In the 1840s, settlers from Tennessee and Kentucky began arriving in the Richardson area, which was inhabited by Comanche and Caddo Indian tribes. Several of the earliest families clustered around an area later named Breckinridge in honor of the Vice President of the United States from 1857-1861. The town was situated near the what is now Richland College and consisted of a general store, a blacksmith shop and the Floyd Inn.
After the Civil War, the railroad bypassed Breckinridge, and an area to the northwest of Breckinridge became the new center of activity. William J. Wheeler donated land for the town site and railroad right-of-way, but declined to have the village named in his honor. Instead the town was named for railroad contractor E.H. Richardson, who built the line from Dallas to Denison.
Richardson was chartered in 1873 and was generally situated between present-day Greer and Phillips streets on the north and south, and between Central Expressway and Greenville Avenue on the west and east, although a small segment did lie west of Central Expressway’s present alignment. Originally, there were three businesses: a general store, a post office and a drug store.