The Saga of the Ansel Rider/Ryder Murder Trial and Its Aftermath

Was It Murder or Self-Defense?

Partially based on a four part article published in the Kendall County News, at Plano, IL, August 18 and 25, September 1, and 8, 1897.

Compiled and Edited by Elmer Dickson

In 1843, Newark was a lively town with two hotels, the Manson House owned by Lyman Smith on the northeast side of the town, and the Newark Exchange operated by William F. Lutyens on the southwest side of town. The Newark Exchange hotel was the livelier of the two as this was where the stagecoaches stopped to exchange horses, and the post office was located. Both hotels were 'licensed to keep tavern,' which meant they could sell liquor by the drink.

In 1843, Edward Owen Haymond, better known as Owen Haymond, owned and lived on a small farm a mile and a half northeast of Newark. His bachelor friend, Jacob Howard, worked the farm while Owen operated a small blacksmith shop near his home. Owen was a large and burly man of outstanding strength and vigor who enjoyed many friends. When he was not busy as a blacksmith he liked to go into town to hang out with his fellow 'cracker box philosophers.'  

Ansel Ryder was a carpenter by trade, but had a farm of 160 acres. He kept a carpenter's bench and a few tools in his log house, and did odd jobs for his neighbors such as making cupboards, doors, windows, etc. Ryder frequently became inebriated and when he had been drinking was disagreeable and overbearing.

Charles McNeil arrived in Newark later than Haymond and Ryder. At the time of his death he was in the prime of his life, and perceived to be an all-around good fellow by his compatriots, and respected by his acquaintances and neighbors.

On Saturday afternoon November 4, 1843, Ryder, Haymond and some others gathered at Lyman Smith's Mansion House. The drinks began to flow and the participants soon became boisterous. At some point they decided to play a joke on Ryder to trick him into buying drinks for everyone. Someone claimed Ryder had a black line running up and down his back. Ryder denied this, and someone offered to bet he did and a wager was made on the question. When Ryder removed his clothing to prove his case, one of the participants drew the black end of a partially burned candle down his back, from his neck to the waist. Based on this evidence, the participants decided that Ryder lost the bet and had to purchase a round for everyone there. After drinking the round, it was proposed that Ryder and Haymond run a foot race; the losing party was to set up the drinks for the house. After the race a controversy arose regarding who the winner was. As tempers rose, Haymond tried to sic his dog on Ryder. Their disagreement ended, as Ryder alleged, by Haymond striking or slapping his face. After sustained and bitter railing and condemnation, Ryder was so exasperated he lost his self-control. He knew he was no match for the brawny blacksmith in a rough and tumble fight so with all the anger and hatred he could muster, hissed 'G-D you', Haymond, I'll have your heart's blood before morning.'  He left immediately, and without delay walked home. Haymond, who probably thought he would cool off and return soon, rejoined his drinking companions in the Mansion House.

When Ryder reached his home, he got his rifle, and rode his horse back into town. He returned to the hotel and requested someone to ask Haymond to come to the door so he could speak to him. Haymond stepped to the door and at that instant Ryder turned his horse and pointed his gun at Haymond. Someone shouted 'Look out, Haymond! He is going to shoot you!' Haymond didn't seem to be aware of what was happening and barely had enough time to turn to the right before the rifle was discharge.  For an instant Haymond did not realize that he had been shot and remarked that the shot had 'missed.' 'No,' someone replied, 'You are bleeding like a stuck hog from your shoulder.' The ball which had been impelled by a light charge of powder had entered his left shoulder about two inches from the point of the shoulder or socket and traveled downward striking the edge of the shoulder blade, splitting the bullet. One part of the bullet passed under the shoulder blade, the other part traveled downward through the flesh above his shoulder blade producing a very painful, but not fatal wound.

After shooting Haymond, Ryder rode straight home, put up his horse, entered the house, and gave the gun to his son Charles to reload. With his gun loaded, he sat down to wait for the posse to arrive to arrest him.

Haymond was placed on a trundle bed and carried by some of his friends to his home. The citizens of Newark were aroused by the incident because nothing like this had occurred in their quiet community before. It was not long before they were discussing how they might arrest Ryder.

William Price Boyd was a constable of La Salle County at the time Kendall County was organized two years earlier. His home at the time of the incident was a farm two miles northeast of Newark. A messenger was sent to ask Boyd to come and help make the arrest. In a short while, he arrived in town and organized a posse. The names of all the persons in the posse are not known, but it is pretty certain the following persons were present: Constable William P. Boyd, Constable, James J. Wilson; Heman Dodge, Jr.; Marshall Havenhill; John Lutyens; Nicholas Lutyens; William F. Lutyens; Johnson Misner; Nelson Messenger; George Paine Sleezer; A. Watson Smith; Julian Tremain; and possibly Don Carlos Cleveland. When the posse was organized, they proceeded to Ryder's residence to make the arrest.

All of the members of the posse knew Ryder well and felt he would not willingly submit to an arrest. On the contrary, they believed he would resist to the limit of his power, so they proceeded with great caution. Ryder was ordered to come out and surrender, but no response was made from within the house. The house was dark, except for the light reflected by a few embers in the fireplace. Someone climbed up on the roof with straw or hay, and pushed it down the chimney expecting it to ignite and sufficiently light the house to distinguish the people in side to avoid arresting the wrong person, but their attempt to light the interior of the log cabin failed. About this time, Charles McNeil arrived at the residence. Apparently he was not present when the posse was organized, but after learning that the arrest was about to be made, mounted his horse and rode immediately to Ryder's house. When he arrived, he asked what progress had been made, and when informed that Ryder had not been arrested, made some impatient reply, saying in substance that he could arrest Ryder himself.

It was frequently asserted after the shooting that McNeil was under the influence of liquor. However that may be, McNeil picked up a piece of lumber lying conveniently near the house and shoved it through the back window. In an instant, the muzzle of a rifle was shoved through the opening, only a few feet from McNeil's breast, and the gun discharged. In detailing the occurrence of the shooting, Mr. Boyd said 'I went to the assistance of McNeil who had partially fallen. He appeared perfectly limp and almost lifeless. I tried to find his pulse at the wrist, but he was without a pulse for a moment, and then his pulse came as high as a hammer stroke. He revived saying, 'I am a dead man, and may the Lord have mercy on my soul.' Immediately after McNeil had drawn fire, there was a rush at the door which collapsed under the pressure of half a dozen men. Ryder stepped forward, holding out the empty gun saying 'I give up.' At the same time Havenhill struck him on the head with a weapon of some kind, knocking him down and Ryder was arrested.

By 1897 when the 'Old Settler' wrote the article cited above, most of the participants were dead. However he was able to contact two surviving members of the posse who provided their versions of the event.

J. Wilson of Marseilles was the constable who had the warrant issued for Ryder's arrest. He stated: 'I had a warrant for Ryder's arrest issued by Esq. George B. Hollenback, J.P. of Kendall County. I had a posse consisting, as I now remember, of Marshall Havenhill; William F. Lutyens; and Johnson Misner. There were others, but it was dark and it was so long ago I have forgotten many things in connection with the arrest. There was no light in the house when we arrived. I tried to get into the house and convince Ryder to surrender, but he swore he would not surrender alive. When that failed we tried to smoke him out by throwing straw and other refuse down the chimney, which also did not succeed. McNeil arrived about an hour after my arrival. He had been drinking and made a good deal of noise. His shouting ended with an attack on Ryder's home and Ryder shooting him. As soon as the shot was fired someone broke down the door. Ryder said nothing but tried to escape by running, when Marshall Havenhill knocked him down with a barrel stave and his arrest was made.'

The second contributor was posse member George Paine Sleezer. He also described the events which led up to the tragedy and the capture of Ryder. 'It has been such a long time since the tragedy that it is like opening old sores to think it over. It will be fifty-four years, the next third of November, since Ryder killed McNeil, and most of us who took part in the fray are dead. It was a stormy day and a crowd had gathered at Smith's tavern. As usual they were playing pranks on each other to get someone to buy drinks for the others.

Owen Haymond bet Ryder that he, Haymond, had a wagon hub in his blacksmith shop that was cracked open two inches, Ryder didn't think that was possible so they selected some men to go to the shop and measure the size of the crack. When they returned they announced that Ryder had lost the bet. He got mad and said they did not measure fairly, but Ryder eventually paid for the drinks.'

'There was a bunk in one corner of the innkeeper's office, and Ryder sat down on the bunk. Haymond took a chair and sat in front of Ryder with his face to the back of the chair. They began wrangling about the bet and Ryder put his feet against the back of Haymond's chair and pushed, or kicked him over. Haymond sprung up and cuffed Ryder's ears. Ryder ran out of the house swearing he would have Haymond's heart's blood. He went home and got his horse and rifle and came back. The innkeeper saw him coming and went out on the porch and asked him where he was going. Haymond came out of the barroom and asked Ryder if he was going to Millington? The implication was if the answer was affirmative, he would like to ride with him. Ryder brought his rifle to his shoulder and Lutyens said, 'Go in Haymond, Ryder is going to shoot.' Haymond turned to go in and Ryder shot. The ball hit Haymond on the shoulder blade, part of it going on each side of the bone. Ryder turned his horse and went home. This happened a little before dusk.'

The news that Ryder shot Haymond spread like the wind and by seven o'clock people began to gather in town. By eight o'clock a big crowd had surrounded Ryder's house. William Price Boyd; Don Carlos Cleveland; Horatio Fowler; Marshall Havenhill; John Lutyens; Johnson Misner; David Yemmons, and in fact, just about the whole neighborhood was there. I don't believe anyone who was there is still alive. Marshall Havenhill went to the door and asked Ryder to come out, saying he would not be hurt, but he could not get a response from anyone in the house. Every plan that they could devise to get him out was discussed. Someone got straw and put it down the chimney to smoke him out. Someone on the inside of the house poked the straw out of the fire as fast as it came down. Marshall Havenhill and I picked out a section of chinking from between the logs so we could see where Ryder was. He was lying on the bed in one corner of the room, with his rifle on one side and his axe on the other. There were windows in the front and back of the house. The bed was in the northwest corner of the room and the window from which McNeil was shot was near the foot of the bed. We had almost given up arresting Ryder when McNeil came up. He was pretty full of whiskey and false bravado. He swore at us and said we were cowards, and grabbed up a pole that lay close by, and smashed it through the front window breaking all the glass. After breaking the front window he ran around the house to the back window. I saw him, and being two rods off, I called to John Lutyens to pull McNeil away or he would be shot, but Lutyens ran the other way. Before I could get to McNeil the gun cracked and McNeil bent forward, and I told Boyd to take care of him as he had been shot. Boyd grabbed him so he did not fall. Then I ran around to the front door and said break the door down! I had a rifle in my hand and as the door went down I went over it, and when I got across the room, Ryder held out his arms and said 'I give up.' I put the rifle to his breast and backed out the door with Ryder following it out the door. At the door, Marshall Havenhill hit him on the head, knocking him down, and Johnson Misner ran up behind him with a little club, about a foot long, and hit him in the head half a dozen times. Following his surrender, Ryder was taken before George B. Hollenback, Justice of the Peace, and charged with an assault with the intent to kill, and bound over, without bail, to await the action of the grand jury.'

It will be seen that the statements of the only survivors of the posse who were present at Ryder's arrest differ somewhat regarding the details of the arrest. Mr. Sleezer was well preserved for an octogenarian of 82 years of age. His mental and physical condition were said to be in a good state of preservation, and he wrote his thoughts with his own hand. Mr. Wilson's mental and physical conditions were failing. An unidentified acquaintance of his said, 'because of his bodily and mental infirmities his memory of the incident is not reliable.'

It was probably fortunate for Ryder that neither of the shots were immediately fatal. The feeling was so strong against him at the time, if one or both of them had been killed, he could have been lynched before morning.

McNeil and his wife did not have a home of their own but were boarding with a family in Newark. For a period of time it was uncertain what to do with him. Although his house was small, Willett R. Murray, opened his home for the care of McNeil, and for twelve days he did what he could for the dying man. McNeil died November 16, 1843. Upon his death, Ryder was taken before George B. Hollenback, Justice of the Peace, and charged with assaulting, Edward 'Owen' Haymond, with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and the murder of Charles McNeil. Ryder was bound over without bail to await the action of the Grand Jury of Kendall County. He was ordered into the custody of constables James J. Wilson and William Price Boyd, who were to deliver their prisoner to Sheriff James Smith Cornell at Yorkville. Before making the trip, they took him to Heman Dodge, Jr.'s, blacksmith shop, where irons were constructed to secure the prisoner during the journey.

Theophilus 'Lyle' Dickey, then a rising young lawyer in Ottawa, was retained for Ryder's defense. Dickey was an intelligent and resource defender of his clients. Like many frontier lawyers his formal education was limited, but what he may have lack in formal education was counter balanced by his intuition. Part of his defense strategy was to resolve the issues surrounding the Haymond shooting before the McNeil trial began.

Haymond recovered from the effects of his wound and in a few months was as well as ever. Following his recovery he entered a criminal complaint before the Kendall County Grand Jury and commenced a civil action for damages against Ryder. The latter suit was settled by Ryder's payment of $500.00 in damages and Haymond's agreement that he would not proceed any further with the criminal action, thus removing the Haymond criminal case from the table.

It was evident from the beginning that Ansel's son Charles Edson Ryder would be a defense witness for his father if Ansel was brought to trial for the shooting of McNeil. At the time of the shooting the son was 17 years of age, somewhat awkward, intuitively bright but uneducated, and unschooled in social amenities. Dickey took the boy home with him to Ottawa and entered him in school there. During winter evenings he lead him through a system of examinations and cross examinations to the point that when the trial began, the story of the shooting was complete, and the diffident youth of a few months before, answered so promptly and self reliantly that his testimony was not shaken in the least by the severe cross examination given him by States Attorney, Benjamin Franklin Fridley.

At the April 1844 term of the Circuit Court, Ryder who had remained under arrest and in the custody of the sheriff of Kendall County was indicted by the Grand Jury for the murder of Charles McNeil. His trial was scheduled to be held the Kendall County Circuit Court in May 1844 with Judge John Dean Caton presiding.

The names of the members of the grand jury were: Daniel Ashley, II; Stephen Bates; Tunis C. Budd; Royal Bullard; E. F. Bullock; John Lee Clarke; William Noble Davis; Rulief S. Duryea; Barnabas E. Eldredge; William Hoze; Reuben Whitney Hunt; Daniel G. Johnson; West Matlock; DeMarquis Misner; Lewis Morgan; William Mulkey; Jacob Pope; George D. Richardson; William K. Rogers; Ebenezer Scofield; David Seeley, Israel P. VanCleve; and Samuel S. Wright, Sr.

Immediately upon convening the Grand Jury, attorney Dickey moved that his client be brought into open court, and after the grand jurors were present, but before they were sworn in, to challenge the court that one of the members of the Grand Jury was not lawfully entitled to sit on the jury. It was Ansel Ryder's position, through his attorney, that jury foreman Reuben Hunt should not be sworn in or allowed to sit as a grand juror to decide whether the charge of murder was warranted for the following three reasons:

1. That Reuben Hunt had formed and expressed a definite and decided opinion that Ansel Ryder murdered McNeil and he ought to be hung;

2. That Reuben Hunt repeated his previously formed and expressed opinion to his friends and neighbors; and,

3. That Reuben Hunt had a bias, prejudice and personal hatred against Ansel Ryder so strong that Hunt could not act and decide or hear evidence impartially in the examination of the charge of murder. Therefore, Ryder wished to examine Reuben Hunt under oath, and prove the truth of the specified causes of the challenge.

The court (Judge Caton) refused to allow Reuben Hunt to be sworn in, or examined, on the points raised by Ryder's attorney and refused to sustain the challenge. The Court decided that in a case like the one before it that when a Grand Jury was selected from a cross section of county residents for general purposes, such a challenge would not be allowed and directed the clerk of the Circuit Court to swear in Reuben Hunt as foreman of the Grand Jury.

While Reuben Hunt was the only juror singled out for the challenge, apparently several other members of the grand jury had also formed and expressed their opinions of Ryder's guilt before the Grand Jury deliberated.

When the court would not allow the examination of Reuben Hunt on the charges made, and allowed him to be sworn in as foreman of the Grand Jury, Ryder's, counsel asked that the challenge be signed by the judge, sealed and made a part of the court's record of the case, which was done. This was an astute move on Dickey's part because if his client was found guilty, the failure to sustain the challenge might prove to be provident.

The residents of Kendall County wanted a speedy trial, but because of the anger expressed by potential jurors, a speedy trial was the last thing attorney Dickey wanted. The Court's refusal to allow Ryder to challenge Reuben Hunt made it relatively easy for Ryder to obtain a continuance to prepare for his trial. Other tactics were used to delay a trial. With the Haymond indictment out of the way Dickey decided to ask the Illinois Supreme Court to discharge his prisoner on a writ of habeas corpus. The Court was in session in Springfield, application was made, and attorney Dickey, his client, the sheriff, and witnesses traveled to Springfield and testified before the Court. After hearing the case, the Supreme Court ruled that the sheriff of Kendall County was not illegally restraining the prisoner from his liberty and that his right to freedom must be decided by a jury of his peers.

After several months in jail, the court's decision was disheartening and Ryder decided to break jail. At this time, prisoners were confined on the second floor of the sheriff's house in Yorkville. When Ryder thought conditions were favorable to make a break, he jumped from a second story window in the middle of a dark night and severely fractured one of his legs, which led to his speedy recapture.

The April term of the Kendall County Circuit Court of 1845 convened April 14, 1845 with Judge John Dean Caton presiding.

The jury was made up of the following twelve people: Earl Adams; Hiram Brown; Thomas W. Ervin; Cornelius Henning; Henry Holderman; Warren Hubbard; Almon B. Ives; Walter Selvey; Marcus Steward; John Tubbs; Uranus Van Allen; and George Van Emon.

When the trial began, the Court asked Ryder how he pled but he refused to speak, so a 'not guilty' plea was entered for him.

Five days later on April 19, 1845, after seventeen and a half months of incarceration, the jury returned their verdict that Ryder was 'not guilty' of murdering Charles McNeil and he became a free man. Unfortunately no record of the testimony given in the trial, or the relevant law(s) that was explained by the judge to the jury was preserved. To top it all off, Alonzo Bainbridge (A. B.) Smith, the Clerk of the Circuit Court failed to record the jury's verdict. 

There were those who felt that there could be doubt that Ryder was guilty of murder, and had violated the law. A court of the appropriate jurisdiction had issued a proper complaint, and a warrant for his arrest was placed in the hands of an appropriate official for its execution. It was therefore felt that Ryder's failure to surrender and obey the court's mandate was an unlawful act. Critics of the jury's decision felt that the shot fired during the attempt to serve lawful papers should have constituted the crime of murder. During the trial the defense ignored the fact that an effort was being made to serve a legally issued writ and insisted to the court and jury that the constable's posse was a mob. Their defense was 'that every man's house is his castle' and that Ryder was justified in defending himself, his family, and his home, even to the extent of taking a life.

If the matter had terminated with the shooting of Haymond, Ryder would certainly have been sent to the penitentiary for a number of years. As far as Ryder was concerned the killing of McNeil was providential. The alleged crime of murder, for which he was tried, trumped the lesser crime of assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill, for which there was no thought of trying him for.

In retrospect the outcome might have been different if the Constables in charge of the posse had maintained firmer control of the sworn members of the posse and prevented anyone who had not been sworn in from mingling with them. One can only imagine the fear that Ansel felt when a large number of people were milling around his house shouting for him to come out and surrender. No doubt he had good reason to fear what the consequences of his act might be.

After the completion and disappointing outcome of Ryder's murder trial the authorities still could have tried him on the assault with a deadly weapon charge. The fact that Haymond had agreed to drop the criminal charge against Ryder would not have prohibited the authorities from pursuing a criminal charge against him for the assault. There were witnesses to the shooting, suggesting a solid case for conviction could have been made if Ryder had been brought to trial.

Regarding the proof on the issues in the case, Benjamin F. Fridley wrote 'The evidence for the people established the fact that McNeil died from a gunshot wound, which was fired by Ryder.'

The defense gave evidence to establish the fact that at the time of the shooting, Ryder, his wife and family were occupying his own house and an assembly of people met and surrounded his house. A missile of some kind was thrown and struck Ryder's daughter in the forehead causing a serious wound. When the projectile struck their daughter, Mrs. Ryder exclaimed 'father you must do something' and Ryder immediately fired the shot that caused the death of McNeil.

On the foregoing evidence, the defense claimed that a person had the right to defend and protect himself, his family, and his home. If Ryder's intent was to protect his family, why did he return to his home which was the first place the posse was sure to look for him? When the posse arrived, numerous attempts were made to get him surrender with no avail. When his wife exclaimed 'father you must do something', he could have surrender and his family's safety would have been secured. Rather than surrendering, he chose to shoot one of the men surrounding his dwelling. Upon reflection this does not seem prudent or rational as he was but one man, with a single shot rifle, surrounded by many. In hindsight the posse probably would have been more judicious if they just waited Ryder out. Had they contained him in the house until the following morning without threatening him, and waited until the sun rose, Ansel might have acted differently than he did in the middle of night.

Years later, now Judge, T. Lyle Dickey was asked what his private opinion of the guilt or innocence of Ryder was for the killing of McNeil. He was quoted as saying, 'Guilty as a dog and ought to have been hung.'

The writer of an 1897 article published in the Kendall County News used the nom de plume 'Old Settler'. The writer acknowledged his obligations to Benjamin F. Fridley, James J. Wilson, George P. Sleezer, Thomas J. Phillips and Avery N. Beebe for favors extended him in his investigation. This would seem to eliminate any of those named, as the writer of the article. However, in a second article on the same topic written by Avery N. Beebe, and published in 1910 in the journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, some of the passages used are virtually identical with parts of the 1897 piece. Mr. Beebe and the 'Old Settler' was either same person, or Mr. Beebe leaned very heavily on the 'Old Settler's' version of the affair.

The Aftermath:

After the trial, the criticisms of the jury's verdict were soon forgotten by all, except for the survivors whose lives were changed forever by the events.

Haymond Family:

Ansel Ryder's first victim was Edward Owen Haymond, Jr., who was known as Owen. Members of the Haymond and Hollenback families were among the earliest settlers of Kendall County. Both families came from Monongalia Co., VA now West Virginia and were interconnected by marriage. Owen and his brother, Ahijah, were the sons of Edward Owen Haymond, Sr. and Sarah Woodfin. Ahijah's first wife was Sarah Hollenback. Ahijah was born January 27, 1786 in Monongalia Co., and Owen was born in the same place, March 8, 1802. Owen married Margaret Ann (Cecil), March 15, 1825 in Cincinnati, OH. She was born January 9, 1809 in Burton, Shelby Co., KY, the daughter of Garrett Cecil and Agnes Freeman.

At the time of the shooting, November 4, 1843, Owen was 41 years of age and had eight children: George Washington Irvington; William Washington; Jacob Howard; Louise; Martha Ellenore;  Elma Jackson; Edward Owen, III; and Margaret Jane. The latter four were born in Big Grove Township. Their ninth child, Orissa Adalina Augusta was born in Newark May 3, 1845. Sometime between May 3, 1845 and December 8, 1848 the Haymond family moved to Des Moines, IA where their tenth child, Amasa Lyman was born December 8, 1848. Sometime after his brush with death, Owen and several members of his family converted to Mormonism. Their eleventh child, Thomas Melvin was born March 10, 1854 in Springville, Utah Co., Utah.

Owen died January 26, 1887 and is buried in Springville, Utah Co., UT. His wife, Margaret died January 10, 1889 and is buried in the same place.

Owen was perhaps the luckiest of all of those affected by Ryder's action. His wound healed rapidly and he is said to have made a full recovery.

McNeil Family:

The victim, Charles McNeil, was the son of Charles and Thankful (Miller) McNeil, and was born April 13, 1811 at Marcy, NY. Charles was mortally wounded November 4, 1843 but lived for twelve days, dying November 16, 1843 in Newark, IL.

Charles married Jane E. Aldrich, September 11, 1839 in La Salle Co., IL. Jane was born June 12 1823 in Knowlesville, Orleans Co., NY, and was the daughter of early settlers of Fox Township, John Aldrich, II and Nancy (Freemeyer) Aldrich. Charles was 32 years of age at the time of the shooting and his wife was 20 years of age. Their daughter Helen 'Ellen' was born about 1842 in Newark, IL and was only a few months old at the time of the shooting. The loss of the McNeil family's bread winner and the responsibility of raising an infant by herself undoubtedly changed Jane's life dramatically.

According to Kendall County marriage records, their daughter Helen 'Ellen' McNeil married Charles McNeil January 1, 1862 in Kendall Co., IL, but there may be some confusion regarding her husband's surname

Charles' widow, Jane E. Aldrich (McNeil) married Cornelius 'Julius' Tilton, November 11, 1847 in Kendall County. Cornelius and Jane E. had at least three children: Henry Tilton born about 1850; Mary E. Tilton born about 1854; and Frank Tilton born about 1856; all were born in Big Grove Township.

Jane's husband was not found in the 1880 census, and she indicated she was a widow at the time of the 1885 State Census of Iowa suggesting that Cornelius Tilton died before 1880. Jane E. Tilton died November 18, 1912 at Estherville Emmet Co., IA, at the home of her daughter, Mary E. Tilton and son-in-law, Martin K. Whalen.

Ryder Family:

Ansel Ryder was born October 28, 1797 in Hadley, Hampshire Co., MA, the son of Stephen and Thankful (Montague) Ryder. Ansel married Desire Butler, October 30, 1822 in Geauga Co., OH. Desire was born in about 1799 or 1800 in Scipio, Cayuga Co., NY and was the daughter of John Butler and Millie (Sawtell) Butler. She died in January 1852 in Geauga Co., OH.

The Ryder family settled in what became Big Grove Township in Kendall Co., IL in about 1838, and was included in the 1840 census of La Salle County. Their previous home was Perry Township, Geauga Co., OH, which became part of Lake Co., OH in 1840 when it was created from Geauga County.

Prior to leaving Ohio, Ansel had gone through what today is called bankruptcy. 'Eleazer Paine, acting Commissioner of Insolvents, gives notice that Ansel Ryder, of Perry, Geauga Co., will apply at the next court for benefits for relief as an insolvent debtor. #835, p 3. c. 2.'

While living in Perry Township, Ansel and Desire were members of the Church of Christ 'The Church of Christ in Perry was organized by S. Rigdon, August 7, 1829. It had twenty seven members, including Ansel and Desire Ryder…….' Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve, Ohio, by A. Hayden, p. 346.'

Like many before and after, Ansel hoped to start a new life and leave his problems behind him. However the problem is always, wherever you go; there you are. Before their lives were over, the Ryder family experienced more hard luck than most, an infant daughter died in a fire that destroyed their home, and their father's actions caused them to loose the farm that was their livelihood and home.

In Ansel's case alcohol was an important factor. In addition, there were some mental health issues in the family. Ansel's oldest son, John Butler was married three times, with the first two marriages ending in divorce. By 1880 he was confined in the Iowa State Hospital for the Insane.

At the end of his trial Ansel was declared not guilty and released a free man, but his freedom cost him dearly. His demeanor was such that he was described as a broken man by those who knew him. On December 4, 1843, Ansel signed over his 160 acre farm to his attorney, T. Lyle Dickey to pay for his legal services, leaving Ansel with no assets. Earlier historians reported that he went to California to seek gold in an effort to improve his financial position. This may be correct but nothing was found to confirm this hypothesis. 

In addition, his neighbors wanted nothing to do with him, basically denying him the social interaction and friendships that most desire and enjoy. His only choice was to leave the place where he was known, and go somewhere to start anew. At this juncture Ansel's family seemed to go in one direction and he in the other. In 1850 Ansel, Sr., was not enumerated with his family, and it is unknown to the compiler where he was at the time of the census.

A man named Ansel Ryder married Sarah Crossley November 15, 1852 in Will Co., IL. But this could have been Ansel Ryder, Sr. or Jr. Ansel Ryder, Sr. died August 13, 1856 in Joliet, Will Co., IL.

Despite all of the negatives caused by the affair, there was at least one positive outcome, which was the education of Ansel's son, Charles Edson while he was living in Ottawa with attorney T. Lyle Dickey.

Families enumerated in the Federal Census of 1840 were only identified by the head of the household's name. Other members of the household were enumerated by their gender and the age bracket they fit into. At the time of the 1840 census the family consisted of the parents, four sons and two daughters.

Head of Families
Ryder, Ansel
L 140-5

Male born between 1790 and 1800: Ansel Ryder, Sr.

Female born between 1790 and 1800: Desire (Butler) Ryder

Son born between 1820 and 1825: John Butler Ryder born 1823

Son born between 1825 and 1830: Charles Edson Ryder born about 1827

Son born between 1830 and 1835: Ansel Ryder, Jr. born about 1832

Son born between 1830 and 1835: Solon 'Cyril' Ryder born about 1834

Daughter born between 1830 and 1835: unknown. This daughter did not survive until the1850 census was taken. Consequently, no information was found on her name and age.

Daughter born between 1835 and 1840: Louisa 'Mary' Ryder born Nov 5, 1837

The Federal Census of 1850 is helpful in identifying the names of those enumerated in the 1840 census. On November 11, 1850 five members of the family were enumerated in Serena Township, La Salle Co., IL.

1850 Federal Census: Serena Township, La Salle Co.,

Ryder, Charles, 23, male, farmer, OH

Ryder, Desiah, [Desire] 54, female, OH

Ryder, Ansel, 18, male, laborer, OH

Ryder, Cyril, 16, male, laborer, OH

Ryder, Mary, 12, female, IL

Desire's age in 1850 may not be correct as her son Henry was born in Big Grove Township in 1843, which would have made her a 47 year old woman at time of his birth.

Ansel, Sr. and Desire Ryder's youngest son, Henry, was born in 1843 in Big Grove Township but was not enumerated with the family at the time of the 1850 census. At this time he was living with John and Rachel Cooper in Serena Township, La Salle Co., IL. Both John and Rachel were natives of Ohio. It is unknown to the compiler what the connection between the Ryder and Cooper families might have been.

Ansel and Desire (Butler) Ryder's Children:

1. Ansel and Desire's eldest son, John Butler Ryder, was born in 1823 in Ohio. According to Kendall County marriage records, John B. Ryder and Elizabeth Isabel Platt were married by Rev. Charles L. Bartlett, minister of the Lisbon Congregational Church, January 22, 1849. John Butler and Elizabeth Isabel and their daughter Elva were enumerated with her parents and siblings in the 1850 census of Kendall County.

Census data:

1850 census:

Lisbon Township, page 267B, E.D. September 19, 1850

Platt, Daniel, 40, NY, farmer

Platt, Esther, 34, NY

Unknown, Hiram, 26, MI

Unknown, Franklin, 28, NY

Unknown, James, 22, NY

Unknown, Jacob, 31, NY

Ryder, John B., 26, OH, carpenter

Ryder, Elizabeth Isabel (Platt), 18, NY

Platt, Junior Daniel, 12, IL

Platt, Keziah P., 11, IL

Platt, Albert B., 6, IL

Platt, Levi, 3, IL

Ryder, Elva (d. John B. & Elizabeth Isabel), 1, IL

Unknown, Lydia, 18, NY

Elva Ryder married Buell W. White, September 25, 1869 in Kane Co., IL. Buell was the son of George and Milenia White.

1870 Census:

Kaneville, Kane Co., IL June 18, 1870

White, George, 60, farmer, VT

White, Mary, 58, keeping house, NY

White, Charles, 27, works on farm IL

White, Buell, 23, works on farm, IL (Buell W.)

White, Louisa, 19, at home, IL

White, Elva, 20, keeping house, IL.  (Elva (Ryder) White; Mrs. Buell W.)

John B. Ryder and Elizabeth Isabel's Platt's marriage was short. They were married January 22, 1849, and their daughter was born the latter part of the same year. Sometime between the date of their marriage and May 13, 1843 they separated and John B. left Kendall County.

In May 1846 John B. Ryder enlisted in Company E., Second Regiment Illinois Foot Volunteers at Alton Madison Co., IL for a term of twelve months to fight in the War with Mexico. He was mustered into the service June 16, 1846, and fought in the battles of Buena Vista and Saltillo, the former being the bloodiest battle in the war. Several of his comrades were killed or wounded in each battle. He was mustered out of service at Alton, IL June 18, 1847.

Elizabeth Isabel (Platt) Ryder married Jordan A. Gray, May 13, 1853 in Kendall County.

1856 Iowa State Census:

By 1856, John B. Ryder was in Louisa Co., IA. His occupation was listed as a mechanic. He was married to a woman named Ann Eliza born about 1823 in Kentucky. She was married to someone named Doyle before her marriage to John B. as there was a nine year old girl in the family named Ann Eliza Doyle born in Missouri. John Butler and Ann Eliza had two children by the time of the census in1856, John Butler Ryder, Jr. born in Missouri about 1853, and an unnamed male infant born in Louisa Co., IA., in 1856. From later censuses we learn the latter was named Edwin A. Ryder.

John B. Ryder 32, OH mechanic

Ann E. Ryder 33, KY

Ann E. Doyle 9, MO

John B. Ryder 3, MO

Infant 0, IA (Edwin A. Ryder)

1850 Federal Census: Keytesville, Township, Chariton Co., MO

Doyle, Annie 28, KY. (John Butler's second wife's family)

Doyle, Adolphus 9, MO. (born February 1842)

Doyle, Ann 4, MO

1860 Federal Census: Incorporated town of Wapello, Louisa Co., IA.

Ryder, John B. 36, carpenter OH (John Butler, Sr.)

Ryder, Ann E., 40, KY (Ann Eliza (Mrs. Doyle))

Ryder, Butler, 6, MO (John Butler, Jr.)

Ryder, Edwin, 5, MO (Edwin A. Ryder)

Ryder, Edna, 2, IA (Edna, dau. John Butler & Ann Eliza)

Doyle, Adolphus, 18, MO step-son (born February 1842)

Doyle, Ann E., 14, MO step-daughter (Ann Eliza Doyle)

Merry, Margaret, 25, KY sister-in-law (Margaret D. Merry)

1870 Federal Census: Incorporated town of Wapello, Louisa Co., IA

Ryder, John B., 45, blacksmith OH

Ryder, Ann Eliza, 50, keeping house KY

Ryder, Edwin, 14, working in shop IA

Merry, Margaret, 36, sister-in-law KY

1880: Federal Census: Wapello, Louisa Co., IA June 25, 1880

Ryder, John B., 56, blacksmith                              OH MA NY

Ryder, Ann E., 62, [sic 57], wife, keeping house KY VA VA   

Ryder, Edwin A., 24, son laborer                          MO OH KY

Ryder, Eva A., 15, daughter                                  MO OH KY

Ryder, Della, 12, daughter                                     IA OH KY

Ryder, Earl A, 5, son (born March 1875)             IA OH KY

Merry, Margaret, 47, sister-in-law                         KY VA VA

Doyle, John, 26, laborer                                         MO VA KY

John B. Ryder was enumerated twice in the 1880 Federal Census of Iowa. In addition to the above enumeration, he was enumerated June 22, 1880 in Center Township, Henry Co., IA. He was enumerated as an inmate in the Iowa Hospital for the Insane.

Ryder, John B., 57, blacksmith, married, born in Ohio, Insane.

Sometime between 1880 and 1885 John B. and Ann Eliza were divorced. After their divorce Ann took her previous surname, Doyle, and John B. married his sister-in-law Margaret D. Merry.

1885 Iowa State Census Wapello, Louisa Co., IA

Doyle, Ann E., 63, keeping house, KY

Doyle, John B., 30, farming, MO.  [Sic John Butler Ryder, Jr.]

Ryder, Edwin A., 28, laborer.

1885 State Census Wapello, Louisa Co., IA

Ryder, John B., 61, blacksmith, OH

Ryder, Margaret D., 51, keeping house, KY

Ryder, Earl A., 8, (born March 1875)

1895 Iowa State Census: Wapello, Louisa Co., IA

Ryder, John B., 71, OH

John Butler Ryder died October 21, 1898 and is buried in the Wapello Cemetery. His gravestone indicated that he was a veteran of the war between the United States and Mexico.

1900 Federal Census of Wapello, Louisa Co., IA, June 6, 1900.

Hurt, J. L. born Apr 1856, 44, married 19 years MO AL KY farmer

Hurt, Elizabeth 'Lizzie' wife, born Nov 1862, 37, mar. 19 yrs, 1 child, MO VA

Hurt, Margin L. son, born Mar 1884,15 MO MO MO

Ryder, Margaret D., born May 1833, 67, widow, six children, 4 still living. Margaret D.'s relationship to the head of the household looked something like Mother, but it was not at all clear.

The above census indicates Margaret D. (Merry) Ryder had six children, four of which were still alive in June 1900.  Earl D. born March 1875 may have been the biological son of Margaret Ryder, but if he was, his birth occurred while John B. and Ann Eliza Doyle were married.

Margaret D. (Merry) Ryder was enumerated a second time in 1900. She was enumerated in the Benjamin Brown home in Madison Township, Fort Madison, IA.

1900 Federal Census of Fort Madison, Lee Co., IA June 16, 1900.

Brown, Benjamin, head born Dec 1850, 49, OH KY OH teamster

Brown, Elizabeth, wife born Oct 1854, 45, OH Ger Ger

Brown, Lonnie, son born Jan 1880, 20, IL OH OH teamster

Brown, Victoria, dau born Aug 1882, 17, IL OH OH

Brown, Pearl, dau born Aug 1887, 12, IL OH OH at School

Brown, Katie, dau born Nov 1890, 9, IA OH OH at School

Ryder, Earl A. son-in-law born Mar 1875, 25, IA OH KY prison guard

Ryder, Stella dau born May 1875, 25, IL OH OH

Ryder, Louis gr-son born Aug 1895, 4, IA IA IL

Ryder, Elizabeth gr-dau born Nov 1898, 1, IA IA IL

Ryder, Margaret boarder born May 1833, 67, Wd, 6ch, 4 living, KY VA VA

Stroup, George br-in-law, farm laborer, born Aug 1877, 22, OH Ger Ger

2. Charles Edson Ryder was born August 22, 1826 in Zanesville, Muskingum, OH and died September 9, 1899 in Marine Township, Madison Co., IL. He married Mary Nora Griggsby, January 4, 1852 in Jersey Co., IL. Mary Nora was born November 26, 1832 in Mt. Vernon, Fairfax, VA and died March 8, 1921 in Edwardsville, Madison Co., IL

Census data:

1850 Federal Census: Serena Township, La Salle Co.,

Ryder, Charles, 23 male, farmer, OH

Ryder, Desiah [Desire] 54, female, OH

Ryder, Ansel, 18, male, laborer, OH

Ryder, Cyril, 16, male, laborer, OH

Ryder, Mary, 12, female, IL

1870 Federal Census: Alhambra, Madison Co., IL

38. Ryder, Henry, 27, farmer, IL

Ryder, Anne, 23, keeping house MO

39. Ryder, Charles, 49, farmer, OH

Ryder, Mary, 38 keeping house, VA

Ryder, Elizabeth, 17, IL

Ryder, Martha, 15, IL

Ryder, Belle, 13, IL

Ryder, George, 11, IL (George W.)

Ryder, Charles, 9, IL

Ryder, Lincoln, 5, IL

Ryder, Mary, 3, IL

Ryder, Millie M. (born Jul or Aug 1870 in IL) (Millie May)

1880 Federal Census: Alhambra, Madison Co., IL

Ryder, Charles, 56, farmer, OH

Ryder, Mary N., 48, wife, keeping house, VA MD NC

Ryder, Elizabeth, 27, dau, at home, IL OH VA

Ryder, George, 21, son, at home, IL OH VA (George W.)

Ryder, Charles, 19, son, at home, IL OH VA

Ryder, Mary, 15, dau, at home, IL OH VA

Ryder, Lincoln, 13, son, at home, IL OH VA

Ryder, Millie, 10, dau, at home, IL OH VA (Millie May

Ryder, Edson, 8, son, at home IL OH VA (Edson Dorsey)

Ryder, Nelson, 2, son, at home, IL OH VA (Nelson Landon)

3. Ansel Ryder, Jr. 18, male, laborer, born in Ohio in about 1832.

1850 Federal Census: Serena Township, La Salle Co.,

Ryder, Charles, 23, male, farmer, OH

Ryder, Desiah [Desire] 54, female, OH

Ryder, Ansel, 18, male, laborer, OH

Ryder, Cyril, 16, male, laborer, OH

Ryder, Mary, 12, female, IL

Ansel Jr.'s date and place of death is unknown to the compiler.

4. Solon 'Cyril' Ryder was born about 1834 in Ohio and died at an unknown date in Kankakee Co., IL. He married Ruth Smith, the daughter of Aaron Smith and Content Cleveland, January 1, 1856 in Will County, IL. She was born July 4, 1834 in North Anson, Sommerset Co., ME, and died August 21, 1916 in Kankakee, Kankakee Co., IL.

Solon 'Cyril' and Ruth (Smith) Ryder were divorced May 11, 1873 in Kankakee, IL. In 1885 Ruth married George Hutchinson in Kankakee, IL.

Solon Cyril Ryder and Ruth Smith had at least seven children: Alice; Norris Solon; Charles; Solon Cyril, Jr.; Emma; Ruth Armana; and Tenner Merritt.

Solon C. Ryder, 29 year old carpenter, resident of New Lenox, Will Co., IL enlisted in Co. F, 64th IL Vol INF October 5, 1864 at Joliet, IL.

Note that he followed his brother John's and father Ansel's occupation.

Census data:

1850 Federal Census: Serena Township, La Salle Co.,

Ryder, Charles, 23, male, farmer, OH

Ryder, Desiah [Desire] 54, female, OH

Ryder, Ansel, 18, male, laborer, OH

Ryder, Cyril, 16, male, laborer, OH

Ryder, Mary, 12, female, IL

1860 Federal Census: New Lenox Township, Will Co., IL.

Ryder, Solon C., 26, OH

Ryder, Ruth, 26, OH

Ryder, Norris, E. 3/12, IL

1870 Federal Census: Saint Anne, Kankakee Co., IL. June 18, 1870.

Ryder, S. C., 40, farmer, OH

Ryder, Ruth, 38, keeping house, ME

Ryder, Alice, 16, IL

Ryder, Norris, 10, IL

Ryder, Clark, 8, IL

Ryder, Solon, 6, IL

Ryder, Emma, 4, IL

Ryder, Armena 2, IL

Ryder, Tenner, 7/12, IL (b. abt Dec 1869)

After their parent's divorce the children were enumerated in the 1880 census of Kankakee, IL with the eldest son, Norris, was listed as the head of the household.

1880 Federal Census: Kankakee, Kankakee Co., IL.

Ryder, Norris, 21, plasterer, IL (Norris Solon)

Ryder, S. C., Jr. 16, IL (Solon Charles, Jr.)

Ryder, Emma, 14, IL

Ryder, Charles, 12, IL

Ryder, Ruth A., 13, IL (Ruth Armena)

Ryder, Merritt, 11, IL (Tenner Merritt)

5. Louisa 'Mary' Ryder was born in Big Grove Township November 5, 1837. Louisa Mary married Nelson Landon September 15, 1870 in La Salle Co., IL.

1850 Serena Township, La Salle Co., IL

Ryder, Charles, 23 male, farmer, OH

Ryder, Desiah [Desire] 54, female, OH

Ryder, Ansel, 18, male, laborer, OH

Ryder, Cyril, 16, male, laborer, OH

Ryder, Mary, 12, female, IL

6. Helen Ryder was born about 1839 in Big Grove Township, Kendall Co., IL.

In about 1841, the Ryder family's home was destroyed by fire, and an infant daughter whose name is unknown perished in the fire. Helen may have been that infant.  The child that died in the fire was born and died in Big Grove Township, Kendall Co., IL.

7. Henry Ryder was born in 1843 in Big Grove Township, Kendall Co., IL. In 1870, he and his wife Anne were living next door to his brother Charles Edson Ryder near Alhambra, Madison Co., IL.

Census data:

1850 Serena Township, La Salle Co., IL (Dwelling 43, Family 44)

Ryder, Henry, 7, IL

1870 Federal Census: Alhambra, Madison Co., IL

38. Ryder, Henry, 27, farmer, IL

Ryder, Anne, 23, keeping house MO

39. Ryder, Charles, 49, farmer, OH

Ryder, Mary, 38 keeping house, VA

Ryder, Elizabeth, 17, IL

Ryder, Martha, 15, IL

Ryder, Belle, 13, IL

Ryder, George, 11, IL (George W.)

Ryder, Charles, 9, IL

Ryder, Lincoln, 5, IL

Ryder, Mary, 3, IL

Ryder, Millie M. (born Jul or Aug 1870 in IL) (Millie May)

Theophilus 'Lyle' Dickey:

T. Lyle Dickey was born in Bourbon Co., KY, near Paris, KY. October 12, 1811 and died July 22, 1885 in Atlantic City, NJ. He married Juliet Evans. In 1834 he moved to Macomb, IL to study law under Cyrus Walker and in the following year was admitted to the Illinois Bar. In 1836 he moved to Rushville, IL where he hung up his legal shingle, edited a newspaper and speculated in real estate. In 1839 he moved to Ottawa, IL where he continued to practice law.

In May 1846 the Federal Government called on the citizens of Illinois to organize three infantry regiments for the war between the United States and the Republic of Mexico. T. Lyle Dickey organized a company of La Salle County men who enlisted for one year. The men were able to elect their own officers and T. Lyle Dickey was elected the Captain of Company I, of the First Illinois Infantry Regiment. The company was made up of 85 men; one of them was Charles Edson Ryder, son of Ansel Ryder, Sr.

The First Illinois Infantry Regiment was transferred to San Antonio, TX July 18, 1846. Captain Dickey and Lieutenant H. J. Reed became ill and were forced to leave the regiment in September. Dickey and Reed did not see any action. The remainder of the company arrived Mexico in time to take part in the battle of Buena Vista on February 22 and 23, 1847. The battle of Buena Vista was the most costly battle of the war, but only one man in Company I, was killed.

Shortly after he returned to Ottawa, T. Lyle Dickey was elected a Judge of the Illinois Ninth Judicial Circuit Court. In 1851 he resigned his position as judge, but continued to practice law in Ottawa.

In 1856, T. Lyle Dickey was nominated for Congress in the Third Illinois Congressional District. The newly born Republican Party nominated Rev., Owen Lovejoy of Princeton, IL who was an excellent speaker and a strong opponent of slavery. Judge Dickey was convinced by others that Rev. Lovejoy was the better choice and withdrew his name from the contest. Rev. Lovejoy was elected by a margin of over 6,000 votes over the Democratic candidate Osgood.

When the Civil War broke out, T. Lyle Dickey was authorized by the State of Illinois to raise a company of cavalry. On August 1861, the company was raised and became nucleus of the Fourth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Cavalry. T. Lyle Dickey was appointed Colonel, and Commanded the Regiment from October 12, 1861 to February 16, 1863 when he tendered his resignation.

From 1868 to 1870, he was an Assistant Attorney General for the United States the Court of Claims, and in that capacity argued cases before the United States Supreme Court.

In December 1875 he was elected a Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court where he served with distinction until is death in 1885.

Last Modified on 2013-02-20 01:57:26-0600 CST by Elmer Dickson