Pages 406-408, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.




WILLIAM H. RICHARDS, than whom, among the old residents of Iola, scarce a man is better known, came to the city in October 1865. His original home was in Pennsylvania, his birth having occurred in Lebanon, that state, December 19, 1833. Samuel Richards was his father and he, too, was born in Lebanon county. His trade was that of a


weaver but in later life he drifted into farming and he died such, in Franklin county, Pennsylvania, about 1890. He was born in 1800, was a Democrat, a success in business and one of Jesse Richards' sons. The last named died in Lebanon county about 1837 at near the age of eighty years. The Richards are Pennsylvania German but their remote ancestors were, it is claimed, Scotch and Irish.

The mother of our subject was Margaret Harklerode. She was born in 1805 and died in 1848. Here children were: Joseph, who died and left a son in Ohio; Sarah, deceased, wife of Mr. Harmon, and left a family in Franklin county, Pennsylvania; John Richards, well known to old Iolans; William H.; Elizabeth, wife of Frank Gerhart, resides in Franklin county, Pennsylvania, and three other children who died in infancy.

From the age of seven years our subject passed his boyhood and youth in Franklin county, Pennsylvania. His school advantages were quite poor and it can be said that he secured no more than a common country school education. At the age of eighteen years he began life independently by starting an apprenticeship at the carpenter trade. John Stickle was his master and with him he remained to fulfill the conditions of his bond. After completing his trade he traveled over some of the eastern mountain states, in company with his brother, John, and they traveled and worked in the states of Maryland,—at Hagerstown and Clear Springs—Virginia, and, lastly, into the state of Ohio—at Coddington and Ravenna.

In September, 1865, Mr. Richards was married at Ravenna, Ohio, and came direct to Iola. Here he continued his trade for a couple of years, adding to his scant stock of ready cash. He engaged in the restaurant business and his wife took up dress-making and millinery. From the restaurant and bakery business Mr. Richards drifted into the grocery business and, after running some five years he took W. A. Cowan in as a partner. A few years later Mr. Cowan went out and Mr. Lakin succeeded him, and still later John E. Ireland joined the two and the firm of Richards, Lakin & Ireland was one of the prominent business houses of Iola, doing a wholesale business. Upon the retirement of Mr. Ireland, Richards & Lakin conducted a retail business for some time. Mr. Richards associated with him H. L. Henderson some time later, and conducted the same business. About 1897 Mr. Richards disposed of his last business and entered retirement with thirty-two years of active service as a merchant and man-of-affairs to his credit.

Mr. Richards brought with him to Iola about three hundred and fifty dollars, all of which he put into a house at once. This property was the two lots facing north at the southwest corner of the square. He invested in other property as his accumulations would warrant, much of which is the most desirable in the city. His improvements include his handsome residence at the head of Madison avenue and four business houses. Misfortune, as well as fortune, has befallen Mr. Richards for he has made investments which not only lost him his first outlay but required him to invest an additional sum to meet his legal obligations and to retrieve his credit and


maintain his good name. In the Iola carriage works alone, he lost a sum of money equivalent to s modest fortune.

Mr. Richards married Amelia Miester, a daughter of Charles Miester, M. D. Dr. Miester was a surgeon fifteen years under the great Napoleon and was a German by birth. Mr. and Mrs. Richards' children are: Maud, wife of Rev. Leslie F. Potter, of St. Louis, Missouri, and Blanche, wife of Elmer C. McLain, one of Iola's young clothiers and furnishers.

Mr. Richards is a liberal Democrat. He served once upon the town council but has seldom permitted, himself to enthuse over a political campaign.

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