This booklet, which contains the story of three brothers and one sister, children of Shadrach Richardson of Kentucky, perhaps requires a word of explanation at least for those who chance across it who are not members of the family. At a time when the children of Shadrach Richardson had reached adult age and started families of their own, the tide of empire was setting westward. They had already moved from Kentucky to Illinois and then to Iowa.
In 1847 two sons. George and Solomon and their families, took the long overland trail to Oregon. About the same time the daughter and her husband joined the Mormon migration to Utah and a few years later the family of Shadrach Richardson Jr., en route to the gold fields of California, joined his sister, heartsick and weary from the difficult journey and remained in Utah. These migrants had all set out from Iowa. They left behind in Iowa or in Illinois, four brothers and four sisters.
Whether a rift had developed between Polly Richardson Stewart and her brothers Solomon and George because of the fact she had affiliated with the Mormon church, I do not know, but I rather suspect there had. At any rate the Oregon family knew that the brother and sister had located in Utah and there may have been some correspondence in the earlier days, but none for a long period of time. There had been similar correspondence with others of the family in the middle-west but it also died out. It is certain, however, that none visited back and forth and the younger generation was only aware of a tradition of relatives in Utah and Oregon.
In 1929 a small booklet was published to keep alive the story of the journey across the plains of the brothers George and Solomon Richardson. By chance extra copies of this booklet, intended primarily for distribution among the members of the family, were provided to Fred Lockley, Portland newspaperman greatly interested in pioneer lore and through him many were distributed about the country. Nine years later, in 1938, one of these came to the attention of a descendant of the Utah Richardsons in the Los Angeles reference library and resulted in a letter from Mrs. Sarah E. R. Burgin of Spanish Forks, Utah, which inclosed a family chart. Examination proved without a doubt that her great grandfather Shadrach Richardson, was the father of Solomon Richardson.
This resulted in an exchange of letters between Mrs. Burgin and Mrs. Mary E. Colby of McMinnville, last surviving member of Solomon Richardson's family. In June, 1939, Milo Richardson and family of Salt Lake City, a brother of Mrs. Burgin, came to Oregon en route home from a vacation trip to San Francisco. This resulted in the first meeting and reunion of members of the Utah and Oregon families in a period of over 90 years which took place at the Earle Richardson home in Dallas with Mrs. Colby also attending.
About this time I made the suggestion that if the Utah families would prepare material dealing with the Stewart and Richardson families, I would republish the family booklet. This volume is the result.
It consists primarily of the family story of the three brothers and sister, with additional stories of several of their children. It must be remembered in reading these stories tracing the family back to Kentucky and Virginia that most of the information has been handed down by word of mouth from generation to generation. No attempt has been made to unify the separate accounts. They are surprisingly close in detail.
As one reads the various stories it is interesting to note the outcropping of family characteristics in the branches of the family which for almost a century have lived under widely different conditions. The one branch came to a green land of forest and grass, frequent rains and near sea level altitudes; the other to a desert that was made to blossom and grow into gardens and fields on a high plateau of the Rockies. Where their parents had taken part in three migrations, these descendants have lived content within a compartively few miles of the place of their birth. There perhaps was no great contrast in the situation of the families at the start. They came with practically nothing courageously to build homes in a wild, new country. They met the full hardships of all pioneers in such countries. If they prospered it was through their own efforts, paid for by long days of toil and patient effort.
In one respect there probably was a considerable difference. The Utah colony of pioneers was closer knit by ties of religion than the settlers of Oregon. There was probably more of cooperative effort. In Oregon the brothers soon separated, spending most of their lives in parts of the state far distant from each other by means of communication then available. Their families grew up in communities where their neighbors were from many states and of many religions.
In neither case did the family produce outstanding leaders of state or national prominence. But in every community where they lived they became a part of the life about them, respected for their several abilities and well liked as neighbors and friends. The Utah branch has multiplied exceedingly large, where the Oregon family has dwindled. Today there are only five male descendants of Solomon Richardson who bear the family name and not one of George Richardson. The families of the daughters are no more numerous, or have scattered till their whereabouts are not known.
I have undertaken the publication of this second booklet as I did the first with the desire to preserve for members of the family a record that will outlast the fast dimming tradition handed down by word of mouth. The first resulted in the reuniting of the Oregon and Utah families. May I express the wish that this booklet may come in time to the attention of some descendants of the other eight children of Shadrach Richardson of Kentucky so that within a century after they scattered from the first household they may again be united in a common knowledge of each other.
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