Documentary History of American Water-works

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Biography Joseph Richardson

Joseph Richardson

Joseph Richardson, from America's Successful Men of Affairs: The city of New York (1895) Page 539

Joseph Richardson was born in England in September 7, 1814. His family came to America while he was very young, and he was apprenticed as a mason when was ten and went on to amass a large fortune by building and investing in railroads and other enterprises.  It is said that he held stock in nearly all the railroads of this country and that he was one of the very few men who could enter the office of any railroad president without being questioned at the door.

Richardson built the Bridgeport water works in 1853 and was the first president of the Bridgeport Hydraulic Company in 1857.  He remained a stockholder in that company until his death.  Richardson supervised the construction of the water works in Laramie, Wyoming while he was a director of the Union Pacific Rail Road.  In 1878 he became a heavy investor in the Houston Water Works Company and became its first president.  He remained a director until his death on June 5, 1897 in New York City.

Before his death, Richardson gave a large number of stocks and bonds to his son George, his daughter Dellaripha, and his niece Emily Emmett, who was also elected a director of the Houston Water Works Company several times.  George, who was superintendent of the Bridgeport Hydraulic Company from 1869 until his death in 1898, was involved in a fight over his father's estate, which was complicated by his own death in Connecticut.

Richardson's closest business and personal associate was Marcus C. Hawley of Newtown, Connecticut, who owned many of the same stocks as Richardson and also served as a director of several companies.  Hawley was also the agent for selling Houston Water Works Company bonds in 1895.

Other acquaintances of Richardson such as railroad president Alexander C. Hutchinson also held stocks and bonds in the Houston Water Works Company.

Joseph Richardson's Water Works Experience
City State Years Projects
Bridgeport CT 1853-1897 Investor, contractor and president; his son George was superintendent from 1869 to 1898.
Laramie WY 1875 Director of Union Pacific Railroad and supervised construction.
Houston TX 1878-1897 Investor, first president.

1853 "Notice," Tri-Weekly Standard (Bridgeport, Connecticut), September 28, 1853, Page 2.
At a meeting of the Bridgeport Water Company, the following Directors were elected:  P. M. Thorp; Jas. H. Jennings; Henry W. Chatfield; Nathaniel Green; Harvey W. Higby; Lemuel Coleman; Ira Gregory; J. W. Thaxter; Joseph Richardson.

1868 American Water Meter Company incorporated January 28, 1868 by Henry De Casse, Robert Wescott, Joseph Richardson, Royal M. Bassett, William H. Brown, Ingham Coryell, and Silas B. Dutcher have united and formed a company for the manufacturing and sale of water meter and such other articles as they may deem expedient and the purchase and sale of such patents as they may deem necessary in carrying on their business.  Capital stock to be one million dollars divided into ten thousand shares of one hundred dollars each.

1873 Joseph Richardson elected director of Union Pacific Railroad, March 5, 1873 (see 1889 reference)

1879 The City Record (New York City, New York) 7(1,986):1,959 (December 17, 1879)
Approval of Sureties.  Warren Foundry and Machine Co., Phillipsburg, N.J., Principals.  Joseph Richardson, 110 East Houston Street, Surety

1881 History of Fairfield County, Connecticut : with illustrations and biographical sketches of its prominent men and pioneers
Pages 128-129:  The present Bridgeport Steamboat Company is the successor of the Housatonic Transportation Company, and was incorporated in December, 1865, under the general joint-stock law, but in May, 1866, was granted a special charter. The original capital was two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, but the assets of the company now amount to four hundred thousand dollars. The boats owned by the company are three, viz., the "Bridgeport," 1062 tons, the "Laura," 1098 tons, and the propeller "Vulcan," 250 tons.  Large quantities of freight are transported, and the company appears to be doing a good business, though the fare to New York is only thirty-five cents, or fifty cents for the round trip. In September, 1879, the fast sailing steamer "Rosedale," owned by A. M. C. Smith, of New York, was put upon this route as an opposition boat, and has received a good share of the public patronage.
The present officers of the Bridgeport Steamboat Company are as follows: E. F. Bishop, President; Sydney Bishop, Vice-President; William Tomlin, Secretary; S. Bishop, E. F. Bishop, S. W. Baldwin, Samuel Wilmot, J. Richardson, Directors.

1889 "A Bridgeport Man Injured," Hartford Courant, October 17, 1889, Page 6.
Joseph Richardson of Bridgeport fell while crossing Broadway in New York on Tuesday and broke his hip.  He was taken to his New York residence and his wife was sent for. Mr. Richardson was formerly president of the Bridgeport Hydraulic Company. He has been associated with Jay Gould In the building of some of the big western railroads, and is several times a millionaire. He was president of the Hanninal & St Jo Railroad, is a director of the Mexican Central, and recently spent a long time in Mexico with Mrs. Richardson. He has been a big builder, and holds large investments in real estate. He has an office in lower Broadway. Mr. Richardson is 76 years old.

1889 Official Register of Directors and Officers of the Union Pacific Railroad Company and the Union Pacific Railway Company, 1863-1889
Page 8:  Directors elected March 5, 1873.  Joseph Richardson

1892 American millionaires : the Tribune's list of persons reputed to worth a million or more. Lines of business in which the fortunes were made
Page 77:  Joseph Richardson (brother of Captain Benjamin Richardson). - Contracting and building.  Builder and principal owner of the Bridgeport Water Works.  Formerly President of the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad.  Largely interested in railroads in Mexico and the Mexican Telegraph Company.

1895 "Sues for Dower Rights," The New York Times, March 28, 1895, Pages 1, 8. | part 2 |
Estate of Capt. Benjamin Richardson, brother of Joseph Richardson.
Mrs. Emma J. Richardson, who, with Mr. Washburn, now controls the estate, is the wife of Joseph Richardson, a brother of Capt. Richardson.  The two brothers were always conspicuous figure in their particular ways.  Joseph is the possessor of a fortune estimated at $30,000,000.  He is one of the principal owners of the South Brooklyn Railroad and Terminal Company, of the Mexican Central Railroad Company, and of several Southern railroad companies, and controls water works properties all over the country.

1895 America's Successful Men of Affairs: The city of New York, by Henry Hall
Pages 538-540:  Joseph Richardson may truthfully be said to have been the architect of his own fortunes to an extent rarely achieved by those to whom that credit is accorded. Born in England, Sept. 7, 1814, he came to this country at a very early age and when only ten years old was apprenticed to a mason in Albany, N. Y. While yet a young man, he established himself in business as a master builder; and, although expanding interests, attendant upon enlarged capital and liberal investment in various directions, have necessarily diverted his attention in some degree, he yet regards as his serious occupation that in which he laid the foundation of his fortune. A builder he has been for more than half a century and a builder he intends to be while he lives. Practically all of New York, as it is to-day, has grown up under his observation. Wall street, for instance, he has seen rebuilt three times, with the exception of the United States Treasury building and Custom House, and the latter is the second edifice he has seen on that ground. In promoting these changes, he has done much important work.
But his building operations have not been confined to this city. In 1852-53, he erected the water works at Bridgeport, Conn., the third in this country, the first and second having been respectively in Philadelphia and New York. Of all those associated with him in the corporation, which built the Bridgeport works, he is the only one now living.
All new enterprises promising material advancement in the progress of civilization have found in Mr. Richardson earnest sympathy and liberal aid. His money helped the first trans-Atlantic steamship, the Great Western, when that enterprise was looked upon as so chimerical that means had to be sought on both sides of the ocean to defray fhe cost. He also invested liberally with Cyrus W. Field to aid the laying of the first Atlantic cable. The first elevated railroad in New York, the "one-legged" structure on Greenwich street from the Battery to Cortlandt street, the small and then much ridiculed beginning from which our present magnificent elevated railroad system has developed, was partly due to Mr. Richardson's prescient faith in its future and his generous backing of the enterprise.
Thirty years ago, he established a line of steamboats between New York and Bridgeport, Conn., which he yet controls, and which, notwithstanding the sharp railroad rivalry it encounters, he has made profitable through keeping it fully up to all the requirements of modern traffic.
Mr. Richardson was a liberal investor in the Credit Mobilier, which supplied the means for building the Union Pacific Railroad, and not only aided that gigantic national enterprise in this manner, but also gave for its furtherance the not less important service of building at Laramie City, on the summit of the Rocky Mountains, the mill in which a portion of the rails for the road were rolled. It was the first rolling mill west of the Missouri river. The water works at Laramie City are another monument to his enterprise, he having been their originator and builder. He also built the water works at Houston, Texas.
Vigorous in mind and body, at an age specified by the Psalmist as the limit of active human life, Mr. Richardson is an excellent demonstration of the preservative effect of a well regulated and well occupied life. He has been twice married and is deservedly cited by those who know him best as a model of conjugal fidelity. In various good ways, Mr. Richardson may be deemed an exceptional man, but in none more so, perhaps, than in his ability to affirm, as he does, that if he had his life to live over again, with all his experience consciously retained, he would not wish to live otherwise than he has lived.

1896 "Millions in Water Stock," Water and Gas Review 7(6):16 (December, 1896)

1897 Joseph C. Richardson 1814-1897 grave, first president of the Houston Water Works Company

1897 "Joseph Richardson," The Houston Daily Post, June 11, 1897, Page 10.
One of the largest stockholders of the Houston Waterworks Company dies in New York. His eccentric character.
It is said that Mr. Richardson held stock in nearly all the railroads of this country.  He was said to be one of the very few men who could enter the office of any railroad president without being questioned at the door.

1897 "Strange Heirs of Joseph Richardson," The World (New York, New York), June 13, 1897, Page 31.
Mr. Richardson made his first great stride in wealth when he built and gained a controlling interest in the water-works at Bridgeport, Conn. His son, Edward, is now superintendent of them. He afterwards became interested heavily in waterworks in many cities, and owned nearly the entire stock of tho Houston (Tex.) water-works at the time of his death.

1897 "To Pipe Water from Adirondack Lakes," Municipal Engineering 13(4):238 (October 1897)

1897 "Lost in Mystery," The Houston Post, October 26, 1897, Page 9.
Witnesses to the Richardson Will Tell of the Wealth Missing.

1898 "The Late Joseph Richardson," by Marcus C. Hawley, Newtown Bee (Newtown, Connecticut), January 14, 1898, Page 2.
He turned his attention to water works, and built among others the Bridgeport Water Works, at Bridgeport, Conn., and also the Houston Water Works, at Houston, Texas.

1898 "Joseph Richardson's Stock," The New York Times, January 19, 1898, Page 3.
$162,000 of Houston Water Works bonds.

1898 "Della's Treasure Vault," The Sun (New York, New York), February 20, 1898, Page 7.
Hiding place in her Houston street house emptied by the sheriff.
108 Houston Water Works bonds, $104,761.

1898 "Suits Against Miss Emmett," The Sun (New York, New York), February 24, 1898, Page 7.
Administrator Butler Claims That She Has Richardson Estate's Securities. J. Jaffred Butler, temporary administrator of the estate of Joseph Richardson, began an action in the Supreme Court yesterday to recover a lot of securities alleged to belong to the estate from Miss Emily Emmett, cousin of Miss Dellarifa Richardson, in whose house she lives. It has been shown that Richardson held some securities in the name of Miss Emmett. The securities sued for are 1,800 shares of Manhattan Elevated, 1,200 shares of Western Union Telegraph, 4,000 shares of the Bridgeport Hydraulic Company, and 260 shares of the Houston Water Works Company.

1898 "George Richardson Dead," Boston Globe, December 12, 1898, Page 7.
Superintendent of the Bridgeport hydraulic company.  Aged 52.

1899 George B. Post, Jr., and others v. Emily Emmett, Respondent, 48 N.Y.S. 129, May 1, 1899, New York Appellate Division

1899 Commemorative Biographical Record of Fairfield County, Connecticut: Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, and of Many of the Early Settled Families
Pages 808-809:  George Richardson

1900 In the Matter of the Probate of a Paper Propounded as the Last Will and Testament of Joseph Richardson, deceased.

1901 Emma J. Richardson and Benjamin Nicoll v. Emily Emmett, Brief for court of Appeals

1902 Richardson v. Emmett, 63 N.E. 440, 170 N.Y. 412, April 8, 1902, New York Court of Appeals

1902 "Settlement of Suits in Richardson Estate," The New York Times, August 1, 1902, Page 5.

1902 Alexander C. Hutchinson (1832-1902) grave.  Stock and bond holder in the Houston Water Works Company, General Manager of the Southern Pacific Railroad and president of the Morgan Railroad and Steamship Company

1903 "The Hutchinson Inventory Filed," Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), January 3, 1903, Page 8.
And foots up close to a million dollars.
A. C. Hutchinson
Thirty-seven shares Houston Water Company, $3,700.
Fourteen Houston Water Works Company bonds, $14,000

1914 Herringshaw's National Library of American Biography: Contains Thirty-five Thousand Biographies of the Acknowledged Leaders of Life and Thought of the United States; Illustrated with Three Thousand Vignette Portraits, Volume V, by Thomas William Herringshaw
Page 5:  Richardson, Joseph, designer, architect, was born Sept. 7, 1814 in England.  Thirty years ago he established a line of steam-boats between New York and Bridgeport, Conn.  The water works at Laramie City are other monument to his enterprise, he having been their originator and builder.  He also built the waterworks at Houston, Texas.

1924 "Hawley, Marcus Clinton," Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography 10:150-152 (with portrait)

The Lost 1882 "Spite House" -- No. 1218 Lexington Avenue, built by Joseph Richardson

2020 Morris A. Pierce