Charles Edmund RichardsonCharles Edmund Richardson was born 13 October 1858 in Manti, Utah.His high purpose in life was set very early by the fine example of his parents & the magic of his mother's stories. At three years of age, his favorite story was of the "Disappointed Devil". In response to his often-repeated request for the story his mother related, "When you were nine months old you fought off attacks of several bad diseases, just like a big man. But when Brain Fever sneaked in, it almost got the best of you. When Patriarch Isaac Morley came to administer to you, he said, 'The devil stands with outstretched hands to snatch this child off the earth because of the good that he will do.' But Heavenly Father healed you, & the Devil was disappointed. My son must keep the devil disappointed by always doing what is right."
Many other times during his life, Charles Edmund had occasion to know that his life was spared by a power superior to his own. Once he heard a voice say, "Don't let it kill him." Upon one occasion his life was preserved through inspiration given to Frederick Walter Cox (his biological father) of Manti. It happened en route to Brigham City, Arizona. Brother Cox gave him a bottle of consecrated oil & said, "There was a special manifestation at the temple today during the consecration of this oil & I was inspired to give it to you, as it would be needed."
The need arose in Circle Valley Canyon, Utah, when a cow caught Edmund with her horn, & ripped a great gash in his lower abdomen. When no one felt equal to sewing the wound, Edmund did it himself, using some eight stitches. Just before closing the wound, he filled it with the oil, the only remedy he had. The next day, after administration, using part of the oil, Edmund was able to resume the journey. Again, the devil was disappointed.
From the Brigham City United Order, Edmund & his brother, Sullie, learned the art of community living, & mastered skills in many trades, which later proved useful in Old Mexico.
From Brigham City, Edmund was called to fill a mission to the Indians. Here he learned to speak the Spanish language. He translated the hymn, "O My Father", into Spanish. This translation is still used by the Church (1968).
After filling a second mission & marrying two wives, Sarah Louisa (Sadie) Adams & Sarah Rogers, Edmund moved to Colonia Diaz, Chihuahua, Mexico. In January 1896, he received a mission call to England. However, this call was subsequently changed to that of acting as Legal Advisor to the Colonists in Old Mexico, & at the same time preaching the Gospel to the citizens of the Mexican Republic.
In answer to this call, Charles Edmund enrolled as a law student at the University of Mexico. According to his brother, S.C. Richardson, he completed a four-year course in two years & graduated with honors.
Through a series of circumstances, Edmund became the only attorney for the colonists. This required much travel between widely scattered colonies & between Municipal, State, & Federal courts. All transportation between the Municipal headquarters of Casas Grandes, Janos, & La Ascencion, was effected by means of team & buckboard over 60 or 75 miles of ungraded dirt roads. There was train service to State & Federal offices at Chihuahua City & Mexico City, but from Colonia Diaz, the nearest railroad station was at Guzman, 40 miles distant. To take Edmund to the train & meet him on his return meant a 160-mile drive with team & buggy. All of this was in a manana () country, where it was most difficult to get a case through court without many delays.
This is what Anthony W. Ivins referred to, when he said that Charles Edmund Richardson, who had all the qualities of a great leader, would have gone far in the Church, if his mission had been such that he could have remained in one place long enough to execute routine Church duties.
Many testimonies are given of Edmund's ability as a lawyer & of his fidelity to his calling. A fellow colonist said, "As a lawyer in old Mexico, Edmund Richardson knew his stuff. I have heard the Mexican lawyers say, "If Edmund Richardson is on the other side we will not take the case." He could quote more law & give them the volume, page, & paragraph, than they could read." Because of his great memory, Edmund could study his cases as he drove back & forth between destinations & have them prepared both carefully & prayerfully, when he presented them at court. Thus his name grew to be received with deference as the "Jefectura".
Brother Dan Skousen said, "No one will ever do for the colonists what Edmund Richardson has done. He filled his mission faithfully & well. He knew how to handle the Mexicans, & they knew that -right or wrong- they would receive justice." True it is, that his cases were so technically set up that when used as precedents, they make it possible, even now (1968), for the colonists to live in Mexico. On this & other missions Edmund served some 20 years, never missing an opportunity to preach the Gospel.
Edmund successfully applied his ingenuity & resourcefulness to many other facets of the Mexican Colonization Project. He taught both day & night school, the night subjects being Spanish & points of law. He operated a blacksmith shop, as it was so necessary in those days to keep farm machinery in operation. Here he manufactured everything from wheels & wheelbarrows to fool proof hobbles for animals. The windmill he built, including the pump, worked successfully for years irrigating his & his neighbors gardens & orchards. He built the first water-powered grist mill in Mexico; operated a shoe repair shop, a drugstore, & a cheese & butter factory, which were modern for those times. He was reputed to be the second largest cattleman among the Mormons in the District.
He surveyed, engineered, & built a canal with enough fall to bring the underground water to the surface like a spring, then deliver it to his ranch. When the canal was destroyed by the largest flood ever experienced in the valley, he installed the first gasoline pumps used in Northern Chihuahua.
Yes, Charles Edmund Richardson stood tall among the other stalwarts who pioneered the settling & maintenance of the Mormon Colonies in Old Mexico.
The following character sketch volunteered by Brother Frederickson of Colonia Diaz is worthy of attention: "Brother Edmund Richardson, a student of merit, utilized all his spare time for study. His overland trips were made with a team, buckboard, & a book. He never forgot what he read, & could quote the book & page of his source material. He spoke both Spanish & English fluently. I remember that his interesting & enlightening sermons were second to none, & were enunciated clearly & loud enough to be heard by all. He had the best control of his temper of anyone I ever knew. Once while he was fencing his property, an angry stockman, who favored open grazing, reviled him with abusive language & used every foul name at his command. Richardson went calmly about his work, remarking, 'If you get any pleasure out of calling me such names, just go ahead.' Even when the cattleman threatened to strike him with a shovel, he laughed him out of it. He was regular in his habits, going to bed early & rising early, & he liked his meals on time. He was a friend to everyone, the poor, the sick, & especially to the young people. He often helped them materially, as well as with counsel & advice. Many a poor family enjoyed Christmas better because Brother Richardson helped Santa put dolls & other toys on the community Christmas tree."
Above everything else, Charles Edmund prized his testimony of the Gospel, his membership in the Church, & the Priesthood, which he held. He also considered it a privilege to follow the counsel of those in authority over him.
Edmund Richardson was a family man. In Mexico, he married Caroline Rebecca Jacobson & Daisy Stout. He had 36 children of his own, & raised two orphan children. That his four families loved & enjoyed each other, & lived with a minimum amount of friction was due to their fervent religious convictions, unselfishness, & the wise counsel & just dealing of the husband & father. The love & harmony he fostered remains with the family.
Even now (1968), after the death of all the parents, the children remain united in deep bonds of affection & high purposes in life. The Richardson families sponsor an annual family reunion, where they fraternize socially & also stress temple work for the dead & encourage genealogical research. The children stand proxy for hundreds of baptisms for the dead. This makes them temple-minded, so that there are few marriages outside the temple.
At one of these reunions, a visitor spoke of his surprise & satisfaction at not finding any drinking, smoking, profanity, or vulgarity among the 500 family members assembled. He said he found doctors, lawyers, college professors, schoolteachers, successful farmers & businessmen. Along the religious line, he found Stake Presidents, Bishops & Counselors, missionaries, & workers in all organizations of the Church.
If a man's success can be measured by the love, devotion, esteem, & high ideals of his family, then Charles Edmund Richardson is highly successful. His four wives, thirty-six children, & his numerous posterity, down to the third generation, say, like Nephi of the Book of Mormon, "We are born of goodly parents."