Oliver W. Richardson

Oliver W. Richardson
Cecilia Bianchi (Oliver's fiancee)

August 22nd, 1895. 

Liverpool, England - came on board the steamship Cephalonia at 11.30 a.m. Very much disappointed as there was no one to greet me, and see me off. My Uncle George had promised to do so if possible, but for some reason or other he did not come. Nearly every one else seemed to have one or more to bid them "farewell", but amongst all the people around me, there was not one I knew. Perhaps it was best. I do not think I ever saw such a sight in my life, hundreds of men, women and children in tears, and in watching them I could not keep back my own. Oh these terrible partings, these awful good byes! How they wring our very souls as we go through them, as we say them down here on earth.

Later - I have just been talking to one of the sailors and he tells me there are over a thousand passengers to take the trip, but we have to call at Queenstown, Ireland to pick some of them up tomorrow. 5.30 p.m. - The ship is now beginning to move. A great shouting and waving of caps and handkerchiefs and cheers from the pier, and from the ship, and we are slowly moving out into the harbor. All of us on the ship are looking back to the people on the pier, and I suppose all wrapped up in thoughts of the loved ones in our homes and of the dear land, which perhaps some of us, and maybe many of us will never see again.

Now we have come to a stand still, for the ship has run aground, not enough water, and we have to wait till the tide comes in. But I wish you were here to see this glorious sunset! It seems as though it is like the one St. John saw, "a Sea of glass mingled with fire" -(Revelations 15:2). I have watched the sun as it set in dear old Cosgrove, but I am sure I have never seen it as beautiful as this. But now I must look the other way, for the ship has started again, and the shores of dear old England are fading from view. All is gone now but just one cliff and that seems to be getting smaller and smaller - now it is almost gone!

Dear old England! Home of my birth, home of my childhood and holding all that I love most dearly in all the world! How did I come to leave thee? Never have I loved thee as I love thee now! Now cannot see thee for hot blinding tears are filling my eyes, but oh be good to all whom I love and are leaving behind me!

August 23rd, 1895. 

Awakened by a steward calling "Breakfast will be on the table in twenty minutes". Breakfast is over and we are sailing up the Irish Channel. The Irish coast is on the right of us, and the great cliffs which have stood there for generations are still standing in all their silent grandeur. Defying wind, storm and tempest. Now we come in sight of Queenstown and as we draw nearer, we get one of the finest, if not the finest sight I have ever seen. Now a flag is drawn up to the top of the mast, one half stars and the other stripes and soon we come to a stand still, about three or four miles I should think from land. A signal is given and almost directly a tender starts out from the shore, bringing passengers and their luggage that are to come on board. In a few minutes they are alongside, two huge ropes are thrown over, and the smaller vessel is fastened to the larger one. Planks are let down and the passengers are soon on board, but I cannot keep my eyes off the scenery around me - thousands of sea gulls are flying from the rocks till the sea is literally covered with them.

There is another thing that attracts my attention, and that is the people from Queenstown with things to sell - shawls, scarfs, bonnets and all sorts of wearing apparel, as well as nuts, apples, oranges and other things too numerous to mention, and apparently they did a brisk trade.

Now we are off again on our journey. The sea gulls are following us by the thousands darting down after the least thing that is thrown overboard. We are still in sight of the coast on our right, but the distance from it is gradually increasing. Yonder is a light house which sends out its light into the darkness of the night to warn the seamen to steer clear of the rocks.

I am told that this is the last sight of the land we shall get till we get near the American shore. Now daylight is fast fading, the shadows are lengthening, night is coming, the evening star is beginning to shine.

August 24th, 1895.

Have had good nights sleep, but am now feeling far from well, too ill to write more now, dreadfully sea-sick! Heard much of but it is much worse than I expected!

August 25th, 1895. 

Sunday Morning - Am feeling a trifle better, but am far from well. The weather is showery but it clears up later in the day making me feel better. My first Sunday at sea! Not a sail in sight, not even a sea gull skimmering over the water, nothing but sky and sea! The ship, though is ploughing her way briskly over the water, but bringing me nearer and nearer to another land but alas! Alas! It is bearing me farther and farther from home and all that I hold most dear. But how comforting it is to feel that God our Father is watching over and taking care of us who are on the sea as well as of you who are on the land.

Morning prayers in the saloon at 10.30 a.m. - As I entered, one of the Officers was just giving out that beautiful hymn "Art thou weary? Art thou languid? Art thou sore distressed?" Only a few joined in the singing. Then followed the lovely prayers of the Church of England, which I know so well. But when a little later we stood up and sang that glorious hymn "Eternal Father strong to save", it seemed one of the times in my life when He was especially present. Many times have I joined in that hymn at the churches at home, but the words never had such depth of meaning as they did this morning. It is easy enough to sing them on land, perhaps without a real prayer going up from the heart to God, but I cannot imagine any one being out in the middle of the ocean and singing these words lightly. I know as I joined in the words this morning, my heart went up to God. I know not if I sang the music correctly or not. In the ears of those around me I may have been horribly out of tune - I care not! But in the ears of God "that eternal Father" I believe it was the sweetest music, for when immediately after the hymn was finished, the blessing was pronounced "The peace of God which passeth all understanding." I felt then that God had heard, for his peace filled my whole heart and soul! "Which the world can never give or take away".

Sunday Evening

I spent most of the afternoon in bed, but a little while ago I got up and went for a walk on the deck, but a storm is coming and it is difficult to keep one's footing and we are all ordered below, but before we can do so, a great wave dashes over the side of the ship and we are all drenched to the skin.

August 26th, 1895. 

Nice morning, but still too sick to write much and nothing of importance happens, but as the day closes in, the wind is blowing furiously and the officers and sailors tell us to prepare for the coming storm.

August 27th, 1895. 

The wind has increased during the night and is now blowing a tremendous gale. I am feeling a little better but it is too rough to hold the pen steady, so I must be content to sit and watch, and if possible give you an account of it tomorrow.

August 28th, 1895. 

The wind is a little stiller and I am feeling a little better so I will try to give you an account of yesterday's storm. Most people suppose have heard or read of a storm at sea but unless they have been in such a storm they can have no idea of its awful grandeur. I know that I had never imagined anything like it. One of the Officers told us this morning that the storm of yesterday was the worst he had been in, in 15 years. I think I realized as never before those words of the Psalmist- "They that go down to the sea in ships, and do business in great waters, these men see the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep for He commandeth the stormy wind which lifteth the waves thereof. They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths. Their soul melteth because of their trouble. They reel to and fro and stagger like drunken men and are at their wits end".

Then says the Psalmist "Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble and He bringeth them out of their distress - Then are they glad because they be quiet, so He bringeth them unto their desired haven". Psalm 107:23-30 

That I believe in this most beautiful description of a storm at sea that has ever been written. Written probably more than three thousand years ago, but yesterday August 28th in the year of our Lord 1895, we had the whole thing in all its details stretched out before us. He commanded the stormy wind which lifted up the waves thereof, we mounted up to the heavens, we went down again to the depths. The sailors and a few of us who were a little more daring or perhaps a little more foolish that went on deck literally "reeled to and fro and staggered like drunken men" and I for one was at my wit's end.

I cannot explain just how it made me feel, so many thoughts come crowding into one's mind, but I know my ideas of God are enlarged. I know not how many of us there were that cried unto the Lord in our trouble, but I know I did for one and this morning He seemed to have "brought us out of our trouble" and I have no doubt whatever but that He will "bring us unto our desired haven". As this day goes on, the sea is quieter and it seems to have ceased its raging, but a thick fog is settling down all around us and the fog signal is blowing continually and is almost deafening.

August 29th, 1895. 

Fine morning, but later on it commenced to rain so we all were obliged to stay below and not feeling too well, I lay in bed nearly all day.

August 30th, 1895. 

One of the lovliest days we have had. I sit or lie down on the deck nearly all day simply drinking in the beauty of the sea and sky and every breeze that blows seems to put new life and strength into my body. After the storm, the calm. The storm was necessary to make this day more perfect.

August 31st, 1895. 

The weather is grand, not a sail in sight, scarcely a ripple on the water.

September 1st, 1895.

Beautiful morning - service on board at 10.00 a.m. I enjoyed it Immensely. Joined in the three lovely hymns - "Rock of Ages Cleft for me", "Jesus lover of my soul". and "Lead Kindly Light".

11-30 a.m. The American Pilot has just come on board to take us into Boston Harbor where we are to land, at present we are fifty two miles from the sight of the land.

2.30 p.m. Now we get our first sight of land. For more than a week we have seen nothing but sea and sky. But now we see the land and my own feelings are indescribable. A great cheer goes up from hundreds of voices as the flags are raised to the top of the mast, and are flying in the breeze.

5.30 p.m. We are gliding into the harbor, scores of boats come out to meet us as we were expected to get In yesterday. An American Doctor has just come on board, and we are all ordered below to our cabins, so that means we shall not be able to watch the vessel reach the landing stage which is a great disappointment to us all. In our cabin all those that have not been in the "States" before have to be vaccinated before they will let us laud.

Now that is over and a whole string of questions is asked especially of those who have not been here before - "Your name? Where are you going? Who to? Who sent for you? Who paid your fare? Under any contract to work for anyone? and finally, How much money have you?

And then after these questions have been asked and answered satisfactorily, a ticket is given you to land.

Then follows a scene that defies description - hundreds of people of almost every nationality, tons and tons of luggage, scores of policemen or officials on duty to try and keep order, scores of Custom House Officials to inspect our luggage as it is brought out of the ship. Here is my trunk now after nearly three hours of waiting, and after examination and finding I have nothing on which I should pay duty, I have it checked for New York. A little way out from the pier we cross the ferry for which we pay one cent. There are plenty of cabs or carriages to take us to the station for half a dollar or two shillings of our English money, but as I have plenty of time I decided to walk.

Boston Station - 10.30 p.m.

A fast train leaves here for New York at midnight, so I have an hour and a half to wait, I will look around me.

Boston Station _ it is the most beautiful station I think I have ever seen, but what impresses me the most perhaps is the fact that there are no "First", "Second" or "Third" class passengers here, for we are all "First" class here! But now I am free to confess that I am very tired so I will sit down and rest.

September 2nd, 1895 – New York, Monday morning - 6.00 a.m. 

Have just had six hours ride by rail, so different to every thing in England. Have just made inquiries, can ride on the "Elevated Rail" to Brooklyn Bridge, an electric car will take me across for five cents, another will let me down at Washington Avenue, where I have to go. Reached my sister about 8.00 a.m.

Very, Very, Very, Tired but, safe! - OLLIE.

Cephalonia was built in 1882 at Birkenhead by Laird Bros for the Cunard Line. Throughout her career she served between Liverpool and Boston. In 1900 she was sold to the Chinese Eastern Railway and renamed Hailor. LOA 430.6ft. Beam 46.5ft. Displ. 5517tons gross.


Log of Royal Mail Steamer "Cephalonia"

This 1901 photograph shows students attending the South Britain School.

Dorothy and Annie Richardson daughters of Oliver and Cecilia Richardson are in the middle row.

Left to right (top row) Bessie Spencer, Herbert Ingram, Esther Bezker, Helmar Anderson, Media Fields, Philip Lockwood, Levi Stournson

Left to right (middle row) William Fleming, Alice Erikson, Dorothy Richardson, Marth Scoville, Bernice Hubbell, Winfred Williams,
Gertrude Beardsley (teacher) Helen Mitchell, Dorothy Taylor, and Annie Richardson

Left to Right (bottom row) Greg Cassidy, Elizabeth Cassidy, Fred Fleming, Florence Spencer, Stanley Anderson, Bill Richmond, Wesley Hubbell, and Fred Spencer.

Oliver W. Richardson - 1920 Census Record Barkhamsted, Litchfield County, Connecticut, United States

Oliver Richardson lived in Litchfield County, Connecticut in 1920. He was the head of the household, 52 years old, and identified as white. Oliver was born in England around 1868, and both of his parents were born in England as well. In 1920, Oliver was married to Cecilia E. Richardson, and they had two children named Dorathea B. and Anne B.. He could read and write.

In the 1940 census he was recorded as a widower with his daughter Dorothy living with him.