Frank Pierson Richards (1852-1929) 

Frank P. Richards was a farmer living near Rochester, Illinois, who spent his evenings and winters carving. Richards was a farmer until the year his wheat crop burned. Then he moved to Edinburg, where he did odd jobs and became an inventor. One of his inventions was a model aircraft powered by a rubberband, which he flew off the top of a downtown building. Local legend says that took place before the Wright brothers invented their plane. 

Richards with mantel
Richards carved this mantel and screen from local wood on his farm in Edinburg, Illinois, about 1920. It was on display, but not used, at his Springfield home at 1160 West Elliott Street. In this photograph of Richards, the mantel, screen, and a collection of other objects and folk art carved by him, are visible in front of his home. He displayed them every Fourth of July on his lawn for the passing parade to see. Some of the figures were used as flag bearers in the parades. All these items were displayed at the Illinois State Fair in 1920 and won some blue ribbons. Richards refused to sell these items, even when someone offered to pay $2,500 for his whole group of carvings. Two of his figures, including one of General Grant, are in the collection of the Illinois State Museum.