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Wallace Richmond


Posted By: Emmet County IAGenWeb Coordinator (email)
Date: 3/10/2011 at 19:11:13

Wallace Richmond
Armstrong History Is Personal To Him

by Jo Ashmore

Wallace Richmond is making preparations to leave Armstrong, after calling it home for all of his 75 years.

Having sold his home, which was built in 1903 by Dr. John Finlayson and his wife, the former Grace Robinson, he's in the process of sorting through the accumulated possessions of four generations of Richmonds, the prelude to an auction set for Sunday, June 30. After that, he'll be moving to an apartment he's rented in Forest City, where he'll be closer to his daughter, Mrs. Tom Bowen (Peggy).

Wally is a man who obviously loves his hometown and is proud that his ancestors helped get it started. His conversation is liberally sprinkled with tales of the old days; and even after a full three hours of them, the listener is eager to hear more.

Wallace's grandparents, Matthew and Margaret Richmond, arrived in Armstrong, October 27, 1868, and remained here until their deaths in 1921 and 1919, respectively.

Because Wallace was grown when his grandparents died, he feels fortunate to have known both of them well; he stayed with them part of the time when he was attending Armstrong High School.

His grandfather was fond of telling him about the early days and Wally regrets that he's not yet taken time to write down what he learned; but, "I remember it all; I carry it all right here in my head. The family tells me I should write a book--and maybe I will."

Matthew and Margaret Richmond left Ayr, Ontario, 75 miles west of Niagara Falls, in the early fall of 1868 with their four oldest children: Jeanette, Anna, William and Robina. They came by train to McGregor, Iowa, by way of Chicago, then stayed with relatives at Village Creek, Iowa, for three weeks to outfit a covered wagon and team. On October 15 they struck out, coming to Osage, Forest City and Buffalo Forks (Buffalo Center) to their farm five miles southeast of the present town of Armstrong.

"Grandfather told me", Wallace recalls, "'All the possessions I had when I came to Iowa, October 27, 1868, were a team and covered wagon, some furniture, my wife and four kiddies, my family Bible, and $10 in my pocket."

Wally still has three kitchen chairs that made that journey nearly 106 years ago.

The farm was purchased from Stephen P. Demmon, and that's another story. After the Civil War, each Union soldier had the right to 160 acres of land--free to him--to homestead. Wallace has the Land Grant Deed which gives the land to Demmon. It is signed by Ulysses S. Grant.

By the time the Richmonds bought the farm, the original 160 acres had expanded to 240.

A few families were already here when the Richmonds arrived: the Burt, Perry, Alcorn, Campbell, Dundas, Fish, Carroll, Mitchell, and James Thompson families among them.

In those early years of settlement, the nearest town was Algona; and Grandfather Richmond told of walking there with an old grain sack in which to carry home the groceries. The round trip took about three days.

Wallace's father, Walter A. Richmond was born on the farm in a log cabin in April, 1871. His cradle was made by Andy Burt's grandfather out of walnut from the Armstrong Grove. It was hand turned on a home made lathe during the winter of 1870-71. Three generations of Richmond babies were rocked in that cradle; so Wallace recently had it restored and then presented it to the Emmet County Historical Society.

On February 17, 1875, Matthew Richmond became a United States citizen at the age of 41. (He was born in Scotland in 1834.) In the naturalization paper, about which Wallace speculates, "I'll bet you won't see another one of these in Emmet County," Mr. Richmond renounced his loyalty to Queen Victoria. (Wallace was born May 12, 1889; and his grandfather was fond of reminding him that he was born on Queen Victoria's birthday.) [JMR: Matthew Wallace Richmond was born 12 May 1899.]

Matthew Richmond was one of the first supervisors of Emmet County, back when the county seat was at Swan Lake. And he and his wife organized the first Presbyterian congregation in Northwest Iowa.

In later years they moved to town, and the home they built is now the Presbyterian manse. For 16 years Matthew Richmond was postmaster here, during the McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and Taft administrations.

Matthew's daughter, Anna, married John Dows who came here on Christmas Day, 1892, with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. He was superintendent of all bridges built on the railroad between Cedar Rapids and Armstrong. A partner in starting the present bank, he also platted the town. And in about 1893, he gave the land for the Presbyterian Church to be built in town.

Walter Richmond, Wallace's father, was one of the first Armstrong merchants, operating Snyder's Grocery which opened in 1892.

Wallace's mother, Grace Clark Richmond, who passed away earlier this year, first came to this area from Meridean, Wisconsin, near Eau Claire, by covered wagon in 1879. Her family settled in Iowa Lake Township on what is now the Russell Love farm. In January, 1881, a prairie fire burned them out; and they returned to Wisconsin, coming back here in 1889. "Mother made three trips by wagon altogether," Wallace said.

Wallace taught school for 15 years; he taught shop and coached football and basketball. His first basketball team, at Holstein in 1921, posted a 19-4 record.

Later he worked 15 years for the Highway Commission.

And for a time he was a wrestling promoter "Bronko Nagurski wrestled for me at the old Opera House, " he said; and their friendship has continued.

Over the years Wallace has enjoyed nostalgic visits to the places his grandparents used to live. In late July he plans to attend a Richmond Reunion in conjunction with the 150th Anniversary of Ayr, Ontario, Canada, the town where his paternal grandparents were married. (The town is named for Ayr, Scotland, from which Wally's grandparents originally came, though several years apart.) He also plans to visit "The Richmond Place", the family home built by his great-grandfather of native stone, with the name right in the stone.

It would seem that a person "I have a lot of friends there, and my daughter is there; so I'm not exactly going to be alone." Then he added, "Of course, I've go a lot of friends here!" whose roots are so deep in Armstrong history would find difficulty in leaving, and Wally acknowledges it's true but says he plans to visit often. As for Forest City, Wallace Richmond's new address will be: Groh Apartments, Apt.#3, Forest City, Iowa.

[Caption below picture 1, page 1.]

This 1910 picture shows Mr. and Mrs. Walter A. Richmond and their son Bill, then about 4 years old, on the Richmond family farm. The farmhouse was built in the winter of 1903-04, to replace the original house which burned on October 16, 1903. The team of sorrels in the photo won many prizes for Walter Richmond at area fairs and horse shows. The original Armstrong Grove is located on this property, now occupied by Donald Hoien, on the Emmet-Kossuth County line five miles southeast of Armstrong.

[Caption below picture 2, page 1.]

ON THANKSGIVING DAY, 1907, Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Richmond posed with their family--three sons and three daughters and their spouses--by the staircase in the home of John Dows, now the John O'Neill residence. In the front, flanking Matthew Richmond are his wife Margaret, right, and his eldest daughter Jeanette, Mrs. Will Gibbs. Richmond was Armstrong's postmaster at the time. In the second row are Mrs. John Dows (Anna Richmond) and Grace and Walter A. Richmond. Those in the back row are John Dows, Armstrong banker; Miss Robina Richmond; William C. Richmond; his wife Mildred Fish Richmond; John J. Richmond; and William H. Gibbs, a longtime Emmet County Supervisor.

[Page 4, Illustration One.]


THE STATE OF IOWA, Emmet County,

BE IT REMEMBERED That a term of the District (Circuit) Court, holden in and for said County in Estherville therein, on the 17 day of February in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and Seventy Five was present the Honorable (JMR: unreadable signature) sole presiding Judge. Kruel-Espesel Sheriff of said County, and J. M. Barker Clerk of said Court, when the following, among other proceedings were had, to-wit: Mathew Richmond a native of Scotland and at present residing with said State appeared in open Court and made application to be admitted to become a CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES and it appearing to the satisfaction of the Court, that he had declared on or before the clerk of District Court Emmet Co Court of Record, having common law jurisdiction and using a seal, two years at least before his admission, that is was bonna fide his intention to become a Citizen of the United States, and to renounce forever all allegience to any foreign Prince, Potentate, State or Sovereignty, whatsoever, and particularly to the Queen of Great Briton of whom he was heretofore a Subject and said applicant having declared on oath, before this Court, that he will support the Constitution of the United States, and that he doth absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to every foreign Prince, Potenate, State or Soveriegnty whatsoever, and particularly to the Power above named. The Court being satisfied that said applicant has resided within the United States for the term of five years, next preceding his admission, without being at any time during the said five years out of the territory of the United States, and within this State one year at least; and it further appearing to the satisfaction of this Court, that during that time he has behaved as a man of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the same; thereupon the Court admitted the said applicant to become a Citizen of the United States, and ordered all proceedings aforesaid to be entered of record, which was accordingly done by the Clerk of this Court.

In Testimony Whereof, I J. M. Barker , Clerk
of the Court aforesaid have hereto set my hand and affixed the seal of said
Court, at office in Estherville in said County, this, the
17 day of February in the year of our Lord one
thousand eight hundred and Seventy five.

J. M. Barker
Clerk of Circuit Court.

[Page 4, Illustration Two.]

To all to whom these presents shall come, Greeting:

No. 5303...... WHEREAS, Stephen P. Demmon of Emmett County Iowa
has deposited in the GENERAL LAND OFFICE of the United States a CERTIFICATE OF THE REGISTER OF THE LAND OFFICE AT Fort Dodge whereby it appears that FULL PAYMENT has been made by the said Stephen P. Demmon to the provisions of the Act of Congress of the 24th of April, 1820, entitled "An Act making further provision for the sale of the Public Lands," for the North East (JMR: quarter (?)) of Section Thirty six, in Township ninety nine North, of Range Thirty one West in the District of Land Subject to sale at Fort Dodge, containing one hundred sixty acres.

according to the Official Plat of the Survey of the said lands, returned to the GENERAL LAND OFFICE by the Surveyor General, which said Tract has been purchased by the Stephen P. Demmon

Now, know ye, That the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in consideration of the premises, and in conformity with the several Acts of Congress in (JMR: ????) provided, HAVE GIVEN AND GRANTED, and by these presents DO GIVE AND GRANT, unto the said Stephen P. Demmon and to his heirs, the said Tract about described: To Have and to Hold the same, together with all the rights, priviledges, immunities, and apportenants of whatever therunto belonging, unto the said Stephen P. Demmon and to his heirs.

In Testimony whereof, I, Ulysses S. Grant, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

have caused these letters to be made Patent, and the seal of the GENERAL LAND OFFICE to be hereto (JMR: ?)

Given under my hand, at the City of Washinton, the first day of May one thousand eight hundred and Sixty nine, and of the INDEPENDENCE OF THE UNITED STATES.


RECORDED, Vol 9, Page 376

[Caption beneath Illustration:]

THIS LAND GRAND DEED (above) shows that Stephen P. Demmon a veteran of the Union Army, received 160 acres of land from the government, free of charge. Demmon sold the property to Matthew Richmond in 1868.

[Page 4. Illustration Three:]

Photo of Wallace "Wally" RICHMOND

Contributed by: Jim Richmond. Source: Armstrong, Iowa, Armstrong Journal, Volume LXXXI, No. 25, Page 1, 20 June 1974.


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