The Story of Ray Lot and Verna Richardson
by Acel Bernard Richardson
My parents were born in the Mormon Colonies in Mexico. My father Ray Lot Richardson was born in the northernmost Colony, called Colonia Dias, on the 6th of August 1896. Mother, Verna Nelson, was born in a little settlement, called Colonia Garcia on October 12, 1898. While she was still small the family moved to Colonia Chuichupa. Her Father, James Mark Nelson, died and was buried there.
In 1912, the Federal Government informed the colonists that they could not guarantee them protection from the revolutionary bands that roamed the country and recommended that they leave and go to the United States. The people in Colonia Dias were only 15 miles from the International Border. So they loaded their wagon and headed for the U. S. Border. Several Homesteaded just inside the Border among whom was my grandfather Charles Edmund Richardson. Others went out to Hatchita and lived in a tent city. The other Colonies went by train to El Paso, Texas. Many tales are told of their suffering and hardships. Eventually both families ended up in Thatcher, Arizona.
Both parents attended the Old Gila Academy. This is where they first met. Father saw in her the Girl he wished to marry but she loved another and was slow to be won over by this handsome redheaded, athletic, young man. Daddy persisted, courting her in his stripped down Model T Ford and eventually won her consent to marry him.
Grandfather Edmund bought a farm in Duncan, Arizona and sent a Son and Daughter with their Companions to run it. They were Mother and Daddy, and Orson and Edna Richins. It is the first farm on the right after crossing the railroad going into Duncan from Franklin. There is large adobe house that still stands and still in use where these two couples lived. My older brother Chad Ray was born here, March 13, 1920. He died of pneumonia, the 7 Jun 1921. I was born Dec. 20, 1921 here also.
The Railroad Wash comes down by Franklin and drains a very large area. Sometimes it runs very big. In those days it followed the West side of the railroad until it was just opposite the farm. The railroad had put in a dike, that diverted the water on to the farm. They had not provided an outlet to the river, which was later done, a few hundred yards north from the Franklin Store. The crops were ready to harvest, but the flood wiped out everything. The railroad was sued but the Mormons were hated and the Railroad won so the two families were wiped out. The folks moved to Miami, Arizona, where Daddy worked in the Copper Mine. Here on Oct 27, 1925 Erwin and Edwin were born, their first set of twins. I called them my team.
A short time after the twins were born we moved to the 24 Circle Ranch, which was on the South side of the Gila River, just above the river bridge, where the road comes down off the Lordsburg flat into the Virden Valley. We moved in a late model T, which was closed in like the later Model A. My father had bought it from his mother, Grandma Sadie. Don’t know for how much, but she later came and repossessed it because the Folks couldn’t make the $5.00 a month payments!
The first year we ran the Karl Donaldson farm. Then Dad rented the Lazy B Farm, which he operated for more than 40 Years. We didn’t move over there the first year because The Los Phillips family lived in the house.
After several years Harry Day who was manager of the Lazy B let Daddy buy 10 acres on the Northeast corner of the farm, but wouldn’t sell anymore because he said he didn’t know what to do with the money! Then later Dad was able to buy the Payne Place, which consisted of 40 acres. It ran along the north and east sides of his ten acres.
When we lived at the 24 Circle Ranch, we only lived in one half of the house. Some of the couples that shared the house with us were, George and Leah Richins, Floyd and Mina Brown, Ike Skidmore and his wife. Later Karl Donaldson moved the house to his farm across the river and there raised a large family.
The house on the Lazy B farm consisted of four large adobe rooms. It was one of the oldest houses in the Valley. The adobes at the base of the walls were washing away so badly that we poured a short cement wall at the base to stop the erosion. While living here, there was added to the family, Elaine, born Nov 3, 1927, and then Jorth and Jay, the second set of twins, born 18 Sep 1931. Cecil Roy was born 24 Feb 1937, then finally Chester Ray came along on the 14th of July 1941.
In about 1935, Dad Arranged to homestead some land north of the highway and East of Riley Wash. A small adobe one-room house was first built, then was added a one-room shack that was moved up from the farm for a bedroom for the folks. He obtained a frame house in Morenci and placed it in front of the adobe. He dug a well and installed a windmill and built a corral. We lived there the required 3 years then moved back to the farmhouse. Bernard and a schoolteacher by the name of Rolf Drang stayed at the homestead at night for a while. Very soon after proving up on the land Dad sold it to Charlie Martin who was a rancher that ran cattle on most of the range-land surrounding that area.
During the Forties, Dad and the boys began doing custom baling around the valley with a horse-drawn baler that required six men and boys to run it. With that extra income and the increase in the price of cotton the family prospered. In fact the older kids really prospered when because of WWII there was a shortage of manpower to pick the cotton. So the school was held for only a half-day in order to permit the kids to work in the fields picking cotton. The going rate for cotton picking rose from 2 cents a pound to 4 cents, and the energetic and hardworking students like Erwin, Elaine and Edwin earned what was considered a lot of money for those times. Bernard was on a mission. The folks said many times that the most prosperous years of their lives were when they had a missionary in the field.
In 1949 the family left the old adobe house and moved to the Gruwell place between Mexican town and the Virden town site. Dad did not like driving back and forth to the farm so after agonizing over costs and debts, they contracted with a builder from Lordsburg to build a home north of the canal on some land that was part of the Payne Place that they had purchased. The outlandish price of the new home was $1200.00. The house was small but a mansion for Mother. They moved into the new home in 1951
Basketball was the main sport of the Virden School and community. The twins, Erwin and Edwin were on the team that won the State Championship. Jorth and Jay were on a team that won an invitational tournament of the best teams in the state. I don’t think Dad ever missed a game. His voice could easily be heard among the cheering Dads at every ball game. The boys all played Basketball including Bernard, Cecil and Chester. Because the Virden Schools closed in 1956, Charles played his sports at Duncan High School and was able to pitch on their baseball team, much to Dad’s delight. He also excelled at tennis. Elaine was an excellent volleyball player in High School and continued playing on church teams until she was well into her Fifties.
The men in the valley played Baseball in the 20s and 30s. Dad played on the town team and was a very talented ball player and mostly pitched. Those that I can remember were the Johns brothers, Tex and Floyd. The Pace brothers were Hugh, Irve, Jim and Hyde. Orson Richins and Dad and others like Hans Andersen, who was an excellent ballplayer.
The Richardson family was very active in the Church. Mother and Dad served as teachers and held leadership callings in the Auxilliary organizations. Five of the boys served Missions. Bernard and Jorth served in the Spanish-American Mission. Edwin went to Argentina. Jay served in the Western States mission with a Special calling to the Jewish People. Cecil went to Mexico. Erwin and Chester married young and were never called as young men but served in many positions of leadership in the Wards and branches where they later lived. Cecil and Chester served as Bishops.
Sooner or later we are all called upon to leave this life and go to the other side. Erwin was killed in a private plane crash, Feb 12, 1962. Daddy Ray died of a heart attack on Jan. 17, 1970. Edwin suffered from Ulcers for many years and finally underwent an operation, but never recovered from it. He passed away on the June 4th 1970. Mother Verna had a stroke and never fully recovered. She passed away the 5th of January 1984. Elaine, first married Roy Crum and had five children. He died and she married Marion Farnsworth who had six children, then they had one child between them, making it an even dozen. She was a marvelous homemaker and did a wonderful job. Alzheimers disease over came her and she died July 3, 2003.
At the present time December 2004, Bernard and Joyce are Temple workers in Albuquerque, NM. Jorth is a retired Language Professor and serves at Deseret Industries as a teacher of ESL and other needed classed. Wife Peggy teaches and looks after grandchildren. Jay and Lavona just returned from a mission in Indonesia. Cecil and Sylvia are trying to arrange their affairs so that they can go on a mission. Chester and Evelyn are serving their second mission in the Mesa Arizona Mission Office. Their first mission was at the Glendale Institute in the CES.
I sent an e-mail to all the families and according to the figures I have received at the present time, Ray and Verna Richardson have posterity of approximately 573.
A more detailed Story could be written of this remarkable couple I am sure. If someone desires to do so they are welcome to do it. What I have written is factually correct according to my knowledge. Sincerely, Acel Bernard Richardson