RICHMOND, Is a thriving, industrious and respectable city, situated on the Indiana Central Railway, on the east side of the East Fork of Whitewater, in Wayne county, about 4 miles from the State line. It was first called Smithville, after the original proprietor; but the name not giving general satisfaction, was afterwards changed to Richmond. In 1800 Indiana Territory did not contain more than 5,000 inhabitants, and consisted of but three counties, namely, Knox, Wayne and St. Clair. Knox county covered most of our present State of Indiana.
Wayne county included the principal part of Michigan, and St. Clair county embraced the present State of Illinois. As the population of the Territory increased, the limits of the several counties were contracted, and other counties formed by the Legislature, which organized in Wayne county in 1810. The first court held in this county was on the 25th of February, 1811, at the house of Richard Rue, three miles from Richmond. The Commissioners were then appointed and ordered to meet and locate the county seat.
They determined the permanent seat of justice should be on the donation of Samuel Woods, of 65 acres, township 13, 3d range, with a small reserve. The Court, after confirming the report, ordered that the town of Salisbury, the first town laid out in Wayne county, should be the county seat. But in 1816 the Legislature ordered that the seat of justice should be moved to its present locality, which is Centreville, 6 miles west of Richmond. In 1815 it constituted one of the thirteen counties into which Indiana was then divided. Its population at that time was 6,290. Five other counties exceeded it in the number of their inhabitants. The whole population of Indiana Territory in 1815 did not reach 70,000.
Richmond has the reputation of beingone of the healthiest places in the State, is in a fine neighborhood, in one of the best counties in the State, environed by rich lands, having in abundance the best water the State affords, the air salubrious, and its elevated situation commands extensive and beautiful prospects.
Richmond is noted for its many manufactures, having many good natural advantages over a great many other points in the several streams in the vicinity of the city, affording abundant hydraulic power sufficient for the heaviest kinds of machinery. Not only does the main stream at this place afford several mill privileges, but the three branches just north of the city called the East, West and Middleforks, furnish each excellent water power.
Richmond is lighted with gas on all the principal streets. It has now in its vicinity twenty-two flouring mills and twenty four saw mills, one oil mill, two paper mills, and a number of woolen factories. It has two large brick houses, several stories high, devoted to boarding school purposes; the larger one is owned by the orthodox Friends, and the other is private property; both are within a mile and a half of Richmond, the one west and the other south of the city. It has, also, good public schools, several extensive nurseries and horticultural establishments, two sash, door and blind manufactories and planing mills, a cutlery manufactory, one soap and candle factory, one brewery, three foundries, two or three coal yards and machine shods, manufacturers of agricultural implements, three carriage manufacturers, wagon shops, etc., etc.
Among the public buildings there is erected on Fifth street a district school house seventy-one feet long by sixty-one feet wide and forty feet in height, costing about $14,000, erected in 1854. The Starr Hall, owned by James M. Starr, is ninety five feet long, forty-six feet wide and three stories high, built at an expense of $10,000. The public square consists of one acre of ground, enclosed and partly shaded with trees; it is the gift of John Smith, of Richmond. The city has three fire, hook and ladder companies, three banks, namely, “Branch of Indiana State Bank,” the “Citizens’ Bank,” and the “People’s Bank.”
The amount of personal property in Richmond in 1857 was $1,152,234; the amount of real estnte, $1,528,820 ; value of additional improvements, $253,440; amount of manufactured articles, $906,5S1; total, $3,841,025. It also contains fourteen dry goods stores, four hardware stores, twenty-five groceries, four harness and saddle shops, two hat and cap stores, three furniture stores, two cabinet shops, twelve blacksmith shops, one crockery store, five jewelry stores, boot and shoe stores, six millinery shops, two marble halls, one tannery, two pork packing establishments, five bakeries, one gunsmith, five newspapers, the Palladium, the Broad Axe, the Jeffersonian, the Vanguard, and the Lilly.
The first settlers opened a road in the fall of 1806, to the vicinity where Paris (Preble county, Ohio) now stands. This was the beginning of the route to Cincinnati; in the course of the summer 1807, however, the pioneers established a nearer route, running to Eaton, on Wayne’s Trace, which led to Hamilton. It was considered then a great advance in her intercourse with the world, when in 1847, ’48, a four and six horse omnibus connected the town with Cincinnati. In 1824, Richmond contained 453 inhabitants, and Cincinnati was the chief market; the wagon was loaded up with the produce of the country”linsey-woolsey, tow-linen, flax-linen, beeswax, beans, ginseng, feathers, rags, lard, sugar, butter, hogs, flour, etc., and from two to three days were spent in getting to the city, and as many in returning, which often caused the merchant to curtail his sales for want of goods, while the ardent-looked-for wagon would sometimes not arrive for three weeks.
Still Richmond continued slowly to improve, and in 1826, its population was 648; in the year 1827, it reached 716, and in 1828, it numbered 824. Richmond contains extensive manufactories of broad cloths, blankets, satinetts, cotton, etc. etc., and she has every commercial advantage enjoyed by any other city in the state, having the advantages of the several lines of railroads passing through and in addition, having good turnpike roads running in all feasible directions through the country in every conceivable point of the compass, giving a ready access to a large scope of the country, and facilitating the ingress of a large travel and trade to the city.
The total number of votes polled in Wayne county at the last Presidential election in 1856, were 5,756, Wayne township voting 1,681. An entire system of grading, draining and paving, was commenced in 1848, on Front street, and has been prosecuted annually to the present time, giving to this town a more city-like appearance and conducing to the healthiness of the place. This place contains ten churches, one Methodist, two German Lutherans, two Friends, one Presbyterian, one Catholic, one Episcopal, one American Lutheran, and one Secedar church. The churches are all neat and comfortable. It also has three first class hotels.