Richards, Silas, Bishop of the Little Cottonwood Ward, Salt Lake county, Utah, from 1851 to 1864, was born Dec. 18, 1807, in Highland county, Ohio, the second son of Augustus Richards and Francis Lee Doggett. When Silas was about fifteen years old the family moved to Shelby county, Ohio, where his father practiced medicine, and together with his brother Milton he ran a farm, attending school in the winter, until he was married Nov. 5, 1829, to Elizabeth McClenahan, daughter of Elijah and Elizabeth McClenahan.
They started their married life in a humble way, living for a short time on a rented farm. Their first children, Frances Marie and Elizabeth Ann, were born Dec. 20, 1830. In 1835 Mr. Richards moved to Illinois, where his father-in-law had gone three years previous, settling in Stark county, where he bought two hundred acres of rich land. He soon had a good farm thoroughly established and was not long in gathering around him the comforts of life. He was prospered in the accumulation of means, which in after years he used unsparingly in helping to establish Zion and roll forth the work of the Lord.
In 1839 the true gospel of Jesus Christ was introduced into the neighborhood by Elder Joshua Grant and others, who, having been driven from the State of Missouri the previous year, settled in the vicinity. Mr. Richards house was used to hold meetings in, and in the spring of 1840 he and his wife were baptized by Elder Peter Nichol. A large branch of the Church was subsequently raised up in which Mr. Richards' parents and most of their children were numbered; also some of his wife's brothers and sisters. Of his father's large family Silas was the only one who came with the saints to Utah. In 1844 Bro. Richards exchanged his farm in Stark county for a valuable one near Nauvoo, Ill., where he moved in the ensuing spring. During his nine years' residence in Stark county he held the office of justice of the peace and postmaster a greater part of the time, giving general satisfaction.
Jan. 22, 1846, he was ordained a High Priest by Patriarch John Smith. Soon after this, when the Temple was so far completed that some of the saints could receive their washings and anointings therein, Brother Richards and wife were among the number, they having contributed liberally of their means for the erection of that building. Together with the rest of the saints the Richards' were compelled by the hand of persecution to leave their homes in Illinois. Bro. Richards, however, was more fortunate than many others, being able to sell his farm (which one year before was worth $3,000) for $800. The family crossed the Mississippi river May 4, 1846, arriving in Council Bluffs the following June 24th.
Soon after Bro. Richards was appointed counselor to Elder Moses Clawson, president of a branch of the Church, and counselor to Bishop Daniel Miller; he was also chosen as a member of the High Council in Pottawattamie county, and in 1848 he was ordained a Bishop. In 1849, having prepared to follow the saints to Great Salt Lake Valley, Brother Richards was appointed by Elder Geo. A. Smith to lead a company across the plains. They left Winter Quarters July 10, 1849, and arrived in the Valley Oct. 25th, having had a prosperous journey with but little sickness and only one death.
Elder Richards settled on the Little Cottonwood creek, where he remained until his death. Here he assisted in building the fort at Union, for protection against the Indians, taking an active part in the move south at the time of the Johnston army troubles in 1858. He held the office of Bishop from the first settlement of Union until the early part of 1864, he having been called some time previous to this to assist in settling up the Dixie country, which he did by establishing ware houses in St. George, putting out trees, and starting a vineyard, assisting the people by giving employment to many. Having been advised by Pres. Brigham Young not to move his family, his work in St. George was conducted by Brother B. F. Pendleton.
Nov. 1, 1869, Bro. Richards, in company with about one hundred others, started east on the U. P. R. R., having been called on a special mission for the winter. He visited relatives and friends in the States, wherever opportunity permitted, teaching the principles of life and salvation and removing much prejudice which existed toward the Latter-Day Saints. Meeting many influential men who exhibited an interest in the doctrines taught by the Elders, Bro. Richards spared no means in leaving a favorable impression on their minds toward the people whom he represented. He returned home in the spring of 1870, having done a good work, besides gathering some genealogy of value to himself.
Elder Richards died March 17. 1884, in the Union Ward (cemetery marker), where he had lived so long, endearing himself to the people by his good works and friendly council. His noble deeds and integrity will ever live a monument to his name, and an example worthy of emulation by his numerous posterity as well as by every Latter-day Saint.