Richard A Edwards

American Red Cross Poster

Richard Arthur Edwards and Alice Shirk Edwards


     Richard and Alice Edwards attended the organizational meeting of the Miami County American Red Cross in August of 1916.  The next January when officers were chosen Richard was placed on the board of directors.   The couple were members of a prominent family in the city of Peru that founded the First National Bank.  Alice’s father, Elbert H. Shirk, settled in Miami County, Indiana as early as 1844 and married his wife, Mary, in 1845.  Upon arriving in the county, he went into a partnership with a mercantile but the year in which he married he terminated his partnership and branched out on his own.  At one point, when he was in New York to buy merchandize for his store, he was able to obtain land warrants that were in the hands of brokers and had depreciated from the effects of the Mexican War.   He purchased these in cash and re-sold them to settlers wishing to go west.   He also had a great deal of money invested in Chicago.  In 1857, Elbert Shirk opened a private bank for deposits and in 1864 this private bank became First National Bank of Peru.  He made his money in three areas - Merchandizing, Real Estate and Banking.  Alice’s father was a man of slight build with a nervous energy.  


     Alice Mary Shirk was born in Peru, Indiana on November 14, 1853.   Growing up, she had a brother Milton and a brother Elbert.   In the late 1870’s Alice went away to school at The State Normal College in Bloomington Illinois where she met a man who had dark brown hair and eyes, and stood 5”7”.  He was the son of the president of the college and his name was Richard Arthur Edwards.  He had been born in Bridgewater, Massachusetts on November 9, 1851 and was the son of a Congregational Church pastor who was also a university professor.  Richard’s father moved his family from Massachusetts to St. Louis, and then on to Illinois.   In 1869, Richard graduated from Illinois Normal College, and, as a young man  a mere eighteen years of age, became the principle of Paxton, Illinois public schools.  He enrolled in Dartmouth College in 1872, but after one year ran out of funds, therefore during 1873 and 1874 he taught school and completed home study course work.   Richard was able to return to school at Princeton University and graduated in 1876 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.  After graduation Richard taught Greek and Latin at Rock River Seminary until 1878 when he began teaching English and Rhetoric at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. 

     On New Year’s Day of 1880 Richard and Alice were married.  Richard continued to teach for one year in Illinois and then the couple moved back to Peru and Richard went to work in his father in law’s bank.  They settled into life in Peru and enjoyed a family of two sons and three daughters.  Alice and Richard were very active members of the First Baptist Church.  Alice was known to be extremely family oriented.  Richard became president of the bank in 1911, and eventually Alice served on the board of the bank which was a position few women held in that time frame.  The couple were known for their conservative financial habits.  During her lifetime, she was a member of the Society of Colonial Dames of America, The Society of Indiana Pioneers, and the Indiana League of Women Voters.  She was a charter member of the Peru Reading Club, The Peru Art Club and the Peru Drama League.  During his lifetime, Richard became president of the Peru Flood Control Commission, he served on the Board of Education and the Chamber of Commerce. He also was president of Peru Reading Club and a member of the Moose Lodge.  The couple celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1930.   At 76 years of age, on the ninth of January in 1931, Alice passed away at the Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.   Richard lived on for sixteen more years before passing away on February 16, 1947.  He was 96 years old.   The couple is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery. 

Researched, written and submitted by Mary Rohrer Dexter

Works Cited

Bodurtha, Arthur. “History of Miami County, Indiana : a Narrative Account of Its Historical Progress, Its People and Its Principal Interests : Bodurtha, Arthur L. (Arthur Lawrence), b. 1865 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming.” Internet Archive, Chicago : Lewis Pub., 1 Jan. 1970, pages 563 - 565


“Golden Wedding Is Celebrated At Edwards Home.” Peru Republican, 3 Jan. 1930.

“ ‘Indiana Marriages, 1780-1992," Database, FamilySearch (Https:// : 10 March 2018), Richard A. Edwards in Entry for Richard E. Edwards and Marie Street, 11 Oct 1904; Citing Reference 13; FHL Microfilm 872,061.”

“ ‘Massachusetts Births, 1841-1915," Database with Images, FamilySearch (Https:// : 11 March 2018), Richard Arthur Edwards, 09 Nov 1851, Bridgewater, Massachusetts; Citing Reference ID #239, Massachusetts Archives, Boston; FHL Microfilm 1,420,833.”

“ ‘Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001," Database with Images, FamilySearch (Https:// : 17 October 2017), Richard Arthur Edwards, 09 Nov 1851; Citing Birth, Bridgewater, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States, , Town Clerk Offices, Massachusetts; FHL Microfilm 2,079,745.”

“Mrs. R. A. Edwards; Beloved Citizen; Deeply Mourned.” Peru Republican, 16 Jan. 1931.

“R.A. Edwards; Retired Banker; Dies Monday; Rites Thursda.” Peru DailyTribune, 18 Feb. 1947.

“Shirk Edwards House.” National Register of Historic Places, GOV,

“‘United States Census, 1870," Database with Images, FamilySearch (Https:// : 12 April 2016), Alice Shirk in Household of Elbert H Shirk, Indiana, United States; Citing p. 17, Family 132, NARA Microfilm Publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, N.d.); FHL Microfilm 545,842.”

"United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 21 April 2018), Richard A Edwards, Peru Township Peru city Ward 4, Miami, Indiana, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 106, sheet 4B, family 90, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,393.

“ ‘United States Census, 1910," Database with Images, FamilySearch (Https:// : Accessed 21 April 2018), Richard A Edwards, Peru Ward 4, Miami, Indiana, United States; Citing Enumeration District (ED) ED 132, Sheet 8B, Family 204, NARA Microfilm Publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), Roll 371; FHL Microfilm 1,374,384.”

“‘United States Census, 1920," Database with Images, FamilySearch (Https:// : Accessed 21 April 2018), Richard A Edwards, Peru Ward 4, Miami, Indiana, United States; Citing  ED 161, Sheet 9A, Line 19, Family 230, NARA Microfilm Publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), Roll 441; FHL Microfilm 1,820,441.”

“ ‘United States Census, 1930," Database with Images, FamilySearch (Https:// : Accessed 21 April 2018), Richard A Edwards, Peru, Miami, Indiana, United States; Citing Enumeration District (ED) ED 19, Sheet 11B, Line 88, Family 325, NARA Microfilm Publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), Roll 618; FHL Microfilm 2,340,353.”

“ ‘United States Passport Applications, 1795-1925," Database with Images, FamilySearch (Https:// : 4 October 2016), (M1372) Passport Applications, 1795-1905 > Roll 500, Vol 861, 1898 Jan > Image 91 of 539; Citing NARA Microfilm Publications M1490 and M1372 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, N.d.).”

WWI Veterans | Women of WWII | American Red Cross | Influenza and the World War | Annals of Miami County

home page
Find us on FaceBook Veterans
Natural History Townships of Miami County IN