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David Nelson Richardson


Posted By: Annette Lucas (email)
Date: 7/15/2021 at 10:35:43

SOURCE: Biographical History and Portrait Gallery of Scott County, Iowa. American Biographical Publishing Company, H. C. Cooper, Jr., & Co. Proprietors. 1895

DAVID NELSON RICHARDSON, editor of the Davenport " Democrat, ” was born at Orange, Orange County, Vermont, on the nineteenth of March, 1832, and is the son of Christopher and Achsah ( Foster) Richardson, thrifty farmers of the Green Mountain State, who by the most assiduous industry educed a scanty subsistence from the sterile and flinty hillside which they called their farm , ignorant as yet of the infinite resources and exhaustless fertility of the boundless prairies of the West. The Richardson family is of English lineage and traces descent in an unbroken chain to William Richardson, who came over in 1635 and settled in Newburyport, Massachusetts, the intermediate links being Christopher - father of our subject - son of Samuel, son of Christopher, son of Daniel, son of Joseph, son of the original William . On the mother's side he is descended from the Leland stock , also English , crossed by the Powers blood, producing some men of note of both names. Most of the male progeny were men of the sea, soldiers, merchants or professional men, an honest, hardy, self -reliant race, conspicuous for honesty, virtue and morality. With such antecedents, it is not suprising that our subject failed to develop a fondness for agricultural pursuits, or that he should , on the other hand, prefer the companionship of books, and devote his time and energies to the attainment of knowledge, with a view to a profession.

His early experiences were like those of most farmer boys brought up on the rock- strewn hillsides of New England. Until the age of eighteen he had enjoyed the advantages of a three months' common schooling annually. He read all the books and papers he could find, studying to the outer verge of his opportunities, and shirking all the farm -work that it was decently possible for him to avoid . At this date, however, he resolved to launch out for himself. He taught school and earned money to pay the expenses of an academic education, which he resolved to obtain in spite of all obstacles. He entered Franklin Academy at Malone, New York, passing through the regular curriculum of studies ; had also given considerable attention to the study of law, with a view to that profession, and was prepared to enter Middlebury College, Vermont. But about this time the " western fever” broke out in that region, and carried many very promising young men with it, our subject among others, who, happening to be possessed of fifty dollars and a suit of clothes, bought a railroad ticket, and landed in St. Louis in March, 1854. From thence he moved to Sparta, in Randolph County, Illinois, where he taught school for three months, passing much of his leisure time in the printing office of C. P. Johnson, since Governor of Missouri, setting type and working a hand -press. In this way he obtained a fair idea of the routine of a country printing office, and acquired a taste for that line of life. Leaving Southern Illinois, he steamed up the river to Rock Island, and thence crossed the country to Peoria, “ where, ” to borrow his own expression, “ he found himself dead broke," a thousand miles from home, or from any place where he could honestly get money without working for it. But hunger is inexorable and soon mastered his prejudice against labor. So he went to work again in a printing office, setting type for his board, which he believes he honestly earned . But as his a version to work for either board or wages was by no means eradicated , he soon changed his base of operations. Early in October, 1855, he set his face toward Davenport, Iowa, resolved to settle in that promising young city and grow up with it . Here he bought an old newspaper office, on credit, and on the fifteenth of the same month started the daily and weekly “ Democrat,” which he has continued to edit and publish ever since, taking into partnership with him , in 1863, his brother, J. J. Richardson, thus making the firm of Richardson Brothers. From a penniless boy in 1855 he has advanced to a position of wealth and social influence second to few men in the State of his adoption, while his paper has come to be the recognized exponent, within the sphere of its influence, of the political party whose name it bears. He has studiously avoided all public and official life, as tending to divert him from his one sole purpose , an office of his own, independent of political changes or partisan whims, avoiding all save those which every good citizen should consent to fill in turn.

He is a useful and influential member of the Iowa State University regency , a curator of the State Historical Society, a bank, street railway and cemetery director, a trustee of the Presbyterian Church and a Past Master Mason .

Although an attendant upon the services of the Presbyterian Church, he is not in communion with any religious organization. He has believed, however, from his youth up in the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, and he is so rooted and grounded in this faith that it is unlikely he will ever vary it.

In politics he is a Democrat — not of the ultra stripe, never having a taste for extremes in anything. During the late rebellion he was what was denominated a War Democrat, and his paper was loyal to the Union and the Government, opposing the extreme views of his party , both in its columns and upon the stump.

Mr. Richardson is not only a self-made man , but he is one of nature's noblemen , genial, generous and kind -hearted , finding his greatest happiness in the paths of a contented , quiet, peaceful, social life, always ready to lend a helping hand to the struggling and unfortunate . As a writer he is scholarly, forcible and matter -of- fact, and though at times sarcastic and pungent, he is always fair and honorable, never descending to personalities, or indulging in claptrap or sensationalism . Strictly moral and temperate in all his habits, just and true in all his dealings, public-spirited and benevolent, a credit to his race and an honor to his city.

On the fifteenth of April , 1858, he married Miss Jennette Darling, daughter of a thrifty New England farmer, who made a model wife and mother.


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