 4, titled "Bank's Chicago office opened in 1861," by Freeman Clowery, Archivist. The article was an interesting history linking banking and the development and growth of Chicago's trade and transportation center.  One particularly interesting paragraph:

     "At the time of the Great Chicago Fire, Bank of Montreal responded quickly, substantially supporting the disaster fund set up to aid sufferers.  Almost before the embers had cooled the Bank opened temporary quarters on Randolph Street, to help get commerce rolling again."

The article included a poor quality photo of the bank office after the Chicago Fire.  Fast forward to 2013.  I contacted the very nice archivist at the Bank of Montreal who I had corresponded with in 2005.  I inquired  whether they could scan the newspaper article so I could actually see a higher quality photo since it is supposed to be William Richardson in the doorway.  After a few inquiring e-mails back and forth, I received a scan of the original photograph, not the newspaper!

     "Manager William Richardson stands in the doorway of the 
Bank of Montreal's temporary premises in Chicago, opened
immediately following the Great Fire of 1871.  After the blaze it
contributed to the establishment of a fund for the relief of those
suffering from the disaster.  The Bank has operated in Chicago
since 1861."
Photo used with permission Bank of Montreal Archives.
Not only does this confirm part of my mother's story about her great grandfather coming to Chicago to help with the rebuilding after the Fire, but it clearly shows the surrounding devastation and challenges in opening up a office for any business in October 1871.

©2013 Erica Dakin Voolich
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