Richard Ellis was born Friday, July 28th, 1819, in Philadelphia, of Irish parentage. His father, George Ellis, was well known in that city as a brewer, being one of the firm of Rudman & Ellis, and having immigrating to this country in 1816. Richard received an excellent education both in the common and private schools of the city, having been a student under William Collom, in Commissioners’ Hall, Northern Liberties, George Hippie, in Brook Street, and afterwards under the preceptorship of the father of Hon. William B. Mann, District Attorney of Philadelphia. He was early apprenticed to the house carpentering trade, under Thomas B. Patterson, a gentleman who had served with John Rice, one of the prominent builders of his native city. This apprenticeship commenced in March 1837, and he soon acquired unusual proficiency in the various details of this important trade. After the completion of his term of service, he remained with Mr. Patterson, as foreman of that gentleman’s establishment, for a number of years. While in this capacity, he supervised the construction of the first cottages put up by Philadelphia carpenters at Cape May. This was as early as the spring of 1844, when only a few could be found who believed in the ultimate importance of that place as a seaside resort. Upon his return to Philadelphia he continued as house carpenter for some years, and then engaged with Clement Keen & Brother as a ship joiner. With this firm he remained until 1850. In that year he was by the City Councils elected as Lieutenant of Police, then under the late Marshall Keyser, and continued in this office until the consolidation of the various districts into one municipality, in, 1854, when he was selected by Mayor Robert T. Conrad for the detective branch of the new police force. Upon the incoming of Mayor Alexander Henry he was among the very first officials re-appointed. He continued under the able administration of this gentleman in the same position until January 1861, when Governor Curtin appointed him Whiskey Inspector for the Port of Philadelphia. In this year the first flame of the- Rebellion burst out, and he was one of the foremost to offer his services to the National Government. He was mustered in, May 25th, 1861, as Captain of Company D, 2nd Pennsylvania Reserves, Colonel William B. Mann, Commanding, having been actively engaged in recruiting his company from the date of the firing on Fort Sumter. His regiment went to the front, and in all its engagements he conducted himself with great gallantry. On October 28th, 1863, he was promoted from Captain to Major; was brevetted Lieutenant-Colonel March 13th, 1864, and was mustered out of service June 16th, 1865.1 During the continuance of his military duties he retained the position to which Governor Curtin had appointed him, and prior to the expiration of his term in this office, was appointed United States Revenue Ganger, and held the position until 1869. In January 1871, he was appointed by Hon. William S. Stokley as Lieutenant of the 5th Police District, and so served until the fall of 1873, when, having been elected by a large majority Clerk of the Orphans’ Court of Philadelphia, he relinquished his police duties and entered upon the discharge of those devolving upon him as an important court official.
2nd PA Reserves