Robert Richart
(1795-1875)

 

Family Links

Spouses/Children:
1. Mary Lowery Biddle

Robert Richart

  • Born: 7 Apr 1795, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania
  • Marriage (1): Mary Lowery Biddle
  • Died: 20 May 1875, Macon, Lenawee County, Michigan at age 80
  • Buried: Macon Village Cemetery, Macon, Lenawee County, Michigan
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bullet  General Notes:

Date of birth calculated from gravestone inscription of date of death and age of 80y1m13d.

Robert Richart died of acute Meningitis.

Richart Family Notes: "Robert Richart and sons first established a business, that of wheelwrights, and they made all kinds of tools and farm implements out of timber (and iron parts) cut down and well seasoned. They also had a large business throughout the surrounding country for miles. Their implements were always dependable. Their wagons were like the 'wonderful one hoss shay that would last a hundred years to a day.'"

Richart Family Notes, letter from the Richart sisters, 25 Dec 1942: "I hope you remember the Richart Wagon Works, the old shops that have been a landmark on the corner [corner of Clinton and Ford roads] for more than 80 years. [This is] where grandfather Richart and our father Biddle Richart built wagons, sleighs, plows, cutters, drags, etc. If you were driving to our home and were planning to turn the corner around the shop (as you would probably use the old wagon shop as a landmark and guidepost), you would get left, because the old wagon shop has been torn down. Henry Ford bought the old shop just 10 years ago; but had left it standing all of these 10 years. The first week in September 4 months ago, men came to work on it so as to get it ready to move to Greenfield Village, near Dearborn.

"The men crated every timber, every pattern, every tool, every bench, and in fact everything that was left. All of the timbers and took everything to Greenfield Village. They tore the buildings down, measured and marked every piece -- then they built it (the wagon shop) up again [in Greenfield Village] on the same foundation, putting in new timbers where necessary. Then the shop fram was torn down again, the timbers marked, then crated and taken to Greenfield Village, where, the old shop is to be rebuilt and the patterns, the heavy work benches, the tools and forms will be put on display. One of the farmers here in the old neighborhood, has a wagon with its box and all of its parts, which was made by our father about 50 years ago. The wagon is in good condition, the paint on it is good and father's name is painted on it in just the same way as he always marked his wagons. The Ford Motor Company has bought the wagon to place on display in the old shop.

"When the shop is built up in Greenfield Village we are going to let Mr. Ford have Pa's two-seated cutter to put on display in the building. One workman said he thought that by the time it was finished it would cost a million dollars. But what if it does? It is a millionaire's money and it gives work to the men folks. Two carpenters with occasional help worked constantly for three and one half months getting the shop ready to move. If I remember correctly, your son, Jesse A. Coller, was looking around the old shop, inside as well as outside, but he wasn't there long enough to take everything in. They (the gossips) say it cost forty thousand dollars to get the shop ready to move. . . . One thing more. The shop was built on a stone foundation, and every stone, big and little, was taken to Greenfield Village where they are to be used in the foundation for the old shop."

[Newspaper clipping, Macon, MI, 15 Dec 1941] "Old Landmark Is Removed -- The Richard Wagon Works and Paint Shop which has been a part of Macon village for the past 100 years, now will become a part of Greenfield Village at Dearborn, MI. Henry Ford's replica and removal of famous buildings, institutes, and museums to the now renowned and celebrated Greenfield Village. Henry Ford purchased the buildings from the Richart sisters in 1931, they being daughters of the junior partner of the manufacturing plant, Biddle Richart, of the Richart and Richart Wagon Works, Macon, MI, Franc A Richart Mickel and Elva L. Richart. The daughters still live in the old Richart residence at Macon Corners and are very active.

"For the past three and a half months Ford workmen have been carefully dismantling the buildings and moving them to Dearborn. The old tools used in the now almost lost art of wagon making were crated and shipped first, then the buildings themselves were raised. The old frame of the building was repaired, then reconstructed on the original foundation, marked piece by pice, then taken down, crated, and shipped to Dearborn. Among the interesting relics it will house will be the last wagon made by Mr. Biddle Richart more that fifty (50) years ago. Mr. Richart died in 1906. The Richart sisters say that in spite of the trend of the times, that the down trodden farmers, citizens, tax payers and small property owners are the real people of this country, the good old USA even today and not the political, financial and industrial giants who are now running the show."

Vertical Files, Richart Carriage Shop, Research Center, Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, Dearborn, MI, "History of the Richart Carriage Shop": "Soon after their arrival, Robert Richart built a small wagon-making shop on their property, and went into the wagon business with his two sons, Israel Biddle and William Richart. . . . [See comments under Israel Biddle Richart.] The account books of Robert and William Richart reveal exactly what occurred in this small wagon shop on a daily basis for more than half a century.

"The detailed information they provide is perhaps more comprehensive than exists for any other Greenfield Village structure. The torn, stained pages of these hand-written ledgers tell much more than the story of a wagon repair shop and its proprietors. They provide a window through which the lives and activities of the inhabitants of the small farming community of Macon, Michigan can be viewed. They reveal, for example, that Robert Richart tended bees as a hobby and sold hives and honey to his neighbors." [See notes under William Richart.] . . .

"In addition to the seasonal deviations, the Richarts' business made subtler, permanent changes over the years as their own prosperity and the industrial revolution intervened. In the early years, Robert and his sons hired themselves out when business was slow:
'To one day thrashing .50
To one day butchering .75
To William 1/2 day thrashing .31' After the Civil War, this trend slowly reversed so that eventually 'a third work bench was needed in the shop' for the hired help.


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Robert married Mary Lowery Biddle, daughter of Israel Biddle and Martha Lowery. (Mary Lowery Biddle was born on 10 May 1802 in Pennsylvania, died on 21 Oct 1877 in Macon, Lenawee County, Michigan and was buried in Macon Village Cemetery, Macon, Lenawee County, Michigan.)




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