Thursday, February 14, 2013

"A Good English Name"

By Kristine Schmucker, Curator

This is the third in our series featuring the Rickman/Anderson/Clark families who settled in Harvey County in 1871.

Mary Ruth Martinsdale Rickman
Photo Courtesy Jullian Wall
Englishwoman, Mary Martinsdale arrived in Newton  to answer an advertisement for a mail-order-bride placed by Patrick Rickman of Newton, Kansas.  Much to her surprise, her future husband was black. She had answered the ad because "Rickman was a good English name, but now that she was here he was stuck with her." 
("On Equal Ground"  by Judy Burks, Newton Kansan, 125th Anniversary, Section B)

They wasted no time. Mary and Patrick were married March 17, 1911. 

Mary was born on a farm near Liverpool, England on October 22, 1872.  She had come to the United States at the age of 14 "to work for a family." Not much else is known of her life prior to coming to Kansas. In the spring of 1911, at the age of 39 she traveled to Newton, Kansas to meet her future husband.

Patrick Rickman  was a well-known and respected craftsman in Harvey County.  Born in White County, Tennessee on July 31, 1857, Pat came to Harvey County in 1879.  Here, he joined his father, Joseph Rickman, and aunt, Mary Rickman Anderson Grant.  He learned the trade of brick mason.

In 1882, he married Amanda Burdine and they had four children; Angus and Guy, who died young, and Hazel and Lloyd who lived to adulthood.  Pat and Amanda divorced in the fall of 1899.
Patrick Rickman
Photo courtesy Jullian Wall
At the time of his death, Pat Rickman was "one of the best known workmen in this section, as well as one of the most dependable, respected workman.  Many a building  stands today as a monument to his skill and industry." (Evening Kansan Republican, 25 August 1926, p. 2.)

His daughter, Hazel, later recalled the times she brought lunch to her father (Pat) while he was working on the foundation of Bethel College Administration building.  According to family tradition, Patrick Rickman was the head of the construction company that employed several members of the larger Rickman/Anderson family.This company worked on the foundation of the building for the new Mennonite college.*

Ad Building
Bethel College Administration Building
After the death of Patrick, his wife Mary, "worked as a private nurse having in her care, until their death, several of Newton's widely known and highly respected citizens."  In her obituary, Mary was described as "kind and loving, patriotic and charitable." She was survived by her step-children, Lloyd Rickman and Hazel Rickman Rossiter. Services for Mary were held at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Newton.  The pallbearers were  members of her adopted American family, the Rickmans, Andersons, and Rossiters. (Evening Kansan Republican, 12 Aug. 1943, p. 2.)

During the month of  February, in honor of  Black History Month, we will be featuring related stories from Harvey County. Much of the information on the Rickman/Anderson/Grant family is based on oral traditions preserved by Marguerite Rickman Huffman & June Rossiter Thaw and research by Karen Wall.  We are grateful for their willingness to share the stories of this Harvey County family. 

For the first installment which features Mary Rickman Anderson Grant see:  For the second installment that features her brother, Joseph Rickamn, see:

For more about the early life of Patrick Rickman

*No records have been found that identify who constructed the first half or foundation of the Ad Building. "On Equal Ground"  by Judy Burks, Newton Kansan, 125th Anniversary, Section B
  • Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives Marriage Certificate - March 17, 1911
  • Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives City Directories 1885-1926
  • Evening Kansan Republican, 25 August 1926, p. 2.
  • Evening Kansan Republican, 28 August 1926, p. 2.
  • Evening Kansan Republican, 12 Aug. 1943, p. 2.
  • "On Equal Ground"  by Judy Burks, Newton Kansan, 125th Anniversary, Section B

To view the complete inventory of Marriage Certificates at the Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives, visit and click on the 'Research Library' tab.

1 comment:

  1. That certainly explains Aunt Hazel and Grandma's insistence on "Queen's English" and manners. What a fun story