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John D. Richards was born in 1831. He married C.J. Richards and had at least one child, Annie Lelia Richards, who died at 17.

Richards was a successful businessman in Detroit and a civil rights activist. Richards was one of William Lambert's inner circle of trusted friends. Richards and George DeBaptiste organized Michigan's first colored regiment who fought for the Union during the Civil War, the 102nd U.S. Colored Troops.

He helped his sister Fannie Richards as she promoted the concept of kindergarten for schools.

Richards died in 1882 and is buried in Section N, Lot 150.

Richards is listed in Elmwood’s Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Self-Guided Tour Map.