William P. Richart
- Born: 15 Oct 1832, McEwensville, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania
- Marriage (1): Ellen Howell on 27 Sep 1860 in Macon, Lenawee County, Michigan
- Died: 16 Feb 1906, Macon Township, Lenawee County, Michigan at age 73
- Buried: Macon Cemetery, Macon, Lenawee County, Michigan
William Richart died of pleurisy.
The 1893 Atlas of Lenawee County includes a map of Macon. It identifies the William Richart land at the northwest corner of the junction of the east-west county road through Macon with the first road west of the Macon-Tecumseh Road. The wagon shop is located at the northwest corner of the junction in the southeast corner of the property. The General Index to Names of Land Owners of Lenawee County as per Assessment of 1892 in Macon Township lists William's property as being located in Sections 5 and 6, and comprised of 3 acres. The 1916 Atlas identifies in Macon the same property, and a second lot east of the junction on the north side of the east-west county road as being in the William Richart estate.
Vertical Files, Richart Carriage Shop, Research Center, Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, Dearborn, MI, "History of the Richart Carriage Shop": "William kept abreast of national affairs with a year's subscription to the New York Tribune in 1881. The draft of a letter on the cover of account book D reveals William's involvement in Macon's post office and provides clues to the volume of mail sent and received in Macon. '22 Jun 1855. Third assistant William Richart. Sir, the amount collected from this Michigan [post] office the quarter ending March 31st was $4.32. I wish some stamps and stamped envelopes. Send me the amount you think sufficient. William Richart; Macon, Michigan.'
"In later years, William involved himself in community affairs: A bill for 50 cents in 1887 charges the township of Macon 'to meet with township board at my shop to reconsider & recind (sic) wooden bridge at Mooney's & vote for iron bridge & borrow money.' With only 200 inhabitants in 1877 (a decline from 1500 in 1863) Macon was apparently not cosmopolitan enough for the needs of William's two daughters. On September 20, 1877, he paid 'G. Washington Harriot' $5.50 in cash for the service of taking the 'girls to Tecumseh 24 times.' Macon's residents, especially in the years before the Civil War, rarely dealt in cash. The account books are full of transactions in buck wheat, pasture time, lumber, beef and other currencies. . . .
"The seasonal nature of life in Macon is one of the most interesting finds in the ledgers. Summer typically busied the Richarts with wagon repairs, their own small farming interests, and improvements to their homes. As the leaves changed, so did the daily routine in the wagon shop. Barrels of apple cider appear frequently as purchases and payments in October and November. William and Robert, in the fall, spent much time with a file in their hands sharpening saws, as their neighbors stored wood for the winter. Summer wagon building and repair yielded in the fall and winter construction and repair of sleds and cutters. In the spring, farmers preparing for the summer brought the Richarts their broken wagons, hoes, cradles and other farm tools.
"Their carpentry skills made the Richarts sort of community handymen. They built picture frames, a dough trough, a dresser, breakfast table and bee hives. They repaired chairs, sawmills and even a dog house. Robert hung the blackboard in the schoolhouse and worked at butchering. William worked on a stone boat clearing the fields and made furniture. . . .
"Mass production helped the business along during the last quarter of the century. Rather than hand forming wheel spokes, shafts, rims and hubs, William increasingly ordered them from supply houses. Purchases of '500 spokes' are numerous for example. Interestingly, there are only one or two references to carriages in the five decades covered by the account books, presenting a conflict with the name currently given the structure. William and Robert both considered themselves 'wagon makers' and wagon construction and repair formed the backbone of their business. Perhaps 'Macon Wagon Shop', or 'Richart Wagon Shop' as William's daughter, Elva, called it, would serve as a more appropriate name. . . .
"In the 1870 census, William listed the value of his real estate at $2,000 and the value of his personal estate at $1,000. He taught school, served on the Macon School Board and was 'a staunch Republican and prohibitionist.' . . . Elva said he worked at his trade 'to within a year or so of his death,' though the last entry in the account books bears the date of January 2, 1900.'"
William married Ellen Howell on 27 Sep 1860 in Macon, Lenawee County, Michigan. (Ellen Howell was born on 14 Mar 1839 in Michigan, died on 26 Apr 1911 in Macon Township, Lenawee County, Michigan and was buried in Macon Cemetery, Macon, Lenawee County, Michigan.)