Friday, April 29, 2016

Lillie Richmond and her children at rest

I've written a little this week about Romulus R. Richmond and his wife, Lillie L. (Green) Richmond, both born into slavery, who arrived in Chariton with their older children during 1887. I'll come back to both later, but wanted to finish up this week by taking a brief look at their family of 10 children.

Somewhat remarkably for any family, eight of the 10 adult children are gathered in death around their mother on a lot in the northwest corner of the Chariton Cemetery. Also buried here, but in unmarked graves, are their paternal grandmother and a sister-in-law. Also, somewhat remarkably, none of the younger Richmonds had children of their own --- so far as I've been able to determine. So when Florence Richmond died during 1979 that marked the end of a family line.

Theopolis "Buster" Gibson, a distant cousin, is buried just down the hill southwest of the Richmonds with his mother and sister. His death during 1990 marked the end of Chariton's historic black community.


Romulus and Lillie Richmond's first three children were born in Wisconsin. They were Winfield Scott Richmond, born Nov. 21, 1881; Grace F. Richmond, born June 29, 1883: and John R. Richmond, born June 19, 1884.

The remaining children were born in Chariton: Lillian, born Oct. 7, 1888; Joseph C., born during March of 1892; Florence B., born March 15, 1894; Antonio Maceo, born March 14, 1895; Henry Glenn, born Nov. 21, 1899; Thomas Emil Richmond, born Jan. 9, 1902; and Booker T. Richmond, born Oct. 5, 1904. 

Of the 10, only Winfield Scott, known as Scott, and Joseph are not buried here. Scott spent much of working life at Aurora in Kane County, Illinois, and so was buried in Riverside Cemetery there when he died at age 65 on July 2, 1947. Joseph spent much of his working life in California and probably died there, perhaps at Oakland, between 1947 and 1954, but I've not been able to track him down.

The first of the siblings to pass was Grace, who died of rheumatic fever at age 20 on Feb. 20, 1904, in Ardmore, Missouri, where she was teaching in the "colored" school. She was a 1901 honors graduate of Chariton High School. The Richmonds purchased their Chariton Cemetery lot at the time of her death. The death year inscribed on her tombstone is in error.

Romulus Richmond's mother, Emily Root, spent the last years of her life with the family of her son and daughter-in-law and died there on April 24, 1906. Hers was the second burial on the family lot, although the grave is unmarked.

Four years later, Nevada (Washington) Wallace-Richmond, first wife of Scott Richmond, died at age 27 on Oct. 2, 1910, of tuberculosis in Centerville little more than a year after their marriage. Hers was the third burial on the lot, but this grave is unmarked, too.

John Richmond was the second of the siblings to die, on Sept. 24, 1932, of cancer at a Chicago-area hospital, age 47. He was a combat veteran of World War I who had suffered from the after-effects of both wounds and gas.

Lillian Richmond died at home in Chariton, age 53, on Jan. 9, 1942, of a "complication of troubles." She was a Christian Scientist and that, it was believed, was one of the "complications." The death year inscribed on her tombstone is in error.

Henry Richmond died on Jan. 18, 1946, in Aurora, Illinois, after being struck by a car. He was living and working there after his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army following three years of service as a truck driver in North Africa, France and Germany.

Lillie (Green) Richmond, mother of this large family, died at her home on South 11th Street in Chariton on May 30, 1952, just short of her 90th birthday.

Maceo, stellar athlete and one of the first U.S. Army officers to graduate from the pioneer training program for black candidates at Fort Des Moines in 1917, died in Chariton on Feb. 8, 1954, age 58.

Thomas, like his brother, Henry, a veteran of World War II, died at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Des Moines at age 55 on Sept. 3, 1957.

Booker T., a Des Moines attorney and also a World War II veteran, was visiting his sister in Chariton in the days after the death of his brother, Thomas, when he suffered a stroke. Transported to the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Des Moines, he died there on Sept. 9, 1957, age 52.

Florence Richmond, the daughter who had remained at home to help raise her siblings and assist her mother, also was the last survivor of the family. She died at home on South 11th Street, age 85, on Sept. 17, 1979, survived by a devoted friend, Dorothy Ellis, and her distant cousin, Buster Gibson.

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