The week 25 prompt for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge is “The Old Homestead”. Immediately, Winfield Scott Richards, written about in Week 7, comes to mind. He had received land in Michigan via the Homestead Act of 1862 . His son, Thearon Archer Richards spent some of his youth on this land.
The Homestead Act:
Signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on May 20, 1862, the Homestead Actencouraged Western migration by providing settlers 160 acres of public land. In exchange, homesteaders paid a small filing fee and were required to complete five years of continuous residence before receiving ownership of the land. After six months of residency, homesteaders also had the option of purchasing the land from the government for $1.25 per acre. The Homestead Act led to the distribution of 80 million acres of public land by 1900. (Library of Congress website)
Though reportedly born in New York in 1873, the earliest record that I have found that shows young Thearon is the 1880 United States Census for Michigan. In this document his father Winfield Scott Richards is enumerated as Scott Richards, his mother, Mary Elizabeth Richards is enumerated as Elizabeth, and Thearon is recorded as Thrody. Finding this record was a challenge to say the least!
Now knowing that Thearon was an adopted child of Winfield Scott and Mary Elizabeth, I am very curious to find out where Thearon had come from. Did they adopt him as an infant in New York prior to the move to Michigan? Was he the child of a neighbor, friend or relative? Could he have been an orphan train rider? These questions remain unanswered.
In 1892, the New York State census records Thearon with Mary and his brother Charles in Rochester, New York. He is working as a shoemaker. This will be his lifelong occupation, much of the time he worked at the Sherwood Shoe Company as a shoe cutter.
In 1896, Thearon Richards married Sophia Wombwell at the Chuch of the Epiphany in Rochester, New York. Between 1898 and 1904 they had 3 children, Raymond, Florence and Edna (week 14).
The 1917 WWI draft registration card provides a physical description on Thearon.
Therein died suddenly at home on 14 December 1945 from a heart attack. He was laid to rest at Mt Hope Cemetery in Rochester.