The Abial Granger Family and Others Arrive .in Illinois

The Granger family remained in Canada until all the Gleason relatives had been released from the Canadian prison and then they relocated to Illinois around 1838

The Canadian rebellion of 1837 and 1838 sent many settlers back to the United States mainly to Vermont, just over the border. However, the settlers often wanted by authorities or asked to leave, found DeKalb County, Illinois an ideal place to reside.

The most noted of these adventurers was Ben Lett, who spent the last years of his life in the county of DeKalb, Ill. He was the "Wild Bill" of the Canadian rebellion and was charged with many desperate deeds, the most memorable being the killing of Captain Usher and the blowing up of Brock's monument (since replaced by the fine shaft now standing on the left bank of the Niagara river below the falls). As I remember the story the rebels had taken or captured Navy Island, above the falls. They had there a little steamboat named "Caroline." Captain Usher led or directed an expedition that got possession of the boat in the night, cut it loose from its moorings and sent it over the falls. It was charged by the rebels that there were men left on the boat to go over with it and among them a boy, a brother or nephew of Ben Lett.

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The Granger, Gleason, Boardman, Wing and possibly other families relocated to DeKalb Co. Illinois in fall of 1838, when the five year prison terms would have been completed.

Abial C Granger family arrives in Illinois during year 1838.

Little had changed in early Illinois from the conditions recorded in 1835, when it is stated the lands in this part of the country were unsurveyed and title remained in the name of the United States Government according to the treaty with the Indians. For all practical purposes, the settlers were beyond the reach of statutory laws or civil authority: the law rested in every man's conscience. In short, the people were "a law unto themselves". A person's claim to a tract of land was expressed by the construction of a dwelling, the fencing or "breaking up" the land, or the marking of cutting down trees in various places on the property. A large portion of Northern Illinois was claimed by this method. The Seventh Judicial Circuit formed in 1837 consisted of Iroquois, Will, LaSalle, Kane, Cook and Mc Henry Counties. (DeKalb Co. later was made a county from a part of Kane Co). The first term of the Circuit Court was held in McHenry Co. on May 10, 1838 with the Honorable John Pearson of Danville presiding. Court sessions, restricted by statute to three days, were held in the upper story of a log house occupied as a tavern. With a docket of 62 cases, the court heard 19 the first day --- 3 for trespassing and 1 for slander. By adjournment of court on May 12, all but 18 cases had been disposed. It has been said of that session that, "this court was one of curiosities of the day for there was scarily an adult in the area who wasn't either a plaintiff, defendant, juror or witness. There were some regular backwoods times during the short session. gaming at cards and horse racing were practiced. The essence of rye was dealt out at no small rate, not less than five or six barrels having been drunk, and the place left dry, before Court rose" At the September term, the Circuit Court met in McHenry County and had 81 cases on the docket and at the May term there were 138. Most of these cases arouse out of counterfeiting and horse theft. From the history of the Northern Illinois during the early years we can see some of conditions that prevailed.

About the year 1840, many riots occurred in the northern part of the State. People there had settled upon public lands of the United States, and by establishing farms and building villages, had greatly improved them. The settlers had mutually agreed to protect each other in their claims, but there were many, who, with the view of dispossessing the owners and securing the lands for themselves, disputed their right, which was a prolific source of riots and disturbance. The northern portion of the State also, was again infested with organized bands of murderers and horse-thieves, who, in some of the counties, and especially in the county of Ogle, were so numerous as to overawe justice. They would, as formerly, by seating some from their own number on the juries, and hiring crowds of perjured witnesses for their defence, manage to prorogue the trial of their cause from one term to another, and insure to themselves an acquittal. The people, in their turn, formed themselves into companies of " Regulators," as before, seized the most notorious rogues, whipped several of them, and expelled the rest from the country.

1842 - Abial Granger and children lose wife and mother, Melissa to milk sickness.  - The youngest child, name not known, died about same time.  The location of graves never located. It was not a practice to record deaths as noted in following Illinois Laws.

Doctor Anna Pierce Hobbs Bixby is credited with making the connection in the 1830's between animals grazing on white snakeroot plant in uncultivated pastures, and the passing of the toxins through the milk to humans. Tradition has it that she learned of the association from an unknown Shawnee woman, whose people lived in the area and knew the native herbs and plants well. Unfortunately, news traveled slowly, and people continued to be afflicted with milk sickness for some time after the root cause was discovered. The weed still grows prolifically throughout the country, especially in the midwestern states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa. There are still reports of isolated outbreaks of tremetol poisoning, though it is much less common now that most cattle are grazed on cleared, maintained pasturelands, and the milk from many cows is combined, diluting the effect of any individual cows that may consume the weed.


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In 1843, legislation was passed that provided that a parent could appear before the clerk of the county commissioners' court and make affidavit as to the birth of a child, and the eldest next of kin of a deceased person could similarly appear to make affidavit as to death. [Laws of Illinois 1842–43, pp. 210–212] Because this law made recordation voluntary rather than mandatory, virtually no birth and death records existed in Illinois prior to 1877 except in a few scattered counties where the records were very fragmentary.

1848 - Inhabitants of Wooster Precinct petitioned the Court of DeKalb Co to change the name of their precinct from Wooster to Genoa, a name by which this part of the county is generally designated." Petitioners that signed this petition which was filed and recorded 5 June 1848 were: Abial Granger, Orwell F. Granger, Samuel Gleason, Turner Wing, and several others.

1854 - The Genoa Anti-Horse Thief Assoc. was organized, the process of law being too slow for practical purposes, so the good people of Genoa abandoned the red tape forms and the people started out on a plan to protect themselves. So successful were they in this enterprise that after its organization but one horse ever came up missing and that was found after a long search. The club was composed of the leading men of Genoa and the surrounding towns.

1838 - Gleason in his career, acquired n unenviable notoriety. Not long after his arrival, while he was boarding at Perkins log tavern, a carpet-sack, well filled with counterfeit money was found in his possession, and the fact became notorious, his wealth was easily accounted for.

He was a man of fine appearance, agreeable manners, fair in his dealingwith his neighbors, and generally liked. He never passed bad money in his ordinary business transactions, but had it manufactured, and wholesaled it to his confederates. In 1839 one of his gang, a traveling pedlar was arrested in Chicago, and during his confinement, confessed his guilt, and implicated Gleason as one of the chiefs of his gang. Gleason was arrested, but although the testimony of his witness had been promised, when the trial came on he could not be procured and Gleason was set at liberty. He was in and out of trouble for several years, left the area, and then returned. He opened a store, a saw mill, and a fine farm and married a respectable young woman of the neighborhood.

A few years later, he became ill, and a traveling doctor, named Smitch, who had boarded with the Gleason family, and was reported to be attached to his wife, attended him. After eating one day of some porridge, prepared by his wife and the doctor, he complained that it did not taste quite right, but ate heartily and soon died in convulsions and delirum.

Not long after the burial, the doctor and Mrs Gleason were arrested on a charge of murdering him by poison. A special term was held for trial, but the evidence of guilt was insufficient, and they were released. They soon after married and moved to LaSalle County, where the doctor died, under circumstances that led to the suspicion that he too was poisoned. His wife soon after died very suddenly.

Such was the miserable end of one who undoubtedly was a leader in much of the crime that disturbed the early settlers of DeKalb County. He escaped the punishment of his crime against the law, only to meet a more terrible fate.

Following information on Lydia Strong married to Ebenezer P Gleason and subsequently Dr. Schmidt submitted by:  Joey Fenili related to the Strong family.

Orange Marion Strong, my husband's great grandfather, was one of 11 children.  He was born 18 Aug 1800 and d. 24 June 1850 in Champaign County, Illinois.  Two of Orange's sisters had lived for a time in De Kalb County.  Each family owned property there, according to De Kalb county land records -- check the husband's names.
One sister, Lydia Strong, b. abt. 1817, married Ebenezer P. Gleason and subsequently Dr. Schmidt.
The other sister, Rachel Strong, b. abt. 1815, married Joseph Cogswell Lander.  He was born 28 March 1816 and d. 8 Sept. 1850.  Rachel died 1846. Joseph purchased his De Kalb county land in 1841.  He owned 300 acres.  Joseph died intestate according to other researchers.  I have not checked for a will in De Kalb county, but there is no will in either Vermilion county or Champaign county Illinois.  Joseph C. Lander is buried in the Old Homer-Dunkard Cemetery in Champaign County, Illinois.  Joseph was the son of John Lander who died in 1837 probably in Kentucky.  John Lander, Joseph's father, was born to a large well documented family in Bourbon Kentucky 13 March 1791.  John Lander's wife was Sophia Western Cogswell, b. abt. 1793.  She died 4 Sept. 1849. Several of John and Sophia's children migrated to Vermilion/Champaign counties in Illinois in the 1830s.  Joseph Cogswell, their oldest son, married Rachel Strong in Vermilion county Illinois 24 Jan 1838.
Why so much information on Joseph?  Well, he was the first sheriff of DeKalb county.
My documentation includes the will of Cyrus Strong, who died 28 Jan 1849 in Vermilion county Illinois.  His will mentions his children and their spouses and includes: Orange Marion Strong; Joseph C. Lander and his 3 children by his wife Rachel Strong Lander (Mary Sophia, Josephine E. J., and Marshall Strong Lander); and Lydia Strong Gleason and her husband Ebenezer P. Gleason.
Hope this helps you understand why I was so interested in Ebenezer.

Abial Granger having been involved with counterfeiting money transactions while living in Canada, may have continued the practice while living in Illinois? He was never caught and may have had second thoughts, when his brother Minard Granger who owned a nearby farm, was arrested and sent to Auburn State Prison in New York. The Illinois penalty for counterfeiting was very harsh and the Abial Granger family decided it was time to leave in 1856 they headed for Bremer Co, Iowa where son Ebenezer Granger had gone earlier to buy land.

Illinois Laws then in effect:

On Jan. 11, 1816, the law in the Illinois Territory set the penalty for counterfeiting at "death by hanging, without benefit of clergy." [2]
Other penalties listed in this law ranged from death to paying "a fine of four fold the amount of such note or bill" or beating with "not less than thirty-nine lashes well laid on, on his bare back" for such things as manufacturing or bringing paper into the Illinois territory to be used for counterfeiting, making or concealing plates used for counterfeiting, and passing or assisting others in passing counterfeit notes.
In 1818, Illinois received statehood. At its first General Assembly held at Kaskaskia, on February 27, 1819, the penalty for counterfeiting was lessened to a $500 fine and 75 lashes. In addition, the convicted felon would "be deemed infamous, ad be held incapable of holding any office, or giving testimony in any case whatever." [3]
This same penalty went for anyone found manufacturing or bringing paper into the state for counterfeiting purposes and making the counterfeiting plates. However, for passing or assisting in the passing of bogus notes or concealing money moulds carried a penalty of a $500 fine plus "thirty-nine lashes to the bare back." If this fine was not paid, the person was to be committed to jail until the next term of court. If the fine was still not paid, the Sheriff was to sell the offender to the highest bidder for a term of servitude of seven years. Should the person sold try to run away from his master, his term of servitude would be increased.
In 1821, this law was strengthened to include counterfeiting gold or silver coins with the same punishment as above (Laws of Illinois, Feb. 12, 1821).

The 1860 census of the prison listed Minard Granger as still serving his time for counterfeiting and forgery. Ref: Illinois Seventh Judicial Circuit Court history.