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Richards Ancestors Found Themselves in Midst of War

Researchers of the Sapp and Richards family lines indicate Charles Harrison Richards and Mary Elizabeth Polly Sapp moved into Texas in the year 1833 and settled near the town of San Augustine in east Texas near the border of Texas and Louisiana. Most of the settlers traveled into Texas by the El Camino Real, which begins in "Natchitoches, Louisiana and runs from Piney Woods through rolling hills to the arid lands of Old Mexico." It is now known as Highway 6 in Louisiana and Highway 21 in Texas and has existed for more than 300 years.

It is not my intention to give you a history lesson, but in order to give you a glimpse of where our first Richards ancestors found themselves in the early years of their residence in Texas, I feel it is important to repeat here some of the events and political questions which preceded the meeting of the first convention to form a constitution in Texas.

“Texas had been a portion of the Mexican republic under the constitution of 1824. That constitution had been overthrown; a military despotism established; troops were already in or marching on Texas from Mexico, to enforce the change, in October, 1835.” H. A. Alsbury said in an address in August of that year, “all those who had immigrated into Texas from the United States, since April 6, 1830, were to be driven from the country or dealt with by the military.” There was a long list of persons to be arrested and tried by “drum-head court”, and future immigrants were to be from Mexico only.

After a Mexican army marched on San Antonio, five hundred more were landed at Matagorda Bay and marched into the interior, all under orders from Santa Anna. A Mexican force was sent from Bexar to demand a cannon that had previously been given to the citizens for defense against the Indians. They refused to give it up, a fight ensued and the Mexicans retreated. The commanding official at Bexar wrote to Stephen F. Austin saying that, “unless the gun was promptly given up war would be commenced on the colonists.”

This roused all the people of Texas. Flight, extermination, or resistance were the alternatives placed before them. They prepared for the latter.

Our ancestors found themselves in the middle of this upheaval and in order to keep their land and the homes they had built and stay in Texas they had to join their neighbors in the resistance.

Mary and Charles had the following children:

1) William B. Richards, born 16 January 1814 in Rhea Co., Tennessee; died 21 December 1892 in Bosque Co., Texas; married Catherine Burch 4 December 1838 in San Augustine, San Augustine Co., Texas.
2) James S. Richards, born 11 December 1816 in Blount Springs, Blount Co., Alabama; died 2 May 1889 in Shelby Co., Texas; married Sallie after 1850.
3) John S. Richards, (MY ANCESTOR) born 1818 in Blount Springs, Blount Co., Alabama; died 6 October 1875 in Shelby Co., Texas; married (1) Nancy S. about 1844; married (2) Caroline Conway about 1851 in Shelby Co., Texas.
4) Stratford Wade Hampton Richards, born 14 August 1825 in Blount Springs, Blount Co., Alabama; died 22 July 1900 in Stephenville, Erath Co., Texas; married Elender Caroline Cooper 12 December 1845 in Shelby Co., Texas.
5) Eliza Jane Richards, born 4 September 1827; married William H. Bean Mays.
6) Charles Hampton Richards, born about 1832 in Alabama; died after October 1899 in Limestone Co., Texas; married Emily Wren.
7) Debby Ann Richards, born 1832 in Blount Springs, Blount Co., Alabama; married James A. Wills.
8) Elizabeth B. Richards, born 1834 in Texas; married Joseph Burns.
9) Susan Richards, born 1835 in Texas.
10) Matilda Richards, born 1836.

If you are a descendant of Charles and Mary Sapp Richards, I would love to hear from you. If you have new information or a correction to my post please let me know.


  • Baker, D. W. C. A Texas Scrapbook, Made up of the History, Biography, and Miscellany of Texas and Its People. Reprint. Originally published: New York: A. S. Barnes, 1875. Texas State Historical Association, Austin, Texas, 1991.
  • Richards, Phillip Wade Hampton. Autobiography of Phillip Wade Hampton Richards.
  • The David Rumsey Map Collection, s.v. “A New Map of Texas, With The Contiguous American & Mexican States”,-With-The-Contig (accessed March 13, 2009).
  • 1850 U. S. Census, Shelby County, Texas, microfiche. (accessed January 2007)
  • El Camino Real , s.v. “El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail” (accessed March 23, 2009).
  • Carol Carwile Head, a fellow Genea Blogger
  • Descendants of Charles and Mary Sapp Richards: Connie Johnston, Melinda Tillman, Sharon Wilson


Janice Tracy said…
What a wonderful story, Judy! I love the way you have woven the historical events of the time into the lives and the history of your family. And although you didn't intend to provide a lesson in history, I certainly learned a few things about Texas history today.
I'm so glad, Janice. While researching at length the times that they lived in, the history of Texas came alive for me again. Thanks for your comments!
JoLyn said…
I love knowing and understanding how my ancestors fit into the historical setting. You do such a great job of making the story interesting and personal. Thanks - I hope I can learn from you!

And thanks for your comments on my blog - it means so much to know you are reading!
You're very welcome, JoLyn! You are a big inspiration to me. I love to read your blog. I appreciate your comments and the fact that you like mine, as well.
scarabocion said…
Previous postings are from earlier this year, so perhaps no one is looking at this now. I found it very interesting. My father, Ira B. Richards, Jr., deceased in 2007 at 92, was the son of Ira. B. Richards, Sr. and Hattie Elizabeth Richards. They were distant cousins whose respective branches of the Richards family had come out to Bosque County from Tennessee and Alabama. My great-grandfather Hampton Richards married Emma Phillips from West Texas, perhaps around Ozona, where one of my grandfather's Phillips uncles ranched. Someone in the family has a marriage certificate from the Republic of Hamp's Richards grandparents, I suppose. Hamp was born around 1860. I don't know which Richards clan they belonged to, but some my Dad's uncles were Charlie, Oscar, Clyde, and my father's brothers were James, William and Richard, so those are family names. Of those I can recall, his aunts were Helen, and Pearl on grandma Richards'side and Ruth, Velma and Maude on grandpa's side.
My Dad, his older sister Katherine and younger brothers Richard and James Finley were born in Bosque County, and then my Grandparents moved out to Hidalgo County, NM in 1919 where they ranched and raised their family.
Well, looks like we could be distant cousins...
To scarabocion:
Well, hello, it's so good to meet you! I appreciate your comment on my post Genealogy Traces. I'm anxious to go to my FTM program to see if I can find any of the names you mentioned. It does indeed sound like we're distant cousins. Were you able to find and read the other articles on the Richards family on the blog? My research on my great-great-great-grandfather has been very interesting, I believe, and you might enjoy reading it. I have discovered some other things about him, Charles Harrison Richards, that I will post on the blog soon. Have a good Christmas and hope to hear from you again.

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