Sid Williams Richardson, the son of John Isidore and Nancy (Bradley) Richardson, was born on 25th April, 1891, in Athens, Texas. After a brief stay at Baylor University he left in 1912 to become a salesman for an oil-well supply company.
In 1919 he joined forces with Clint Murchison Snr. and established an oil company in Fort Worth. At first this was a highly successful venture and he became a prosperous businessman. However, in 1921 the oil market collapsed and he lost most of his fortune.
Richardson continued to search for oil but by 1934 he was in debt to the banks in the region of 1$ million dollars. He approached an old friend, the newspaper publisher, Charles Edward Marsh. His loan of $30,000 was invested in drilling operations in Winkler County in Texas. In 1935 he discovered oil in what became known as the Keystone Field. Marsh split the profits with Richardson, who used the remaining money to drill up to 80 wells in the Keystone Field, allowing him to repay his debts.
Marsh used some of the profits he made from the oil business to buy a large estate in Virginia named Longlea. Whereas Richardson invested in three large cattle ranches. In 1936 Richardson purchased St. Joseph's Island off the Texas coast. Richardson was also an avid art collector. He was particularly keen on the work of Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell . These paintings can now be seen at the Sid Richardson Museum .
In the late 1940s, Richardson and another Texas oil mogul, Clint Murchison, met J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was the start of a long friendship. Later, Bobby Baker claimed that. "Murchison owned a piece of Hoover. Rich people always try to put their money with the sheriff, because they're looking for protection. Hoover was the personification of law and order and officially against gangsters and everything, so it was a plus for a rich man to be identified with him. That's why men like Murchison made it their business to let everyone know Hoover was their friend. You can do a lot of illegal things if the head lawman is your buddy."
In July, 1947, he established the Sid W. Richardson Foundation. He used this organization to provide money to churches, hospitals and schools in Texas. By this time Richardson was one of the richest men in the United States. It is estimated he was worth $800 million and he became known as the "bachelor billionaire".
Richardson had originally been a supporter of the Democratic Party and was associated with a group of right-wing politicians that included Richard B. Russell, Robert Kerr, Sam Rayburn and Lyndon B. Johnson. However, in 1952 he became a supporter of Dwight Eisenhower. He joined forces with Clint Murchison and J. Edgar Hoover to mount a smear campaign against Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic candidate for the presidency. He also supported Joseph McCarthy. According to Anthony Summers: "During the Truman years, musing in private about the perfect political lineup, Edgar had named Murchison and Richardson as ideal candidates for high office - or at least as financial backers for politicians to his liking. Murchison had been obliging ever since. He threw money at Edgar's friend Joe McCarthy, placed airplanes at the Senator's disposal".
When Dwight Eisenhower won the presidency, Richardson suggested he employed his friend, Robert Anderson, president of the Texas Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, to become Secretary of the Navy. Eisenhower agreed to this suggestion. Later, Anderson became Secretary of the Treasury (1957-61). In this post he introduced legislation beneficial to the oil industry. Robert Sherrill, the author of The Accidental President (1967) has argued: "Exactly what generosity Richardson showed has never been more than wildly hinted at, but it apparently was enough to make Eisenhower moderately grateful. When Richardson and other Texas oil men recommended Robert Anderson, Eisenhower named him Secretary of the Navy. The importance of this to Texas oil men is a matter of almost comical stress. Anderson, a resident of landlocked Fort Worth, knew nothing of naval affairs before he got the post, but that hardly matters; all he needed to know was that Texas is the largest oil-producing state and that the Navy is the largest consumer of oil as well as leaser of valuable lands to favored oil firms."
In 1954 Richardson joined forces with Clint Murchison and Robert Ralph Young in order to takeover the New York Central Railroad. This involved buying 800,000 shares worth $20 million. Richardson also owned the Texas State Network (a radio and television organization) and the Texas City Refining Company.