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William E. Richardson


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"Spokane and The Spokane Country - Pictorial and Biographical - Deluxe Supplement." Vol. II. The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912. (No author listed.) pgs. 72-75.


       JUDGE WILLIAM E. RICHARDSON, who since the 1st of April, 1911, has been first assistant to the corporation counsel of Spokane and who has made a creditable record as judge of the superior court for the district comprising Spokane and Stevens counties, is not only deserving of mention as a distinguished lawyer and jurist of the Inland Empire but also as one of its pioneer settlers whose residence here dates from the days when the Indians were numerous in this section of the state and when the district between Walla Walla and the Idaho border was largely an undeveloped and unsettled wilderness. Judge Richardson speaks with authority upon many points relative to the history of this section. He was born in Lane county, Oregon, August 1, 1857, and comes of a family of English origin although long represented in America, its members in different generations taking active part in the wars in which the country has engaged. His great-grandfather was a soldier of the Revolution and his grandfather was a soldier in the Black Hawk and other Indian wars which constitute chapters in the history of the middle west.
       His father, William C. Richardson, was born in Illinois and came across the plains in 1852, arrivng [arriving] in Polk county, Oregon. He had made the journey with his father, who took up land in that district, while William C. Richardson, shortly after reaching his destination, turned his attention to carpentering. He established his home in Portland and was there identified with building operations. He remained for fifty-eight years resident of the Pacific northwest, passing away in 1910. Forty years before his wife had been called to her final rest. Her maiden name was Hester Craig and she was of Scotch descent. She was born in Arkansas and in 1852 started across the plains with her parents, both of whom died while en route. The death of Mrs. Richardson occurred in 1870 and she was survived by her two sons and two daughters: Frank Richardson, who is engaged in stock-raising in San Diego, California, and was for many years a deputy sheriff of Arizona; May, of Portland, Oregon; and Jennie, who is living in Newport, Oregon. The father by a second marriage had one daughter, Effie, who resides in Portland, Oregon.
       The other member of the family is Judge Richardson, who pursued his education in the public schools of Portland, Oregon, where he spent his boyhood until 1871. He was at the time thirteen years of age and with his father and grandfather he traveled through this country from Polk county, Oregon, with a band of cattle. They came over the Cascade mountains through eastern Oregon and to the present site of Spokane through eastern Oregon and to the present site of Spokane through the Coeur d' Alenes to Bitter Root valley, where they remained for a year and a half. The country was a wilderness, with very few settlers between Walla Walla and the Idaho line. They heard that there were some falls on the Spokane river but were not sufficiently interested at that time to go to look at them. On this journey Judge Richardson rode a little buckskin pony all the way. There had been trouble with the Indians a few years before but things had quieted down and a delightful trip was enjoyed. There was no trouble, for Colonel Wright had thoroughly subdued the red men. In order to bring them in subjection and prevent further hostilities against the white race the colonel had collected all their ponies to the number of fifteen hundred and had driven them up to a bend in the river near the present site of Opportunity, where he shot them. That took the backbone out of the uprising and the Indians surrendered. In consequence thereof they always afterward regarded Colonel Wright as a truly terrible man. The Richardsons, grandfather, father and son, had made the trip into this country looking for good ground for stock. The farmers cultivated the ground for several years before they realized the Palouse was good for anything at all, an old man named Calhoun, for Virginia, being the first to demonstrate the fact that the great Palouse country would raise wheat. After this Judge Richardson was graduated from the Christian College of Monmouth, Oregon, now the State Normal School, completing his course in 1882 until 1887 and on the expiration of that period he came to Spokane, where he began reading law in the office of S.C. Hyde. He prepared for the bar with characteristic thoroughness and determination and was admitted to practice in 1890, after which he successfully followed his profession until elected judge of the superior court for the district comprising the two counties of Spokane and Stevens in 1896. He served for two terms and made an excellent record on the bench, his decisions being strictly fair and impartial and a clear exposition of the law demanded by the points in the case. He retired from office in January, 1905, and since that time has continued in the active practice of law, holding no other office until the 1st of April, 1911, when he was appointed first assistant to the corporation counsel of Spokane. While he continues in the general practice of law he largely eschews criminal law practice, confining his attention to the various branches of civil law, for which he is particularly well qualified.
       Judge Richardson was one of the attorneys in the Colville valley drainage project and also in a similar project in the Kalispell valley. He has paid much attention to mining litigation and in that way at times has acquired interests in mining properties but has since disposed of them. He is interested, however, in irrigation enterprises and is now connected with what is known as the Whitestone irrigation project. Aside from his activity in his professon [profession] and in connection with business undertakings, he has been a recognized leader in political circles. His allegiance was given to the republican party until 1892, when he joined the populist movement. In 1896 he was elected on the people's party ticket, a fusion ticket of the populists and democrats, to the office of superior judge and for the second term was elected on a fusion of the two parties, his name being placed on the democratic ticket. He has always been a close student of political problems and questions and in that connection keeps abreast with many of the best thinking men of the age.
       On the 19th of February, 1889, at Albany, Oregon, was celebrated the marriage of Judge Richardson and Mrs. Viola I. Miller, a daughter of George Patterson, who was a pioneer of Oregon and came from Wisconsin to the Pacific coast in 1849, at which time he made his way to California. He afterward journeyed northward and died in 1908. Judge and Mrs. Richardson have two sons: Curtis, twenty-two years of age, who is now an architect of Spokane; and Hugh, who was born in February, 1898, and is still in school.
       Judge Richardson is a Mason, holding membership in Spokane Lodge No. 34. He also belongs to the Woodmen of the World, the Inland Club and the Chamber of Commerce and his interests are broad and varied, bringing him into active connection with much that touches the general welfare of society at large. He has held to high ideals in his profession and has been found an able, faithful and conscientious minister in the temple of justice, giving to his client the service of superior talent, unwearied industry and broad learning, yet never forgetting that there are certain things due to the court, to his own self-respect and above all to justice and a righteous administration of the law, which neither the zeal of an advocate nor the pleasure of success permits him to disregard.

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton

* * * * Notice: These biographies were transcribed for the Washington Biographies Project. Unless otherwise stated, no further information is available on the individuals featured in the biographies.


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