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Charles H. Richards Appears in Republic-era Documents

I knew my ancestor, Charles Harrison Richards, was a volunteer in the Texas Army and was supposed to have died after falling from a horse in the streets of San Augustine in 1839. So I began my search in the Texas State Library Archives.

Ever since I learned the identity of my 3rd-great-grandfather, I have been curious about him and his life. Other descendants have written about him, how he left his home in Blount Springs, Alabama, with his young family and came to Texas, settling in the East Texas area around San Augustine and Shelby County. They wrote that he served as a volunteer in the Texas struggle for independence in 1836 and he died in the streets of San Augustine in 1838. In the Autobiography of Phillip Wade Hampton Richards, Mr. Richards states, “My father’s father was Charles Richards, was raised in Alabama, but came to Texas May 1833; was in the Mexican War, with Sam Houston; was killed by a horse on the streets of old San Augustine in 1838.”

Often that is all the information we can find on an ancestor. But I was intrigued about how he died and started digging a little deeper.

Descendants living in the East Texas area and growing up listening to family stories about Charles Harrison Richards and his brothers and sons said they were not all good men. One said, “I have known since childhood that my ancestor CHR was not a nice man. His wife was a good woman and some, but not all, of his sons were good men. I have always believed that CHR didn’t fall off a horse, at least not without help. I have some recall of my grandmother telling me stories about her great-grandparents and I think she may have said he killed somebody. I know for sure she told me they were involved hip-deep in the Regulator Moderator feud.”

And so I find that my 3rd-great-grandfather, Charles Harrison, was “hip-deep in the Moderators and Regulators War,”1, a civil disorder centering on Shelby County beginning in the 1830s and culminating in 1844 when Sam Houston stationed a company of volunteers there and brought the lawlessness to an end.. “There were no almost adult males in the area at the time who weren’t involved in the Reg-Mod Feud. Everyone chose up sides. There were still very bad feelings well into the late 1800s, I think, and not a lot of documents (verifying involvement). I know of the Richards’ involvement because of my grandmother’s stories, as well as knowing they were there at the time. No one could safely sit on the sidelines.”

I have been reading several historical novels and history books about the Republic of Texas and the Texas Mexican Revolution taking place when the first Charles Harrison Richards was a volunteer in Wm. Scurlocks’s company in 1836. I find myself imagining him riding along beside the characters experiencing the same hardships, etc. Also intrigued about the fact that he was killed in the streets of San Augustine according to the Autobiography of Phillip Wade Hampton Richards, and wanting to find out more I started looking again at the Texas Library and Archives website. The newly digitized claims, etc., are fascinating.

I found Charles Richards listed in the Texas State Archives Missing List2. There is a missing document written by Sam Houston to the Sec. of State, R. A. Irion on August 15, 1837 that directed Irion to have a “proclamation for the arrest of Richards and Humphries issued”. I have been trying to back track and discover why he was supposed to have been arrested. Also, could this have been another Richards?

Melinda Tillman, also a descendant of Charles Harrison Richards, said the CHR referred to in the documents I have found has to be the same one we are looking for because there weren’t any other adult Charles Richards around that part of Texas before 1840.

Then, there is this certification by Judge Benjamin C. Franklin in September, 1837, that a Randall James be paid for being a witness in the case of the Republic of Texas vs. Charles Richards and one Ezekiel George.

Republic of Texas
Harrisburg County
District Court
September Term(?) 1837(?)
I do hereby certify that Randall Jones has proved his attendance as a witness in the case of the Republic of Texas vs. Charles Richards and same vs. Ezekiel George for four days for which he is entitled to thirteen dollars seventy five cens,

Benjamin C. Franklin
Judg. 2nd Jud. Dist.
_____ _____ Clerk
_____ _____

But the most confusing image is one that is not very legible. It appears to be a list of monies to be charged against a soldier’s pension claim. The 2nd one on the first page is against one Charles Richards. The first 2 lines appear to read as follows:

Same (TX Republic) vs Charles Richards
“Indited Fall Term of 1837 for murder, and _____ by death - Fall Term of 1840.”
Clk _____ $28.75

He appears to be charged with murder! Is that really what this says?

The following document in an Order to Recover Costs of Injunction:

Order for the Sheriff of San Augustine County to execute a judgment in the case of Edmond Hyde and James Perkins versus James S. Richards, administrator for the Estate of Charles Richards. Signed by J. B. Johnson, District Court Clerk, and T. Payne, Deputy Sheriff,
February 17, 1841.

Front of folded document:

Then I suddenly found what I was looking for ~ that missing document written by Sam Houston to Sec. of State of the Republic of Texas, R. A. Irion. But it still does not say WHY Charles Richards and Humphries were wanted for arrest.


City of Houston

15th August 1837

The Secy of State,
Will be so kind as to cause two proclamations to be issued, for the apprehinsion of Richards and Humphries argruably to the information of the Attr. General of this District. Let a reward of $250 be offered for each.

Your Obt Servt & friend
Sam Houston

To Doct. R. A. Irion

Outside of folded document

I have not yet found where or if he was imprisoned, but there is a microform originally printed in Houston in 1837 at the Telegraph Office and written by the Texas President Sam Houston and stored in the Special Collections of The University of Texas at Arlington Library. It may be nothing more than the letter above, but the title of the Proclamation states "Proclamation offering rewards for the recapture of James Humphreys, charged with the murder of Captain Joseph Powell and Charles Richards, charged with the murder of a friendly Indian, Captain Toby."7 I will try to access this as soon as possible.

Upon learning Humphreys' first name, I searched again with Google Book Search and found his name and Charles Richards' name in Gone to Texas, by Kevin Ladd.8 On page 74, Mr. Ladd transcribes a news article from the Saturday, June 30, 1838, New Orleans Picayune.
"We learn from the Courier that James HUMPHREYS, who killed Capt. Jo. POWELL at Columbia, Texas, some time ago, was arrested on Wed. last by Capt. JONES of the Third Municipality. He is in the Calaboose, has confessed to the murder, & will be sent back to Texas."
And from Friday, May 26, 1837:
"An Indian was murdered a few miles from this place on 23rd by a man named RICHARDS from the Red Lands; the suspect has since been arrested and is waiting trial at Sept. term of court."9

1 John W. Middleton, "History of the Regulators and Moderators and the Shelby County War in 1841 and 1842, in the Republic of Texas,"
The Portal to Texas History, (Online: University of North Texas Libraries, Rare Book and Texana Collections, September 26, 2008) [originally published at Loving Publishing Company, Fort Worth, Texas: John W. Middleton, 1883],>, accessed April 24, 2009.

2 Texas State Library & Archives Commission, "Texas State Archives Missing List," Archives & Manuscripts Texas State Library and Archives Commission, (Online: Texas State Library & Archives Commission Web Site, February 26, 2008) [Original data published by TSLAC, 1991],, accessed January 20, 2008.

3 Texas State Library & Archives Commission, "Republic Claims: Claimant Randall Jones AU Unnumbered 01, Name Mentioned Charles Richards, Reel 54, Image 641, id 32702" jpeg image, (Online: Texas State Library & Archives Commission Web Site), <> accessed April 27, 2009.

4 Texas State Library & Archives Commission, "Republic Claims: Claimant E. H. Winfield AU No. 5760, Name Mentioned Charles Richards, Reel 117, Image 133, id 99567" jpeg image, (Online: Texas State Library & Archives Commission Web Site), <> accessed April 27, 2009.

5 TIDES Database, "Order to Recover Costs of Suit of Injunction: Document MC_145, Source: Millard's Crossing Historic Village" jpeg image, (Online: TIDES Database), <; accessed April 27, 2009.

6 TIDES Database, "SHH I:12 Sam Houston, President, City of Houston, August 15, 1837, letter to the Secretary of State, Doctor R. A. Irion, concerning apprehension of Richards and Humphries, $250 reward offered for each. A. M. Tompkins' name is also on envelope. 2pp. 10x8" jpeg image, (Online: TIDES Database), <; accessed April 27, 2009.

7 The University of Texas at Arlington Library, "Library Catalog," UTA Library (Online: UTA Library, 2009) [Originally printed in Houston at the Telegraph Office, 1837. Book located in UTA Special Collections, Floor 6: Microfilm (non-circulating) Call No. F 386 .T4 1980 reel 3 no.219] , <> accessed April 27, 2009.

8 Ladd, Kevin, "Gone to Texas Genealogical Abstracts from The Telegraph and Texas Register 1835 - 1841," Google Book Search, (Online: [Original published by Heritage Books, 1994], page 74, <>, accessed April 27, 2009.

9 Ladd, Kevin, "Gone to Texas Genealogical Abstracts from The Telegraph and Texas Register 1835 - 1841," Google Book Search, (Online: [Original published by Heritage Books, 1994], page 27, <>, accessed April 27, 2009.


Oh I enjoyed this story and your research! Isn't it so exciting when you find new information regarding a relative? Wonderful job, thank you for sharing!
Greta Koehl said…
Judith - Once again we have a major family history item in common - ancestors involved in and being tried for crimes in the Republic days! I also found accounting receipts listing my Brinlee ancestors as the accused in murder trials (as well as documents on payments owed them for services under General Tarrant!) on the Texas State Archives site. I look forward to hearing how your Texas research goes.
Cheryl, thanks so very much for reading this. I value your opinion. Yes, it is exciting to find new information on a family member you've been researching, even when the info found may not be to your liking!

Hey Greta! Yes, we genealogists have to stick together, don't we? If we keep looking, we're liable to find that one ancestor out there that is the very same person! I read your blog about the Brinlees with great interest. Thanks for reading mine.
Janice Tracy said…
Your post today is such a well-researched and wonderfully written one - fascinating information. Don't you just love it when your "digging for roots" pays off?
Thanks, Janice, for continuing to support my efforts in documenting my research. Yes, it is a great feeling when things "fit".
Cathy Renfro said…
Hi Judith,
I found your blog today and really enjoyed reading about your relative Charles H. Richards. I am researching my husband’s family, the David Renfro’s, who settled in San Augustine in the 1830s. David Kennedy Renfro was born there in 1840s and grew up in that area. He went off to fight in the Civil War with one of the Texas Regiments and then came back to Texas and married his wife, Aleif Tilman, in Shelby county. I would love to know if you have any more information about East Texas at this time.

I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks.
Anonymous said…
Judith, Found this one so interesting by virture that Papaw Strats land was in San Augustine. Also the Tillman family remained friends of my Busby Aunts years into my early childhood. I have a picture of one of my aunts and her best friend the Tillman girl.

About the murder, there must be more to the story. I knew Papaw Strat well, and know that if someone was killed there must have been more to the story. You should join HIstory detectives and work for
Robbin Bower said…

I finally found the our line connected to Charles Harrison Richards. Apparently he was Strats Grandfather. His father being William Richards of Crockett, Texas married Emma Phillips of Waco.Charles Harrison's wife was Catherine Burch born in Crockett, Texas. Glad to find this. Robbin
I just re-read your comment, Cathy, and remember corresponding with you. Sorry, I still do not have any further information on East Texas. Have you checked into the site Genealogy Wise? They have several different groups that are based on location. You may find something there.
I am glad you are finally connecting some of the dots with your Papaw Strat Richards. I assumed he was probably the 2nd Charles Harrison's son, and not my 3rd great-grandfather, Charles Harrison Richards. That should make us 4th cousins!

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