Guide to the Collection
This collection contains the papers of the David Richards family of Sherborn, Mass., 1855-1927, including the correspondence and personal papers of David Richards, his wife, Esther (Etta) Loring Richards, and their children Augustus and Esther Richards; financial papers of David Richards; Richards family legal papers; and the account book of John Loring.
David Jay Richards (1850- ca. 1927), was born in Steuben, New York to Benjamin and Ann Richards. He attended Wesleyan Academy in Wilbraham, Mass. from 1868 to 1871, and Harvard College from 1872 to 1876. After graduation he became a classics high school teacher at Maynard and Westfield Public High Schools from 1880 to 1882. In 1882 David started his first farm venture near the Nantahala River in Macon County, North Carolina. In 1888 he bought his farm in Sherborn, Massachusetts and lived there beginning in 1890. He also owned a farm in Gilmantown, New Hampshire. Besides his farming business, David also was involved in farm loans, working with his mother-in-law Hannah K. Loring’s “Loring Loan” business, mainly in the Dakotas, and in 1916 working independently in Oklahoma. David married Esther (Etta) Coffin Loring in 1878 and they had two children, Augustus Loring Richards (1879-1951) and Esther Loring Richards (1885-1956).
Esther Coffin Loring (1850-1921), known as Etta, was the daughter of John S. Loring (1820-1879) and Hannah K. Loring (d. 1898). She attended Wesleyan Academy in Wilbraham, Mass. From 1907 to 1908, and from approximately 1915 to 1918, Etta had mental and physical health problems. Etta resided at Ring’s Sanatorium in Arlington Heights. Mass. from December 1907 to January 1908 and at Adams Nervine in Jamaica Plain, Mass. from January to approximately June 1908. Etta married David Jay Richards in 1878 and they had two children, Augustus Loring Richards (1879-1951) and Esther Loring Richards (1885-1956).
Augustus Loring Richards (1879-1951), was the son of David Jay Richards (1850- ca. 1927) and Esther Coffin Loring (Etta) (1850-1921). He attended Boy’s Latin School from 1894 to 1897, Harvard College from 1899 to 1903, and Harvard Law School from 1903 to 1906. He worked at the law firm of Hughes, Rounds, and Shurman in New York City, New York. He lived in New York City and Greenwich, Connecticut, and in 1924 moved to a farm in Remsen, New York. In 1908 he married Lillian Coughlan Brown, and they had two children, Robert and Richard. Around 1922, Augustus separated from Lillian and lived with his children and his second wife Alice.
Esther Loring Richards (1885-1956), was born in Holliston, Mass. to David Jay Richards (1850- ca. 1927) and Esther (Etta) Coffin Loring (1850-1921). She graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1910 and was a student at the medical department at the University of Wisconsin Madison from 1910 to 1913. She received her M.D. in 1915 from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She then joined the psychiatry faculty of the School of Medicine and the staff of the Henry Phipps Psychiatric Clinic in Baltimore, Maryland. She also lectured at various universities and societies, and consulted for Butler Hospital in Rhode Island and the Training School at Vineland, New Jersey. Esther never married and died in 1956.
The David Richards family papers date from 1855 to 1927 and are divided into six series: correspondence, personal papers, David Richards financial papers, legal papers, printed material, and the John Loring account book.
The collection centers around David Richards, his wife Esther (Etta) Loring Richards, and their children Augustus Richard and Esther Richards. Correspondence among them includes courtship letters between David and Etta, discussion of family matters, and accounts of Augustus’ law practice and Esther’s employment as a psychiatrist at Henry Phipps Psychiatric Clinic. Esther writes in detail about her education at Mount Holyoke College, the University of Wisconsin Madison, and Johns Hopkins University, while Augustus writes about his time at Harvard College and Law School. The correspondence series also contains personal correspondence, including letters to and from extended family such as David’s brothers, courtship letters to Augustus, letters to and from old classmates and friends, and correspondence with doctors involved with Etta’s mental and physical health.
Personal papers are primarily related to education, especially David’s education at Wesleyan Academy and Harvard College, from which there are many essays. Also in this series are report cards and exam pages from Augustus’ and Esther’s schooling. Personal papers also include Etta’s instructions on crocheting lace, David’s pocket diaries, and his account of Etta’s mental health history. David’s financial records include household, business, educational, and medical receipts, correspondence about David’s farms in North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, and materials related to the farm loan business he conducted with his mother-in-law Hannah K. Loring, known as “Loring Loan.” David’s land transactions in Macon County, North Carolina are a frequent topic in the correspondence.
Legal papers include documents such as wills and mortgages, and records related to the trial(s) of Esther Richards vs. Edward W. Loring over Hannah K. Loring’s will. These records include correspondence, trial exhibits, trial notes and memos, and court documents. Printed material is primarily related to education at Wesleyan Academy, Wesleyan University, Harvard College, and Harvard Law School, including newspapers, exams, and pamphlets on school and extracurricular clubs.
The John S. Loring account book contains the accounting of the bark “Etta Loring” on its journeys to such ports as Yokohama, Cape Town, and Melbourne.
Detailed Description of the Collection
I. Correspondence, 1855-1927
The series consists of the correspondence of David Richards and his wife Esther Loring Richards (Etta) and their families, friends and associates. Topics include education, business, family issues, current events, farm life, Welsh ancestry, and Etta’s mental and physical health.
A. Family correspondence, 1871-1927
This subseries contains correspondence between David Richard, his wife Etta Richards, and their children Augustus Richards and Esther Richards. Correspondence from 1871 to 1878 consists of courtship letters between David and Etta, written primarily by David. During the majority of this time David was a student at Harvard College, and he encloses several of his exams. This correspondence concerns life at Harvard College, David’s professional aspirations, family issues, and David’s trip selling books in New Hampshire. David’s letters from 1878-1884 concern his employment as a teacher and his business travels in North Carolina.
Correspondence from 1899-1906 is to Augustus at Harvard College and Law School from the rest of the family, mainly from their farm in Sherborn, Massachusetts. Subsequent correspondence to and from Esther at Mount Holyoke College, the University of Wisconsin Madison, Johns Hopkins University and the Henry Phipps Psychiatric Clinic concerns her education, daily life, church attendance and roles as a professor, lecturer, consultant, researcher, and doctor. Correspondence in 1908 and 1916 to 1918 focuses on Etta’s mental and physical health and care, sometimes enclosing Esther’s correspondence with Etta’s doctors.
Augustus’s letters after graduation from Harvard Law School concern his father’s business matters, especially David’s North Carolina lands and dispute with the Ritter Lumber Company, and sometimes enclose correspondence with the principals of that case. Augustus also writes about his law work in the firm of Hughes, Rounds, and Shurman. Throughout the subseries, David writes to his family while on business trips to North Carolina, Oklahoma, and other locations. Other topics commonly found in the family correspondence include current events, family issues, farm life, and Welsh ancestry.
B. Personal correspondence, 1855-1925
This subseries contains the correspondence of the extended family, friends, and associates of David Richards, his wife Etta Richards, and their children Augustus Richards and Esther Richards.
The most frequent family correspondents are David’s brothers Jonathan, Owen, and Lewis, and their wives. Jonathan in particular is a heavy correspondent, and writes, sometimes with his wife Huldah, about his education at Wesleyan University and life as a pastor in Michigan. Other family correspondents include David and Etta’s mothers, Ann Richards and Hannah K. Loring, and their niece Anne Coleman. Extended family correspondence concerns professional, educational, and daily lives, business including Hannah K. Loring’s “Loring Loan” concern, and family issues such as lawsuits, disputes over money, and funding children’s education.
Correspondence with friends includes David’s correspondence with old classmates, especially Oliver R. Howe. Esther’s friend and co-worker at the Henry Phipps Psychiatric Clinic, Elizabeth B. Cross, also corresponds with David. David writes to a number of people in the course of his investigations on his Welsh ancestry, and writes to his old friend Margaret Williams about her legal concerns, involvement in the Sixty Acre Cemetery Association, and buying her farm. Etta corresponds with a number of friends, especially Mary Cutler and Matilda Bent. She also corresponds with people involved with the running of the Sherborn farm, on small business matters and the activities of their families. Augustus receives many courtship letters from Julia Neale Daniels, referred to in the letters as Dorothy, who attended Northfield Seminary. He later corresponds with old classmates. Esther receives letters thanking her for her lectures. All members of the family correspond with family lawyer John M. Batchelder about legal and business issues, Etta’s health, and family activities.
A large number of letters concern Etta’s mental and physical health. Correspondents on this topic include John M. Batchelder, extended family, Etta’s friends, and doctors A.J. Stevens, A. M. Ring, Fuller, and Cooke. Correspondence is particularly heavy around Etta’s stays at Ring’s Sanatorium in Arlington Heights, Mass. from December 1907 to January 1908 and at Adams Nervine in Jamaica Plain, Mass., supervised by Dr. Fuller, from January to approximately June 1908. She then stays in Boston until returning home in December 1908. Correspondence again focuses on Etta’s health from 1915 to 1918.
II. Personal papers, 1868-1917
This series includes the papers of David Richards, Etta Richards, and their children Augustus Richards and Esther Richards. These papers mostly relate to education, but also include materials on crocheting lace and David’s writings such as his account of the history of Etta’s mental health.
A. David Richards personal papers, 1868-1917
The personal papers of David Richards consist of school papers, diaries, and miscellaneous papers. School papers include passages copied from books, his essays from Wesleyan Academy and Harvard College, Harvard College paperwork, and letters to his graduating classes by him and others. Also present are David’s employment records as a classics high school teacher at Maynard and Westfield Public High Schools from 1880-1882. David’s diaries describe daily life as a student, including his exams and professional aspirations. David’s miscellaneous papers consist of his account of the history of Etta’s mental health and related papers, as well as David’s writings about Etta’s inheritance and family legal issues, genealogy, and his early memories.
B. Etta Richards personal papers, 1914
The personal papers of Etta Richards consist of materials related to crocheting lace.
C. Augustus Richards personal papers, 1894-1902
The personal papers of Augustus Richards consist of paperwork such as report cards from his time at Boy’s Latin School from 1894 to 1897 and at Harvard College and Law School from 1899 to 1903 and 1903 to 1906.
D. Esther Richards personal papers, 1911
The personal papers of Esther Richards consist of a medical exam page and Mount Holyoke paperwork.
E. Misc. papers, n.d.
The miscellaneous papers include notes and passages copied from books.
III. David Richards financial papers, 1878-1926
David Richards’ financial papers consist of receipts, farm records, and the records of David’s farm loan business with mother-in-law Hannah K. Loring, “Loring Loan.” The receipts are for household and farm daily expenses and financial transactions, and include one folder of educational receipts and one of Etta’s medical receipts. The farm records consist of correspondence concerning David’s farms in Macon County, North Carolina, Sherborn, Massachusetts, and Gilmantown, New Hampshire, as well as other financial correspondence. The Loring Loan subseries consists of correspondence and other materials related to David’s business with mother-in-law Hannah K. Loring which offered small loans for farmers, primarily in the Dakotas and in Iowa.
A. Receipts, 1878-1923
The receipts in this subseries are for household expenses, elder care, funerals, travel, farm supplies, business costs, banking, taxes, and other financial transactions. There is one folder that contains educational receipts and one that contains Etta’s medical receipts.
B. Farm records, 1879-1926
The farm records consist of correspondence concerning David’s farms in Macon County, North Carolina; Sherborn, Massachusetts; and Gilmantown, New Hampshire; as well as other financial correspondence. David negotiated extensively with the Addington family to buy roughly 6000 acres of timber land in Macon County, near the Nantahala River, starting in 1882. His correspondence concerns his plans for the land, such as making it into a demonstration dairy farm, and selling rights to use it, as in the case of W.D. Patterson, who wanted to prospect for corundum there. He received many offers to buy the land. Etta copied correspondence on George S. Powell’s extensive negotiations to buy it, with the mediation of lawyers Robertson and Benbow, and sent the copies to John M. Batchelder and Augustus asking for advice on the matter. Etta’s copies of this correspondence are filed by the letter’s original date, but a list of the correspondence she copied out is also included in this series. Other records relate to David’s legal dispute with one of the lumber companies that wanted to buy the land, the W.M. Ritter Lumber Company of Columbus, Ohio (previously Nantahala Lumber Company). The land was sold sometime between 1913 and 1916. David bought the Sherborn, Massachusetts farm in 1888 and began living there in 1890. Correspondence about the Wilson Farm in Gilmantown, New Hampshire is often with the farm manager J.W. Sanborn and mostly between 1905 and 1908. David corresponds on general farm business, including such topics as buying and selling livestock and equipment, selling milk, taxes, and asking for advice on difficulties such as frozen potato seed.
C. Loring Loan, 1884-1894
This subseries consists of the records of David’s farm loan business with Etta’s mother Hannah K. Loring, “Loring Loan.” The records include correspondence and other material like advertisements related to the business, which gave small loans to farmers, concentrating in the Dakotas and in Iowa. Correspondents include farmers, as well as cooperating banks, loan agents, and registers of deeds.
IV. Legal papers, 1874-1921
This series contains legal documents such as wills and mortgages, as well as the records relating to the trial(s) of Esther Richards vs. Edward W. Loring over Hannah K. Loring’s will.
A. Property and estate records, 1874-1921
This subseries includes documents relating to legal disputes over money, estate settlements, and land ownership; mortgages; and wills and related documents, including the wills of Etta’s father John Loring and David’s mother Ann Richards.
B. Trial records, 1888-1902
This subseries includes records of the trial(s) of Esther [Etta] Richards vs. Edward W. Loring, Etta’s brother, in which Etta claimed that a version of Hannah’s will had been destroyed without Hannah’s consent. The case was tried in 1898-1899 by the Probate Court of Middlesex County, Mass. which disallowed the version of the will. Etta tried to appeal the case to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, with unknown success. The dated records include versions of Hannah’s will, summons and other court documents, and correspondence and memos by lawyers, family, and Hannah’s nurses. The exhibits section consists of correspondence and memos that were labeled as exhibits for the trial, and are associated with a particular lawyer or witness. Notes and memos consist of undated trial notes and memos concerning testimonies, memories relevant to the trial, organizing the case against Edward Loring, and the payment of participants in the case.
Also within the trial records is a Bill of Complaint by Hannah K. Loring against David Richards and Etta Richards, in which she claims they misused their power of attorney and did not care for her in her infirmity. David and Etta’s response to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts is also present. These documents and related materials may have been connected to the trials concerning Hannah K. Loring’s will.
V. Printed material, 1869-1927
The bulk of printed material are educational papers from Wesleyan Academy, Wesleyan University, Harvard College, and Harvard Law School. These papers include school newspapers, programs of school and extracurricular events, exams, and pamphlets relating to regulations for extracurricular clubs and faculty. Other printed materials include programs and songs related to church services and other events, and printed advertisements and mass mailings.
VI. John Loring account book, 1870-1878
The account book of Capt. John S. Loring, father of Etta Richards, begins with household expenses, but the majority of it concerns the accounting of the bark “Etta Loring,” including its port charges, supplies, cargo, and accounting with its owners. The bark traveled to such ports as Yokohama, Melbourne, Cape Town, London, and New York.
David Richards family papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.
Materials Removed from the Collection
Crocheted lace and related materials of Etta Richards removed from the collection.