In 1864, two brothers from Iowa came to California seeking their fortunes. By December 1866, Pierce Richardson had made his way to Chico, California, where he worked on farms, raised stock, and even panned some gold. Eventually he bought land north of Chico on Mud Creek that became the family ranch and was later developed into the famous Richardson Springs Resort. But before the resort, there’s the family. Eventually, four brothers, two sisters, and their parents moved to California and made their homes either on the ranch or nearby in Chico.
This Brief History of the Richardson Family, 1775–1924 was compiled by Mrs. Nellie E. Woodward after careful research and correlation of old family letters, memories, and traditions told by her mother, records in the Richardson Family Bible, newspaper articles, and other material. It’s this manuscript that this book is based on.
The book is divided into several sections. While not in the original manuscript, Larry Richardson’s overview of the family’s start in California and Mud Creek is included. This provides needed context for Nellie’s history of the Richardson family, beginning with the parents, Thomas B. Richardson and Eliza Chamberlain, and their ten surviving children (William, Cyrus, Jared, Alonzo, Pierce, Elizabeth, Joseph, Elisha, Orlando, and Elizabeth). Cyrus never made it to California having died in Indiana, and Orlando, or Landy as he was called, was the wanderer of the family. He spent 30 years traveling throughout the western United States until finally coming back to the family in 1915. Seven years later, he collapsed and died of heart failure in front of what is now 8th & Main Antiques in downtown Chico. At the end of the book are Nellie’s genealogical charts of the Chamberlain, Richardson, and Harris families, which help readers understand the family connections within this large family.
We also added some things not found in Nellie’s original manuscript. We included excerpts of family letters (1845 to 1906) and expanded the section of photographs showing the family, the ranch at Mud Springs, and the early beginnings of what would become the famous Richardson Springs Resort. ANCHR’s own Ron Womack wrote a in-depth article about Pierce Richardson, which is also included. We kept Nellie in mind to make sure these additions did not take away from her original work, but enhanced it in a way that would make her smile and happy with the result if she could see it.