In 1630 Ezekiel Richardson arrived in Massachusetts Bay from the West Country, one of John Winthrop's Puritans--this who crossed the Atlantic to worship God as they chose and to make others do the same. And Ezekiel begat, et cetera, and seven generations later in Pittsburg James C. Richardson espoused Laura Clifford, and in 1849 they came down the Phio and up the Mississippi to the banks of the wide Missouri River, and settled in St. Louis.
There James C. Richardson worked as a druggist. And there they flourished. The firm of Richardson and Mellier was followed by the firm of Richardson and Company which was followed by the Richardson Drug Company, which was, they claimed--until the disastrous fire of January 1, 1888--not just the largest wholesale drug firm west of the Mississippi, but the largest wholesale drug firm in the world.
Which, I suppose, given what druggists sold in those days, made them St. Louis's first pushers…
And James C. Richardson and Laura Clifford begat James C. Richardson, who espoused Florence Wyman, the first President of the St. Louis Equal Suffrage League and the most aggressive and effective women's suffrage advocate in Missouri, and begat Florence Richardson called Fonnie. Fonnie espoused Roland Greene Usher, Professor of English and Church History at Washington University in St. Louis, and foe of Pan-Germanism--believing that the German Empire with its reactionary-modernist politics of iron and rye and its aggressive Prussian military caste was a menace. (Later on, in 1940, he was to turn down an invitation from Winston Churchill to come to London and work for him, explaining to the world why Britain still fought on against Hitler's Nazi Germany even after the fall of France.) Fonnie
Ronnie and Roland begat Florence Richardson Usher, called Fonchen. Fonchen married William W. Lord of Brockton and Newton, MA, and Portland, ME, of the Lord Family Tanning Business. And so left Missouri for the east: first Brockton; then after that business failed during the Great Depression restarting in lower-wage South Paris, ME; and then in 1947 pulling up stakes and moving south to Lakeland, FL, where the hard work of everyone in the Lord-Wellman Construction Company made him briefly the richest man between Tampa and Orlando. Fonchen and Bill begat Fonya Usher Lord, continuing the matrilineal pattern of giving the eldest daughter a Florence-derived name. Fonya married James V. DeLong, and lived in Cambridge, MA, Pasadena, CA, Washington, DC, and now Virginia Beach, VA. Fonya and Jim begat my brother Chris and my sister Julia--thus breaking a four-generation matrilineal tradition of Florence-names. And Fonya and Jim begat me.
I note this family history of we Usher-Richardson-Wyman-Cliffords in Missouri because now, 164 years after Laura Clifford and James C. Richardson debarked from their riverboat from Pittsburg, I have washed up by the banks of the broad Missouri--albeit at the other end of the state, in Kansas City cheek-by-jowl with Kansas, rather than in St. Louis cheek-by-jowl with Illinois.
And I look around and try to figure out what the people now here have done with the civilization that my ancestors built, in manufacturing, commerce, banking, pharmaceutical research and development, and education between 1849 and 1968? What has happened around here in the last half-century, since Great-Grandmother Florence Wyman Richardson Usher (Fonnie) died?