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Richmond Family Papers

Identifier: Collection 094

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of papers documenting the personal and professional lives of three family members: William Almy Richmond, his wife Lorraine, and their daughter Rebecca. The bulk of the collection consists of William A. Richmond's Indians Affairs documents, 1845-1849. Rebecca Richmond's papers are primarily personal, consisting of correspondence, and more importantly her diaries, written during the Civil War. The smallest part of the collection is the Lorraine Richmond diaries, 1858-1863. They show day to day life prior to and during the Civil War.

Some changes in description are being made, as new review of select items suggests that they were the property of Rebecca, rather than her mother, for example. Additional adjustments may still need to be found and made for a more accurate description.


  • 1825-1923, n.d.


Conditions Governing Access

Access Restriction: Access to some materials are restricted and only by arrangement with the Department Head or Archivist.

Unprocessed materials: Contact the Archivist about possible unprocessed holdings.

Usage Note, Separated Materials (Safety): Items which need an additional level of protection have been placed in a separate storage area, with usage photocopies available for reference, in the regular location in the collection. The original material is available for use with permission from the Archivist or Department Head. Those researchers who can work from the usage copy help to better preserve the aging original materials for future generations.

Biographical / Historical

William Almy Richmond (1809-1871) immigrated to Grand Rapids in 1836, coming from Aurora-On-Cuyahoga, New York, where he was born January 28, 1808. Mr. Richmond was a prominent person contributing to the growth and development of Grand Rapids. In addition, from 1842 to 1845, he served as Democratic State Senator at Detroit. During his time as Senator, he was able to obtain an appropriation of 6,000 acres of land to pay for construction of a power canal and a bridge at Grand Rapids. In 1845, President Polk appointed Richmond Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Michigan and Wisconsin. In this position he made treaty payments to the Indians at La Pointe on Lake Superior. Richmond held this position for four years.

After his years in government service he returned to Grand Rapids and served as President of the Grand Rapids Bridge Co., which built the second Bridge Street Bridge in 1852. Some of Richmond's other accomplishments in Grand Rapids included: he was one of the owners of the original Kent Plat in the Village of Grand Rapids, served as Cashier of the Grand River Bank, and was appointed by Governor Ransom as Brigadier General of the 16th Michigan Militia, a post he held for several years. He was appointed in 1860 by Governor Wisner to serve in the same capacity with the 6th brigade, 3rd division.

In 1837 Richmond married Lorraine Zilpha Page, they had three children, Jonathan, Rebecca, and Mary.

There is very little biographical information on Lorraine Page Richmond. Her father, Deacon Abel Page, was a prominent early settler of Grand Rapids. Her family moved to Grand Rapids in 1836. Soon after their arrival, Miss Page met a young ambitious pioneer, William Richmond. They were married a year later, on November 14, 1837. Mrs. Richmond spent her life in the Grand Rapids area, dying in a Battle Creek nursing home, November 16, 1901 at the age of 91.

Rebecca Richmond (June 22, 1840-January 16, 1925) was a life-long resident of Grand Rapids. She was the oldest child of William and Lorraine Richmond. Miss Richmond attended school at Brooklyn Heights Seminary in New York, from where she graduated in 1859. Upon returning to Grand Rapids, she became a prominent citizen in the community and was known for her many charitable acts. In her later years she gave a park in memory of her father to the City of Grand Rapids.

There is little biographical information available on Jonathan Richmond. He was born March 12, 1842, in Grand Rapids. During the Civil War, Jonathan served for a year with the navy. In 1862 he accompanied Governor Goodwin and Judge Howell over the Santa Fe Trail to the newly created territory of Arizona. Later he located in Kansas. He died March 24, 1911 at the age of 69.

For biographical information on Mary Richmond Kendall, see collection No. 92.


10.8 Linear Feet (14 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Richmond family was one of Grand Rapid's early pioneering families, settling in Western Michigan in the 1830s. The bulk of the collection is the William Almy Richmond (1809-1871) papers, dealing with Indian Affairs, 1845-1849. Richmond was Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Michigan and Wisconsin and in this position made treaty payments to the Indians at La Pointe on Lake Superior.

Also included in this collection are the significant Civil War era diaries primarily of his daughter, Rebecca Richmond, but also written by her mother, Lorraine. These give insight to their personal lives as well as contemporary events in Grand Rapids and around the world, including their reporting of Civil War related activities. Also important in the collection are Rebecca's autograph books, which include General George Custer (married to Rebecca’s cousin Libby), and her correspondence with the American artist born in Grand Rapids, Frederick Stuart Church, including his sketches on the letters. Additional sketches by Grand Rapids artist Cadette Fitch are found here.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Rebecca Richmond and unknown. Accession numbers 1986.372, 1986.379, 1986.443, 1986.444, 00.000, 1926.005, R2:AD4, C

Accession note: Rebecca Richmond was a strong supporter of the Grand Rapids Public Library, and it is believed that all of the materials in this collection came from her. The actual date of receipt of the materials is not known. Some items carry an early accession number which begins with a letter, such as “R2:Ad4” or “C6:A166”. However, the accuracy of even these early numbers if questionable, and no true inventory of all of the materials received has been found.

Related Materials

Coll. 040, the Cadette Fitch Collection, for additional works by this artist, also found among Rebecca Richmond's things in this Coll. 094.

Coll. 092, Mary Richmond Kendall Photographs. This is the collection of another Richmond daughter, and contains images of members of the Richmond family.

Coll. 123, the Caroline Campbell Collection.

Coll. 279, Lucius Lyon Papers for deed and correspondence with William Richmond.

Coll. 347, GRPL Churches Collection, for a sermon at St. Mark's Church, upon Abraham Lincoln's death.

Finding Aid for the Richmond Family Papers
Martha J. Bloem
January 1989
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Grand Rapids History Center Repository

Grand Rapids Public Library
111 Library Street NE
Grand Rapids Michigan 49503 USA