John Treadway Rich
Governor (1893 - 1897)

John T. Rich, the twenty-third governor of Michigan, was born in Conneautville, Pennsylvania on April 23, 1841. His education was attained in the public schools of Vermont and Michigan. Rich entered into a career in public service in 1869, serving as a member and chairman of the board of supervisors of Lapeer County, a position he held three years. He also served as a member of the Michigan House of Representatives from 1873 to 1881, serving as speaker the last two terms. He was a delegate to the Republican State Conventions in 1873, 1875 and 1878, was a member of the Michigan State Senate from January 1881 until March 1881, and served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1881 to 1883. Rich won election to the Michigan governorship in 1892, and was re-elected to a second term in 1894. During his tenure, a railroad strike, as well as an iron mine strike was dealt with. Also, three members of the State Canvassing Board were ousted from office for falsifying pony returns on a salary raise vote for state officeholders. After completing his term, Rich left office on January 1, 1897. He continued to stay politically active, serving as the U.S. collector of customs at Port Huron, Michigan from 1908 to 1913. Governor John T. Rich passed away on March 28, 1926, and was buried in the Mount Hope Cemetery in Lapeer, Michigan.

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

National Association of Governors


John Treadway Rich was another of Michigan's notables whose career took him from the farm to the highest office within the gift of the people of the state. His services to the state and nation included three terms in the lower house of the Michigan legislature, one term in the state senate, a term in the national house of Representatives, state railroad commissioner, governor of the state, and collector of customs at Detroit.

Mr. Rich served two terms as governor, being first elected in the fall of 1892 and again in 1894. Elected in 1892 by a majority of approximately 16,000, his administration received public endorsement two years later in a majority of 106,892, which for years stood as the only instance in which a governor of the state received a larger majority for re-election than that received at the first election.


Born in Conneautville, Pa., April 23, 1841. Rich moved five years later to Shoreham, Vt. Upon the death of his mother the following year he came to Michigan to reside with an uncle on a farm near the town of Elba. District schools, Clarkston Academy and the public schools of Lapeer gave him his education. Farm work, however, took him from school in 1861. It was while engaged  in this work that he became treasurer of the Northeastern Agricultural Society, a position he held for five years. Later he served as supervisor of his township.

His first term in the state legislature began on 1872.  In 1881 he was elected to the state senate, but after less than three months' service he resigned to accept nomination as a representative in congress to which body he was elected by a large majority. He was defeated for re-election and in 1886 was appointed by Governor Luce as commissioner of railroads. He was re-appointed to this office in 1888.

Following his two terms as governor which began in 1903 he was appointed collection of customs for the port of Detroit, taking that office March 1, 1898.

Although he was not a graduated attorney, Mr. Rich as railroad commissioner successfully argued numerous cases involving the state before the Michigan supreme court.


Mr. Rich's private interests were concerned largely with lumber and insurance and as an avocation he devoted considerable time to the breeding of stock, particularly sheep. He was at one time a stockholder, director and treasurer of the Delta Lumber company of Detroit and president of the Lapeer County Farmers Mutual Fire Insurance company.

a connoisseur of wool, Mr. Rich served with Edward A. Green of Philadelphia, Nicholas Mauger of New York and John Houston of Connecticut on the national commission which selected wool samples for the customs house authorities from all parts of the world. On his farm near Elba, which he purchased following the death of his uncle, were some direct descendants of the Spanish Merino sheep, brought to Vermont in 1812.

In his later years Mr. Rich spent much of his time in Florida, where he maintained a winter home. He was married in 1863 to Lucretia M. Winship of Atla., Genesee county.

Published in Ironwood Daily Globe (Ironwood, Michigan) 29 Mar 1926

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