Harry E. Richter, deceased, ex-lieutenant-governor of Kansas, was born at Vermilion, Ohio, in 1846, son of Lewis and Sarah Richter, natives of Germany, the former a German Lutheran minister, whose father was a brother of Herr Jean Paul Richter, the renowned German author. He was reared in the atmosphere of a refined and cultured home, where his early training was of that nature usually received in the correct family life of a Lutheran pastor, and where the principles of morality and religion were instilled into his mind by his parents, thus laying deep and secure the foundation of his character. He was early taught the traits of courage, industry and honesty, so that his time out of school hours was always employed in some useful occupation. He was educated in the public schools of Hamilton, Ohio, and Rushville, Ind., his parents having removed to the latter place a few years prior to the opening of the Civil war. The sentiments and teachings of the Reverend Richter were not in accord with the views of the many friends of slavery and secession who lived near Rushville and those differences brought about many exciting and trying conditions. One evening a company from the Knights of the Golden Circle, a society of Southern sympathizers, came to his home while all of his family were away and offered him violence. The opportune arrival of his son, Harry, a mere boy, and the courage and spirit evinced by him in handling an old-fashioned horse-pistol, a Mexican war relic which he grabbed from the wall, very quickly dispelled the invaders of the Richter home and caused them to beat a hasty and ignominious retreat. When his older brother, the late Prof. Emanuel Richter, of the College of Emporia, went to the war, Harry, fired with the martial spirit of the times, insisted upon going also, and enlisted in Company I, One Hundred and Twenty-third Indiana infantry, with which he went forth to his country's defense when a lad of seventeen years. This regiment was a part of Hovey's Indiana Legion, popularly and affectionately known as "Hovey's Babies," from the fact that all were boys and many of them under eighteen years of age. Although he was not mustered in until 1864 he saw hard and active service from that time until the close of the war. His regiment left the state March 18, 1864, going to Nashville, where it was assigned to the Second brigade, First division, Twenty-third army corps. With his regiment he participated in the campaign of East and Middle Tennessee, the Atlanta campaign, the Franklin and Nashville campaigns, and finally served, at the close of the war, in North Carolina. He was in the battles of Resaca, Kenesaw Mountain, Dallas, battles around Atlanta, Franklin, Nashville, Wilmington, and Kinston, N. C. When Sherman had been hammering away ten days in an effort to dislodge Johnston at Kenesaw Mountain and was preparing for a general assault on the Confederate works, he ordered an attack, as a feint, on the right, in front of the Twenty-third corps, to divert the enemy's attention from the main point of attack. Col. John C. McQuiston, of the One Hundred and Twenty-third, was ordered to send two of his companies. He remonstrated and said it would mean annihilation, but was told it must be done. The alternative call for 100 volunteers from each regiment to undertake this dangerous work was made, as it seemed better to wipe out several from each company of the regiment than the two whole companies. When the call was made there was hesitation and no volunteers until Harry E. Richter stepped out in front and said, "I'll go, come on, boys." This heroic example soon brought the required number of volunteers. From that fierce attack but half the brave 100 ever returned, the others being either killed or wounded. Mr. Richter received a wound which caused him to be off duty for about one week, his only lapse from active service. He was mustered out with his regiment at Raleigh, N. C., Aug. 25, 1865, and after his return home took up the study of pharmacy and became an expert druggist. With his brother, F. L. Richter, now of Wichita, Kan., he came to Council Grove in 1871 and there engaged in the business of druggist under the firm name of Richter Brothers.
He was married in 1871 to Miss Carrie W. Miller, of Hamilton, Ohio, and to them were born two children: Bertha, born Nov. 17, 1873, and Earl W., born June 12, 1877. The daughter, Bertha, was married Jan. 1, 1901, to Solomon F. Sherfey, a jeweler and successful business man of Council Grove, and they have two children: Solomon, born Nov. 12, 1904, and Elizabeth, born Oct. 12, 1906.
Mr. Richter was a Republican in politics and achieved a record of a long and efficient party service. Both he and his brother took an active part in the early local political struggles in Morris county and were largely instrumental in changing its Democratic majority to a Republican one. His political career began with his election as councilman of Council Grove and extended over thirty years, growing, step by step, in influence until he was one of the most widely known and respected public men of Kansas. He served several terms as a member of the board of education of Council Grove and filled the position of sheriff of Morris county at a time when that section of Kansas was not the settled country it is now, traversed by lines of railway and connected by telegraph and telephone. The Kaw Indians were then on their reservation adjoining the city, and Council Grove was the leading outpost on the old Santa Fe trail and was a favorite haunt of the Texas cowboy and others who were accustomed to make trouble at frequent intervals. Sheriff Richter possessed the cool head and steady nerve that enforced the law and preserved peace. It was he who trapped and broke up the McDermott-Davis horse and cattle thieving gang and sent six of them to the penitentiary. He also served as mayor of Council Grove three terms, retiring ffom the position by choice and with a splendid record as an able and efficient executive. He served three terms as a member and as president of the board of directors of the state prison, where his able and business-like management of that great institution's interests gave him added reputation and influence in Kansas affairs. His legislative experience extended through a period of six yearsfour years in the senate and two years in the houseand at the close of that service he was considered one of the most popular and successful legislators in the state. He was elected lieutenant-governor in 1898 and again in 1900, and filled that important office with signal ability. He was a prominent candidate for the nomination as governor in 1902.
Mr. Richter was an active Mason, being a Knight Templar and a Noble of the Mystic Shrine. He was also a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and of the Grand Army of the Republic. He was a member of the Congregational church, as are the surviving members of his family, and Mrs. Richter is active in the literary, church and philanthropic work of Council Grove. As a business man Mr. Richter was very successful, was interested in a number of good business enterprises, and possessed valuable business properties. As a citizen he ranked among the most respected and worthy of his city and state. Mr. Richter died Dec. 15, 1911.Pages 1104-1106 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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