I’m fixating on Xenophon, a third great-uncle on my family tree. It was just last month that I discovered him and his family. It appears that he and his wife Lucy raised my second great-grandmother, Dacy Richards, after the death of her father George W. Richards and her mother, Sarah, in New Michigan, Livingston County, Illinois.
The part that fascinates me is trying to track the movement of the family and collect information on their anti-slavery activities in the 1850s and 1860s leading up to the Civil War. Having abolitionists in the family tree brings to life from the pages of the history books. The underground railroad and settlement in Kansas to secure it as a free state are no longer abstract bits of our country’s past. I should have paid more attention in grade school.
Tidbits on Ancestry.com and from online searches give me a rough timeline for the Richards family:
- 4 July 1804 – Xenophon Richards born in New York state (according to various census)
- 1812 – brother George Richards born in NY state (Dacy’s father)
- 1816 – brother Sardinia Richards born in NY state
- 1819 – sister Diana Richards born in NY state
- 1832 – Xenophon marries Samantha Whaley, daughter of an abolitionist, Otis Oliver Whaley in Jackson County, Michigan. Otis seems to have lived in Bruce in LaSalle County IL, in Cato in Cayuga County NY, in Skaneateles in Onondaga County NY, in Canandaigua in Lenawee Michigan, in Windsor in Eaton County Michigan, and in 1859 married Lydia Rumery in Livingston County, ILL. I detail all of those because the Richards, the Whaleys, and the Rumerys seem to have married into each other’s families, moved around in some cases together, and participated in anti-slavery activities together.
- 1836 – still in Michigan. Son, Oscar Grinman Richards born.
1848 – “In 1848, George, Sardinia, and Xenophon Richards, their sisters and brothers-in-law Russell Nelson, made the first settlement on the prairie in Illinois. They were from the state of Michigan. This was the year of the completion of the Michigan and Illinois Canal and from this time forward, for several years, a good many emigrants came from Northern Ohio and Indiana and Southern Michigan by way of the canal. The Richardses settled in the vicinity of the site of New Michigan, naming it after their native state. They were enterprising and progressive men.”
Article title: NEWTOWN HISTORY Website title: Livingston.illinoisgenweb.org URL: https://livingston.illinoisgenweb.org/newtowntownshiphistory.htm
- 1857 – Came to Kansas, likely with the group of 27 emigrants that included his son Oscar Grinman Richards who had earlier been fighting under Lane in the skirmishes along the Kansas/Missouri border. Counted in Douglas County, Kansas 1860 census.
- The rest of his life was lived in that area. He died in 1875.
Other Identified Abolitionists Associated with Xenophon Richards:
- his son, Oscar Grinman Richards
- brothers – George and Sardinia Richards
- Dr. Horace H. Hinman
- Otis Oliver Whaley
- Moses Rumery
- C. P. Paget
- Capt. Wm Strawn
- and perhaps James Stout
I need to track the Rumery and Whaley families to see where they were in Michigan and New York. This may shed more light on Xenophon and his brothers. If I can uncover the names of their parents, I can add my 4th great-grandparents, the Richards, to my tree.
The History of Livingston County, Illinois – Wm. LeBaron, Jr. & Co. – 186 Dearborn Street, Chicago (1878)
NEWTOWN HISTORY – Livingston.illinoisgenweb.org
Family Histories P-R. (2019). Eudorakshistory.com. Retrieved 15 January 2019, from http://eudorakshistory.com/families/PR/family_histories_pr.htm
History of the State of Kansas (1883) by William Cutler
A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans (1918) by William Connelly