Cadastral survey crew in Wyoming. Gurley Solar Transit. Survey marker. Gurley Solar Compass. Cadastral survey crew in Wyoming.
BLM>Wyoming>Resources>Public Room>Cadastral Survey>Early Surveyors>William A. Richards
Print Page

William Alford Richards

William A. Richards, born 9 March 1849 in Hazel Green, Grant County, Wisconsin, first came to Wyoming in 1873 from southwest Nebraska, where he had been working on a government surveying party. Richards brother, Alonzo V. Richards, after being awarded the General Land Office contract to survey the southern and western borders of Wyoming Territory, hired William as his general assistant while executing these surveys. William remained with the survey party until late 1874 when they reached the northwest corner of Wyoming. The Annals of Wyoming; Autumn 2001, contains a transcript of the William A. Richards diary for the survey of the west boundary and additional information about Richards complied by Dennis Bland, Land Surveyor (retired) for the Bureau of Land Management. The Annals of Wyoming in 1932 published the portion of the diary pertaining to the 1873 south boundary survey .

W. A. Richards moved to California in late 1874 and married Harriet Alice Hunt. They moved back to Wyoming in 1884 and homesteaded in Big Horn County where he had a ranch in the Red Bank area, or the ranch was called the Red Bank ranch, on the Upper No Wood River or possibly on No Water Creek. He was elected county commissioner in Johnson County in 1886. In 1889 he was appointed as Surveyor General for Wyoming. He was elected Governor of Wyoming in 1894 and served one term until 1899. He was appointed Assistant Commissioner of the General Land Office by President Wm. McKinley in 1899 and in 1903 Richards became commissioner of the General Land Office and served in that position until 1907. He returned to Cheyenne and in 1909 was appointed as the first tax commissioner for Wyoming. He was in 1912 appointed as a delegate to Australia for the U.S. Committee on Irrigation. He died suddenly of a heart attack in Melbourne, Australia, July 25, 1912 and was buried in Cheyenne on August 14, 1912.