James Richards - Stories and Memories
Contributor: SouthPawPhilly Created: 7 months ago Updated: 7 months ago
James Richards was a native of Nottingham, England Nottingham lies in the heart of the Eastern Midlands; its history is long and storied. Many different peoples invaded and governed this land. They roamed the countryside throughout centuries of its early history.
During the more recent Victorian period, Nottingham became a part of the great industrial revolution. Many large factories, especially textile mills, sprang up throughout the area and Nottingham became famous for its fine lace.
Much of the Midlands remained rural however, made up of small hamlets and villages tucked away in the green, rolling hills.
Nottingham city, settled on the banks of the Trent River, is the largest and most prominent city in the county. It was founded during the Anglo-Saxon period (800 AD) and was made legendary by the tales of the famous Robin Hood and his Merry Men of Sherwood Forest.
James Richards knew well the exploits of Robin Hood, the hero of the common folk, and he knew even more about Sherwood Forest for he was born in the shadows of the great oak trees and lived in the area for the first ten years of his life.
The Richards family was living at #45 Lees Yard in Nottingham City at the time of his birth on April 17, 1853. His mother officially registered this event with the civil authorities in the Registration District of Nottingham on May 25, 1853. He was given a name and priesthood blessing by Elder William Orton in the Nottingham Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on June 5, 1853.
James was welcomed into the family by Isaac Jr., his father; his mother, Ann Towlson Richards; his older sister, Martha; his brother, John; and younger sister, Ann Elizabeth. Another brother, Isaac III, had been born in 1850 but had died at six months of age.
A few months following his birth, his sister, Ann Elizabeth, passed away and by the time that he was eighteen months old, he had also lost his older brother John. That left just he and Martha as siblings in the family. There grew a special bond between these two “survivors.” Throughout their lifetime, they watched out for each other and were great friends.
Sometime in 1854, James moved with his parents and sister to Bloomsgrove, a small village several miles from Nottingham City. They were now living in the Radford Branch of the Nottingham Conference of the LDS Church. Living in the same area were Grandfather Isaac Sr., Grandmother Sarah, their daughters Sarah and Susan, and their son Frederick and his family. All these Richards relatives had also become members of the LDS Church.
Isaac Jr. and Ann had a great desire to immigrate to Zion and at this time they began planning for such a move. Accordingly, on March 22, 1855, Isaac Jr, sailed from Liverpool on the ship ‘Juventa.’ The plan was for him to come to America and earn sufficient funds to send for the family.
For some reason, these plans did not work out and Isaac Jr. returned to his family in late 1856 or early 1857. The family moved a short distance to Snenton and he spent the next four years with them. James grew from four to eight years of age. This is the only time he spent with his father during his youth and teenage years. It is hard to know what their relationship was and how much influence his father had on him. Some feelings and bonding must have taken place as evidenced by James’ actions many years later.
In November 1857, James’ mother gave birth to a daughter, Sarah Ann. She was also pregnant when Isaac again sailed for the United States in March 9, 1861. He left his family supposedly with the same objective in mind, that of earning sufficient funds for them to follow him there. It would be twenty years before James would see his father again.
The absence of the father from the family certainly placed hardships on them. The responsibility to provide the living would rest heavily on James’ mother but it also rested on the older children. Both Martha and James worked in a brickyard. James was rather a slight built child and he often told his children in later years that this was very hard work for him. Being only eight years old and not overly strong, he could only carry four bricks each time from the oven to the stacks.
Obviously, having to work and to help support the family prevented James from having much opportunity for formal education during his early years. It is probable that he attended school very little during his life in England.
Two years passed since Isaac had left for the United States and in 1863, Ann decided to make plans for her to emigrate. In light of her actions and the events that followed, she probably had received very little communication from her husband.
On May 31, 1863, she and her two-year-old son Orson, began their long journey to Utah. She left Martha, James, and Sarah Ann behind in the care of their Richards relatives.
The next year on May 21, 1864, James, at eleven years of age, left his native England. In the company of his sisters, Martha who was twenty and Sarah Ann, age seven, he set sail on the ‘General McClellan’ at Liverpool. His Aunt Mary Richards, and her children also accompanied him.
His sister, Martha, would later recall: “ We had a pleasant time on board ship until the night of the 100th f June when we encountered a heavy storm. It was so severe that the Captain said it was a miracle that we didn’t go down.” The ship landed in New York harbor in late June with 803 souls, on less than had started, having one birth and two deaths.
The party made their way by train to St. Joseph, Missouri. Here they boarded a steamboat and traveled up the Missouri River to Wyoming, Nebraska. Wyoming was one of the rallying sites for the Mormon Emigrants. They stayed in the tent city, which had been created by the Church just a few miles outside of town and met their Mormon guides who had been sent from Salt Lake City to guide them across the plains. Again Martha relates. “These boys from Utah were a merry crowd, somewhat different from the missionaries we had seen before in England but they were good-hearted Mormon boys filling their mission in helping the Saints to gather to Zion.”
In July they were placed under the leadership of Captain Joseph Rawlings, a fine man from Draper, Utah, and they started on their journey of one thousand miles to Zion. They traveled on the Nebraska City Cutoff Trail for 169 miles west to Fort Kearney. Here they joined the Oregon Trail and followed it until they reached South Pass, Wyoming, at which time they joined the Mormon Trail into Utah. Martha relates that they walked all the way but for a few miles one stormy day.
Their journey was marred by several traveling companions developing Mountain Fever and while there were no deaths during the journey, one small girl and one young missionary guide died after reaching Salt Lake Valley.
Their company arrived in Salt Lake City on September 29, 1864. In the morning of that day at about eleven o’clock, they came out of the mouth of Parley’s Canyon where they were met by a number of men and teams. One of the greeters had a wagon filled with fresh peaches. He made sure that all the travelers had an abundant taste of them before they were ushered down “Sugar House” street for about four miles before they were met by family and friends.
Undoubtedly their mother, Ann, was there to meet them, Aunt Mary Richards and her family went to Pleasant Grove, Utah to live and Martha joined her there for about six months. Martha then returned to Salt Lake City and worked in the home of George Q. Cannon for several years before marrying.
During the year that Ann spent in Utah awaiting her children, she had been endowed on April 16, 1864 and also married to John William Clayton. It is not known if this was a polygamist marriage and also if she had divorced Isaac Richards. Isaac had returned home to England shortly after Ann’s departure and they never saw each other again. Such a strange turn of events for the family!
James and Sarah Ann joined their mother and their younger brother, Orson. The first known place of their residence was in Frank City (now known as Franklin) Idaho. Ann gave birth to a son, John Heber Clayton, on February 2, 1865, in Frank City.
Ann Richards Clayton began to run boarding houses for railroad and mining workers. The marriage to John William Clayton ended in separation and she was left alone to care for herself and her four children.
The family became separated from church association. Although James would be an emerging teenager at this time, he was not baptized until many years later. The family lived on the fringes of the frontier, as they made their way north to Montana where there were booming mining settlements.
It is known that for some time they lived in Dillion and later Virginia City, Montana. They encountered very early conditions of the West. James would later recall witnessing the Vigilantes rounding up the outlaws and hanging them from trees. As a young teenager in Virginia City, he found work on the freight wagons that hauled ore down to Corrine, Utah, where it was shipped by train to the refineries in Colorado.
Living in these rough mining towns, which were largely comprised of male workers, precluded the children from receiving much education. Up to this time, James had been a victim of this fact. However if 1868, when the first “free” school in Utah was established in American Fork, Utah, James began spending his winters there living with his sister Martha. He attended school in the building later known as the Old Science Hall. His teacher was Joseph Forbes, who became legendary in American Fork for his contribution to education.
The 1870 Montana census listed the family living in Radersburg, which was another booming mining town of that era. James was the only one of the four children in the family that could read and write. It also stated that he had attended school through the winter of 1869-70 and during the summer he worked as a mine hand. In later years, he often told his son Harry, how difficult the ride from Montana to American Fork was for him because the only means of transportation he had was riding bareback on a mule. How many winters he did this is not known. It must have been several for although his writing was always quite rough, he learned to read and enjoy good literature and it was a great source of enjoyment to him throughout his life.
At some point during his visits to American Fork, he became acquainted with the Ellis family who lived near his sister. They owned a great deal of acreage in the north fields of Manila and would employ him from time to time while he was going to school. The Ellis boys told him about the railroad construction that was taking place in the Salt Lake Valley. The line of the Utah Central Railroad had just been completed from Salt Lake City to Bingham Junction, now called Midvale, and there was work available as extensions were being planned for the Little Cottonwood Canyon and also west to the Bingham mines. James was about nineteen years old at this time and this type of work seemed appealing to him. Little did he realize that this would be the beginning of a long career for him in railroading.
His first job was working on the Bingham spur surveying crew holding surveying flags, driving stakes, and assisting with the layout of the line. He next joined the construction crew in the actual laying of the rails. In 1873, when the trains began to run on the track, his job became that of a “Hostler” which meant that he was in charge of caring for the engines - - cleaning, polishing, and keeping them in good repair.
Once James started working on the railroad, it is doubtful that he ever returned to Montana, not even when his mother died. In 1875, she had married J.P. Carolus, a shoemaker and the postmaster of Radersburg. He was a man of comfortable means and this must have been a wonderful relief for Ann. Tragedy struck just six weeks after the marriage, however, when Ann fell while riding a horse and was killed. She was buried in the Radersburg cemetery.
While working for the railroad, James became acquainted with Samuel and George Smith of Pleasant Grove, Utah. Through this friendship, he was introduced to their sister, Harriet Emeline Smith. Emeline was a pretty brown-eyed girl four years younger than James and very appealing to him. Needless to say, he began courting her. By this time, he had worked himself to be the foreman of the maintenance crew and probably earning sufficient wages to begin to think about marriage.
James Richards was twenty-three years old and Harriet Emeline Smith was nineteen when they were married in Christmas Day 1876, at Pleasant Grove, Utah. They made their first home in the West Jordan area of the Salt Lake Valley.
The next year on September 26, 1877, their first child, Harriet Asenath, was born. She was followed by Mary Ann Ellis on March 16, 1879,and Joseph Franklin on December 31, 1881. All three of these children were born in South Cottonwood, West Jordan, Utah.
In 1881, a sad event happened for James. His twenty-year-old brother Orson, was killed in the Little Cottonwood Canyon by a snow slide. James purchased a lot in the Pleasant Grove Cemetery and buried him there. Orson was the first person buried in the Richards plot.
About this time, James had learned that his father had fallen on hard times and was living in a “poor house” in England. Although he had not seen or been in contact with his father for many years, he felt a responsibility to help him. He sent money for his passage and settled he and his wife in American Fork where they first lived on Camp Street. He later built a small home for them on the south west corner of his property in Pleasant Grove. When Isaac died, he too, was buried in the Richards Family plot in the Pleasant Grove Cemetery.
James had worked his way up through the ranks of the railroad and had been promoted to an engineer. He decided to leave the smaller Bingham Canyon line to seek work on the Utah Northern Railroad which was being built from Ogden to Brigham City, Logan, Franklin, and north through Idaho and Montana. He left the Bingham line in about 1881-1882. His first assignment on the Utah Northern line was engineering the trains running from Ogden to Franklin. Emeline and the children lived at Logan during this time.
The years of construction of this railroad extended from about 1873 to 1884 and it is a well-known fact that he took an active part as the engineer on the line during the time it was reaching through Pocatello, Eagle Rock (Idaho Falls) and into Montana. He had the honor of engineering the first train that entered Montana on this line and his engine was called “Big #10.” It contained the newest technology of the time – Westinghouse air brakes.
When this line was completed, it extended from Ogden to Garrison, Montana and was 466 miles long. This made it one of the longest narrow gauge railroads in the world. It was also the most profitable of all the western railroads. In 1887, while James was still actively engineering on the line, it became a broad gauge railroad. This made engineering a much smoother and faster operation.
The family would follow the construction as it pushed north. They lived in Logan and Franklin, but spent the greater part of the time in Battle Creek, Idaho. It was one of the maintenance and repair centers for the line. Battle Creek was located about fifteen miles north and slightly west of Preston, Idaho. Two children were born to them while living here. Martha Elizabeth was born on November 5, 1883 and George James on February 7, 1886. During the last year or two the James worked on this line, the family lived in Ogden.
The life of a railroad engineer was very rugged and hard. They were required to work seven days a week and were able to be home very little. His children remember that during these railroad years, he would only be home for 2-3 hours, once or twice a week.
Following the construction period of this railroad, James was assigned a regular run from Salt Lake City to Pocatello, Idaho. Pocatello really didn’t exist until the railroad started pushing through the area. It actually was founded in 1882 and on June 22, 1889, the town site was surveyed and laid out. The land was sold at auction and James bought a rather large piece. After holding the land for a few years, he sold it. Years later it became a prominent part of the business section of the city.
Engineering in these early frontier areas could be both exciting and dangerous. Indians roamed the country and the elements were often an enemy. James’ son Fred related that his father would recall how they would have to put two engines behind a snow plow in order to clear away some of the large drifts that would block their tracks. Sometimes, they would back up and have to get a run to hit the drifts sufficiently strong enough to force the plows along.
By the end of the 1880’s the Union Pacific Railroad Company had pretty much bought out all the different independent lines throughout Utah and Idaho, especially those lines that had originally started by the LDS Church. This was an advantage for someone like James Richards because he would be able to transfer to one of these lines within the company. He requested and received a transfer to the Utah Southern line with a run from Lehi to Silver City in Juab County. This enabled the family to move to Pleasant Grove and be near their Smith and Richards relatives. It also meant that for the first time in his engineering career, James could spend a little more time with his family.
He had purchased a sizeable piece of property in Pleasant Grove from the estate of Hans Jorgensen Nielsen in 1884. This property ran along the west side of First West just across the street from the Smith home and the site of Emeline’s girlhood home. James had a lovely new home built on his property and furnished it rather luxuriously. It had beautiful flowered carpet, nice furniture, and a new piano. The parlor room contained a bay window, which was not a common feature in those days.
The family moved to the new home in 1889-1890. These were happy times for the family. Emeline enjoyed her comfortable new home and was nice being back by her parents. It was also much better for the family being closer to their relatives.
There was also happiness when their son Claude was born on March 8, 1891. He was a beautiful, blonde headed little boy who captured their hearts. Much sorrow resulted when at age two he passed away. But this was only a prelude to a heart wrenching sorrow that was to follow. On February 11, 1895, Emeline gave birth to another little son whom they named Guy. He was their seventh child. His birth seemed uneventful and he was a beautiful, healthy baby. However, the physician attending the birth had evidently failed to properly cleanse his hands as he hurried from a previous delivery to attend her. She developed Puerperal Sepsis, more commonly known as “child-bed fever, which was a very vicious and fast spreading infection. This illness was totally uncontrollable in the days before antibiotics and it proved so for Emeline. She lay extremely ill for nearly two weeks before her death on February 24, 1895.
Realizing that her death was imminent, she worried about her children and especially her newborn son. She asked her sister Harriet and her mother to please watch over him. Harriet was single and still living across the street with her parents. She took Guy home to care for him and she and her mother helped the older children who remained in their own home with their father.
James’ oldest daughter Harriet Asenath was nearly eighteen years old. Mary was sixteen, Joseph was fourteen, Martha was twelve, and George was nine. This was a sad and difficult time for them all. Emeline had been a sweet and wonderful mother to them. She had been with them constantly while their father had been so occupied and away from home making a living. James, on the other hand had very little experience nurturing them. He was a good provider but had left the responsibility of raising the children to Emeline. He loved the children and was affectionate with them whenever he had time to be home, but now the responsibility lay heavily on his shoulders. It is interesting to note that following Emeline’s death, James was baptized a member of the LDS Church on July 7, 1895. He was forty-two years old.
As Harriet cared for little Guy, she became very attached to him. Her strong maternal feelings for him were probably a major factor in accepting James’ proposal for marriage. On July 1, 1896, Evan Wride, an elder of the Church, married them at Provo, Utah.
Although the circumstances of this marriage were unconventional and different from one between couples of similar ages and a more romantic courtship, this relationship between James and Harriet grew to be one of real affection and love. They were compatible and happy together.
During the fall of 1896, Harriet Asenath, the oldest daughter, was married to William Hayes. A baby son born to James and Harriet on October 2, 1897 soon occupied her place in the family. They named him Harry. Four more children were born to them over the next thirteen years. A stillborn baby daughter was born on July 18, 1901. Fred was born on August 12, 1902, Dean was born on April 10, 1908, and Blaine was born on February 12, 1910. It was a great sorrow to them when their little son Dean died at age three from a Wilms tumor.
The children from his first family began to marry and leave home. Joseph married in 1899, Martha in 1903, and George in 1905. Mary, the second oldest child never married. She suffered from ill health most of her life and passed away in 1914.
James’ career on the railroad continued. Some time in the early 1900s, his route was changed to the Salt Lake City – Lyunndyl one. As a young boy, Harry knew exactly what time his father’s train would pass through Pleasant Grove and he would climb up on top of the chicken coop where he would have a clear view of it crossing West Center street. He would wave to his father and James would wave back and give the whistle four sharp “toots.” He thought that his father was doing this to greet him and it was only when he grew older that he realized that his father was required to do this at every crossing of the street.
During these long uneventful trips up and down the state, James would read Shakespeare, which was his favorite literature. Sometimes the trips could be quite eventful. One such incident took place on a run one day. His train was running along the tracks when the fireman noticed that one of the rails had “bowed up” or expanded because of the heat. He set the brakes and he and the fireman leaped from the engine. No one was hurt, but the engine was derailed.
About 1906, James was involved in a fatality on his line. He was traveling his usual route to Lynndyl and as he approached the mail drop of station at Lindon, where he would always throw out the incoming mail pouch and pluck the outgoing on from the hook along side the track, the train hit the mail carrier that had fallen asleep on the track. The person killed was a young, single man who apparently had been out late the night before and had accidentally fallen asleep as he waited for the train. This was a very traumatic experience for James and probably had something to do with the fact that a short time later he left the railroad and a career of over thirty years.
By 1907, James had left his railroad position. He was now in his middle-fifties and there was still a need to continue working. He began working at the Swansea Mine in Silver City. Silver City was located just south of Eureka and Mammoth in Juab Co. The whole area was a booming mining district at this period of time. Swansea Mine was the first silver mine to extract ore below the water level of the mine. James’ position was that of shaft elevator operator. Later, he had a similar position at the Mammoth Mine.
He next acquired a job with the Mammoth Mine Company operating their pumping station at Cherry Creek, Utah. Cherry Creek was about 20 miles west of Mammoth, Utah. The company had built a pumping station there to draw water from Cherry Creek Reservoir for the mining town of Mammoth. There was a large water tank built on the mountain ridge high above Mammoth and it was his job to keep this tank filled. To do this, he fed the huge boilers and ran the pumps, which, by steam power, drew the water from the reservoir and sent it into the tank. The water then ran by gravity into Mammoth. It furnished the city’s water supply.
Cherry Creek was not a city or town, just a place on the top of a hill where two lumber houses stood a few feet apart. James and his family occupied one of these frame houses and the other was used for the workers who came to help him. Below the hill was the pumping station, a long building with two big doors. Inside the building were the steam boilers and the huge pumps. To the side of the building were the tall stacks of cedar logs used to fuel the boilers. About a quarter of a mile down the slope, there was a garden area and the barns for the animals. This was Cherry Creek.
Since Cheery Creek was a long distance by horse and wagon from Pleasant Grove, the family could only be with their father during the summer months. When fall came and it was time for the children to start back to school, they would have to leave him alone in Cherry Creek for the winter. He would try to come home on special holidays such as Christmas or if there was a family emergency.
James had very little contact with the outside world when he lived at Cherry Creek. During the summer and fall seasons, a few people traveling in wagons would pass through Cherry Creek and would stop and talk with him. He also had some visits from the miners and dry farmers, but hardly anyone came in the winter because of the difficulty in traveling the dirt roads.
It was very lonely for him during these months and he would try to keep busy running the pumps and repairing the machinery. He always kept the equipment shiny and clean and in order. His tools were always arranged neatly on a big board on the wall. He also loved books and read a great deal. Two well-worn books were his favorites - the Bible and a copy of Shakespeare’s works.
When summer came, the family was always excited to go to Cherry Creek. James’ son Fred remembers one of his first trips to Cherry Creek when he was four or five years old. This was probably in 1906 or 1907 and was soon after James began working there. Fred relates. “We went out on the train. We arrived at the station in Mammoth and my father met us there. We stayed that night with my mother’s sister, Aunt Annie Hillman and her husband, Uncle Tom. The next day, we traveled to Cherry Creek in a wagon pulled by two mules. It took us about three hours to get there.”
When their son Guy became old enough to drive the wagon, he took them to Cherry Creek each summer. Fred again relates, “We all loved making the trip to Cherry Creek. We would take two days and camp at either Fairfield, which was about a half days journey from Pleasant Grove, or at Toplift, which was about a days travel from home. These were the only places where we could get water for the horses.”
The summers in Cherry Creek were great fun for all the family. Cherry Creek provided them much freedom for play and adventure as they roamed the hills and played among the sagebrush. They had a cow and it was allowed to pasture on the surrounding hillside. It would wander away and the older boys would have to ride the mules out to find her. There were lots of gopher and squirrels and James kept his boys busy setting traps for them. He would pay them ten cents for each squirrel and twenty-five cents for each gopher, because they were harder to catch.
There were always chores and other work for them to do. James raised enough chickens to have plenty of eggs and meat for their use. The cow would supply the milk and butter. James always had a wonderful garden. The soil at Cherry Creek was rich mountain soil that produced excellent produce. His garden was so large and bounteous that he was able to share it with his friends, neighbors, and the dry farmers and ranchers who were scattered some distance from Cherry Creek.
The family was all involved in the gardening. Fred remembers riding the mule to cultivate the garden and also the need to hoe and irrigate it. There was plenty of irrigation water because there was always water in the ditch along side of the garden and they could irrigate anytime they needed to.
His most pleasant memory about the family’s participation in the garden was how much is mother Hattie enjoyed going down to work in it. He said that she and James would work side-by-side deeply engaged in conversation, but obviously enjoying each other’s company very much. He felt that Cherry Creek was some of the happiest times in their relationship.
James’ children knew that their father loved their mother because he was always very good and kind to her. He kept everything in the house in good repair and although the house in Cherry Creek was not very convenient, he made it as livable and pleasant as possible for her. He was loving and tender with Hattie and he expected the family to be good to her and help her. The children knew how happy they were when they could be together and how they made the most of those times.
Another daily task that the family shared with James was to go with him each day on the three-mile trip to the water tank. This was the tank that held water supply for Mammoth and the one that James needed to keep filled. He would check the water level so he would know how much water he would need to pump that day. Sometimes when there was an unexpected large usage of water and the level would get low, James would get a call during the night or early in the morning. No matter what time it was, he was required to go fire up the boilers and start the pump and send water on its way.
Once or twice a month, they would have to go to Mammoth for supplies. He would load the wagon with fresh vegetables from their garden to take into Mammoth for the relatives. He really enjoyed visiting and sharing his garden with the people around him.
While at Mammoth, they would stay with their Aunt Annie and Uncle Tom Hillman. Hattie was especially close with her sister Annie and prized this time together. The boys would have a great time with their cousins who were about the same age as all the Richards boys. The family also had many other relatives to visit in Mammoth. Hattie had three other brothers living there and James’ son George and his family were there. After visiting a day with their relatives while their father obtained all the needed supplies, they would leave the next morning for Cherry Creek.
When the fall came, the family would come back to their home in Pleasant Grove so the boys could attend school. James would be left to spend the winter by himself. These were lonesome times for both him and the family.
At Christmas time everyone looked forward to his coming and were trilled when he arrived home. His son Fred relates,” I remember my feelings of anticipation. All day I would look down the sidewalk toward the train station to see if he was coming. When he arrived home and saw me, he would grab me and kiss me.”
Lois Hayes West, a granddaughter, remembered the “family get-togethers.” Here recollection of her grandfather was that “he had a pleasant sort of husky sounding voice with an English accent. One Christmas we were “down home” to his place and grandpa was there. The Smith cousins called him Uncle Jim, so when he asked me to kiss him, I asked Ed Hillman, my cousin, to go give “Uncle Jim” a kiss. I was heartily teased because I did not know my own grandfather.”
These Christmases were especially enjoyable and were warm happy times for the whole family. Although James had never had musical training of any kind, he loved to sing and had a nice clear voice. He could chord an accompaniment for himself and other members of the family as they gathered around the piano.
A fond memory of one of these Christmases was related by Fred. His father was home from Cherry Creek. The day before Christmas, James and his sons Harry and Guy, were in the living room with the door closed. They were busy assembling a Christmas toy and would not let Fred come in. He didn’t know exactly what they were doing but knew that it involved him. Finally when he could stand it no longer, he went around the house and knocked at the front door. His father opened the door and right before him stood a little red wagon that obviously was to be a surprise for Fred. His father was so upset that he booted Fred off the porch and slammed the door!
In 1915-16, after working about eight years at Cherry Creek, James’ job ended. It was replaced by technology and the pumping station was no longer needed. He came home to stay at last and the family was thrilled. Through the years he had acquired several pieces of property in addition to his rather large acreage surrounding the family home. He also had a good number of farm animals to raise and care for. There was plenty of work for him to do and the family was happy that this time had come.
These, however, were difficult times for James. He was getting older now and the farm work was hard for him. He put in long hours, arising at four o’clock each morning to do the milking and to take care of the other chores around the place. Then he would leave for the fields by “sun up.” He would work all through the day and arrive back home at suppertime.
His farmland in Manila was all in weeds and it took great effort to get the grounds back into shape again for planting. He planted three acres of this land in sugar beets. Although growing sugar beets meant hard work, he had to have a money crop. He couldn’t afford to hire help with the beets so he traded some work with his brother-in-law George Smith. He helped him harvest his apple crop and George helped him harvest the beets. James planted the other part of the Manila land in wheat and corn to help out with food for the family and to feed the animals.
He also owned twenty acres of hay land down near the lake. Haying in those days was all down the hard way. When it was time to haul the hay, he could only haul two loads a day because the distance was so great between the hay field and the home.
His son Fred was the only one of his boys that was able to help him with all this work. Guy was in Salt Lake City going to medical school and Harry was in Mammoth working in the mines, trying to make enough money to go to college. Blaine, the youngest son, would only be six or seven years old.
Cash flow was the biggest problem for the family. When the county decided to gravel the road in front of their Manila property, and offered four dollars a day for a man, a team and a wagon, James realized that he needed to take advantage of this opportunity. He put fifteen year old Fred to work hauling the gravel while he worked alone on the farm. The burdens were heavy for both of them.
Although things were tight financially, they had milk cows that supplied them with milk and butter and had some left over to sell to the neighbors. James’ gardening skills kept them in vegetables. When money got scarce, he would sell a calf to get a little extra. Hattie would tend to the chickens and there was always a supply of meat and eggs for the family and also a little egg money that really helped out. James always kept two or three pigs to supplement the meat supply. He would butcher one at Thanksgiving time and one again at Christmas. Then he and Hattie would cure the hams and shoulders to be used during the summer months. They had little money and few material goods, but through resourcefulness, ingenuity, and hard work, they built a good life for themselves and their children.
During the last years that he spent at home, he became much better acquainted with his children and grandchildren. Some of them remember how playful and fun he was with them. He always was quite a big “tease.” He and Harriet were able to enjoy these years together. In the summer evenings they often spent time by themselves sitting on the front porch laughing and conversing about the events of the day.
In the early morning of May 5, 1922, Harriet awoke about six o’clock and heard the water hydrant running at the side of the house. As she looked out she noticed their two horses grazing on the front lawn, something they were never allowed to do. She sensed that something was wrong and went quickly outside. She found her husband lying beside the water hydrant where he had obviously died very suddenly. Apparently he had arisen at his usual early hour, brought the horses up from the barn to water and suffered a massive heart attack. This was a terrible shock to all the family and especially to Harriet.
The family faced financial problems almost immediately with his passing. Although James had worked terrible hard his entire life, there was little financial security for the family. He had not purchased life insurance nor was there any savings. The married sons were able to provide for his burial.
His funeral was held in the old Timpanogas Stake Tabernacle on May 7, 1922. He was buried in the Richards Family plot at the Pleasant Grove Cemetery.
So the long path from Nottingham to Pleasant Grove was completed. James Richards had accomplished much in his lifetime and he had to struggle and work hard every bit of the way.
If one were to ask, “What kind of man was James Richards?” Those who knew him in his childhood days would say that he was a poor child who had to work in the brickyards to help support the family instead of going to school. Those who knew him as he grew into manhood would say that he had to fight for every advantage he got. That he rode the ore wagons, worked in the mines, and became rather boisterous, loud and rough. That he was quick-tempered and not afraid to jump a man twice his size. Those who knew him in his mature years would say that while he never physically grew to be a large man, never weighing over 160lbs., he grew mentally and emotionally. He was very intelligent and found a way to learn to read and write. He appreciated good literature and writing tender notes to his family.
His twelve children would tell what a good father he was. That he was kind and very good to his family, but that he was also a strict disciplinarian and expected obedience from all his children and expected his sons to be polite and gentlemanly. That we was protective and proud of his daughters and would not let them be taken advantage of. They would say how much they appreciated the “sage” counseling he gave them – to be honest in their dealings with others, and always pay their debts, be clean in their habits, and obtain a good education. That he always admonished them to be good to their mother.
Emeline and Hattie, his two wives, would say that he was a very good man and showed great respect and appreciation for them. That he had a very tender and affectionate nature and worked hard to provide them with the nice things of life. That they knew that he truly loved them.
Written by Eloise Richards Anderson
March 8, 1998.
(Much of the information about Cherry Creek, Utah, and the last part of James Richards’ life is taken from the manuscript: “Memories of my father, James Richards.” Written by his son, Fred G. Richards.)