Ason Gittings Richardson. A Kansas pioneer whose name and services were especially identified with Harvey County, Ason Gittings Richardson was one of the strong and noble men of his time. He belonged to the old abolition class of the North, was a man of resolute character and would follow his convictions even in the face of extreme personal danger.
He came to Kansas in 1870 and settled in Harvey County, when that district of Kansas was practically unsettled. His home was in Richland Township. The first religious services held in the county, conducted by Rev. Mr. Roberts, were at his home, and the first Sabbath School was organized in his house on May 1, 1871. When Harvey County was organized Mr. Richardson was appointed by the governor chairman of the original county commissioners for the purpose of organizing the county, dividing it into townships and naming the different subdivisions, and otherwise starting the machinery of local civil government.
He was born at Zanesville, Ohio, May 1, 1830, and died November 11, 1903. His parents were Dr. Rufus Richardson and Jemima Richardson. The family were colonial settlers in America, and his grandfather, Jesse Richardson, fought gallantly as a soldier of the Revolution, and was a pensioner. He served in a Connecticut regiment. After the war he located in Otsego, Ohio, where he died. Dr. Rufus Richardson, while educated for the profession of medicine, seldom practiced except for the poor and needy, and gave his time chiefly to his work as a minister of the Protestant Methodist Church both in Ohio and Illinois. At one time he was president of the North Illinois Conference of his church. He had seen active service in the War of 1812, and in later years he became an active abolitionist and was one of the conductors on the underground railroad in Illinois during the years prior to the Civil war. He was very active in aiding the government against Mormonism when that sect invaded Nauvoo, Illinois. On account of his ancestry he had membership in the Sons of the American Revolution. Dr. Rufus Richardson was a native of Connecticut, while his wife was born in Virginia.
A. G. Richardson completed his education in Knox College at Galesburg, Illinois, where he was graduated in 1853. In 1855 he engaged in business as a general trader, handling lumber, groceries, real estate and lending money. For a time he lived at Keokuk, Iowa, and while there served as clerk of the city council. In 1863 he removed to Little Rock, Arkansas, where he had his drug store, and in 1866 he removed to Alabama, and bought a plantation engaging in the raising of cotton. He became prominent in that southern state during the years following the war. General Swaine, the military governor of Alabama, appointed him sheriff of Wilcox County. In the political campaign of 1868 he was elected a member of the State Legislature of Alabama, and rendered some effective service. However, the feeling against northern men was so intense throughout the South, and his life was so many times threatened, that he finally left Alabama and came to Kansas in 1870.
His early activities as a pioneer in Harvey County have already been noted. Later he was elected a member of the Kansas Legislature in the session of 1874-75, and at the end of his term was again chosen as county commissioner, an office he filled for many years. Politically he was naturally in thorough sympathy with the republican party, but his political actions were also governed by a strenuous belief in the prohibition principle. In church matters he was a United Presbyterian.
On March 21, 1877, at Zanesville, Ohio, Mr. Richardson married Lida Anderson, who now resides in the City of Wichita. Mrs. Richardson is a daughter of John and Elizabeth Anderson. They were Scotch Irish people and of the old Covenanter stock. Right after their marriage they left the old country, and spent six weeks on a sailing vessel in crossing the ocean. They had already come in sight of America when the vessel was wrecked just off the coast near Halifax, and all their possessions went to the bottom of the sea. It was a time when drafts or checks were not in use, and they brought all their money in coin with them as well as a quantity of household goods. With the shipwreck their own lives were saved, but all these material possessions were lost. In spite of such an inauspicious beginning Mr. and Mrs. Anderson lived to accumulate a competency, and were high minded and honorable people. In their native country they were Orangemen, followers of the Prince of Orange, and in America they became strong abolitionists.
The children of Mr. and Mrs. Richardson were: Rufus Gittings, who married Mary Elizabeth White; Robert Anderson, who married Florence Fay Wolfe; John Levi and Ralph Lovell, both now deceased; and Orpha Edna, who is unmarried and lives with her mother.