From Mecklenburg to Moore: Four North Carolina Families

J.D. Richardson & Mary Arabella McDonald

William H. H. Richardson
& Pyrena Mobley, parents
of J.D. Richardson
John Dolphus Richardson
Mary Arabella McDonald
John Finlayson McDonald &
Jennet Isabella Patterson,
Parents of Arabella McDonald
Children of J.D. & Arabella Richardson:
John Lee Loula
Pearl William
Hattie Belle Lydia Margaret

John Dolphus and Mary Arabella McDonald Richardson

John Dolphus Richardson was born May 25, 1863 in Chatham County, N.C. to William H. H. Richardson (1838-1922) and Pyrena Mobley Richardson (1836-1909). On Mar 28, 1889, J.D. married Mary Arabella McDonald at Crain's Creek Baptist Church in Moore County. They lived in a log cabin on Herd Creek, near Crain's, where J.D. owned three hundred acres of land. They built the first house in that rural area to be painted. Painting the siding of a house was such a novelty and an expense that people made jokes about it, saying that even the studs of the house were painted before the siding was nailed on. The house also had electric lights powered by a Delco battery and a telephone before those things were commonplace in the area.

   Richardson family, left to right, back: John Lee,
   J. D., Loula, Arabella, Pearl; front, Will, Patsy.

J.D.Richardson in the front yard of his house.

The Richardsons' house was located on what is now Ring Road and is still inhabited. Some of the large oak trees that surrounded the house still stand. The yard was groomed by sweeping it, leaving just the clean sand typical of the Sandhills region, and picking up the acorns to feed to the hogs. J.D. is pictured on the right, standing in the front yard, where he had a corral for horses.

Arabella and J.D.Richardson on the back porches of their house.

He also raised Walker foxhounds and enjoyed hunting foxes. He fed the dogs on a special mixture of pork skins, sweet potatoes, corn meal, and other ingredients that were baked in a large pan in the oven. The grandchildren were sometimes given the job of breaking it up and throwing it out in the yard for the dogs to eat. He was rumored to have a still to supply his fellow hunters with whiskey, during the time of Prohibition. He drove a horse and buggy, and later in life, he is said to have gotten boisterous when indulging in his products and would make one of his grown daughters nervous by driving the buggy too fast down the dirt road.

Arabella McDonald Richardson

Arabella's parents were John Finlayson McDonald (1817-1899), son of Angus McDonald and Mary Finlayson, and Jennet Isabella Patterson(1843-1901), daughter of Neill Patterson (1808-1877) and Margaret Ann Eliza McLean(1817-1891). Arabella conversed in Gaelic with relatives who visited her from Raeford, and was proud of her Highland Scottish heritage and language.

She was born November 2, 1867 in Moore County. One of her granddaughters described her as a tall, red-haired woman who loved to walk. She had a collection of costume jewelry and had her earlobes pierced for earrings.

Her house was located at the end of an unpaved road. Some of her grandchildren recall that she walked about a mile to the mailbox every day, passing their house, and that the her apron pockets were always full of teacakes for them. They remember her as kindly and loving, in contrast to J.D., a large, stern man, sometimes called "big John," who intimidated them.

Arabella McDonald Richardson

In the living room of her home, she had luxurious touches such as an organ and a table with a stereoscope lying on it. However, the family usually sat in the bedroom with the fireplace or stove burning. The porch was also a favorite sitting place, where Arabella kept flypaper on one of the chairs.

Arabella Richardson died May 10, 1935. J.D. died December 18, 1936. They were buried at Johnson Grove Cemetery in Vass.

J. D. and Arabella Richardson had six children.

Click here to read about The Children of J.D. and Arabella McDonald Richardson.


1850 United States Federal Census, Upper Regiment, Chatham County, N. C., p. 40.

1860 United States Federal Census, Eastern District, Chatham County, N. C., pp. 12, 107.

1870 United States Federal Census, Grantham Township, Wayne County, N. C., p. 36.

1880 United States Federal Census, Matthews Township, Chatham County, N. C.; E. D. 29, p. 12.

Population Schedule of the Twelfth Census of the United States: 1900, North Carolina, Moore County, (Washington: National Archives and Record Service) Enumeration District 75, Sheet 9.

Population Schedule of the Thirteenth Census of the United States: 1910, North Carolina, Moore County, (Washington: National Archives and Record Service) Enumeration District 69, Sheet 9A.

Population Schedule of the Fourteenth Census of the United States: 1920, North Carolina, Moore County, (Washington: National Archives and Record Service) Enumeration District 91, Sheet 10A.

Population Schedule of the Fifteenth Census of the United States: 1930, North Carolina, Moore County, (Washington: National Archives and Record Service) Enumeration District 12, Family #321.

Population Schedule of the Fifteenth Census of the United States: 1930, North Carolina, Moore County, (Washington: National Archives and Record Service) Enumeration District 12, Family #318.

Marriage Register 1, (1851-1914) Microfilmed by N. C. Dept. of Archives and History, Jan. 2, 1959, bound volume located in Chatham County Register of Deeds, Pittsboro, N. C., p. 116.

"Marriages," The Jonesboro Leader, Jonesboro, N. C., April 3, 1889, newspaper.

Deed, 23 November 1904, John D. & Arabella Richardson from Sarah E. Cole; Deed Book #29, p. 591, Moore County Register of Deeds, Carthage, N. C.

Death Certificate of William H. Richardson, North Carolina Death Certificates, 1909-1975, online database at

Death Certificate of Mary MacDonald Richardson in North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, Vol. 1801, p. 308.

Obituary of Mr. Billie Richardson, The Pilot, Vol. 2, No. 9, January 20, 1922, Vass, N. C., p. 8, newspaper.

Obituary of J. D. Richardson, Raleigh News and Observer, Raleigh, N.C., Dec. 29, 1936.

"Mr. Richardson Passes: Well-Known Citizen of the Vass Community Succumbs Monday," The Moore County News, Dec. 31, 1936, p. 1.

Grave stone of Pyrena Richardson at Love's Creek Baptist Church, 1745 Hwy. 64, Siler City, N. C.

Grave stone of William H. Richardson in the Crains Creek Cemetery, Crains Creek Road, Cameron, N.C.

Grave stones in Johnson Grove Cemetery, Vass, N.C.

Grave stones in the McDonald Family Cemetery on Crains Creek, Cameron, N.C.

Alex M. Patterson, Highland Scots Pattersons of North Carolina and Related Families. (Raleigh: Contemporary Lithographers, Inc., 1979), pp. 159-194.

James Vann Comer, Old Moore County, N.C. Vital Statistics (1784-1890), (Sanford: James Vann Comer, 1999), pp. 96-98, 104.

James Vann Comer, Gone and Almost Forgotten: Crain's Creek Community, (Sanford: James Vann Comer, 1986), pp. 86-87, 104.

Interview with Willie Alexander Carr by the author, June 10, 2002.

Interviews with grandchildren of J. D. Richardson.

Home Alexander McDonald Richardson Stilwell Index of

From Mecklenburg to Moore: Four North Carolina Families/J.D. Richardson & Mary Arabella McDonald
© 2001 by Glenda Alexander, updated Jan. 9, 2011   Standard copyright restrictions apply.

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