• Three Missions to Cherokee Nation
  • Mormon Pioneer to Utah
  • Co-Founder of Manti, Utah
  • Mississippi Cotton Gin Mechanic


William Richey was born 1 February 1796 in Laurens County, South Carolina to Robert Richey (1772-1835) and Rebecca Belton (1768-1850) and died 21 October 1879 Parowan, Iron County, Utah of unspecified causes. He married Nancy Ridge (1801-1817) 1817 in Georgia. He married Margaret Ann Adair (1804-1852) 10 February 1820 in Pickens, Pickens County, Alabama.

1st Cherokee Mission (1816-19)

William and his friend, Samuel Jefferson Adair (1806-1889), were young baptist missionaries to the Cherokee Naiton in Northeastern Georgia from 1816-1818, where they were amoung some of the earliest Christian preachers to visit this distinquished group.

They developed a close relationship with their chief, Nunnehidihi, who was more commonly known as Major Ridge (1771-1839). Previously Major Ridge was a warrior that fought against western frontiersman in the Cherokee-American battles (1788-1782) but now at this time he was an important ally of U.S. General Andrew Jackson and participated actively together fighting the Creek and Seminoles. He would play a prominent role in leading the tribe for many years to come. Ridge and his family lived in Oothcaloga, near what developed as the modern city of Calhoun, Georgia.

During this mission William married an Cherokee princess, Nancy Ridge, the daughter of Major Ridge, but she and their baby died the following year (see below).


After this mission William returned home where he married Samuel's sister, Margaret Ann Adair (1804-1852) (see below) in 1820 in Pickens County, Alabama. They would have ten children, five surviving to adulthood. Here William worked his own cotton farm and became an expert mechanic on the cotton gin (invented in 1788 by Eli Whitney (1765-1825). About 1831/1832 the family moved to a cotton farm in Noxubee County, Mississippi.

In 1843, the family encountered Elder Benjamin Lynn Clapp (1814-1865), a Mormon missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Not only did William and his family join the church, but many of them were active in spreading the church with their extended family members in Mississippi and Alabama. Other members of the Adair and Mangum families would join the church.

By 1845, William and Margaret had moved to Nauvoo, Illinois. Here they lost three children in quick succession: 12-year-Martha and 3-year-old Robert in Feb 1845 and then 17-year-old Rebecca in Apr 1845. One sources blames their deaths on a recurring measles epidemic.

2nd Cherokee Mission (1847-48)

The following year this family had left Nauvoo for Illinois. In 1847 William went to the Cherokee, this time they are now in Indian Territory. In 1848 his wife and youngest child traveled to Utah without him in the Willard Richards Wagon Company. He left the mission in Oklahoma and made his own way to Utah to join them and help build their first home. Settling in Sanpete County, Utah.

Manti Settlement 1849

William Richey, with his sons James and William, and their wives, were part of the first group of pioneers to settle [[Manti, Utah[[ and the Sanpete Valley under the direction of Isaac Morley (1786-1865) in November 1849.

Two years after the arrival of the first group of Saints to Salt Lake, they were visited by a delegation of Ute Indians led by Chief Walker who asked them to come to the beautiful “Sanpitch” Valley and to teach them how to build homes and to till the ground.

3rd Cherokee Mission (1855-1860)

His wife Margaret died in 1852. Afterwards, William returned to the Cherokee Nation as an LDS Missionary (1855-1860?).


"Died 1879: In Parowan at the residence of Brother Neils Mortensen, with whome he had been living since early in the spring, FATHER WILLIAM RICHEY, in his 84th year. He lived and died a faithful and true Latter-day Saint. He leaves a large number of children, grandchildren and friends to mourn his loss. He died without a struggle." Neils Mortensen was the husband of William's niece, Eliza Jane Adair (1811-1892).

Marriage and Family

1st Marriage: Cherokee Princess Nancy Ridge

His first marriage was to an Cherokee Princess, named Nancy Ridge (1801-1817), age 16. She died during the birth of their first child. There is a Mormon temple marriage sealing recorded between Nancy Ridge and William Richey that occurred 24 Jan 1846 in the Nauvoo Temple with Margaret Adair acting as the proxy for the deceased Nancy. This confirms the marriage.

Nancy was the daughter of Major Ridge (1771-1839) and Sehoya. Major Ridge was a Cherokee chieftain and warrior. In 1835-37 he would play a significant roll in the Cherokee "Trail of Tears" forced migration from Georgia to Tennessee for which he would be blamed and assassinated in the following year. Histories of the Cherokee nation also list the marriage of his daughter to William Richey.

Second Marriage

His secondly married Margaret Ann Adair (1804-1852) on 10 Feb 1820, the sister of his missionary campanion. She was born 10 Oct 1804 in Laurens County, South Carolina, to Thomas Adair (1774-1858) and (Celia) Rebecca Brown (1776-1846). She died 14 Mar 1853 in Manti, Utah. William died 21 Oct 1877 in Parowan, Utah. They were the parents of ten children. The family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1843 while in Mississippi. The family later moved to southern Utah to help settle the area.

Gloria Winter, a volunteer Manti research, confirmed on 7 Apr 2003 with the Manti FHL that his wife Margaret died and is buried there. Gloria also says her husband, William, was a teamster and hauled goods from other areas into the San Pete Valley.

Shortly after moving to Nauvoo, William and Margaret lost three children in quick succession: 12-year-Martha and 3-year-old Robert in Feb 1845 and then 17-year-old Rebecca in Apr 1845. One sources blames their deaths on a recurring measles epidemic.

Family History

The couple first settled in Pickensville, Pickens County, Alabama in about 1820 and their first seven children were born there. They then moved to Noxuba, Mississippi in about 1831. 1837 saw the birth of twins, Martha (or Mary Ann) and Eliza Jane). In Noxubee County, Mississippi their family joined the Buttahatchie 1845 LDS Branch of the young LDS Church.

Temple History Submitted by William

The following information was given to the St. George temple by William Richey himself and shows births of his deceased children as of 1877 in three locations. Extracted from FHL film 170583, pg. 23, St. George Temple, 13 Sep 1877: Sealed to parents William Richey (living) and Margt. Adair Richey, dead:

  • Benjamin Richey, dead, Pickens Co., Ala.
  • Joseph Richey, dead, Pickens Co., Ala.
  • John Richey, dead, Pickens Co., Ala.
  • Robert Richey, dead, Noxuba, Miss.
  • Rebecca Richey, dead, Pickens Co., Ala.
  • Emily Richey, dead, Pickens Co., Ala.
  • Mary Ann Richey, dead, Noxuba, Miss.
  • Hester Richey, dead, Georgia

Of particular note is Hester, born in Georgia. Was this the couple's first place of residence and first child. She is not mentioned by James.

Family History submitted by Bro. James

Major autobiography with lots of references to Mangums, Richeys, and Adairs and their history by James Richey; speaks of his siblings:

  1. "The names of my brothers and sisters are (as) follows: Benjamin, Joseph 2, Rebecca, 3, Emily Melissa 4, John G. 5, Martha Ann and Eliza Jane 5, for they were both born at one birth, William B, 7, Robert 8, and I myself being the first born."
  2. "Joseph Richey-Born Pickens Co, Alabama, November 10, 1825."
  3. " i lived with my father and mother in alabama til i was about 10 years of age when i removed with them to the state of mississippi my second brother Joseph died in the state of alabama pickens county age one year and foure months "

Peterson/Tarbett Research Notes

Research Notes Quoted Here: 2. Appears that most records including missionary information may be with the Oklahoma Historical Society Archives in Oklahoma City and are known as pre-removal and missionary records. See . Contacted the Oklahoma Historical Society 7 May 2003 which is a major repository of Cherokee Indian records. They report some references to Nancy Ridge's father and her attendance at some schools. No further mention of her nor anything on William Richey.

3. According to a posting on Genforum.com by Deborah Moorefield, 21 Mar 2003, #926, he may have received Cherokee reservation #143 on 14 Oct 1817 near the Tennessee river in right of his child by Nancy Ridge.

4. Censuses: 1790 US: The following Mangum, Richey, Goggins, and Murdock names occur in Newberry Counties, South Carolina -- none with that surname appear in neighboring Laurens county where the Adairs were located: P. 57, William Murdock: males over 16: 1; males under 16: 1; females: 1; slaves: 0. P. 74, Ambrose Hudgins, 1-1-5-0 (Possible father to Austen Hudgens who married Elizabeth Mangum? On the previous p. 72 [73 is blank], there is a Sam'l Hugghen who could also be a possibility but probably not. In neighboring Laurens Co., there are also two other "Ambros" Hudgins: pp. 433 and 443 with most Adairs in that county occuring on pp. 440-442. There are various Huggins, Hudgens, Hudggens, Huggans in South Carolina -- but with none in Newberry or Laurens except as noted above.) P. 74, James Goggin, 2-4-5-2. Separated from Ambrose above by 10 names. P. 74, Geo. Goggens, 2-3-2-0. (Separated from James above by 26 names.) P. 74, William Goggins, 1-3-3-0. (Separated from Geo. above by 6 names.) P. 76 (note page 75 is blank), John Mangum, 1-0-1-0. (Separated from William Goggins above by 58 names.) P. 76 (note page 75 is blank), Wm. Goggins, 2-2-1-0. (Separated from John Mangum above by 0 names.) P. 76 (note page 75 is blank), Wm. Mangum, 2-2-2-0. (Separated from Wm. Goggins by 2 names.) P. 76 (note page 75 is blank), Robert Richey, 1-1-6-1. (Separated from Wm. Mangum by 39 names.)

5. The following site shows all the children of Major Ridge specifically listing Nancy married to William "Ritchey" cville.com: "An Indian boy was born between 1765 and 1771 in the Cherokee village of Hiwassee, Tennessee. His parents died when he was young. He had a brother named David Oo-Watie, which means "The Ancient One." Their father's name was Oganotota. Ridge had a sister and three other brothers. No one knows the names of the other brothers or sister but one of the brothers may have been Soodohlee (Sudale). However, they died young. Ah-Tah-Kon-Stis-Kee (other spellings include Ah-Tah-Con-Sti-Sky and Ah-Tah-Cun-Sti-Ske), last hereditary chief of the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, and Seminoles), adopted this young Indian. The young Indian was named Ca-Nun-Tah-Cla-Kee (other spellings include Ca-Nun-Ta-Cla-Gee and Ka-Nun-Tah-Kla-Gee), meaning "The Lion Who Walks On The Mountain Top." The white man shortened his name to Ridge. Andrew Jackson gave him the name Major because he led a force of Cherokees in the Battle of the Horseshoe against the Creeks. Cherokees had previously used no surnames. Other Indians called him Nung-Noh-Tah-Hee, meaning "He Who Slays The Enemy In His Path." Major Ridge was a friend of Congressman Sam Houston of Tennessee. Major Ridge's portrait is in the archives at the Smithsonian (Museum of American History-Major Ridge geo. region 3008 4050 302 ID 3008 210 7159) along with John Ridge's. Major Ridge married Ah-Tah-Kon-Stis-Kee's daughter Sehoya. Her christened name was Susannah "Susie" Catherine Wickett (1775 - 9/1849). Ah-Tah-Kon-Stis-Kee was Major Ridge's foster father and father-in-law. They married about 1792. Major Ridge and Susie's children were: Nancy Ridge - died age 16 during childbirth ca. 1818 - married William Ritchey John Ridge (Skah-tle-loh-skee) - born 1802 Rome, GA - died 6/22/1839 - married Sarah Bird Northrup. Unknown baby - died at birth Walter S. Ridge "Watty" - born 1806 - died 1851 - married Elizabeth. Watty was "slow and weak in the mind." Sarah Ridge - born 1814, near present Rome, Georgia. Sarah's Indian name was "Sollee," pronounced "Sallie." "

1961 FHL Research Letter

Taken from a 1961 project by the LDS Family History Library to research the Richey/Adair family line:

"It is known of course that your William went to Pickins Co., Ala., and thence on to Noxubee Co., Miss. We have no records of these localities in our library, except census records, so will need to have some searches made by correspondence. However, not finding any of Robert’s family in Laurens Co. after 1820, we checked the 1830 census of Pickins Co., Ala., where we found Robert, age 50-60 and his wife the same age, one daughter 15-20 and one male child under 5, perhaps a grandson. Also noted was William and his family and a John. "On the chance that some of them might have remained in this county until 1850, which census would give names, ages and birthplaces, we checked this, but found nothing. In Noxubee Co., Miss. in 1850, however, we found some of them again, but unfortunately Robert and Rebecca seem to be deceased before this time, so we could get no enlightenment as to his birthplace. Their sons David, age 45, James, age 33 and families were there, and there is a George Richey, age 40, whom we think is probably another son. We watched also for the married daughters but there seemed to be none of them unless it was Nancy, and her husband Rodison Williams. One J.R. Williams 28, born S.Car., and wife Nancy age 26, born S.C. are listed, and also a Nancy Williams widow, age 50, born S.C. is listed, but whether either one is the one we need, we do not yet know.


Offspring of William Richey and Nancy Ridge (1801-1817)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Hester Richey (1817-1817) September 1818 Georgia, United States May 1819 Georgia, United States

Offspring of William Richey and Margaret Ann Adair (1804-1852)
Name Birth Death Joined with
James Richey (1821-1890) 13 August 1821 Pickensville, Pickens County, Alabama 7 August 1890 Fort Wingate, McKinley, New Mexico Lucinda Mangum (1826-1903)
Benjamin Richey (1823-1849) 10 August 1823 Pickens County, Alabama, United States 1849 California, United States
Joseph Richey (1825-1827) 10 November 1825 Pickensville, Pickens County, Alabama January 1827 Pickens County, Alabama
Rebecca Sarah Richey (1828-1845) 7 December 1828 Pickensville, Pickens County, Alabama 16 April 1845 Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois
Emily Melissa Richey (1830-1857) 12 March 1830 Pickensville, Pickens County, Alabama 26 April 1857 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory Solomon Cowles Case (1825-1874) Solomon Cowles Case (1825-1874) Levi Ward Hancock (1803-1882)
John Belton Richey (1833-1851) 17 February 1833 Noxubee County, Mississippi, United States 30 July 1851 Payson, Utah County, Utah, United States
Martha Richey (1837-1845) 30 December 1837 Noxubee County, Mississippi February 1845 Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois
Eliza Jane Richey (1837-1908) 30 December 1837 Noxubee County, Mississippi 13 May 1908 Barclay, Lincoln County, Nevada John Milton Adair (1833-1899)
William Belton Richey (1840-1911) 17 May 1840 Noxubee County, Mississippi 9 May 1911 Manti, Sanpete County, Utah Johanna Marie Rasmussen Hougaard (1846-1925)
Robert Richey (1842-1845) 5 October 1842 Noxubee County, Mississippi February 1845 Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois


Vital Records

1821 Alabama Land Grant

  • Issue date 27 Sep 1821 - 79.8125 acres from Cahaba Land Office in Alabama.

1850 US Federal Census

Taken in Utah County, Utah Territory - Household #68. His cousin, James Mitchell Mangum (1820-1888) is two doors down at Household #70. Occupation "turner" is a woodworker turning wood on a lathe for either wagon axels or cabinetry work.

  • William Richie - m/56 - b:So Carolina ocp:turner
  • Margaret Richie - f/48 - B:So Carolina ocp:midwife
  • James Richie - m/28 - b:Alabama ocp: cotton gin
  • John Richie - m/16 - B:Alabama ocp: cotton gin
  • William Richie - m/10 - B:Mississippi
  • Eliza Richey - f/14 - B:Mississippi
  • Rebecca Richie - f/85 - B:So Carolina (William's mother - dies same year)

Mission Journal of Henry Eyring 1855-1860

Historical Dept., LDS Church, Salt Lake City, UT, selected extracts from MS 1880, "Reminiscences [ca. 1896] of Henry Eyring (Grandfather of Camilla Eyring (1894-1987), wife of LDS Church President Spencer Woolley Kimball (1895-1985) and her brother, Henry Eyring (1901-1981), the famous Mormon Scientist): "

MS1880, p. 25: "...We held our October [1856] Conference at Bro. Buster's place, situate on one of the tributaries of Grand River. Nearly all the elders were present, Elder H.W. Miller presided... Elders Miller and Case left the Cherokee Mission about Nov. 1856 and Elder Wm Bricker about the same time... Elder Robert C Petty had died during 1856, leaving W.N. Cook, Jno. A. Richards, Wm. Richey, Geo. Higginson and myself to carry on the work of that mission. Elder W.N. Cook was chosen President... Notwithstanding we were ordered to leave the Creek Nation we returned to labor there again in the fall of 1856... Our April Conference 1857 was held in the Creek Nation at Elder Randall's. Elder Parley P. Pratt was with us at that Conference. His mind was filled with gloomy forebodings and it appeared as though he were left to himself, not being able to discern the future or any way of escape for himself. Himself and Elder Geo. Higginson were arrested on the road which leads from Fort Gibson to Texas. Bro Higginson after having been taken to Fort Smith, Arkansas, was liberated and made [p.26] his way to the Valleys in a Texas Company of Saints, bearing with him the sad tidings of Elder P.P. Pratt's martyrdom.

Soon after the death of Elder Pratt, the Buchanan army was sent to Utah and the excitement against the Latter day Saints ran very high in the U.S. and to some extent in the Indian Territory. It was deemed advisable for the Elders laboring on the Cherokee Mission to remain quiet for a season and consequently I returned to Deep Fork and spent most of the year 1857 in mercantile pursuit. In 1858 I was more or less engaged in merchandising. In the fall of the year Sept. 17, 1858, I married Anne, daughter of Etso-emahlia, a Creek half breed... I will here state that after the death of Elder Washington N. Cook I was chosen President of the Mission by the vote of the Conference, held at Iron Springs October 1858, Elder Jno. A. Richards opposing the appointment. He having married a well to do Cherokee woman by the name of Widow Wright his sole aim seemed to be how to accumulate and obtain wealth, thereby neglecting the duties of his ministry. When Father Richey and myself went to Utah in 1860 he desired to remain and I have learned since that he joined the Southern army during the war of the Rebelliion and of course denied [p. 27] the faith, at least never returned to Utah to my knowledge... April 6, 1860, myself and wife separated, she having no disposition to be subject to good teachings and moreover possessing an extremely jealous disposition, she imagined a great many foolish things. Father Richey, who boarded with us felt to fully justify me in my separation. I had now been about 4 1/2 years on the Cherokee Mission and felt somewhat desirous to know when I would be released from my labors. Not being able to hear anything from the Presidency of the Church, I called upon the Lord in prayer, asking him to reveal to me his mind and will in regard to remaining longer or going up to Zion. The following dream was given to me in answer to my prayer. I dreamt I had arrived in S.L. City and immediately went to Pres't B. Young's office, where I found him. I said to him: 'Pres't Young I have left my mission, have come of my own accord but if there is anything wrong in this, I am willing to return and finish my mission.' To this he replied: 'You have stayed long enough, it is all right.' Having had dreams before which were literally fulfilled I had faith to believe, that this also would be and consequently commenced at once to prepare for a start. Father Wm. Richey and myself fitted up jointly and on the 23d May 1860 left Springhill in the Creek Nation. Passing through Kansas and Nebraska, we finally reached Omaha in the latter State. [p. 28] We found that a Company of Saints led by Captain Murphy was ahead of us a few days' Journey and we resolved at once to hurry and overtake them. This we did, just as they were being ferried across Loupe Fork. Our little wagon was very frail and the brethren of the Company thought that we certainly would not reach S.L. Valley with it. However it held together and instead of having to be helped in by the brethren we had the pleasure of giving rides to some of our weary old Sisters. I enjoyed myself excellently while crossing the plains walking nearly the whole distance and to me it was more like a pleasure trip, than a toilsome pilgrimage. I arrived in S.L. City Aug. 29th, 1860, and stopped at the house of Bro. Jno. M. Moody. The following day Bro. Richey and myself called upon Pres't Young, who received us very kindly. I said to him, 'Pres't Young I have come without being sent for, if I have done wrong, I am willing to return and finish my mission.' He answered: 'It is all right, we have been looking for you.' Thus my dream was literally fulfilled.... [p. 30] ...at the October Conference 1862 Volunteered to go to Dixie... About Oct 25th, 1862, we started for Dixie having hired our passage with John Nebeker, who then had a residence in Toguerville Kane Co. Our journey was tedious and slow, reaching St. George about Nov. 23d. We first camped on Bro. James Richey's lot, but getting employment at Washington, ginning cotton we removed there and remained until the latter part of January..."

Mormon Indian Missions (1855)

8. The master's thesis: "Mormon Indian Missions - 1855," by Wesley R. Law, 1959, p. 93: "The missionaries were able to baptize a few more natives into the Church during 1858 and early 1859. In fact, the increased number of baptisms resulted in the organization of two new branches. The elders apparently had been allowed to resume their labors among the Creeks, as the Nephi Branch was organized in that nation by President Eyring and the Lehi Branch was organized among the Cherokees. The Lehi Branch functioned only a short time when it was disorganized due to its president and teacher moving to Utah. A letter written by President Eyring in 1860 stated that the Nephi Branch was still functioning. It also mentioned that there were forty-three members of the Church in the Cherokee nation and forty-eight among the Creeks. Speaking of this total membership, however, Eyring said that '...only a very few are alive in the cause, the majority are careless and indifferent...' At the close of 1859 the Cherokee authorites again ordered the missionaries to leave the reservation. They all complied except Richards who was allowed to remain because he was married to one of the tribe.

Parowan Gravestone


Research Notes

Adair / Cherokee Relations

  • William's father has a curious listing in the 1790 US Census, at age 18 in Laurens County, South Carolina living unmarried with a probable indian and a slave.
  • On both missions to the Cherokee Nation, William made have had extensive dealings with the "Cherokee Adair's" including Chief George Washington Adair (1806-1862) who were cousins to his second wife, Margaret Ann Adair. The Adairs were grandchildren of famous early indian trader and historian James Adair (1714-1796), who strongly believed that Indians of SE United States were descendants of the lost ten tribes of the Hebrew Old Testament. Chief George Adair and Chief Major Ridge were signors of the 1835 Treaty of New Echota that launched the infamous trail of tears.
  • William's first mission to the Cherokee coincides with the George gold rush of 1819.
  • William's second mission to the Cherokee spent considerable time at Stilwell, Oklahoma, county seat of Adair County, Oklahoma, settled and named for a large contingent of the Adair Cherokee clans.



Footnotes (including sources)

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