Samuel A. Richardson was born in Anderson county, Kentucky, July 26, 1826. He was the second son of Colonel John C. Richardson, who was a native of Virginia, but in early life moved from that State to Anderson county, Kentucky, and in the spring of 1831, with his family, moved to Missouri and settled in the Missouri River bottom, above Camden, in Ray county, and afterwards removed to near Lexington.
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The family are descendants of the numerous family of Richardsons, from Virginia and Kentucky. Judge Nathaniel Richardson, grandfather of the subject of this sketch, moved from Kentucky and settled in Lewis county, this State; and Samuel Arbuckle, grandfather on his mother’s side, also moved from Kentucky to Missouri at an early day and located in Ray county. They both lived to an advanced age and left large families in their respective localities.
Samuel A. Richardson was a robust, healthy boy, inured to all the hard-ships of frontier life, and with his elder brothers and the assistance of four negro boys, helped his father in opening up and improving three farms in the Missouri bottoms. He became proficient as a prairie-breaker and ox-driver, and broke hemp, split rails, and was especially fond of hunting. Up to his fifteenth or sixteenth year he attended school but little, his father needing his assistance. Afterward he attended the Richmond, Missouri, high school, and received a very good start in the elements of an English education, and in Latin, Greek, and the higher mathematics. In the early part of 1845 he attended the State University at Columbia, Missouri, where he completed a select course of study in two years. Returning from college he engaged in trading for a while, and afterward began the study of law under the direction of Philip L. Edwards, Esq. He continued his studies under Hon. Edward A. Lewis, since a member of the Supreme Court of Missouri, and then presiding justice of the St. Louis court of appeals; and under Judge George W. Dunn, for many years judge of this circuit and now the venerable judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit, completed his studies, and was admitted to the bar in September, 1852.
From that time up to 1872 he devoted himself to the practice of his profession in the counties of Ray, Clinton, Carroll, Livingston, Caldwell, Daviess, DeKalb, Gentry, Harrison, Grundy and Worth. On the formation of the Twenty-eighth Judicial Circuit in the early part of 1872, after a short but spirited canvass, he was elected judge of that circuit as a non-partisan, defeating Isaac P. Caldwell, Republican. In the autumn of 1874 he was reelected to the same position for six years, and at the expiration of which time, January 1, 1881, having declined to continue longer on the bench, he returned to the practice of law in Gallatin, which has been his residence since 1859, having removed thence from Richmond, Ray county. He was county school commissioner of Ray county previous to his removal to Daviess county, for several years, and was county attorney for this county, almost continuously from the time of his removal thither, until his elevation to the bench in 1872. Besides the practice of law, Judge Richardson has been for a number of years largely interested in real estate, farming and stock-raising.
In 1850 Judge Richardson was united in marriage to Miss Julia A., daughter of Major George W. Woodruff, of Richmond, Missouri, who was circuit clerk of Ray county for many years. Mrs. Richardson is still living. They have had eight children born to them. Three died when quite young. Two, James A., and George W., died after having attained their majority; the former in September, 1873, and the latter in July, 1874. Both were young men of great promise, James A., having graduated the year previous at Christian University, Canton, Missouri, taking the degree of Bachelor of Arts. Three children are living: Samuel P., the youngest, recently of age; being now at the State University of Missouri. Roe Ann, the only daughter, was married in February, 1876, to J. W. Alexander, an attorney at law and partner of Judge Richardson, under the firm of Richardson & Alexander, attorneys at law, Gallatin. William N., the eldest son, married Miss Sallie I. Blackwell, daughter of Judge A. C. Blackwell, of Carrollton, Missouri, in September, 1875; he was admitted to the bar, but prefers stock-raising and is engaged in that business.
Judge Richardson is a man of vigorous mind, extraordinary energy, and great physical and mental endurance. As a lawyer he has for years stood abreast of the best talent at the bar in this part of the State, and has always enjoyed a leading practice in the home courts, as also on the circuit. As a citizen he is unswerving in his devotion to what he believes to be right; is public spirited, and liberal in the bestowal of help to meritorious enterprises; is unostentatious, devotes little time to pleasure, other than that derived from a life replete with business; is devotedly attached to his family, and his chief delight is to promote their happiness and welfare; has been a member of the Christian Church for twenty-five or thirty years, and has always contributed liberally of his means to the support of the gospel. Though fifty-five years of age he is vigorous and active, and shows few signs of advancing age, and bids fair to survive for many years to come.