James M. Gale Reminscenses
Fifty Years A Resident of Illinois
By James M. Gale
Published in the Kendall County Record, November 9, 1898
Edited and compiled by Elmer Dickson
I came to the village of Bristol, Kendall County, Illinois, November 6, 1848. Those remaining that I first became acquainted with are: Mrs. Dr. Wheeler; Mrs. John C. Scofield and her daughter, Mary S. Hopper; James Scofield; Uncle William Grimwood; Charles H. Raymond; Mr. And Mrs. Lewis Rickard; Gideon Kennedy; Daniel G. Johnson; Mrs. W. W. VanEmon; Mr. And Mrs. Thomas P. Hill; Walter Faxon; Edmond Seely; R. W. Willett; Mrs. Adam Plank; and Mrs. Solon Boomer. I became acquainted with Solon and Aaron Boomer in Worcester, Massachusetts the year before.
To give a little history. I left my native town, Columbus, Indiana, in September, 1847, for the former home of my parents in Sutton and Millbury, Massachusetts. I traveled first by railway, the first in Indiana, to the Ohio River. Thence by steamboat to Portsmouth, intending to take the canal to Cleveland from there, but found that there was a break in the canal up about thirty miles. I then took the stage to Chilicothe, Ohio and found a boat there. At Cleveland, I took a steamer to Buffalo where I changed to a canal packet for Albany. I then traveled by railroad to Worcester, Massachusetts. I remained in that state a little more than a year, leaving the 25th of October. I traveled over the same route as when I went east, to Buffalo, From Buffalo by steamer to Detroit, Michigan, thence to Kalamazoo by rail, the Central Michigan railroad. Thence by stage from Kalamazoo, Michigan to St. Joseph, Michigan. From there to Chicago by steamer. I arrived in that city in the afternoon of November 3. The trip west from Boston to Chicago, took nine days. I was nineteen days going east. This history is given to show the means for travel in those days to contrast with present methods.
I left Chicago, November 4, 1848 for Bristol, walking. I arrived in Bristol at noon on Monday November 6, the next day after the election of the President. The inhabitants of the township of Bristol voted at the Heustis Tavern in Yorkville. They got across the river by fording and using small boats. No ferry or bridge existed.
Now we have all things modern. Iron truss bridges, railroads, thirteen or fourteen thousand miles in the state. While at that time, there was not one mile of track of the Northwestern laid and but about thirty miles of track between Alton, Springfield and Jacksonville, Illinois. There is now over 200,000 miles in the United States, with telegraphs along all of them, with telephones to talk with, and now instruments for the transmission of photos, likenesses, and any pictures from place to place, perfectly by electricity.
Yorkville had but few houses, as also Bristol. In 1848, the latter had the most homes. The number of houses are now about even. There are now about 1200 inhabitants living in a hundred or two house. Yorkville and Bristol have the Kendall County courthouse, many fine houses, stores, shops, creameries, telephones and electric lights, a steam railway, with said to be coming an electric railway.
The changes have been marvelous throughout the entire world in the past fifty years. The electric methods of communication are chiefly inventions of our people in the United States.
I was married March 4, 1856 to Miss Susan B. Boomer, daughter of James and Lucy Boomer of Bristol Township. My wife died November 16, 1896. I settled on the farm I am now on, on March 9, 1856. I bought the farm of Deacon James McClellan, an uncle, who was one of the first here. He arrived with his family in the early summer of 1835. Beulah Seely, wife of the late Francis T. Seely, is the only survivor of this family, She now lives in Chicago, the wonder city of the fifty years in the world, developing from about 15,000 people when I first saw it to, as they claim, 2,000,000 people now.
Arthur noted this fiftieth year of my residence in Illinois with a sumptuous turkey dinner, inviting a few neighbors to join in the festive feast. Signed J. M. Gale.