James Montgomery Richardson was born July 1, 1857, in Mobile, Alabama, the son of James M. Richardson and Mary F. Woods. His father enlisted in the Confederate army during the war and was killed in battle. His mother, Mary, was from Kentucky and brought her son back home after the death of her husband.
James met and married Lucy (Lula) Porter Rogers in Barren County, Kentucky, March 3, 1880. Consent was given by her father, John T. Rogers, in a note written February 18th of that year; her mother was Olivia Lewis. In the census taken three months later James is head of household, 22, editor of a newspaper. Lula is 19. Living with the couple is James mother, Mary F., 46, and his grandmother, Cecilia Woods, 74.
By 1900 the house is filled with children. James is 44, married twenty years, a printer. Lula is 39, the mother of eight children, six living. Children in the household are Lula, 13; Joe, 11; Jack, 7; Tom, 5; and Mary, 2. Eldest daughter, Olivia, is married to William P. Barlow.
In 1920 James and Lula have living with them Joe, 30, and Jack, 26. Henry W. is 18. A granddaughter, Olivia Richards is 5, I believe the daughter of son Joe and his wife Clara S. Frederick. Daughter Mary, 22, is married to William P. Coffman, 26, and the couple live with her parents.
James Montgomery Richards died five years after the 1920 census was taken. He was very much respected and admired.
The Franklin Favorite, Franklin, Simpson County, Kentucky
Thursday, February 12, 1925
James M. Richardson Dies Tuesday
Was Glasgow’s Most Distinguished Citizen and the State’s Ablest Writer
Ex-Congressman James M. Richardson died at his home in Glasgow at 3:30 o’clock Tuesday afternoon, following a prolonged illness.
For more than a year he had been, for the major portion of the time, unable to leave his room, and while the news of his death was not expected, it will, nevertheless, prove a profound shock to his legion of friends throughout Kentucky.
An epitaph of the dead editor need never be written, since the whole of his long and useful life was given over to a defense of right as he conceived it.
To properly appreciate the dead editor it was absolutely essential that one know him intimately, since he possessed a retiring disposition which made it altogether impossible for him to be classed a ‘good fellow’ among strangers. There was absolutely nothing attaching to the snob in his make-up, yet it was practically an impossibility for him to assume his natural bent of a genial, companionable man when among those to whom he was not personally and intimately known.
One attribute of his that will forever stamp him a man among men was his loyalty to womanhood. It is altogether possible that the early care and devotion given him by a widowed mother, his father having been slain in battle near Atlanta during the early days of the internecine struggle. In a measure influenced him in after years in all of his dealings with women and children.
During his connection with the State Prison Board a crime was committed in Hart County, and the defendants were convicted and given long sentences in prison at hard labor. One of the accused men was an educated and scholarly man and the disgrace soon broke his spirit and undermined his health. Applications for pardon were made by those who knew him before he fell, but the Governor could find no reason to grant clemency. Toward the end of his misspent life the wife and daughters, women of culture and innate refinement, determined to risk all in an application to the Parole Board, and accordingly visited the Eddyville penitentiary during the regular monthly visit of Commissioner Richardson.
Just here it is meet to say that a more sympathetic man was never gathered to the Great Beyond, but it is also true that a more fearless one or a greater stickler for duty as he conceived it never had a place among men.
To the pitiful, tearful, heartbroken pleas of that devoted mother and daughter he listened with tear-filled eyes, but in reply said:
‘My good women, were I to be guided by sympathy, I should at once free the husband and father to die in the free, open sunlight, but I am responsible to God, responsible to the people of Kentucky and answerable to my own conscience for my acts as a sworn officer of the law. So long as I hold a commission from the people who have honored and trusted me, no man guilty of a crime against womanhood will ever go unwhipped of justice by any act of mine.’
The lamented Senator Goebel, who played perhaps the largest part of any given individual in the State’s history during his day and generation, relied upon the dead editor with a devotion rarely equaled. In many respects the men were alike. In others as different as opposites could become.
Loyalty was the outstanding characteristic which distinguished Jim Richards, and around the open grave into which his mortal remains were yesterday consigned, there gathered rich and poor, fortunate and unfortunate alike to mingle their tears in grief at the passing of him who came into their midst a homeless youth and by reason of native intelligence, force of will power and dependable attributes rose to a position of honor and trust.
While honored with distinguished offices, the mere holding of office brought neither honor nor glory to the dead man. He towered above graft like the pyramids above the lesser Alps, and as a country newspaper writer made a national reputation, which in advance of his election to the
State Legislature Prison Commission and Federal Congress had preceded him, and everywhere he was accepted as a citizen of integrity, a man of honor and an editor of the class whom Carelton had in mind when he wrote:
‘When Gabriel’s trumpet shall sound, And they who have labored and striven, Shall come from the quivering ground; As they pass through the gates of the city. With proud and victorious tread, The editor, printer and devil, Will travel not far from the head.’
Categories: Family Stories