Biography of Arthur Berkmere Richards

ARTHUR BERKMERE RICHARDS, inheritor of a vast meat trade, and in later years a dairy farmer at Amherst, Massachusetts, was born in Cummington, Connecticut, May 23, 1864. The name he bears is one of the names of Welsh origin widely known and prominent in the United States, which originated in making a surname from the possessive form of the father’s name. It signifies Richard’s son. At least seventeen different coats-of-arms belong to the different branches of the family. A manor at Caernwyck, Marioneth County, Wales, was inherited by Sir Richard Richards, president of the House of Lords, and Lord Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer. His ancestors possessed the estate in 1550. They claim the privilege of bearing the identical arms of Richard of East Bagborough, County Somerset. This was depicted on the tablet of the Hon. James Richards, of Hartford, who died in 1680, and may be seen in an ancient manuscript in the New England Historic Genealogical Society Library, halved with the arms of Governor Winthrop, whose daughter married a Richards in 1692.

William Richards, immigrant ancestor of this branch of the family in America, appears to have crossed the ocean in company with his brother, John, and sister, Sarah, who married George Pidcocke. He was taxed at Plymouth in 1632-1633. He removed to Scituate, January 6, 1636-1637, and forfeited his land at Plymouth. It was regranted to Nathaniel Sowther by the Plymouth authorities. Doubtless he was related to the famous Thomas Richards, of Dorchester and Weymouth, and may have been a brother. William Richards was pious and upright and highly respected. He was a successful trader. He removed from Scituate to Weymouth in 1645, or earlier; and in 1650 sold his homestead in Scituate to Gowen White for £75. He was constable in Weymouth in 1659, and one of the proprietors. He bought a house and various lots of land from Nicholas Whitmarsh, on July 6, 1658, and in 1660 drew a twenty-acre lot of common land. He sold land in Braintree, April 12, 1648. He married Grace, surname unknown. Her will, dated January 18, 1680, proved July 25, 1682, bequeathed to sons James, Benjamin, John and Joseph. Administration was granted on his estate to his second wife, Mary Richards, April 24, 1683. Children of William and Grace Richards: 1. John, married Sarah, surname unknown; died in 1695. 2. Joseph, married (first) Susan, surname unknown; (second) Sarah, surname unknown. 3. James, born at Weymouth, June 2, 1658, died March 8, 1711. 4. William, died in 1683, at Weymouth. 5. Benjamin, born May 19, 1660. died, unmarried, in 1683.

(I) Orestes Richards, grandfather of Arthur Berkmere Richards, died in Cummington, Massachusetts, in 1877, at seventy-five years. He lived for a time in Gloversville, Fulton County, New York. Afterwards he engaged in farming in Cummington, Massachusetts. He kept sheep and cows, and made and sold butter. He married Nancy Dawes and they were the parents of Francis Orestes, of further mention, and Elizabeth.

(II) Francis Orestes Richards, son of Orestes and Nancy (Dawes) Richards, was born in Cummington, Massachusetts, and died there in 1895, aged sixty-seven years. He was a farmer in Cummington and conducted ,a meat business. He owned some four hundred acres of land and kept fifty head of cattle. At one time he lived in Gloversville, New York. His wife was Merriam (Turrill) Richards, of Cummington; she died in December, 1915, aged seventy-five years, daughter of Harvey Turrill. Children: Charles Augustus, Helen, Frank, Julia, Geneva, Arthur Berkmere, of further mention; Almon Mills, Herbert Stearns, two other children died in infancy.

(III) Arthur Berkmere Richards, son of Francis Orestes and Merriam (Turrill) Richards, was educated in the schools of Cummington. He left home at twenty-one years of age and went to Williamsburg, Massachusetts, where he worked in a market for a year and a half. He next went to Bellows Falls, Vermont, where he worked in a market for ten months. Returning home be worked for his father for a year and a half, and at the expiration of that time took over the meat business which his father had conducted for thirty-five years. He continued the business for twenty years, and its extent obliged him to employ several men and horses in making deliveries. His wagons sold meat in Goshen, Chesterfield, Worthington, Plainfield, Ashfield and Savoy. He owned several hundred acres of land devoted to pasturage. . This enabled him to buy young stock and hogs, and fatten, kill and sell them. He owned the homestead farm his father had cultivated, and at one time owned a farm in Plainfield. He finally sold his farm lands and meat business and came to Northampton to live. He varied this by taking a trip to the Pacific Coast; and soon after his return to Massachusetts he bought a meat and grocery business in Easthampton which he conducted for five years. In 1915 he came to South Amherst and bought a small farm. He built himself a fine dwelling house upon the premises, and has occupied it ever since. He keeps several cows and sells the milk at his door. Mr. Richards attends the Congregational Church.

Mr. Richards married (first), in 1887, Vesta D. Packard, of Plainfield, Massachusetts. She died November 9, 1906; she was the daughter of H. Clark and Malona C. (Dawes) Packard. He married (second), February 11, 1909 Nettie Minerva Gardner, of Plainfield, New Jersey, daughter of Francis H. and Martha Adelia (Clarke) Gardner, natives of New York and Massachusetts, respectively. Children of first marriage: Ethelyn Elaine, bookkeeper of the Haydenriler Manufacturing Company of Haydenville, and Miriam Dawes, employed in the real estate and insurance office of W. R. Brown, of Amherst. The address of Mr. Richards is Amherst, Massachusetts.


Lockwood, John H. (John Hoyt); Bagg, Ernest Newton; Carson, Walter S. (Walter Scott); Riley, Herbert E. (Herbert Elihu); Boltwood, Edward; Clark, Will L. (Will Leach); Western Massachusetts A History 1636-1925; New York and Chicago: Lewis historical publishing company, inc., 1926

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