Garry BrewerGrand Junction History Columnist

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January 3, 2012
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GJ HISTORY: Story of a lost Ute princess in Grand Junction

When we see people helping others during Christmas and other times of the year, we often marvel at how generous they are. They give so freely and seem to immerse themselves in the giving.There were two such generous beings, miracles of lives well lived at the Teller Indian School of 124 students in Grand Junction. They, together with superintendent Captain Theodore Lemmon, the staff, local townspeople and local officials present on Christmas Day in 1892 were there to sing praises and honor the Savior of the World, the Christ Child.Those special people that day were not the stars of the program, but one of the matrons of the school, Kate Aldura Richardson, and her young daughter, Edith Leroy Richardson. Kate had brought her upright piano with her to the school and that night she played all the music for the Christmas story, and Edith performed a solo.It wasn't just that evening that made Kate and Edith miracles but the wonderful works they would accomplish in their lives and the fact they were lucky to be alive.Kate, mother of Edith, was born near Springville, Utah, about 1858. She was the daughter of Chief Tintic and his wife, Copperfield, of the Ute Indians. At 18 months, Kate was adopted by Charles Edmund Richardson and his wife, Mary Ann Darrow Richardson of Springville.This is the story of Kate and Edith, both lost princesses of the Ute Nation, who lived in our town of Grand Junction. They overcame the fear of the tribe that tried to kill Kate as a baby; Kate and Edith gave back to the Ute Nation with kindness and hope through teaching and nursing skills.In the early fall of 1861 or 1862, according to the diary of Charles Edmund Richardson, his friend, Indian interpreter, Amos Warren, entered the Ute Camp near Clay Beds, around Springville. Amos noticed a group of Ute tribesmen around the body of a dead woman and an 18-month-old baby girl sitting on the body. One of the tribesmen shot an arrow into the neck of the baby. The child cried and with its tiny hands grabbed and took hold of the arrow. Almost immediately, another tribesman shot an arrow into the baby's leg. Amos, now standing with the circle of men around the baby, caught the arm of the next man who was about to shoot an arrow and asked: "What's going on here?"The men told him that the toddler was the daughter of the late Chief Tintic, and his wife, the baby's mother, had died. They explained that if the baby was left to live she would inherit the Chief's wealth. Amos, thinking quickly, asked the tribe members if he could take the baby and raise her, promising never to return to claim the inheritance The tribe members let him take the baby for a horse blanket and other things amounting to about $7 or $8.Amos removed the arrows, bound the wounds, and took the baby to Springville. Amos had many children of his own, so he asked his friends, the Richardsons, if they would take the baby in. They had one daughter and four sons, but there was room for one more. They named her Kate Aldura Richardson.Kate was raised with the Richardson family, went to school, LDS Sunday School, and was just as much a member of the Richardson family as any natural-born child.Kate feared the Indians would come and take her back and kill her so when any Indians came to Springville, Kate would run and hide. At times during her life, she would be seen feeling the scar on her neck from the arrow wound.She talked often about her father, Charles Richardson, who loved to whittle. One time he whittled a small Noah's Ark, with many pairs of animals. He also whittled many dolls for Kate.While in her early teens, Kate was once again orphaned. Her adoptive mother, Mary Ann Richardson, died in 1872; and then in 1875, Charles Edmund Richardson passed away.Kate could not speak Ute. She had been raised in a white family and was taught the skills of life, music, singing, housekeeping, sewing, cooking, teaching, and was very religious and devout in her LDS faith.In 1880, Kate, then 20, went to work at the home of the Lyman S. Wood family in Springville. Living next door was a boarder by the name of Charles Leroy Parrish, 30 years old and a laborer.It seems there have always been fast-talking bad boys, and Charles Leroy Parrish was one of those. On July 13, 1881, Kate gave birth to a baby girl named Edith Leroy Richardson in Springville.Charles had promised to marry Kate, but instead ran away and left Kate to raise her daughter alone. As was pointed out in writings of the day, Kate was betrayed by a scoundrel. That's why she did not give Edith the last name of Parrish.Parrish ended up in California where he lived out his life, married, raised a family and died.Kate was known for her devotion to children, so when the government provided responsible positions for staff and their children at the reservation schools, she would accept those jobs. That's how she and Edith came to live in Grand Junction.Thanks to her education, rare privileges came to Kate and her daughter. For a number of years she was a Matron for girls at the White Rocks Indian School, then at the Teller Institute in Grand Junction until 1909, followed by the Hopi Reservation in Arizona till 1914, and then at Ft. Duchesne, Uintah County, Utah.She was refined and attractive and particular with her personal appearance. She taught the girls in the school dormitories to live on a higher plane by strictly observing decency, cleanliness and neat appearance in dress.In 1924, while on a visit to her hometown of Springville, Kate commented to her friend, Mrs. Georgiana Clark, "I hope I can instill into those Indian girls the inspiring teachings of our pioneer mothers."In 1883, Kate Richardson, in an effort to recover the thousands of acres of land owned by her natural father, Chief Tintic, made an application for the lands. But the government stated in a letter that the ownership of the land in question was settled by the Ute Treaty of 1868. Kate's birthright was sold by the tribe who tried to kill her so many years before.Kate Aldura Richardson died Dec. 29, 1927, at age 70, and is buried in Uintah County, Utah.Kate's daughter Edith was present at her mother's death and noted that the scars on her mother's neck and leg were still visible.Thus lived and died Kate, the princess daughter of Chief Tintic, and his wife, Copperfield, and her parents via adoption, Charles Edmund and Mary Ann Darrow Richardson.Reaching back on that Christmas Day in 1892, at the Teller Indian Institute, the two miracles of Kate and Edith were giving to those boys and girls far from their homes, the Blessing of the Christmas Spirit.-----------------------Garry Brewer is storyteller of the tribe; finder of odd knowledge and uninteresting items; a bore to his grandchildren; a pain to his wife on spelling, but a locator of golden nuggets, truths and pearls of wisdom.=============PHOTOS & RESEARCH SOURCES: Museum of Western Colorado, Loyd Files Room; Michael Menard; Grand Junction News; Daily Sentinel files; Snap Photo; Dean Photo; Wanda Allen; Lo Anne Curtis; Richardson Family Researcher; Krissy Giacoletto, Special Collections Department, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah; Valeri Craigle, University of Utah, Access Technologies Librarian; Teresa Tipton, Buildings and Ground, Executive Secretary, Springville, Utah; Mrs. Pearl Ross, Teller Institute History; Martha Louise Hurst, "An Indian Saga"; Floyd A. O'Neil, Interview of Edith Richardson; and Journal of the Western Slope, summer 1993, vol 8, no. 3


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The Post Independent Updated Jan 3, 2012 09:47PM Published Jan 3, 2012 09:40PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.