In 1871 Robert Henry Riker (pictured below left, 1866) arrived in Santarem and bought land from the govern-ment of Pará. Riker, together with his brother Herbert, made the first rubber plantations in the Amazon. A curious detail is that decades later, the American industrialist Henry Ford tried to cultivate the plant in the same area, on the banks of the Tapajós river.
Robert Henry Riker was a railway entrepreneur in the United States and was in Fort Sumter, near the city of Charleston, South Carolina, when the first shot of the Southerners who started the Civil War was fired.Riker came to Brazil accompanied by his wife and 5 children (a nine-month-old baby died on the trip). For the aristocratic family, and a member of the high society of Charleston, living in a rustic area and where the neighbors were distant was undoubtedly difficult. The couple Riker still had a son here in Brazil, baptized Marlin Amazonas. However, the boy was born with deficiencies and had to be supported by the other brothers until the adult age.
Mrs. Sarah Riker (pictured below right) and her children made trips to visit their homeland. According to Odete Guilhon tells us, Mrs. Riker never got used to the change of country and lived sadly her years in Brazil, dying, still new, in 1877. Four years later, Robert H. Riker lost his eldest son , Robert, only 29 years old. The older daughter Lilla married Charles Vaughan from another immigrant family and returned to the United States. The other sister, Virginia, followed the same path. The patriarch Robert H. Riker passed away in 1883.
However, his two sons David and Herbert continued the family business in the city. The farm in the Diamantino was sold by David in 1910 (in the photo below, the farm headquarters when still in the power of the family).
David and his brother Herbert Riker eventually became the administrators of the family assets after the death of their parents. After being widowed, David married a 19-year-old Santarém girl named Raimunda or Dona Mundica, with whom she remained until her death (in the photo right, David Riker is already old). The couple had 14 children.
David Riker (photo left) left a written account where he refers to the Wickham family, of English origin, who maintained a school in the city of Santarém. One of its members was Henry Wickham, known for taking the rubber tree seeds to the Kew Botanical Garden in London. They were then transplanted to Malaysia, where they were domesticated. This fact led to the collapse of rubber production in the Amazon in the early twentieth century.
David Riker was approached by American journalists interested in knowing the fate of the Confederates who came to Brazil. In 1941, James E. Edmonds of The Saturday Evening Post came to Santarem and met David Riker, living in a good house, which could easily be recognized by the American eagle trapped in the front holding the United States' America (photo below).
Inside a large family, described as friendly and cheerful. David introduced his wife and proudly said that she had given him 14 children, 11 of whom were alive. He recalled the old confederates who remained and were buried in the region, as in the case of David's parents and his elder brother.
David Rilker referred to the venture of the Henry Ford (Fordlandia) indus-trialist, where he worked as an interpreter and also directed the meat supply sector. David criticized the inadequate practices adopted by the famous entrepreneur and intended to change the life of the Amazonian caboclo, as well as the way the rubber plantation business was being remot-ely directed remotely.
Realizing that the reporter was going to ask the question "Was it worth it?", David Riker replied, "I am glad to have stayed here.God has been kind to me.My children are considerate.Wife is kind and loyal.Nothing is missing How many can say the same. " David Riker passed away in 1954, at the age of 93. His wife, Dona Mundica, died in 1975, also at age 93!
David Bowman Riker, the patriarch of the Rikers and his family. The first, among many other confederates, to settle in Santarém. In the photo, Raimunda Ferreira da Silva (wife), grandson Pedro Rubim Riker Branco (behind) and great-grandson of the couple Walter Branco (at the front) appear, still alive. Record probably made between 1954 and 1957, in the residence of Bowman, in the neighborhood of Prainha. He was the grandfather of the former deputy mayor of Santarém Delano Riker, already deceased.
Reporting the death of Delano Riker Teles de Menezes, 60, vice-mayor of Santarém on March 13, 2008. Delano was much more than a politician in his life. He was a cattle rancher on the Amazon River floodplain; he was a pilot and owner of a regional airline; and Riker was a blood descendant of the American Confederates, called Confederados here. The patriarch was Robert Henry Riker, who ventured off from South Carolina to Santarém with his whole family in 1867. I understand that he was president of a railroad in South Carolina prior to the Civil War and that he was much better off economically than other Confederados coming to Santarém. His American wife, Sarah Elizabeth Hapoldt, died 10 years after arriving in the Amazon. Their six children born in the United States included David Bowman Riker, the last Confederate to die in the Amazon. Robert Riker married again and fathered several more children born here in Santarém. More coming up in the next blog post. Image, Delano Riker's coffin leaving the Baptist Church of Santarém.