The Randolph Society Foundation Board is pleased to announce that Richmond Durfee and Samuel Crozier, two of the founders of the town of Red Bud, will be inducted into the 2019 class of honorees.
Richmond Durfee, the grandson of a Revolutionary War veteran, was born in 1815 in Fall River, Massachusetts. With his parents and seven sisters, he moved as a teenager to southern Monroe County, where his father established a farm near the border with Randolph County. As a young man, Richmond was appointed postmaster at Prairieville. He soon began buying land of his own in both counties, and by the 1840s, he had established the first store in an area near Prairieville that he called “Red Bud.” He named the fledgling settlement after the flowering trees that surrounded his dry goods store — the first permanent mercantile establishment in the town, located on the southeast corner of present-day Main and Market Streets.
In the 1850s, Richmond expanded his business by taking on a partner: Samuel Crozier, the son of settlers who had migrated from Abbeville, South Carolina, to Randolph County in the early nineteenth century. Samuel, who was born in 1822, was the eldest of a large family, all of whom were born in Randolph County. His father had settled near Horse Prairie shortly after Samuel’s birth. In the Crozier family, Richmond found not only a business partner but also a spouse. He married Samuel’s younger sister, Caroline Lavinda Crozier, in 1844. The couple built a house not far from Richmond’s store. A year later, Samuel married Nancy Ross, and the two families grew as the Durfee and Crozier retail business expanded.
By 1855, Richmond and Samuel were ready to put down more permanent commercial roots in Red Bud. They built a brick store in the Greek Revival style on the northeast corner of Main and Market Streets. The Durfee & Crozier Store still stands today in Red Bud and is likely the oldest surviving building in town. In the 1970s, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places, along with the rest of the surrounding Red Bud Historic District. Business flourished right away, and the two men even began investing in a proposed railroad to help move goods directly to and from their store.
But in 1859, as their mercantile enterprise was thriving, Samuel died of consumption. Richmond carried on the business, first in Red Bud, and then in St. Louis, where he established a dry goods store near the construction site of the new Eads Bridge. Eventually, he settled his family in Jacksonville, Illinois, where he operated a store for a time with his eldest son, Eric, as his business partner. After Eric’s death in 1883, the family decided to seek out a warmer climate. Richmond built a spectacular Victorian farmhouse in Florence, California, in the Queen Anne style. It too is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it serves as an architectural and historical “resource of major local significance.”
Richmond Durfee died in California in 1897, but the commercial legacy that he and Samuel Crozier began in Red Bud continues to thrive today. Historians have noted that the partners, especially Richmond, have a very strong claim to be called founders of Red Bud. Their role in starting the town’s business community has been highlighted as “an interesting indicator of the town’s entire history: beginning as a store, Red Bud became and has remained the commercial center of the surrounding agricultural area.” Now a popular restaurant at the center of numerous thriving businesses, the Durfee & Crozier Store stands as a testament to the ingenuity and entrepreneurship of these early Red Bud citizens.