Vermont Flag Site Logo

Richardson, William Tell

MILITARY SERVICE

Age: 39, credited to Bristol, VT
Unit(s): 9th VT INF
Service: enl 12/12/63, m/i 12/31/63, Pvt, Co. C, 9th VT INF, tr to Co. A, 6/13/65, m/o 7/17/65

See Legend for expansion of abbreviations

VITALS

Birth: 08/12/1820, Bristol, VT
Death: 06/07/1900

Burial: Riverside Cemetery, New Haven, VT
Marker/Plot: middle of the cemetery
Gravestone researcher/photographer: Alan Lathrop
Findagrave Memorial #: 22034764

MORE INFORMATION

Alias?: None noted
Pension?: Unknown
Portrait?: Unknown
College?: Not Found
Veterans Home?: Not Found
(If there are state digraphs above, this soldier spent some time in a state or national soldiers' home in that state after the war)

Remarks: None

Webmaster's Note: If this soldier enlisted before 9/1/62, and was with the regiment on 9/13/62, he would have briefly been taken prisoner along with the entire regiment at Harper's Ferry. Read the blue section of the unit's Organization and Service for details.


DESCENDANTS

2nd Great Grandfather of Alan Richard Lathrop, Bristol, VT

(Are you a descendant, but not listed? Register today)

BURIAL:

Copyright notice

Tombstone

Riverside Cemetery, New Haven, VT

Check the cemetery for location/directions and other veterans who may be buried there.


Biography

Every person born into this life has one thing in common with everyone else – they had a mother and a father. Since the very beginning of the human race on the planet, that has been true. Not until recently, conception of new humanoid life required a face-to-face meeting of the two parents of the offspring. In today's world, a child can be conceived without the mother and father every laying eyes on each other, let alone touching one another. However, in William Tell Richardson's case, I am sure his mother and father knew what each other looked like. Unfortunately for us, their identities have remained elusive and mysterious. Sources that would normally have shed light on who they were did not reveal the slightest hints about them. Their names, genealogies, residences, occupations, marriages, deaths, etc. all remained deep, dark secrets despite strenuous efforts to uncover that information. That they existed was a sure fact. That William was acquainted with them was indisputable. But it was as though they were made of mist, wafting in the background of the stage of life, leaving only William as evidence of their ever having passed this way at all. Yes, extensive searching in the archives of public records also did not turn up verified existence of any siblings of William either. William almost appeared to be immaculately conceived. Of course, there was the possibility that he was an only child of his parents. But that speculation would have been highly unlikely in view of the average number of children typically born to an 18th century agrarian family.

According to what little information was found on William's early life, it appeared that he was born in August, 1820 in Bristol, Vermont.[1] If his given name sounds familiar, it is because he was apparently named after the famous Swiss hero, William Tell, who fought for his people's freedom from a despotic and ruthless ruler in his native land in the 1570s. As the legend was handed down, Tell was visiting a town near his mountain home with his son. The Swiss village was under the control of a tyrant who had placed his hat in the town square on a pole and made everyone who passed it bow and swear allegiance to him. When Tell refused to comply with his order, the despot had him and his son arrested. Tell and his son were then tried and sentenced to be executed for their defiance. However, the tyrant, being aware of Tell's reputation as a marksman with the crossbow, proposed to not carry out the sentence if Tell could shoot an apple off the head of his son. Not having much choice in the matter, Tell proceeded to withdraw two bolts from his quiver and approached the designated mark from which he had to shoot. Living up to his reputation as a marksman, William successfully cleaved the apple that had been placed on his son's head with his first shot. The arrogant lord, noticing the second unused bolt, demanded to know from Tell why he had taken two bolts from his quiver. Tell calmly informed the aristocrat that, if he had killed his son with the first one, the second one was destined for his lordship.[2] It seemed that around the time of William's birth in 1820 that this popular folktale involving a local hero's fight to free his oppressed and downtrodden countrymen from the domination of a dictatorial and inhuman ruler, was well known to the literate world. His father must have admired the folk tale and it resulted in him being crowned with the folk hero's appellation. Of course, Mr. Richardson could have named his son "Ethan Allen Richardson" just as easily if he were looking for a home-grown hero. But William Tell had the advantage of being an exotic, far away European champion of the working class and therefore may have had a bit more allure to his reputation.

William's growing up years are a bit vague. Since he was born in Bristol, he probably grew up there as well. His life really did not begin to leave a clear paper trail until he married for the first time in 1846. His bride was Sarah "Sally" Hepburn. She was the daughter of Patrick Hepburn and Sally Hepburn. The couple's first child was born the same year they were married. They named their daughter Sarah. Two years later, the newlyweds had a second child. This time it was a boy and they called him Sydney S. (1848-1885).[3] William's first wife, Sarah (1829-1867), was born in Madrid, New York about 1829. She was married to William at seventeen. He was nine years older than she.[4]

In 1850, William, Sarah and the two children were settled down in Bristol on a farm they owned. The land was valued at $1,800 at the time. Living with them in the same household was Rufus and Mary Barnard. At first, this couple was thought to have been misplaced by the census taker into the Richardson household, especially since the next door family was also named "Barnard" However, later in the investigative process, the name "Barnard" was found associated with Sarah Hepburn. Rufus and Mary were identified as Sarah's parents, which, of course, would have made William their son-in-law. Not being able to find a marriage certificate or birth record for Sarah made it impossible to determine if they were indeed her mother and father or not.[5] All that the evidence found could say about the Barnards was that they were either boarders or neighbors of the Richardsons in 1850.

The 1860 Federal Census disclosed that the Richardson family had added a new member. Another son had been born to William and Sarah. Willis Myron (1854-sometime after 1912) was around five or six years old by 1860. William had switched from farming to doing carpentry work for a living by then. On the census form, his occupation was given as "mechanic". I was told by a life-long carpenter and history buff, that the term "mechanic" was used in the 19th century as another name for a carpenter. Unfortunately for William and his family, his change of careers also brought with it a negative change in their standard of living. William's net worth in 1850 had been estimated at around $1,800, mostly because he owned land on the farm. In 1860, his net worth had plunged to about $600. The huge drop in value of possessions must have also resulted in a major downward spiral in the quality of the family's standard of living as well. And then came along a nation-wide disruption in the daily lives of all Americans – the Civil War. This gigantic clash of cultural differences and values had been boiling for years before April of 1861. With the firing on Fort Sumter in South Carolina, all hope of a diplomatic resolution to the schism that had developed between the northern states and the southern states evaporated in the smoke of canon fire. For the nation, the war may have been inevitable, but for William, considering his declining prospects, it may have been his salvation. Many people in the nation felt the prospects of war between the hostile factions of the North and the South was an albatross around the neck of the country. Others saw it as an economic opportunity; a way out of a forlornly hopeless situation. Besides, the conflict would be over before it had begun. It would be a short lived affair. Everyone knew the heavily populated industrialized North had a far greater capacity to wage war than the plantation dominated and more thinly populated South. The North was superior in every way that counted. At least that was what some thought until the first major battle of the Civil War was fought at Bull Run in July, 1861 and the Yankees ran back to the protection of the defenses surrounding Washington, D.C. in a state of utter defeat and panic with the Johnny Rebs nipping at their heels like a pack of hounds. Suddenly the chances of the South to defeat the North and win its bid for independence was not so unlikely. And the longer the shooting war went on, and the more wins the Confederates racked up on the bloody fields of battle, the more promising the act of secession's success seemed. After two years of costly fighting, one Union defeat after another, change of command after change of command by President Lincoln trying to find a general who could beat Robert E. Lee and his Army of Virginia, Washington was desperate to bring the rebellion to an end by any means necessary. So in 1863, the Commander-in-chief called for more Federal Troops; more regiments to be raised by the states to put an end to this ghastly sacrifice of human life not to mention resources. Quotas were assigned and governors scrambled to find a way to fill them. Thousands of recruits were needed to refill depleted ranks and create new fighting units. Maimed men returning home and caskets being met at railroad stations for two years duration had dulled the enthusiasm of young, capable men to sign up to go on an adventure of a lifetime. Appealing to their patriotic spirit was no longer incentive enough to get eighteen to forty-five year olds to exchange their civilian clothes for a military uniform. But the Government, both state and federal, had found something else to lure volunteers into leaving home for the front – money! It came in the form of bounty money. It had always been offered by the Federal Government. In 1861, it stood at $100 per man. By 1863 it was up to $300. At first, the states did not offer any bounty money at all. By 1863, to entice enlistees into the service the offer was $600 - $1,500 per man in addition to the Federal Government amount. The bounty system became so lucrative an enterprise that an entire business of "bounty jumping" sprung up in which organized groups of men would enlist wherever the best bounties were being offered, jump off troop trains going to the front and re-enlist again somewhere else were they would not be recognized. They each would keep some of the bounty paid and give the rest to the head of the organization who supplied them with refuge and other supportive services. Eventually the "pay to play" bounty system was abandoned because the abuses made it too expensive to continue to employ as a carrot for enlisting. On December 12, 1863, thirty-nine year old William Tell Richardson, an old man by standards of the day, presented himself to the Selectmen of the town of Bristol for the purpose of volunteering as a recruit for three years in the Union Army. The five feet ten inch farmer from Bristol who had black eyes, light complexion and brown hair was gladly accepted into Company C of the Ninth Regiment of Vermont Infantry.[6]

The Ninth Regiment was organized at Brattleboro and mustered into the service there on July 9, 1862 for three years. It was ordered at once to Washington. By July 19, the command was attached to General Sturgis' division at Cloud's Mills. Five days later, the Regiment was moved to Winchester where it was employed in the construction of fortifications and other fatigue duties for several months. Early in September it was sent to Harper's Ferry on the approach of Stonewall Jackson's forces. Due to the Federal command's indecisiveness and questionable loyalties, the Ninth, along with nearly twelve thousand other Union troops, were forced to surrender to General Jackson.

Harper's Ferry was humiliating to the Union but not to the Ninth Vermont. Colonel Stannard, commanding at the time, initially refused to surrender his men to the Confederates. For two hours after all other Federal troops had stacked arms, the Ninth and its Colonel attempted to fight its way out of the trap it was in and break through to reach the Army of the Potomac located nearby. Only when a Confederate division cut off its route of escape did Colonel Stannard, out numbered ten to one, order his command to Bolivar Heights to stack arms with the other Federal prisoners. Before reluctantly surrendering, the officers of the Regiment cut the national colors into strips and parceled them out among themselves thus keeping it out of the hands of the enemy. They had intended to do the same to the State flag, but, in the excitement and haste, was not completely successful and a large part of it ended up in the hands of the Confederates. It was sent to Richmond as a trophy. Later, in 1865, when the Ninth marched into Richmond at the head of the Union Army of the Potomac, the flag was recaptured from the Rebel archives by the same command that had lost it. At the request of the Governor of the State of Vermont, the flag was returned to the State Capital where it resides to this day. The Ninth had the dubious distinction of being the only Regiment from Vermont that lost its colors at the hands of the enemy.

From Harper's Ferry, the Ninth was sent to Chicago on parole. They spent the next four months there. On January 10, 1863, the Ninth was exchanged. The Regiment received new Springfield rifles in anticipation of returning to the field of combat after a long and embarrassing detention as prisoners of war. Unfortunately, they were assigned to guard the newly arrived Confederate prisoners captured at Murfreesboro and Arkansas until April 1 when they returned to City Point, Virginia. The Regiment was at Suffolk during the siege in April and May of 1863. From there, it was sent to Yorktown and occupied West Point during the Gettysburg campaign. A futile attempt was made to capture Richmond while its defenders were drawn off to take part in Lee's push into the North. July, August and September found the Regiment once again at Yorktown where the health of the Regiment suffered greatly from the climate and malaria. For this reason, and because of the persistent urging of the Governor of Vermont on behalf of the troops, the command was transferred in October to the Newport barracks located between Morehead City and New Berne, North Carolina. Early in February, 1864, at the time of the attack upon New Berne, a detachment of Confederates were sent by General Pickett to capture Newport barracks. The ensuing fight resulted in three men of the Ninth being awarded medals of honor for gallantry. As a result of the Confederate assault, the Ninth was obliged to withdraw to Morehead City. Three days later, the Ninth reoccupied the Newport barracks. During the summer of 1864, various detachments of the Ninth were employed in dealing with Confederate activity around the New Berne area. September 15, 1864 was the second anniversary of the surrender at Harper's Ferry and was also the date on which the Ninth arrived in front of Petersburg.

Two days after its arrival, the Ninth received a detachment of recruits, increasing its numbers to 1,129. On September 17, 1864, one hundred picked men of the Ninth were sent as a support to an isolated, exposed earth-work known as Redoubt Dutton. The detail from the Ninth lived in gopher holes (rifle pits) under the muzzles of the Union guns of the redoubt. A one hundred gun salute on September 24 and again on the 30th brought on a determined attack from the Confederates and the brunt of it fell on Redoubt Dutton. The steady, well-directed fire of the Vermont line disarranged and broke two well organized lines of battle at less than one hundred and fifty yards.

On September 29, the Ninth participated in the Battle of Chapin's (Chaffin's) Farm. On the 27th of October, the Regiment took part in the Battle of Fair Oaks. The Ninth was recalled to form part of the troops sent to New York under General Butler to protect the city from anticipated riots during the presidential election. From New York City, it was sent back to Richmond. April 3, 1865 the Ninth, along with the Twelfth New Hampshire, were the first two Federal Regiments to enter the abandoned Confederate capital. Running through the burning streets of Richmond, they did not halt until they reached the front door of the Confederate White House. For the next two weeks, the Ninth was part of the provost guard in Richmond. Soon, Lee, Johnson and other segments of the Rebel Army surrendered and the shooting war was over. On the 13th of June, the original members of the Ninth were mustered-out. About four hundred recruits remained in the service until December when they were disbanded and sent home. The Ninth then became a thing of the past.[7]

Private Richardson wasn't mustered-in the service officially until December 24, 1863 at Brattleboro, Vermont along with the rest of the recruits of the Ninth. After being accepted by Major Austine, U.S.A., Private Richardson was paid $25 of his bounty with another $242 owed him to be paid in installments at a later time.[8] Another new practice was also being introduced in 1863 by the Federal Government that was part of the new inducement to enlist program designed to help fill quotas without resorting to the egregious draft system which also had been initiated into use in 1863. The draft was, of course, very unpopular with just about everyone including the Federal Government which tried to avoid employing it at all costs. The new wrinkle was giving a soldier one month's pay ($13) in advance at the time of his enlistment and activation into the military service. An additional amount of bounty was awarded to Private Richardson that not everyone in the newly formed Ninth Vermont received. He was paid $35 from the Commutation Fund.[9] This was a special fund of monies generated from $300 per man payments made to it by draft eligible men who wished to buy their exemption from military service. These were men who could afford to pay their way out of being required to serve in the army during the war. It was almost like buying a substitute for yourself so that you did not have to enlist and fight. It worked only as long as their were men like William willing to take their places for a small payment of $35 which came out of this pool of money. It was another way for desperate men to earn more money than they would otherwise have the opportunity to raise. The practice lead to the expression "A rich man's war and a poor man's fight" which reflected the degree of distaste the practice raised among the middle and lower classes of folks on the homefront who could not pay the $300 exemption fee. Three hundred dollars does not sound like so much money to us today, but, remember that in the 1860s, it represented nearly a full year's salary for a family farmer in rural America. Private Richardson also received a $2 premium payment which really was not his to keep but was suppose to go to the recruiter who signed him up.[10] So, as you can see, there was money to be made by anyone who wished to become a soldier in the Union Army in 1863.

By February 3, 1864, Private Richardson of the Ninth Vermont was all mustered-in and paid off. On February 8, he was at Newport Barracks in North Carolina where he was added to the ranks of his regiment. Within ten days of arriving in North Carolina, Private Richardson was detached from Company C of the Ninth and sent to Havelock, North Carolina on special assignment.[11] The Company Muster Roll for March through October of 1864 listed Private Richardson as present for duty. He and his company were used to guard Bogue Sound near Gale's Creek in North Carolina. Then in July, Companies B & C (William's company) were assigned to garrison Fort Spinola which was part of the defenses around the New Berne area. By September, 1864, the Ninth was moved to Bermuda Hundred and attached to the Army of the James. The Federal troops were used to lay siege against Petersburg and Richmond throughout the month of September. At the end of the month, the Vermonters were engaged in the Battle of Chaffin's Farm. At the end of October, 1864, the Regiment also saw action at the Battle of Fair Oaks.[12] On or about October 3, Private Richardson was sent to the General Hospital at Fort Monroe, Virginia sick.[13] He remained at the base hospital at Fort Monroe until early February, 1865. On February 13 that year, he was admitted to the General Hospital in Brattleboro, Vermont as a patient.[14] It was the practice at this point in the Rebellion to send Vermont soldiers who had a good prospect of a full and speedy recovery back to the popular home state hospitals for convalescing. Being in the Green Mountains again and being cared for by friendly, neighborly medical personnel seemed to accelerate the healing process among the sick and non-critical wounded. They then could be returned to active duty in the field that much quicker.

William's stay at the Brattleboro Hospital was brief. He apparently recovered quickly from his ailment once admitted to a Green Mountain based hospital. However, his next duty station indicated that his recovery may not have been one hundred percent. From Brattleboro, he was assigned to Fort Wood in New York Harbor in March/April, 1865. Fort Wood was a little known Federal installation located in New York Harbor on what then was called Bedloe Island. Today it is called Liberty Island where the Statue of Liberty stands. Built as an eleven point star-shaped fort, construction on it began in 1807. The future defensive installation was completed prior to the War of 1812. It was given the name Fort Wood in honor of Lieutenant Colonel Eleazer D. Wood who was killed in the 1812 conflict. Afterwards, it was used as an ordinance depot and immigration station. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, it was regarrisoned to serve as an ordinance depot and recruiting station.[15] At Fort Wood, Private Richardson would have had only light duty work to perform; no forced marching, no long hours on picket duty in all kinds of nasty weather and his chow would have been much better than just hardtack and coffee. He also would have been less likely to be exposed to disease carried by all kinds of men from all over the country. So by April of 1865, there Private Richardson was, a member of the Fort Wood garrison, newly released from the hospital and as healthy as he was probably going to be. As cozy and comfortable as his duty station seemed to be, William almost wound up in an entirely different place where his accommodations would have been far less desirable.

It seemed that while he was still in the hospital at Brattleboro as a patient, he went on a short furlough without any authorization to do so. He simply walked away from the hospital ward. On March 6, 1865 the hospital officially reported him as a deserter. Perhaps William knew that he was going to be sent to Bedloe's Island instead of being given a medical discharge by the surgeons. Maybe he just wanted to see his folks again before being sent back to the war. Whatever his reason for doing so, fact is he went AWOL for about a week. About eight days later, March 14, he returned to the Brattleboro Hospital on his own accord. He seemed to have never faced any court-martial or any disciplinary action of any kind for his unauthorized absence. He apparently was checked back in and given another assignment to carry out in New York Harbor.[16] His health continued to be problematic for him. The Company Muster Roll for April, 1865 stated that Private Richardson had been admitted again to the General Hospital this time in Point Rocks, Virginia. In May, 1865, he was once again in the base hospital at Fortress Monroe, Virginia. On May 8, Private Richardson was transferred from Company C to Battery A.[17] It was unclear if the transfer was based on Private Richardson's declining health or not. But it was obvious from all the time William spent in the hospitals that he was not a well man.

On June 22, 1865, Private Richardson was granted a 20 day furlough while he was stationed at Manchester, Virginia. This time, his absence was approved before hand. It was assumed that at least some of the twenty days was spent with family back in Vermont. His military records did not indicate where he went, but he had to travel some to get there for his compiled service records completed after his furlough date specified he owed the Government $10.82 for transportation.[18] His military records also get confusing and sometimes even contradictory after this June leave. For example, in July of 1865, a summary of his service stated that he had been admitted sick to the general hospital at Fort Monroe. But another set of cards said he was a patient in a hospital in Vermont since July, 1865.[19] It was confirmed through his compiled service records that he was, indeed, sick in Vermont as of July 13, 1865.[20] That date was confirmed when a letter, written July 12, 1865 by Henry James, Surgeon at Sloan Hospital in Montpelier, Vermont, was sent to the Commanding Officer, 9th Regt. Vermont Inf Vols.in Washington, D.C. stating: "Private William T. Richardson, Co.C, 9th Vermont Vols. Furloughed from Regt. at Manchester, Va. has been this day admitted to this Hospital for treatment."[21] Now it was obvious where Private Richardson spent his twenty day furlough! Perhaps unhappy with his treatment by the surgeons in other military hospitals, he had taken his furlough to go home and admit himself into one of the military hospitals in Vermont in which he either thought he would get better treatment or would find a more sympathetic ear to his wish for a medical discharge from the service. I offer the latter reason as his primary motivation for his actions because, five days after the letter was written by the admitting surgeon, Private Richardson was discharged (while in Sloan Hospital at Montpelier) per Gen. Order No. 79 (and 65) issued by the Adjutant General's Office.[22] Apparently the surgeons at Sloan had performed all the curative procedures they knew how to in order to heal Private Richardson of his illness and had failed to bring about a remedy. Instead, they found William unfit to perform the duties of a soldier any longer and gave him his discharge which was what Private Richardson probably wanted all along anyway.

In exactly what condition the surgeons sent William back to civilian life in was not ascertained in his official file. He had spent a great deal of his active service time in one hospital after another. There had been adjustments made in his duty assignments indicating that he was not one hundred percent healthy and capable of performing the type of physically demanding work required of a soldier in the rank and file. And the surgeons at Sloan Hospital obviously felt he was no longer fit for field duty or even the Veteran's Reserve Corps since they issued him a medical discharge in July of 1865 well before the December, 1865 discharge date of the rest of the Regiment. All this points to a man with broken health and damaged stamina. Furthermore, William, remember, was not a young man when he entered the service, so he did not have the youthful vim and vigor of an eighteen year old from the start of his service. He was twenty years older than most of his contemporaries. But he was alive and, as far as was known, a whole man with all of his original body parts still intact. He came home to his wife, Sarah, and his children, "Saura" and "Syma" (really Sara and Sydney) and little Willis. He had been doing carpentry work before he went to war, so it was likely that was what he returned to doing for a living when he got back home. Unfortunately for William and his whole family, they were about to suffer yet another major disruption in their lives within two years of his coming home to New Haven-Bristol.

When he returned from the service, William must have found his wife, Sara, in very poor health. For within two years, she died of consumption. This disease is a slow killer. Its symptoms linger for a considerable amount of time before the disease finally overcomes the body. "Sally", as she was sometimes called, passed away on September 16, 1867 in Bristol leaving William a widower. She was only thirty-eight.[23] William may have been fortunate enough to only have one child left in the home by 1867. His two older daughters, both in or near their twenties, may have been married and off on their own starting their own families. Since the 1870s Federal Census was unavailable for referencing, it was impossible to determine if any of the daughters were still living at home after their mother's death. Willis was only twelve at the time so it was certain he still lived with his father. Fact was, William and Willis were alone. Perhaps that helped explain why, a year after Sara's death, William remarried. His new wife was Nettie Stone, the daughter of William and Elsina Stone (1834-1896). Nettie was some twenty-three years younger than William. She had been born in Ticonderoga, New York about 1843.[24] Nettie inherited a ready-made family that included a step-son, Willis, who was then about fourteen. Within two years of their marriage, Nettie and William began having children of their own. Over the course of the decade of the 1870s, four of their six children were born. The first to arrive was Minnie on April 14, 1870 (1870-1897).[25] She was soon followed by Mary, born October 11, 1872.[26] Ruah "Zerinah" was the third daughter in a row born to Nettie and William who came along about 1875.[27] The couples fourth child was finally a boy whose name was in dispute mostly due to a careless census taker. In the 1880 Federal Census, the sloppy enumerator recorded the child's name as "Joda" when it really was Joseph W. Joseph was a year old in 1880, so he had been born sometime in 1879.[28]

So in 1880, the Richardson family consisted of fifty-four year old William and his very new and very young wife, thirty-one year old Nettie. Their were three children of theirs in the household: Minnie, age ten; Zerinah (Ruah), age four; "Joda" (Joseph), age 1. There was also Willis, step-son to Nettie, age twenty-six. The two grown men were listed as "day laborer" for an occupation.[29] Without having much time to recover from the birth of her first son, Nettie became pregnant with her fourth daughter, Laura Julia, who was born March 10, 1880.[30] For some reason she was not listed by the census taker for 1880. She should have been if her date of birth was correct, for the 1880 Federal Census was taken in June that year in New Haven. William and Nettie had their sixth and final child three years later in 1883. The last child was another boy. They named him Frank P. and he was born on September 30 in New Haven.[31]

Since a fire in the storage vault in Washington, D.C. destroyed the 1890 Federal Census, there was a ten year gap in the chronology of the Richardson family. Fortunately for us, the Government conducted a special survey of veterans that year in addition to the regular Federal Census so information on William and family was not completely lost. It showed that he was living in New Haven Mills in 1890. It verified that he had served one year, six months as a private in Company C of the Ninth Vermont Infantry from January, 1864 to July, 1865. Most interestingly, the special schedule noted that William suffered disability from heart disease and a rupture.[32] This helped to explain why he was granted a pension as an invalid back in July of 1877.[33] It seemed that heart trouble was not the only affliction that William was suffering from either. A local newspaper reported in its October, 1889 issue that he was failing, "sick with consumption".[34] And it appeared that William was not the only member of the Richardson family who had serious health issues in the late 1890s. Mrs. Nettie Richardson was involved in a rather bizarre incident on January 2, 1897 which may have put the residents of New Haven Mills somewhat on edge for a while. As reported in the local newspaper: "Mrs. Leonard Stone, who had died, was being laid out by her daughter, Mrs. Nettie Richardson, and another lady. Suddenly Mrs. Richardson fell to the floor. She lived until Sunday evening having had three strokes of paralysis within 12 hours."[35] Just a few days previously to this event, a double death had occurred in New Haven Mills when two aged individuals of the community also passed away within twenty-four hours of each other. Residents of New Haven Mills might have seriously been concerned about who was going next.

By the 1900 Federal Census, the aged and failing widower, William T. Richardson was living in the Bristol home of his daughter, Ruah and her husband, Frederick Ladue. He was seventy-nine in 1900. He was, of course, retired and living off his Government pension. Throughout his life, William's exact year of birth had fluctuated between being 1820 or 1825. In one source of public information it would be one then in the next source consulted it would be the other. Even in death, people could not seem to get the date right. He died in June of 1900. The Federal Census for that year stated he was seventy-nine years old with his date of birth being August, 1820. His death certificate made out June 7, 1900 said he was seventy-five years, nine months and twenty-five days old.[36] So, right up to, and even beyond, the time of his death, William's exact date of birth remained shrouded in uncertainty. If you can believe what is written in stone, his monument gave his date of birth as 1820.

NOTES

1. www.findagrave.com, Memorial #22034764 for William T. Richardson; ancestry.com, O'Brien Family Tree for William T. Richardson.
2. En.wikipedia.org,/wiki/William Tell.
3. www.ancestry.com, O'Brien Family Tree for William Tell Richardson; www.familysearch.org, Vermont, Vial Records, 1760-1954 for Richardson, Sydney.
4. www.findagrave.com, Memorial #97848142 for Sarah "Sally" Hepburn Richardson.
5. www.ancestry.com, 1850 U.S. Federal Census for Sally Richardson.
6. www.fold3.com, Compiled Service Records of Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations From the State of Vermont, pp. 15 & 18, images 311565571 & …518. Hereinafter referred to as Compiled Service Record.
7. Vermont in the Civil War/Units/Ninth Vermont Infantry/Introduction & History.
8. www.fold3.com, Compiled Service Record, pp. 15 & 18, images 311565571 & …518.
9. Ibid.
10. Ibid.
11. Ibid., Compiled Service Record, p. 3, image 311565484.
12. www.civilwarintheeast.com/us-regiments-batteries/vermont/9th-vermont.
13. www.fold3.com, Compiled Service Record, pp. 7&14, images 311565493 & …508.
14. Ibid., Compiled Service Record, pp. 8 & 10, images 311565495 & …499.
15. https://civilwartalk.com/threads/forgotten-forts-series-fort-wood-ny.91800.
16. www.fold3.com, Compiled Service Record, p. 9, image 311565497; Ibid., Compiled Service Record, p. 31, image 311565546.
17. Ibid., Compiled Service Record, p. 3, image 311565484.
18. Ibid., Compiled Service Record, p. 21, image 311565525; Ibid. Compiled Service Record, p. 311565484.
19. Ibid., Compiled Service Record, p. 3, image 311565484.
20. Ibid., Compiled Service Record, p. 19, image 311565521.
21. Ibid., Compiled Service Record, p. 33, image 311565550.
22. Ibid., Compiled Service Record, p. 22, image 311565527.
23. www. ancestry.com, Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908 for Sarah Richardson.
24. Ibid., Nardini Family Tree for Nettie Stone.
25. www.familysearch.org, Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908 for Richardson, Minnie.
26. www.ancestry.com, Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908 for Mary Richardson.
27. www.familysearch.org, Vermont, Vital Records, 1760-1954 for Richardson, Ruah.
28. Ibid., for Richardson, Joseph W. (Marriage).
29. www.ancestry.com, 1880 U.S. Federal Census for Nettie Richardson.
30. www.findagrave.com, Memorial #401445523 for Laura J. Richardson Carvage.
31. www.familysearch.org, Vermont, Vital Records, 1760-`1954 for Richardson, Franklin P.
32. www.ancestry.com, 1890 Veterans Schedules for William T. Richardson.
33. www.fold3.com, General Pension Index…., image 22815912.
34. www.newspapers.com, The Burlington Free Press, Thu., Oct 17, 1889.
35. Ibid., Vermont Standard, Thu., Jan 7, 1897.
36. www.ancestry.com, 1900 U.S. Federal Census for William T. Richardson; Ibid., Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908 for Richardson, William T.

Courtesy of Bernie Noble

Previous Page