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RICHARDSON, THOMAS MERIWETHER (1848-1915)

Entrepreneur, Oklahoma City booster, and Eighty-niner Thomas Meriwether Richardson operated the first bank in Oklahoma City from a hastily built shack soon after the founding of the town in 1889. Born on November 1, 1848, in Okolona, Mississippi, Richardson was raised on his family's plantation prior to the Civil War. In 1867 he married Helen Brown, and they raised eight children. Richardson engaged in the lumber business in Texas, in 1888 residing in Albany. A participant in the Land Run of 1889, Richardson secured town lots in Oklahoma City and opened the Oklahoma Bank and a lumber yard. A year later he opened the First National Bank. A founding member of the Oklahoma City Board of Trade (established on May 15, 1889), he acted as its first treasurer. He also served on the railroad and finance committees.

In 1892 Richardson emerged as a strong candidate to be appointed Oklahoma Territory's governor, a position that went to one of his supporters, William C. Renfrow. In 1894 Richardson declined to be a candidate for U.S. Congress. After the opening of the Cherokee Strip, he and two of his sons, David C. and Thomas M., Jr., established the First State Bank in Perry. The enterprise soon failed and the affair caused Richardson, Jr., to be indicted for accepting a deposit when he knew the bank to be insolvent. Thomas Lowe, territorial secretary and acting governor, pardoned Richardson, Jr., before he went to trial. In 1903 the elder Richardson built the five-story Baltimore Building at Grand and Harvey in Oklahoma City, with most tenants moving into it in 1904. He held the presidency of the Western Lumber Company and the Baltimore Investment Company at the time of his death in Oklahoma City on July 17, 1915. In 1955 his daughter, Miriam Richardson Du Mars, published a fictional account of Richardson's life, titled Seeds of the Nation.

SEE ALSO: BANKING INDUSTRY, OKLAHOMA CITY.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 19 February 1911, 18 April 1915, 18 July 1915, and 27 January 1955. Irving Geffs, The First Eight Months of Oklahoma City (Oklahoma City, Okla.: McMasters Printing Company, 1890). Kingfisher (Oklahoma) Press, 15 February 1900. Roy P. Stewart, Born Grown: An Oklahoma City History (Oklahoma City, Okla.: Fidelity Bank, 1974).

Larry O'Dell

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