William A. Richards

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William Alford Richards
4th Governor of Wyoming
In office
January 7, 1895 – January 2, 1899
Preceded by John Eugene Osborne
Succeeded by DeForest Richards
Personal details
Born March 9, 1849
Hazel Green, Wisconsin
Died July 25, 1912 (aged 63)
Political party Republican

William Alford Richards (March 9, 1849 – July 25, 1912) was an American surveyor, rancher and politician. He was the fourth Governor of Wyoming from January 7, 1895 until January 2, 1899.


Richards was born in Hazel Green, in Grant County, Wisconsin, and educated there and in Galena, Illinois. During the Civil War he served as an ambulance driver for the Army of the Potomac.[1]


As a young man Richards worked on surveying missions, and first came to Wyoming in 1873 when his brother Alonzo V. Richards hired him as his general assistant while surveying the Western regions of Wyoming Territory.

William left Alonzo's party in late 1874, by which time the party had reached the North-Western corner of Wyoming Territory. He moved instead to California, where he married Harriet Alice Hunt. The couple had three daughters, Eleanor Alice, Ruth Louise, and Edna Maude.[2] In 1884 he returned to Wyoming, homesteading a ranch in Big Horn County. In 1886 he was elected county commissioner of Johnson County, and in 1889 President Harrison appointed him Surveyor General for Wyoming.

In 1894, Richards ran for Governor on the Republican ticket. He defeated William H. Holliday and Lewis C. Tidball, becoming the state's third elected governor. He served as Governor from 1895 to 1899.[3] During that time he dealt with economic recession resulting from the Panic of 1893. At the conclusion of his term he was replaced by DeForest Richards (no relation), from the same party, and was appointed Assistant Commissioner of the General Land Office by President McKinley. In 1903 he was promoted to Commissioner, a position he held until 1907. During his tenure in the land office, he opened the Apache, Comanche, and Wichita Indian Reservations in Oklahoma to settlement.[4]

In 1908 Richards became the first Commissioner for Taxation for the state of Wyoming. This job lasted until 1912, when he traveled to Melbourne, Australia as a delegate for the U.S. Committee on Irrigation.


Richards died of a heart attack soon afterwards, and is interred at Lakeview Cemetery, in Cheyenne, Laramie County, Wyoming.[5]


  1. ^ "William A. Richards". National Governors Association. Retrieved 19 October 2012. 
  2. ^ "William A. Richards". Find A Grave. Retrieved 19 October 2012. 
  3. ^ "William A. Richards". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 19 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "William A. Richards". National Governors Association. Retrieved 19 October 2012. 
  5. ^ "William A. Richards". Find A Grave. Retrieved 19 October 2012. 

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