Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

Between 1900 and 1912 quite a rivalry existed in Warsaw over the office of mayor of the city. The principals in the rivalry were Benjamin F. Richardson, Charles A. Rigdon and Andrew G. Wood. All three men were very popular in the community, and each had a loyal group of followers. Richardson and Rigdon were Republicans, while Wood was a Democrat.

Benjamin Richardson came to Warsaw in 1885 from Toledo, Ohio. He started a retail dry goods store and soon became one of the leading merchants of Warsaw. He lived on South High street, owning the home which is now the Presbyterian Manse. Charles Rigdon was a native Warsawan who opened a dental office in Warsaw in 1875. He was active in the Odd Fellows lodge and was one of the managers of the Warsaw Opera House. Andrew Wood came to Warsaw in 1865 after a distinguished record in the Civil War. Going into the practice of law, he had a long and enviable record in both state and federal courts. Wood was the chairman of the Democratic Central Committee of the county for thirty years. He was the first Democrat to become a Warsaw city councilman and mayor.

Indiana had not yet established the primary plan of nominating candidates. In those days each party nominated its candidates in a caucus which was usually held in the Warsaw Opera House. The Republicans would usually hold their caucus first; then the Democrats would select a slate of opposition candidates.

In 1902 Richardson was elected mayor with a 108 vote plurality over his Democrat opponents. In 1904 Rigdon, the Republican candidate, was defeated by Wood, the Democrat, by a margin of just 14 votes. Two years later the same two candidates ran, with Rigdon defeating Wood, 657 to 402. In 1909 Richardson was selected over the incumbent Rigdon in the Republican caucus, then went on to defeat Wood in the fall election by a 229 vote margin.

These three men were mayors of Warsaw in a very important period of our history. There was considerable paving of streets, laying of sewers, and other outstanding city improvements at that time.

Warsaw Times-Union Tues. Sep. 29, 1953