WILLIAM ALFORD RICHARDS was born in Hazel Green, Wisconsin. He was an ambulance driver for the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War. He spent seven years in the survey of the boundaries of Wyoming, and surveyed for a number of years in both California and Colorado. He also homesteaded a cattle ranch near Worland, Wyoming and supervised the construction of an irrigation project in the Big Horn Basin. Prior to becoming governor, he was elected Johnson County Commissioner and appointed U.S. Surveyor General for Wyoming. During his gubernatorial term, Richards dealt with economic recession resulting from the Panic of 1893. Declining renomination for governor, he accepted President McKinley's appointment as U.S. Assistant Commissioner of the General Land Office in 1899, and was promoted to Commissioner four years later. During his tenure with the General Land Office, he opened the Comanche, Apache, and Wichita Indian reservations in Oklahoma to settlement.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 11. New York: James T. White & Company.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.