John A. Rich biography

JOHN A. RICH, of Spanish Fort, Texas, is one of the prominent early settlers of Montague county. It was, however, in Grayson county, this state, that he was born, February 8, 1855, son of John and Sarah (Stiles) Rich, both natives of North Carolina, where they were married. John Rich was the eldest of a family of four children, the others being Sarah, Martha and Mary, and was reared by deeply pious parents of Methodist and Baptist faith. After the death of his father, which occurred before John was quite grown, he remained with his mother, assisting her in the management of the farm and in bringing up the younger children. When he was twenty-seven he married, and the next year, 1851, he and his mother sold the farm and he came to Texas, his mother joining him here the following year. He took a homestead of 320 acres in Grayson county, which he improved and where he carried on general farming and stock-raising until 1872. That year he sold out and moved to Montague county, at the same time his mother and some of the children moving to Victoria county in the southern part of the state, where she subsequently died. John Rich located at the old Spanish fort. Here he bought five hundred acres of land, soon afterward platted a town and named it Burlington, the name later being changed to Spanish Fort in commemoration of the old fort and the massacre of the Spaniards by the Indians. He also improved a farm, and during his residence there was well known as a prosperous and highly respected citizen with a character above reproach. He was of a retiring disposition and never aspired to public life, but he was a stanch Democrat, true to the South, and during the war served two years in Colonel Bourland’s regiment, with headquarters at Gainesville, their duty being to protect the frontier against depredations by the Indians. It was at that time that he first visited the locality in which he afterward made his home. His widow survived him until 1902. She was a daughter of the Rev. Stiles, an old time Methodist minister of North Carolina, who late in life came to Texas, where both he and his wife died. Their children were John, Charles, Benjamin, Humphrey and Sarah. John and Sarah (Stiles) Rich were the parents of three children: Benjamin F., who resides near Spanish Fort; Nancy J., now Mrs. Fowler; and John A., whose name introduces this sketch.

John A. and his brother helped to improve the homestead farm, and carried on agricultural pursuits here until 1879, when he went to the Indian Territory and leased a tract of land on which he raised cattle and hogs and did some farming. He also owned a half interest in a cotton gin and mill. He made several moves and after an absence of a few years returned to the old home and took care of his mother in her old age, and here he has since remained, having some years ago bought his brother’s interest in the place. He now owns three hundred acres of fine valley land, nearly all under cultivation, and raises a variety of crops. At one time, in connection with his farming, he was engaged in the manufacture of brick. Rocked in a Democratic cradle, he has never departed from the political faith instilled into him in his youth. While he has never sought official honors or public place, he has been a public-spirited man, giving his influence for the uplifting and betterment of mankind. He is a member of the world-wide church—the Church of God. Mr. Rich married, in 1877, Miss Sarah Anderson, a daughter of one of the pioneer farmers of Montague county. Her parents moved to the Indian Territory, where both died. Mrs. Sarah Rich died in 1887, leaving four children: Walter, John, Hiram and Nora, the latter now Mrs. E. Brown. In 1889 Mr. Rich married a Mrs. Anderson, nee Caufman, a native of Arkansas.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 246-247.