Some Early History of The Cryder Family Beginning From The Time
They left Ohio Until They Reached Illinois, Written In A Letter
To Eugene O. Cryder, By His Father, Michael Henry Cryder In 1895

[Presents history of settlement in Illinois by the Cryders and Tablers, family of Edward L. Tabler of the Fifty-First Illinois Infantry.]

Early in the summer of 1833, Father made up his mind to sell out and move to Illinois. We had been out to see the country the year before, went by way of Uncle Balser Hess’ Northern Indiana, — came through to Chicago. He and Uncle Hess together from Chicago. They both traveled west on horseback, struck the Fox River Valley and followed it as far Southwest as Holderman’s grove. When he returned home he offered our place for sale.

The home farm in Delaware County, Ohio, consisted of one hundred acres of land all cleared of timber and under cultivation. The improvements were a good two-storied frame house, a flour mill, a saw mill, a factory with all the machinery for turning out cloth from the raw wool. The machinery consisted of a picker, a carding machine, a die-house, feeding mill pickers, shearing machines, looms, spinning Jenny, and lots of other smaller things necessary to turn out the finished cloth. All this he offered for $4,000, and in the summer of 1833 he got a buyer for it. He was a Mr. Standeburg of New York, who paid down $3,000 and gave a mortgage for $1,000, payable in one year.

Our family consisted of Father, Mother, Eve, Elizabeth, Mary, Katherine, Michael, Harriet and Susan. The oldest was written first. Eve was married and living in our neighborhood. Elizabeth was married and living in Pennsylvania. Mary Ann was married and living nearby. Katherine was living on the Hess Farm. Michael, Harriet and Susan were young, living at home.

Father made a public sale but nothing like we have nowadays; it consisted mostly of household goods. Father did not keep much stock or farm machinery, because he rented all the land. At this time he was about 54 years old, I haven’t the exact date of his age, — and he was a builder in every sense of the word. Just under six feet tall, large-boned, sandy complexion, and a great chewer of tobacco.

Well, everything was bustle, hurry and get ready to move to a wild unsettled country. N.H. Tabler and family, Z. Walley and family were to move with us. Father outfitted himself with all the necessary tools to build a house from the standing timber, axes, saws, planes, augers, broad ax, froe, for riving out shingles, a compass and chain for locating section corners, which was a very necessary article in a new country.

There were three covered wagons, in the outfit; one genuine prairie schooner, as they call them here now, the box of which would hold about fifty bushels of corn. The amount of work on the box alone would surprise you, and all hammered out by the blacksmith. The wagon was filled up to the bows, with household goods, and drawn by three yoke of oxen, the best that could be bought in the country. The second wagon was not so large, but larger than we meet nowadays. This was drawn by three horses, one in front and two next to the wagon driven by a single line. This second wagon was owned and fitted out by Z. Walley. He, his wife, and one child rode in it. The third wagon was a common two- horse wagon, fitted up with highbows and canvass cover, and hadn’t much in it generally, but human flesh. In it rode Mary Ann Tabler and her two children, Mother, Harriet, Susan, and sometimes myself.

We had about fifteen head of loose cattle which we drove along with the outfit, and I got all the exercise I wanted at that. Father hired a driver for the ox team, for the journey through, and there was also a neighbor and his family who started out with us, but I will tell you more about him later on.

Well, we got off September 23rd, 1833. We traveled in company and always camped in the same locality at night, trying whenever possible, to get a vacant house for the women and children. Fifteen miles was a fair day’s travel. One of the oxen gave out the second day, and Father had to buy another in his place. The route we chose was as near an air line as we could draw from Delaware County, Ohio, to where we located in Illinois. Through Indianapolis, Lafayette, Parishes Grove, Beaver Creek, Reeds Grove, and Aux Sable. We were about one month making the trip, stopping a couple of days at Beaver Creek, and this is where the neighbor and his family got discouraged and turned back to where we started from. The country looked so uninviting from Lafayette to Beaver Creek that we all got homesick, and I believe would have gone back if it had not been for one controlling spirit which said no.

The country improved from Beaver Creek on to where we finally stopped in Illinois. The last two days of the journey we only made twelve miles, no road, and the guide we had lost his bearings. We stopped in Reeds Grove three days, while Father and a couple of the men selected a place to locate. They heard of a gentleman by the name of Baird who had been living in the country some years and they went to see him. This Baird just lived across the Illinois River from where Morris now stands, and he took them up on the Aux Sable. Father selected the place, where the old picnic ground is located, across from Louis Tabler’s (Lutzow). Well, we had finally arrived, but there was nothing to shelter us but the wagons. The first thing done was to split some rails and build a three-sided pen, and cover it with clap boards.

There were five men, Father, Uncle Moses Hess, Z. Walley, N.H. Tabler, and Joseph Roderack, who were all good with an ax, so that it was only a short time until we had a log house built, twenty-four feet square, and a story and a half high. But where the rub came in was the floor. The lower floor was soon laid with puncheons. I expect you don’t know what a puncheon is. Well, it is a log split in four pieces right through the center, and about eight feet long, hewed on one side and taken out of wind and edged. For the lower floor there are four stringers laid lengthwise, and with gains cut out in them — and these pieces laid in them and keyed up as they season. The upper floor we did without until Spring, when we got some green oak boards at Walker’s Mill, Plainfield.

You will be asking about the eatables. We had along with us such things as dried apples, cheese, and a little flour, but no meat. After living there only a few days, luck seemed to favor us. There came to us one evening a man with a wild hog, which his dogs had caught. He said that he owned all the wild hogs which we had seen running in the Grove, and he sold them all together with the one of his dogs had caught to Father for $25.00. We didn’t know whether this man really did own the hogs or not, but no other owner ever appeared and they had been running in the Grove for five or six years, and were in good running order in the Spring.

We had plenty of wild honey, that first winter. We would locate the bee trees by watching the bees come out on the warm days, and then fell the tree on the snow..

The large wagon had proved too heavy for the three yoke of oxen, so Father had bought another yoke of oxen on the way out here, and Z. Walley a light pair of three year olds. But the light cattle were hardly ever used on the wagon.

It began to get cold quite early in the Fall of 1833. Before we reached the Aux Sable Grove, while stopping in Reed’s Grove, there was a light fall of four inches of snow. It disappeared quickly and then up to Christmas the weather was fine. By this time we were in our cabin. When the bad weather did come it was a snorter, snow piled up high wherever there was a lodging place. I remember the men saying that no one could live on the prairie in the winter. Spring came early and there was plenty of feed for the cattle by the middle of March. But the country was not fed down as it was to be later on.

Spring of 1834 found the men busy making rails to fence a corn field of fifty acres, which had to be built high and pig tight. As soon as Spring fairly opened we commenced plowing. Father had fitted the irons he had made in Ohio to wood work he found in the Grove at hand. The irons to the plow consisted of a share and landside standing coulter on iron rod and clevice, the mouldboard was hewed out of a tree of the right twist. The plow was to turn a furrow two feet wide. The beam as near as I can recollect was ten feet long and was hitched by a stout chain to the forward axeltree of the big wagon. The five yoke of oxen were strung one ahead of the other and the plow was a heavy draft for the whole team. It required a man and a boy to drive the team until they got steadied down, and the best man in the crowd to manage the plow. But it did good work at about two acres a day.

When the weather got warm enough, we commenced to plant corn by striking an ax in the sod, dropping in the corn ahead of the plow and turning the furrow on it. I remember there was lots of discussion among the men about this corn coming up through such tough sod. However, it got through fairly well where the sod lay on it tight. We probably got twenty bushels per acre of good quality. As soon as the corn was planted, UncleMose Hess and Tabler started back to Ohio. Uncle Mose Hess lost his health and got discouraged, and Tabler went to move sister Eve and her family to where we lived. Sister Eve’s husband died during the Spring, leaving her and her four little children destitute. Tabler didn’t return to Illinois, till the first of August, being detained in settling up things in Ohio, and getting ready to move by horse team.

The young man I mentioned as coming out with us was J. Roderack, and he left us to go to work for his Uncle Baird. That left Father, E. Walley, and I to run things. We broke about twenty-five acres, that hill field of Doc Cryder’s, to put in Winter wheat. I drove the team and Father held the breaker. Father fixed a stool on the axeltree that the plow was hitched to and put a crosslever notched in the splice tongue so as to hitch three yoke abreast, and one yoke ahead, the best to mind and withed this cross piece solid to the tongue. Then I could sit and drive the team and keep out of the wet grass, and have perfect control of them. We sowed this broken land to winter wheat that Fall, and harvested a good crop the next summer. Sold a good deal of it to newcomers for seed at a dollar a bushel. This wheat was all out with a hand cradle, and rocked and bound the old way, and hauled to where Louis Tabler now lives, stacked around a dirt floor, prepared with much labor, and tramped out with horses. The boy’s work came in there. Neighbors began to come in the summer of 1834.

Phillip Collins came to our house sometime in the early summer, and made a contract with Father for him to build a house on the claim he had taken up. He had selected that land where Jerry Collins had his saw mill. Z. Walley was unable to work, help was scarce so Father and I commenced the job. I think the house was to be built for fifty dollars, and to be ready by a certain time in the Fall. I found that celebrated bee tree when we were getting out the logs for this house, and also a very good log chain. The Collins family arrived before the house was fully finished.

The winter passed without anything worth mentioning that I can call to mind. But we learned that there would be a sale of the land the government had retained of every even numbered section the length of the Canal. The odd numbers were donated to the State for digging the Canal, which did not come in for sale. By good luck we had located on an even numbered section (Section 8) which would be offered for sale about June 15th, 1835.

The mortgage which Father took when he sold his place in Ohio, was due, so to raise the money to buy this new land, he was obliged to go back on horseback to Ohio. That took from twelve to fifteen days each way. When he got back to Ohio, Stondenburg, the man he sold to, could not raise the money, so Father had to sell the mortgage at a sacrifice, just how much I don’t know. He looked up an old friend who took it at his own figure. Sterling was the man’s name.

The sale was held in Chicago, and Father was back in time for it. We had a pre-emption on the 160 acres we lived on, (that means you can buy the land at one dollar an acre without any fear of anyone running the price up on you.) Well, Father and Tabler bought three quarter sections, all on Section 8, Township 34, Range 8.

The Indians were moved out of the country by the government in 1836, in the Spring of the year. We were glad to be rid of them for Mother was always afraid they would do us some damage. The summer of 1835 was the poorest season for a corn crop I ever saw in Illinois. There was a hard frost in June, and it was cold almost all Summer. Our corn was on second plowing and it only got into good roasting ears when the frost took it.

The season of 1836 we plowed up the hill field on Israel Cryder’s place, and raised a splendid crop of corn. Jerry Collins and I plowed the ground with one yoke of oxen, one of us held the plow, one other drove the cattle, and took turns. The plow had a wooden mould board, and such a thing as to scour was never thought of. We would drive along until the plow would get on top of the ground, then stop and throw the plow on its side and clean off the dirt. We would root up an acre or an acre and a half a day. We would give the land a light going over with a harrow. The harrow was a two section hewed out of standing timber — the sections four inches square, teeth one inch square, brought from Ohio with us. The land was marked out with this same plow, the corn dropped by hand and covered with a hoe. All the tending it got was with a single shovel plow. There were no tame weeds then and it was easy to keep the ground clear of weeds. That piece of corn was the wonder of the country and there were about twenty-five acres of it. In the Fall it was husked and thrown on the ground in piles and picked up by hand, thrown in the wagon hauled by oxen. The corn was thrown out of the wagon by hand (I mean just the naked hand). Some of that crop of corn Father sold the next Summer for 75 cents a bushel, so you see there was something coming back after so much outlay.

He kept breaking up more and more land, building fences and log houses, getting quite a stock of cattle and hogs, for the next several years. The wild hogs were still about, and they multiplied fast if not killed off. They were thin, built like a Texas steer, and could run as fast. They were sandy colored, and the bristles commenced right back of the ears and ran to the tail, almost always standing straight up. Sows and boars all had tusks, and there was no squealing with the older ones, even when the dogs got hold of them.

We had a great deal of sickness after the first summer of 1834. Every Fall there was ague and bilious fever as long as we lived in the timber, so Father concluded he would build a house to the west of us and move there. Solomon Rutherford had built a saw mill just below the canal aqueduct on the Aux Sable Creek and here we could get logs sawed and the necessary timber to build with. That was along in 1838.

The house we built was the one (Doc.) Israel Cryder lived in. It is an oak frame all hewed out of timber got out of the Grove, shingles and lath all from standing timber, lumber kiln-dried, planed and matched by hand. About the greatest inconvenience we had was the want of a blacksmith. We had to go to Walker’s Grove 16 miles to get the breaker sharpened and go generally with an ox team and four wheels of a wagon, taking a day and part of a night for the trip.

Our first letters were mailed at Ottawa, and the postage was twenty-five cents a letter. No newspapers were taken at our house for years. No schools, no canal, no railroad, no telegraph, no telephone and last but not least, no roads. But instead of these, we had plenty of tall grass, mosquitoes, ague, game and fish in abundance. Honey was the sweetening of every day up to 1835. That Spring we got some cast iron kettles from Chicago, and made sugar from Maple Syrup. Every Spring for the next six years, we would make enough sugar to last us a year.

As near as I can recollect we lived on the Creek in the timber for nine years, moving into our new house in the Fall of 1842, most of our farm land being on the west side of the Grove. By this time we were using horses altogether but no plows would scour. The contractors on the canal were giving us a good market for hay and other produce. We hadn’t started hauling wheat and pork to Chicago yet.

I was swinging the grain cradle and scythe as well as any of them, being now twenty-two years old, and we were still tramping out our wheat and oats with horses feet. I did considerable deer slaying in those days with my single muzzle loader cap-lock gun, worth about five dollars ($5.00). Standing or running a deer was lucky if he got away. I remember killing several by just seeing the tall grass or brush wiggle.

The first threshing we did with a machine was the Winter of 1843. The motor power was eight horses. The thresher was run with a band, the band run through a small box where the horses stepped over it. The threshing part was a cylinder in a small frame about the size of a fanning mill, straw and grain coming out together. It took three men with rakes and two with forks to keep the straw back, so that it could be raked away with a horse hitched to a pole about twelve feet long and the straw was afterward set fire to. It was the fashion to run about an hour and then shove the grain and chaff to one side, and throw it into a rail pen the cracks of which had been stopped up with straw. For market the grain was cleaned through a fanning mill not much different from what we have now. A good days work was from 300 to 400 bushels.

In 1844 we began to haul wheat to Chicago, the trip taking three or four days. The hauling was generally done in the Fall of the year, when the roads were good. We killed and dressed our hogs at home in the cold weather and hauled them to the Chicago markets. Our flour was got by taking fifteen or twenty bushels of wheat in a wagon and going to the nearest and best mill. Sometimes we could get it ground the same day, but not always. The mills were fifteen miles away and the flour nothing extra when we did get it. We had a great deal of sickness in those days and the doctors were few and far between. Sister Susan’s death was the first serious sickness in our family, and she died July 15th, 1838. Doctor Carlin from Plainfield was called to see her. I think she was almost the first to be buried in our cemetery at Aux Sable, age 15 years.

Orange Thomas and I went back to Ohio for a visit in the Fall of 1845. We went to Chicago on a load of wheat and Henry Cryder, (Frank’s Father who was then a boy) drove the team back home. The next day we took passage on the steamboat, Wisconsin, as far as Cleveland Ohio, and I learned then what sea sickness was. We footed it from there and rode some in the stage that carried passengers to Columbus. I visited with my relatives at the old homestead at Columbus and Chillicothe. Uncle Mose Hess sold me a horse to ride back home on, but when I got to Chillicothe, I found it was a poor traveler, and traded it to a cousin for a better one and gave $10.00 to boot. After visiting there for awhile I made a bee-line back for the prairies, ten mighty lonesome days. When I arrived home in Illinois, I found my folks sick with fevers and agues.

I was twenty-five years old at this time and had always lived at home. I began to think it was time to get to myself. So in the winter of 1846 - 1847 I made arrangements to get married, cleaned up an old log house that was on my place and kept batch for a few weeks. I had contracted with Barber to build me a small frame house and it was under way when I got married, which event took place March 7, 1847. I lacked a few days of being twenty-seven years old, and Rachel Thomas was my senior by more than two years.

I had, when I married, 140 acres of land, 100 that my Father had given me, and a forty that I had bought a few years before. There were forty acres broken up and in crops. Things in the house were not very plentiful but enough to get along with.

For the new house that was building, I hauled most of the lumber, and shingles from Chicago, went up with a load of wheat and loaded back with lumber. We moved into the new house in the Summer before it was lathed, or plastered. I got it furnished that Fall, two rooms downstairs and but one upstairs.

Our first child was born January 3rd, 1848, a daughter Eliza. The next birth, a son Frances, born November 18th, 1849. The third birth a son, Lewis, born June 25th, 1853. The fourth birth Edwin, June 29th, 1855, the fifth a daughter Maryette, born October 25th, 1857. The sixth and last Eugene, February 22nd, 1860.

The deaths of the children in the family so far, Lewis, August 21st, 1854, Eliza, August 27th, 1854, Frances, September 3rd, 1854. The saddest time we ever experienced.

In 1852 I bought some more canal land, some in Section 7, Township 34, Range 8, and the N.E. 1/4 section of 27, range 7. It cost me from $2.75 to $3.00 per acre, payments one-fourth down, the balance in one to three years at six percent interest in advance. The sale was in Chicago, and I went to it with others. We went to Chicago in a canal packet by starting in the afternoon, and by traveling all night we arrived in Chicago the next day in time for the sale.

I thought I had incurred a big debt those days, but the times were fairly good, and I got through paying for it in time. I soon bought the South East 1/4 section of 27, range 7, where your house is on now, and also Ed. Redding and Parmally had bought this last I mentioned and had paid one payment on it. I took it from them at a big advance and assumed the payment.

In 1854 I rented most of my farm land where I was living in Aux Sable Township, and broke up my land in Saratoga Township. Raised some corn on the first I broke up, and the balance I put in Winter wheat.

That Fall the children died, I felt discouraged, so when a man came along and wanted to buy my land on the ridge, I put a price on it, and we soon made a trade. He paid $2,000.00 down and was to make the canal payments as they fell due. The buyer’s name was James T. Perkins from Hudson, New York, a real gentleman and a good mechanic. He went to building right away and made a big splash. But his   money ran short before Spring, and he offered to sell it back to me. I made him an offer of $500.00 for the building he had put on the place. We made the trade back in a short time. He had put a mortgage on the land for the $2,000.00 he had paid me, so I assumed the payment of this. This James T. Perkins was a man that would take spells of drinking and shut himself up and drink till his stomach wouldn’t bear it any longer, then sober off and be all right for months. David Tabler lived in the house he built for about a year.

In the Winter of 1856 and 1857 I got the buildings in Saratoga moved in a position to suit me, a good woodpile and in the Spring of 1857, we moved to where you have your new house, the very same spot. John Murphy had been working for me that Winter, getting up wood posts, rails and moving the buildings. He also worked some of the land for a couple of years, In 1858 I built the old barn, Ed Walker doing the work. I had to borrow a little money to finish the barn, for it cost a big sum in those days, especially the stone work. That is the last money I ever borrowed, but I loaned a good deal since, and some of it I never got back. I kept improving and buying land as I could find a seller. The parties I bought from were canal commissioners, Wash Armstrong, Perry Armstrong, Robins, Donovan, Clark, George Perry, Ayers, Strawn and Sorem. What it all cost would amount to a big sum.

This is all that would be of interest to you, and as I have got to about the point you gauged me to, I will write no more. I may be mistaken in some of the dates, but not many. I hope you will be able to read it.

Michael Henry Cryder
Rosalia, Kansas
When 75 years of age

Above copied this 17th day of June, 1946, by Lora Shatto Mainard, Elgin, Illinois from a copy loaned by Frank Hess, Goshen, Indiana.

Also recopied June 12, 2003 by William Edward Henry, from a copy found in the effects of William Leslie Henry, an early Tabler genealogist.