Guide to the Collection
|Creator:||Richards, David, 1850-ca.
|Title:||David Richards family
|Call Number:||Ms. N-2343
|Repository:||Massachusetts Historical Society
1154 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02215
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
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
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
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
Augustus Loring Richards' papers may also be found at the Division of Rare
and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
Esther L. Richards' papers may also be found at The Alan Mason Chesney
Medical Archives of The John Hopkins Medical Institutions.
The collection is organized into the following series:
|I. Correspondence, 1855-1927
|A. Family correspondence, 1871-1927
|B. Personal correspondence, 1855-1925
|II. Personal papers, 1868-1917
|A. David Richards, 1868-1917
|B. Etta Richards, 1914
|C. Augustus Richards, 1894-1902
|D. Esther Richards, 1911
|E. Misc., n.d.
|III. David Richards financial papers, 1878-1926
|A. Receipts, 1878-1923
|B. Farm records, 1879-1926
|C. Loring Loan, 1884-1894
|IV. Legal papers, 1874-1921
|A. Legal documents, 1874-1921
|B. Trial records, 1888-1902
|V. Printed material, 1869-1927
|VI. John Loring account book, 1870-1878
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,
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
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.
|Box 1||1871-Jul 1875
|Box 2||Aug 1875-1907
|Box 4||1913-Oct 1917
|Box 5||Nov 1917-1927
|B. Personal correspondence,
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
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.
|Box 9||Folders 1-26||1912-1925
|II. Personal papers,
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,
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.
|Box 9||Folders 27-42||School papers,
|Box 10||Folders 1-11||School papers,
|Box 10||Folder 12||Diaries,
|Box 10||Folders 13-14||Misc.,
|Box 10||Folder 15||B. Etta Richards personal papers,
The personal papers of Etta Richards consist of materials related to
|Box 10||Folders 16-17||C. Augustus Richards personal papers,
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.
|Box 10||Folder 18||D. Esther Richards personal papers,
The personal papers of Esther Richards consist of a medical exam page and
Mount Holyoke paperwork.
|Box 10||Folder 19||E. Misc. papers,
The miscellaneous papers include notes and passages copied from books.
|III. David Richards financial papers,
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.
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.
|Box 10||Folders 20-32||General receipts,1878-1923
|Box 10||Folder 33||School receipts,
|Box 10||Folder 34||Medical receipts,
|B. Farm records,
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.
|Box 10||Folders 35-39||1879-1887
|Box 12||Folders 1-11||C. Loring Loan,
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,
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.
|Box 12||Folders 12-15||A. Property and estate records,
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
|B. Trial records,
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.
|Box 12||Folders 16-24||Court documents and correspondence,
|Box 12||Folders 25-28||Exhibits,
|Box 12||Folders 29-41||Notes and memos,
|Box 13||Folders 1-19||V. Printed material,
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.
|Box 13||Folder 20||VI. John Loring account book,
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
the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers
desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should
search the catalog using these headings.
|Loring, Hannah K., d. 1898.
|Loring, John S., 1820-1879.
|Richards, Augustus L. (Augustus Loring),
|Richards, David Jay, 1850- ca. 1927.
|Richards, Esther Coffin Loring,
|Richards, Esther Loring, b.1885.
|Etta Loring (Bark).
|Harvard Law School--Students.
|Henry Phipps Psychiatric Clinic (Baltimore,
|Johns Hopkins University--Students.
|Mount Holyoke College--Students.
|University of Wisconsin--Students.
|Family history, 1850-1899.
|Family history, 1900-1949.
|Farm management--North Carolina--Macon
Crocheted lace and related materials of Etta Richards removed from the