Sunday, October 30, 2016

Capt. Joseph Henry Rickards

One of the most interesting ancestors I have researched thus far is Joseph Henry Rickards; Mark's 2x great grandfather. Ever since I started researching the Rickards family, his life has been the one I have spent the most time trying to piece together. Thanks to the help of other family members, I have learned a great deal and have even acquired photos. My research is by all means, not complete. I know as time goes on, I will add more information. Click the images to enlarge.


Joseph Henry Rickards was born April 5, 1835 in Sprigg, Adams County, Ohio. He was the third child born to Henry K. Rickards and Margaret Josephine Neel. He would end up having a total of nine full siblings (not all survived until adulthood). His mom passed away in 1853 and his father remarried to a Martha Jane Lockwood and they went on to have three more children. He spent most of his life in Sprigg, Ohio helping his dad and brother farming. I have a letter that was sent to Norman Rickards from his mom, Elizabeth Theresa Rickards, that includes information about Joseph. With that, stories and records, I have been able to piece together facts about his life. Here is the first page of the letter. The first four paragraphs mention the life of Joseph and his family.

1840 Census

1850 Census

After the 1850 Census, The 1860 Census that puts him in Sonora, Atchinson County, Missouri. His profession is listed as a Sawyer; someone who operates a saw or works at a sawmill. I don't know why he moved to Missouri from Ohio or why he moved to this particular location.

Soon after, the Civil War broke out. Joseph was then mustered into the military March 13, 1862 in Rockport, Missouri as a Captain in the 5th Regiment Calvary SM Volunteers, Company C. He served until June 22, 1863. Obviously, that wasn't the end of the Civil War. He mustered in again on September 28, 1863 as a 2nd Lieutenant; October 23, 1863 as a 1st Lieutenant; and again on February 25, 1864 as a Captain. 

Before he was mustered in the last time, he married his first wife, Eliza Jane Barkley (No known picture available) on November 18, 1863 in Liberty, Clay County, Missouri. There has been some discussion about Eliza, trying to trace her back. Their marriage record has her last name being Graham, but we have documents also listing her being the sister of Amelia Jones nee Barkley. Upon further inspection of one of the proofs we have for their marriage, it does indeed list Eliza as "Mrs.", so we have come to the conclusion she was married to someone with the last name of Graham before she married Joseph. We have yet to find any proof of that marriage or to locate her first husband. We do have her living with the Barkley family when she was younger. 




I do have copies of paperwork that talk about what they did during the Civil War. The battles they fought, locations they were at, casualty lists, his roll call, etc. Joseph spent some time in the hospital due to some medical issues
. On March 29, 1865, Joseph resigned from the military because of what they call Rheumatism. I believe he gotten infections in his kidneys. He was in pain for the rest of his life. He retired a Captain.


In 1866, Joseph was elected to be the Sheriff of Liberty, Missouri. His brother-in-law James M. Jones was Sheriff before him. After only being Sheriff for about a month, one of the most exciting things took place in Liberty, Missouri. Jesse James and his gang allegedly robbed the Clay County Savings and Loan Association in broad daylight, resulting in the theft of about $60,000 and one lost life. We were able to visit the bank on our trip to Liberty in 2014. Joseph's photo is in the museum itself. I also bought a copy of the reward poster that had hand written notes from Joseph. He served as sheriff until 1868.

By the end of the year things would pick up. On December 14, 1866, Eliza gave birth to their first child, Maggie Jones Rickards. His pride and joy. Sadly though, things would get worse. On April 19, 1867, his wife Eliza passed away in the home her sister and brother-in-law, where they were staying. The cause of death is unknown at this time. Below is a copy out of the Liberty Tribune transcription book of articles.
Poor Maggie was only four months old, so Eliza's sister, Amelia Jones, took her in and raised her as her own. Unfortunately, tragedy would strike again. At the age of almost 3 years, she stepped on a rusted nail and got blood poisoning. Dr. Wallace kept record of this event in his diary.

Portraits of Maggie

A little less than a month after his daughter's passing, on December 15, 1869, he married Sarah Ellen Miller in Kansas City, Missouri. We have traced Sarah's family back to the Barkley family, so it looks like Eliza and Sarah were cousins.

According to the 1870 Census, they had a few of Eliza's siblings living with them for a time. They had three children of their own over the next couple of years: Paul Jones, born November 8, 1871; Mary Amelia, born March 12, 1873; and Francis Henry, born August 3, 1874.

1922 - Sarah Rickards, her children and grand children

From the research that has been done, it appears they bought a farm in Illinois and planned to live out there. Sadly this dream would not come to pass. The injuries and the pain Joseph had since the Civil War would finally take their toll on him. On May 12, 1875, Joseph passed away in Anna, Illinois in an insane asylum. The pain he was in drove him mad. It must have taken him down fast, as he passed away without having a will. Everything had to go to the Probate Court. It would take years before things would finally be settled. During that time, Sarah applied for a Pension from the government since Joseph died from wounds he acquired from the Civil War. She had to submit tons of paperwork and proof to show this death was caused by the war.  It took an act of congress, but she was finally awarded the pension. I have copies of his full probate file. It is a couple hundred pages long. It includes all his inventory, land, debts, credits, etc.

The Liberty Tribune also posted a Tribute of Respect from the Masonic lodge he was a member of:
Tribute of Respect. At a called meeting of Liberty Lodge No. 31 A.F. and A.M., held at Masonic Hall May 16th, 1875, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted: Whereas, It has pleased Almghty God to remove from our midst our worthy Brother Joseph H. Rickards, late a member of Liberty Lodge No. 31 A.F. and A.M., Liberty Chapter No. 3, and Liberty Commandery No. 6. Whereas, we are reminded by this affliction that life is short and that at some time we shall all rest from our labors here and pass to that undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returneth. Resolved, That while we deplore the Loss of our departed brother we tender our heartfelt sympathies and condolence to his bereaved wife and children, recommending them to the care and protection to “Him who doeth all things well.” Resolved, That the members of this Lodge wear the usual badge of mourning for thirty days as a token of our respect for our deceased Brother, and that the papers of this city be requested to publish the above resolutions and that a copy of the above be furnished to the family. J.H. Lloyd, J.J. Armstrong, Peter B. Grant, Committee.


Captain Joseph Henry Rickards is now buried in Fairview Cemetery in Liberty, Missouri with his first wife, and his first child. Also buried right behind them are their close friends and relatives, James M. Jones and Amelia Jones. They were very close and went through a lot together. Even Joseph's children are named after them.
My header photo on this blog is all their headstones. Mark has always been around while I've done my research and I've always shared with him everything I've discovered. Yet he told me, at this very moment, all my research finally felt real to him. Before it was just names, papers, and pictures. Now, they are real people to him. His relatives.

Captain Joseph Henry Rickards


Sources and Credits:
  • These are just some of the sources I have to back up this information. If you are interested in having copies of the sources, please don't hesitate to contact me. Repositories include but not limited to, St. Louis County Headquarters Library, Clay County Archives, Ancestry, Find a Grave, Missouri Digital Heritage, Fold3 and others.
  • Not all of the research and photos are mine. A lot of it has come from other family members including but not limited to: Bob Richardson, Joyce Newcomb, Jonathan Anschutz, Elizabeth Theresa Rickards, Mary Amelia Louis, Norman Rickards, Paul Rickards, Sara Davis Poston, Mary Richardson, Lilly Rickards and others. I would like to thank each and every one of your for sharing what you have with me.