Last week I was trying to learn a little more about my great uncle, William Fisher Richards (Uncle Bill). I had previously downloaded his mother’s, Mary Jane Richards, will from familysearch.org and thought I might some useful information in it. In that will, his mother left her shares in the A. Richards & Company to her two sons. I had never heard of that company. I was now off on what my friend Deb calls “Over there is something shinny—follow it” to describe going off and exploring something that you did not intent to explore when you started out.
I knew that Abiathar Richards (See #1—Abiathar Richards), Mary Jane’s husband, was in the shoe business and the census of different years lists his occupation as either shoes or auctioneer. I did not know how those two things fit together, but when I googled “A. Richards & Company,” I found several articles about the company.
As I put them together, the following history of that company emerged. Abiathar’s older brother, Abner moved from Dedham, Massachusetts to New York City in 1840 and worked as a clerk in his cousin’s, Nathaniel Fisher’s shoe company. In 1845, Abner began working for J. D. Ingersoll. When Ingersoll retired in 1853, the company name was changed to Richards and Whiting. In 1863 Abiathar Richards joined the firm and the name was changed to A. S. Richards Shoe Company. When Abner died in 1887, the name of the company became the A. Richards & Company with Abiathar as the president.
The company was located at 59 and 61 Reade Street, New York, New York. Shoes were sold directly to dealers nationwide with specific men being in charge of certain areas of the company. In addition, the company also held shoe auctions every Wednesday and Friday. The following article clears up whether or not Abiathar was an auctioneer or a shoe merchant.
Evidently he was both.
After Abiathar Richard’s death in 1905, the company was run by his two sons, Chester Richards and William Richards. The last mention of the company that I can find was in 1919.
Of course, I have some questions that I would like to ask Abiathar. I would like to know whether or not he moved specifically to New York to work for his brother in the shoe business, where he got the shoes that he sold, and which he enjoyed more: being an auctioneer or a shoe merchant.