Friday, December 15, 2017


In professional genealogy terms, the identity of William Rider of Bath County, Virginia, is not yet "proved".  I've been working on this post for nearly a year.  Moving back beyond 1746 is quite a job.  Acknowledging that it may take more onsite research than is possible now, this is a summary of what has been learned.  

I am confident that this is the line of our direct ancestors from our grandfather to the Riders of Bath County, Virginia:

Frank T. Ryder             1889-1956   Gandfather
Fred Ryder                   1861-1923   Great-Grandfather
Azariah Rider               1836-1895  2x Great-Grandfather
Thomas J. Rider           1812-1888  3x Great-Grandfather
James Rider                 1777-1828  4x Great-Grandfather

 These are the Riders explored here: 

William Rider/Ryder     1746-1819  5x Great-Grandfather  (Uncertainty is birth date)
William Rider                1714-          6x Great-Grandfather
William Rider, Sr.          unknown

For many reasons including fires and war, vital records of Virginia are hard to find.  Early on, I received valuable information from the Bath County, Virginia Historical Society. I looked at many online vital records available for immigration, birth, marriage and death for Virginia. Good information is available in monographs and late 19th and early 20th century published county histories, some available through Google Play Books. 

In place of proved records, I depend on Gordon J. Ryder, who self-published The Rider-Ryder Family from Virginia in 1993.  This hardcover book is out of print and available in a limited number of libraries.  You may be able to get a library near you to obtain an inter-library loan.  For 12 years full time in retirement, Gordon traced his Ryder "best guess" for our family line to a William Rider of Abingdon, Gloucester County, Virginia.  He worked for several government agencies and was a published engineer and a careful detailer.  For a relatively small volume, Gordon packed an incredible amount of information into his book.  It is unfortunate that he did not include specific sources but he had a story to tell, and he told that well.  Gordon's family did not respond to inquiries about his work papers.

At the publication of this book, after his extensive search for records, Gordon was unable to determine more about the Bath County William except that there were Rider records for three generations of William Riders in the parish church in Abingdon, Gloucester, Virginia.  This area, the Tidewater, is east of Richmond, between the York River and Mobjack Bay on Chesapeake Bay.  Gordon obtained the following information from Abingdon parish registers held by the Gloucester Public Library:

"Baptismal dates for the children of  William Rider:

Ursula, daughter of William Rider, January 15, 1701
Thomas, daughter of William Rider, January 31, 1702
Jane, daughter of William Rider, April 27, 1707
Mary, daughter of William Rider, May 1, 1709
William, son of William Rider, Sr., January 3, 1714

"Later records listed sons and daughters of William and Ann Rider, as follows:

James, baptized March 13, 1736
John, baptized July 9, 1738
Ann, baptized June 14, 1741
Hannah, born April 30, 1744
Ursula, born Xber 24, 1745
William, born March 15, 1746
Frances, born June 18, 1750, baptized same day
Nancy, born February 21, 1751
Solomon, born August 3, 1754, baptized September 15

"Also in this register are the following entries:

Thomas, departed this life in January, 1761
Ursula Rider married James Crittenden January19, 1737"

Gordon Ryder does not discuss that first William Rider listed, the father of the nine children.  Based on the birth date of his first daughter in the register, he would have been living in the area by 1700. Gordon Ryder believed that William Rider, born March 15, 1746, son of William and Ann Rider in Abingdon, Gloucester, Virginia was the William Rider who finalized his land purchase in Bath County, Virginia, in 1789.  Gordon Ryder listed the birth dates of these children of  William's but did not describe the records to document them other than the registers he viewed.   There are several 17th century Riders listed in passenger list sources but it is not possible to connect them. 

By about 1780, William was probably living in the August/Bath/Highland Counties area of Virginia.  In addition to Tidewater Virginians and Marylanders, the western Virginia  was heavily settled by Scotch-Irish (and German) immigrants considerably before the Revolution.  Shortly after the American Revolution, our 5x great-grandfather William and his family were among them. 

Although many Virginia Rider/Ryders dispersed long ago, some are still living in Bath County and surrounding counties.  When I reached out to the Bath County Historical Society, a volunteer told me there are still lots of Ryders in the area!
  After locating Azariah, Thomas J., James and   William there, for orientation I looked for historic and more contemporary topographical maps of Bath County, Virginia. 

This cutout of a beautiful 1755 Virginia map in the Library of Congress shows an area that was then Augusta County but later became Bath County, Virginia.  There were rather frequent divisions of this area into different counties, and no history of that will be used here but Gordon Ryder described it in some detail, as did several of the histories listed as sources. 

The red line is The Great Wagon Road that stretched from Philadelphia well into Georgia which you can read about in The Great Wagon Road by Parke Rouse, Jr. 

The map (and others) in the Library of Congress digital collection and is labeled as follows: 

A Map of the most Inhabited part of VIRGINIA containing the whole PROVINCE of Maryland with Part of PENSILVANIA, NEW JERSEY and NORTH CAROLINA Drawn by Joshua Fry &Peter Jefferson in 1751.

To the Right Honorable George Dunk Earl of Halifax First Lord Commissioner and to the Rest of the right Honourable and Honourable Commisioners for TRADE and PLANTATIONS

This Map is most humbly Inscribed to their Lordships by their Lordship’s Most Obedient & devoted humble servant Tho.s Jefferys. 

Circled white area approximate at area of Rider/Ryder lands

Permanent Link to full map:  Fry-Jefferson 1755 map - Library of Congress

Other Sources of Family History on Riders of Virginia

There is another authored family history. The record of the Rider family:  chiefly descendants of John Rider, born about 1755, died 1855, written in 1911 by Sarah Rider Bond. This short monograph is available in Salt Lake City and some Virginia libraries [Note:  I had difficulty getting the Family History Library online version to open on an ipad (IOS 11 or Windows 10 computer) and obtained it in .pdf with assistance from a librarian at the NYPL Milstein Division, NYPL] .  The summary states: 

"John Rider (ca. 1775-1855), direct descendant of three Rider brothers who were among the first emigrants from England to New England, settled along the eastern shore of Maryland in the early part of the eighteenth century.  Descendants lived in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Oregon and elsewhere". 

This is from Sarah Rider Bond's introduction:

"According to authentic statements, three brothers of the Rider family sailed from England and landed on American soil with the first settlers of New England. From best information, one of the direct descendants of this family, John Rider, settled on the eastern shore of Maryland during the first part of the eighteenth century. This man had the distinction of living in three centuries, having been born in the late years of the seventeenth century, about 1698, lived through the eighteenth, and died in the early years of the nineteenth century, at somewhat over a hundred years of age. From best information, George Rider, a member of John Rider's family, settled in the south-eastern part of Pennsylvania. Two members, evidently of this family, name William J. Rider and Thomas (J.) Rider, went west and settled in Illinois, about sixty miles, north of Chicago. William J. was a Methodist preacher.

I worked to compare Sarah Rider Bond's version to Gordon Ryder's.

The children of William Rider of Bath County, Virginia, according to Gordon Ryder were:

Alexander Rider, born about 1768
Richard  Rider, born 1770
John William Rider, born June 4, 1771, in Barbour County, Va. [His first son was George]
James Rider, born March 1777
Elizabeth Rider,  born about 1777
Sarah Rider, born after 1778 
Thomas, born about 1782 

Because first names are used so often in the family and records are so few, it is difficult to determine the exact succession of fathers and children in Sarah Rider Bond's story.   It is clear that the John Rider identified by Sarah Rider Bond is not the same John Rider born June 4, 1771, listed below by Gordon Ryder.  John, son of William of Bath County did have a son George but he dates do not match.  It is possible that Sarah had skipped a generation or so. 

Gordon Ryder added another brief note about oral history and notes provided by those he interviewed:

"Oliver Ryder, who lives in Mountain Grove, Virginia, had a set of notes given to him by his mother in which she listed names and other information concerning his ancestors. These notes stated that his great-grandfather Richard Ryder, son of William, came to Augusta County from Spotsylvania County."  
As you can see from the map slice below, Spotsylvania County is generally on the way west to Bath County.  Perhaps the family members migrated over the span of a few years and one final move from Gloucester County west to Bath was through Spotsylvania County, Virginia.  More on their migration later but this map slice shows the relationship: 

This is one record that may connect Sarah Rider Bond's and Gordon Ryder's stories.  According to Records of Colonial Gloucester County Virginia, Volumes I and II compiled by Polly Cary Mason in 1946 and 1948.    In 1770, one William Rider and one Abraham Rider were taxed in Abingdon, Gloucester, Virginia, but they were not taxed in 1780.   James Rider was taxed in both years. The "*" (asterisk) before the surname indicates the individual was taxed both years and the "/" indicates taxed only in 1770.  

It is possible that the Riders were in other businesses such as fishing or shipping and perhaps they had property or business across the Chesapeake region. It does not appear from this record that these Riders were land owners in Gloucester as there is nothing listed in the "Acres" column.  The three names appear in the following Tax List of Gloucester County, Virginia, 1770-1782:

Searchable version at
Visited 28 Nov 2017

This does not "prove" the relationship to our 5x great-grandfather William Rider had to others who lived in the area prior to 1780, and none of these three are named John.  There were other Riders in several communities in near-by Maryland and Virginia and also in the Highlands area, some before William arrived about 1780.  It may be that there is no connection but, after long explanation and research, Gordon Ryder stated that in his opinion this is William, later of Bath County, Virginia. 

The Virginia Rider Lands

A History of Highland County, Virginia by Oren F. Morton speaks of Willliam's lands in Bath County.  The acres near the community of Valley Center were probably more suitable for logging than farm land.   "Before the crown government passed away in 1775, all the more desirable lands in  Highland had passed into individual or corporate ownership.  Thenceforward, the second class and the cull lands were gradually absorbed, it being a long while before the entire area had come under private ownership".  

Oren F. Morton's Annals of Bath County entries note:

"Rider, William - 1780 - BC (Back Creek), n. Valley Center - same locality, [p. 252 the Google Play eBook]

Joseph Addison Waddell's  Annals of Augusta County notes:
"Rider, William: 176-1780-BC (Back Creek)-P (patented)-1789"  [p. 173 Google Play eBook]

William acquired 176 acres of land in 1780.  According to Joseph Addison Waddell, William finalized the "patent" or ownership of that land title and/or another parcel by 1789 (probably meant completed payment as required to the Virginia governor). 

William's First Wife and Mother of James Rider 

The first wife and/or mother of William's children has not been discussed anywhere.  His first wife or wives apparently did not survive to move to Bath County or died shortly after, but some of his children were born and/or lived in that area during the 1780's. 

Mary Brisco(e) was his second wife, married in Bath, Virginia in 1786 according to Oren F. Morton and a copy of the marriage bond. As you can see, the marriage bond indicates she was a "widdow" , implying this was not her maiden name.  If not for that notation "widdow", it would otherwise be possible to think that area resident Isaac Brisco, who did have a sister named Mary, was signing for his sister. Perhaps someday other documentation will be found. 
This copy used with permission of an member; source:   Augusta County Genealogical Society

The Appalachians

Watch Appalachian Settlers and Their Dwellings YouTube video by Edmond Marchietti in August, 2012, to envision the environment of this mountainous region: 

Gordon Ryder and Oren F. Morton stated that James (1777-1828) our  4x-great-grandfather  acquired other land beyond what his father owned.   Another son, John, acquired almost 1,780 acres.  In his introduction, Gordon Ryder stated: “William died intestate in 1819. It is presumed Mary lived until about 1825, since the property was not divided among his children until 1826.” 

The quality of land may have motivated them to move beyond Virginia to Illinois and Iowa.  A separate Long Since Dispersed post The Journeys of the Rider/Ryders from Virginia to Illinois about the exploration for the Illinois lands.  By the mid-1840's, after William's death (approximately 1819), many of William's surviving grandsons and nephews had indeed moved away.   His son, our 4x great-grandfather, James Rider did not survive Virginia but several sons were among those who moved to McHenry County, Illinois.  By 1845, our 3x great-grandfather Thomas J. (1782-1880) and his son, our 2x great-grandfather Azariah (1836-1895) and much of his family had moved on.  The other son William J. Rider, mentioned by Sarah Rider Bond, also moved to that area.  

Pioneer Families in McHenry County, Illinois

A number of Rider cousins left Bath County and explored lands far west. First, brief notes about the wives of William of Bath County and the the explorers. Our 3x great-grandfather James Rider married Sarah Chestnut, daughter of Sophia Chestnut Bourk, widow of William Chestnut who died in 1762.  Sophia's marriage to Mr. Bourk, probably already her second, was apparently also deceased at that time, and has not been researched.  I have not yet researched William Chestnut.  However, the sale of Rider lands before the moves to Illinois were made to several Chestnuts. 

Our 2 x great-grandfather Thomas J. Rider first married Sarah McCourt and I have not yet obtained her date of death.    Thomas married a second time to Sarah Townsend.  There were at least three Townsends living in the Augusta/Highland/Bath Counties. Townsends listed on p. 120 in the Google Play Books version of Oren F. Morton' Annals of Bath County:

Townsend, Ezekial, named Sarah Townsend's father by Gordon Ryder.
Townsend, Robert
Townsend, Solomon 

After many families from this community moved to McHenry County, Illinois, it is observed that some Townsends were listed on closely adjacent lands to Thomas J. Rider in the 1850 census.  

Under the definition of the McHenry County Genealogical Society, Thomas J. and William J. were considered Early Settlers.
Getting To Virginia and Ryder Run

The area's remoteness raises the question of how settlers traveled there. It is likely that  travelers from the Chesapeake Bay rode west to meet the Great Wagon Road (generally now Interstate 81) and at a mountain gap, they moved north and west. 

In 1911, Oren F Morton in A History of Highland County, Virginia wrote:  

"Pioneer travel never climbed a steep, rocky ridge when it was possible to find a grade line along even a crooked watercourse.  So in moving westward into Bath and Highland the settlers did not go over the rugged Shenandoah Mountain, but flanked it by way of Panther Gap, some 30 miles southwest of Staunton.

"Highland was settled in precisely the way we might expect.  Scotch-Irish landseekers came through Panther Gap and along the upper James (River), and moved up the valleys of the Cowpasture (River) and Jackson's River, until they reached the laurel thickets along the cross-ridges separating the waters of the James from those of the Potomac."

Gordon Ryder described the route he envisioned: "The land routes were near the break in the watersheds of the major streams and rivers, thus eliminating the need to use ferries to cross the many tributary streams.  One major route to the Shenandoah  Valley was from the Tidewater area of eastern Virginia to Spotsylvania, then west to Staunton in Augusta, County, Virginia.  There was a branch which ran from the present day Orange, Virginia to the mountain pass near Harrodsburg, Virginia." 

Today, the closest interstate highway to their lands is I-64 in western Virginia.  I'm sure there are also many combinations of routes from I-81 exits to Mountain Grove or Staunton, Virginia but in either direction, Big Back Creek Road/highway 600 actually leads to an unimproved road labeled Ryder Run.  The following cutout is a magnification of the map which clearly shows Ryder Run. The second picture is the map key for the smaller Google topographical maps below. 


Historic sites Map, Bath County, Virginia -Mountain Grove Area

Key Legend for Topographic Maps

Google Maps continue to show Ryder Run.

Driving tours of the area are marked by historical markers. There are little interesting stories for at least two marker spots - Mountain Grove (near the turning off spot for the road to Ryer Run) and Early Courthouses (Willam Rider was on the first Grand Jury called in the newly created Bath County in 1791).  If you ever get there, be sure to post a travelogue on Long Since Dispersed! for Bath County, Virginia



Augusta County Genealogical Society 20 S New St, Staunton, VA 24401 Phone: (540) 885-1991  Copy of marriage bond provided with permission from private member who obtained the copy from this society.  Obtained  by me December 11, 2017. Virginia Tax Lists, Gloucester County.   Accessed November 28, 2017

Bond, Sarah Rider.  The record of the Rider family:  chiefly descendants of John Rider, born about 1755, died 1855,  is a monograph available in digital copy in the Family History Library and (so theoretically at The record of the Rider family chiefly descendants of John Rider, bornabout 1755, died 1855. In the near future, it may be necessary to have a Family Search account: at Call No. 929.273 A1 no. 4399)[Note:  I had difficulty getting the Family History Library version to open on an Ipad (IOS 11 or Windows 10 computer and obtained it in .pdf from that site with assistance from a librarian on a library computer at the NYPL Milstein Division, NYPL]

Chalkey, Lyman F., The Scotch-Irish Settlement of Virginia, Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County 1745-1800.   [Or,  USGenWeb Project, copyrighted 1996, 1997, 1998]  Google Play Books free ebook

Library of Congress digital map  collection 1755 map of Virginia.   Permalink:  Accessed November 28, 2017

Mason, Polly Cary.  Compiler Records of Colonial Gloucester County Virginia, Volumes I and II, Colonial Gloucester County, Virginia, Tax List of 1770-1792, 1946-48 and reprinted 2007, ISBN 9780806347202, 146 & 150 pages  []

McAllister, Jean Graham  A Brief History of Bath County, Virginia, The McClure Co., Inc. Staunton, Va.  Dec 31, 1920,  23 Pages.

McHenry County Historical Society, 6422 Main Street, P.O. Box 434, Union, IL 60180,Phone: (815) 923-2267

McHenry County Genealogical Society, P.O. Box 184, Crystal Lake, IL 60039-0184, (815) 687-0436

Morton, Oren F., B.L. A History of Highland Virginia   Ruebush-Elkins Co., Dayton, Va., The Stone Printing and Manufacturing Co, Roanoke, Va.  1911 A Google Play Books free ebook.

Morton, Oren F., B.Lit., Annals of Augusta County, Virginia,  Staunton, Virginia, The McClure Co., Inc. 1917.  Google Play Books,  a free Ebook.

Rouse, Parke, Jr., The Great Wagon Road from Philadelphia to the South, How Scotch-Irish and Germans Settled the Uplands, 1915, republished 1995 by The Dietz Press, 1004 N. Thompson Street, Suite 103, Richmond, Virginia 23230, ISBN 0-87517-065, 271 pages [Note:  I accessed this hardcover book in the Main Branch of the Asheville, North Carolina, Library, but if it is not available in your library system, it is available inexpensively on Amazon Books as of 8 Dec 2017]

Ryder, Gordon J. The Rider-Ryder Family From Virginia, 1993, Gateway Press succeeded by Bay-Books Family History Publishers.  ISBN xvi, 349p, ill 24 cm. [This hard copy and copyrighted monograph or compilation authored by Gordon J. Ryder is available at the Milstein Division of the New York Public Library and 10 other World Cat libraries listed at:  The Rider-Ryder Family From Virginia].

The Virginia Historical Markers Guide, Bath County, Virginia 

Waddell, Joseph Addison.  Annals of Augusta County, Virginia.  [Full title:  Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, With Reminiscences Illustrative of the Vicissitudes of Its Pioneer Settlers ; Biographical Sketches of Citizens Locally Prominent, and of Those who Have Founded Families in the Southern and Western States ; a Diary of the War, 1861-'5, and a Chapter on Reconstruction]  W.M. Ellis Jones Book And Job Printer, Richmond, 1886. 362 pages. Google Play Books free Ebook.


Please read this post in connection with the Long Since Dispersed post Finding The Ryders of Ryder Run.  The sources and links included there are all associated with the people and places of this story. 

In 1837, our 3x great-grandfather, Thomas J. Rider, joined a group of Rider relatives who made additional trips starting in Bath County, Virginia, to scout for agricultural land in areas that were rapidly opening for settlement in new states and in territories about to become states.  They found lands in several different places and most who left Bath County had moved before the 1850 census. 

Gordon Ryder, the engineer, genealogist and author of The Rider/Ryder Family of Virginia, interviewed hundreds of people with the name Rider and Ryder over 12 years.  He visited Bath County, Virginia and many other communities, libraries, museums, county governments, genealogy and history centers, wrote and received many letters, made many phone calls, placed ads in local community papers and ultimately wrote of the information he gathered during that time.  Everyone he interviewed is listed as an appendix in his monograph.  Scores of descendants are listed and provided with genealogy details. 

At considerable length,  and with extended explanation, Gordon Ryder wrote about William Rider, his family, their life in Bath County, Virginia, and the travels and relocation of some of them to McHenry County, Illinois. 

Martha Theressa “Ressie” Ryder Hine was one of those he interviewed.  She told Gordon Ryder "she was living two miles north of the original Rider land grant."  During the course of our visit she showed me a six-page article, “My father’s travels”, which had been written by her grandfather Aaron Ryder.

"This was a story of Aaron’s father and his quest for good farm land in states to the west.  The story relates that William J., in the company of four cousins, went west in search of good, level farm land."

Aaron did not name the cousins, but Gordon Ryder determined through deed and land records that they were John Ryder’s (brother of Thomas's father James Rider) sons George, William, David and a son-in-law George Bumgardner.

"The first scouting trip was made in 1827.  They rode their horses over the mountains from Back Creek, Virginia, to the ”Falls of the Ohio” [the Falls of the Ohio National Wildlife Conservation Area is located around Clarksville, Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky] and beyond, to look for land in central Ohio, north of Columbus.  For several days the men rode over the area, which we now know was eastern Delaware County.  From there they went to Bloomington (now Muscatine, Iowa) on the Mississippi River. After inspecting the land for many miles on both sides of the river, they continued west about 100 miles through land which was an unorganized area of the United States."

"Turning their horses eastward, they traveled to an area that would become McHenry County, Illinois, located about 60 miles northwest of Fort Dearborn, which is now Chicago. There they viewed areas of land that looked good to them.  Again riding eastward toward Ohio, they located large areas of level land in northern Indiana.  They retraced their trail through Delaware County which they had scouted early on their journey.  Two months after they had set forth, the party of five men arrived in Bath County, Virginia, having traveled more than 1,200 miles.

"The following year the group of men revisited those areas that they scouted in 1827. On this trip they rode to the Ohio River, where they loaded their horses and equipment aboard a boat which carried them to the Mississippi River, thence upriver to Bloomington.  From there they scouted 100 miles further west than they did the previous year before turning back towards Illinois.  While in Illinois, William J. and a cousin William C. made contracts to purchase land.  Later, in northern Indiana, George Bumgardner selected the land he wanted.  Returning to central Ohio, Daniel marked land and made contracts in Marietta for the purchase of this acreage.

"Some nine years later, in 1837, Thomas J. Rider and Charles Callahan joined William J.,   George C., and William C. Rider as they again made the trip to the West.  This group traveled by boat to Bloomington…the group returned to northern Illinois.  At this time…Thomas J. Rider located a tract about 20 miles to the north (of William J. Rider, Charles Callahan, William C. Rider).

"In 1843, William J. and his brother returned to McHenry County to finalize their land purchases. Two years later, in 1845, the families of William J. and Thomas J. Rider and Charles Callahan settled in McHenry County.

"The author believes that George Bumgardner and William Curry Rider were the leaders of the first three trips, even though it was the son of William J. who wrote of their adventures.

"It has been interesting to find that members of this family of Riders were on the leading edge of the northwestern movement and settlement of our country."


Ryder, Gordon J. The Rider-Ryder Family From Virginia, 1993, Gateway Press succeeded by Bay-Books Family History Publishers.  ISBN xvi, 349p, ill 24 cm. [This hard copy and copyrighted monograph or compilation authored by Gordon J. Ryder is available at the Milstein Division of the New York Public Library and 10 other World Cat libraries listed at:  The Rider-Ryder Family From Virginia].  You may be able to get a library near you to arrange an inter-library loan.

Originally published by the author by Gateway Press, Inc., North Calhoun Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21332.  The current digital card index for this book now shows Bay Books The Family History Publisher but there is no web information available for this company, or Gateway Press, and both are assumed to be out of business.   

[Note of  November 28, 2017:  Mr. Ryder died in September 1998; letters to his family were not acknowledged.]

Library of Congress Card Catalog Number 93-70030
Transcribed by Sherry Wilmes November 28, 2017

Monday, November 20, 2017 Begins Permitting Non-Subscribers To View Trees has created a new status that will permit viewing family trees by non-subscribers.  I have entered a significant amount of information beyond the posted information here.  If you are interested in viewing our tree, please send me an email address and I will set it up for you.

Please keep in mind that although I have tried to be as accurate as possible, I would definitely be interested in feedback of any kind.

In addition, Ancestry has created a YouTube video to explain this process.  Ancestry Family Tree Viewing

There are two additional status types which allow editing and additional entries but they require subscriptions.  I'll work with you on those if you are interested in that.  It is not necessary to purchase a full year.  Partial year subscriptions are available.

Thursday, June 1, 2017


To review, before reading, return to this earlier post:

and review the family of Timothy McCarthy:

Tiimothy McCarthy Family Names and Dates

We have many cousins we do not know! On both the Gearen and Ryder family sides.  In early May, 2017, I received a message through from the granddaughter of Frank T. Ryder's youngest sister, Margaret Ryder.  Her father Bernard, who was adopted, is still living but is not well. We discussed many things, including the distance between families.  My research shows the family's great accomplishment of migration and their struggle to succeed in difficult economic times.   In fact, it might account for that distance.


East High Faculty - Miss Ryder - U.S.Yearbooks, 1880-2012

She was very gracious to correspond and share information with me.  The connection was made through one class photo (above) of Miss Margaret Ryder, a teacher at Sioux City East High School in an Ancestry database featuring yearbook class photos.  I had included it in Margaret's photo gallery from my family tree. Hopefully, sometime soon, we can have a post from her for Long Since Dispersed about her family, her father and her siblings. Two children were adopted by Frank's other sister, Anna Ryder - Mary Catherine and Francis. Neither of them are still alive now.  I received some additional family information, so I will research them.

The information below is an edited and extended version of what I wrote to her about our family history (some of this repeats earlier blog posts).

The Rider/Ryders

Our great-great-grandfather (Frank Ryder's grandfather) Azariah Rider, his wife Mary Jo Jacobs, and their son Fred (our great-grandfather born in McHenry County, Illinois, moved to Sioux City soon after his discharge from Company F, 95th Infantry Illinois, Union Army during the Civil War.  They were probably seeking a new life outside Dorr Township, part of the "Virginia Settlement" in McHenry County northwest of Chicago and near the western shore of Lake Michigan. Azariah was born in Virginia and his father Thomas J. Rider and some members of his family were pioneers in McHenry County.

Read the history in a free ebook in Google Play Books:  History of McHenry County, Illinois

Azariah served almost four years in the Union Army.  He later received a Civil War pension and after his death Mary received a widow’s pension.  Azariah's military service is described in an earlier Long Since dispersed post at:  Azariah Rider's Civil War Service

He was not shown on the 1870 census in McHenry County, Illinois so they had moved  before 1870, probably earlier than 1868 when Mary McCarthy was born in Galena.    The 1880 census  records them in Sioux City, Iowa.  By 1900, Timothy and Mary were shown with their son George on a farm at Plymouth, Iowa.  They returned to Sioux City, Woodbury, Iowa within about five years and Timothy died there in 1921.

The Timothy McCarthys

Timothy and possibly his son John McCarthy were blacksmiths (I cannot determine if this is his son or another relative, or someone of the same name unrelated to him).  These links document their exact locations.

Historic 1884 and 1886 Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps at the Library of  Congress document exactly where the Iowa Business Gazeteer states his business was located, 201 Fourth Street.

Sanborn Sioux City Map, April 1884, Image 1 with Legend

Sanborn Sioux City Map, April 1884, Image  3, 201 Fourth Street (Zoom in to the left side, lower corner)

In August, 1886, the building is still there although it is not labeled as "blacksmith" in that version:

Sanborn Sioux City, Aug 1886, Image 3

By 1890, the 313 and 315 Jackson Street properties have been developed, along with the entire mapped block, labeled the "Massachusetts Block".

Sanborn Sioux City Map, 1890, Image 13

Sioux City had enjoyed growth and prosperity for several decades but by 1893, a national financial panic initiated almost 50 years of intermittent economic difficulty there including the Great Depression years.   A website Sioux City History explains the impact of the panic:  The Financial Panic of 1893 in Sioux City.   The Sioux City Museum's virtual collections feature these problems at:
Overcoming Adversity a virtual exhibit at the Sioux City Museum.

Azariah and Mary Jo Rider remained in Sioux City but their son Fred and his wife by 1910 were reported in the census on Chicago's East 99th Street.  By the time of Frank’s World War I 1916 draft enrollment, they were back in Sioux City but Fred was not shown as head-of household.  Fred was in and out of the household and the cause of the family dysfunction is really not known.

Why did they stay in Sioux City?  Perhaps because the economic problems were severe everywhere, because they lacked the resources to migrate, perhaps their elderly parents were there or some other reason. Nevertheless, except Frank's family which relocated between Sioux City and Omaha NE several times and some McCarthy brothers, they remained.  

The McCarthys remained in and close to Sioux City, as well. Our great-grandfather Fred Rider and his wife Mary McCarthy were married in Galena, Illinois.  In fact, Mary and several of her siblings were born there, as well. Galena, located in northwest Illinois near the Mississippi River, was a lead mining community for a time and blacksmiths may have been a desirable skill group.  

Galena and It's Lead Mines a free ebook in Google Play Books

Timothy's wife Jane Ann Scott, daughter of  Robert Scott, a Scotsman

Locating our Jane Anna Scott presents the same problem as there are many, many Jane Scotts, and Anna Scotts and Jane Anne/Anna/Ann Scpotts all over America.  Her Granddaughter Anna Ryder was the informant on the death certificate in 1923 and Anna stated that (Jane) Anna Scott's parents were Robert Scott of Scotland and Margaret White.  A census entry says she was born in Albany, New York.  The only Margaret Scott who has a daughter Jane Anne (in this case) Scott is located in New York City for a time. Research will continue but will be difficult.

Their Sioux City Residences

The Azariah and Fred Rider/Ryder, Timothy McCarthy and Scott families lived in a part of Sioux City, 907 (Rider/Ryders), 905 (McCarthys) and 903 (McCarthy/Scott) Main Street, blocks from the the Missouri River.  For a time, I learned, Bernard's family later lived for a time in 907 Main. The area was called Area D in census terminology and it is likely that this was an area, adjoining Perry Creek which joins the Missouri River a very short distance away, not very desirable for residences at the time.

Relocation to Chicago and Return to Sioux City

Timothy's work  as a blacksmith was of less and less demand as motor vehicles were introduced. Cudahy Packing, where Frank ultimately worked was already in Sioux City and I think many of the family worked there early on, including his son-in-law Fred Ryder.  The Sanborn maps show several packing plants over the years before Cudahy, and they cannot have been  pleasant places.   Violent labor conflicts were common for 50 years in the Midwest.  Fred and Mary left for Chicago, probably in search of better opportunities because of the economic climate.  In Chicago, according to the census reports, Fred and his son Ben worked for the Chicago Surface Streetcar Company as drivers and one of Timothy McCarthy's sons, Timothy and Frank Ryder worked as conductors.

Family Dysfunction and Limited Education

For many years, I had the impression that Fred had abandoned the family when Frank was quite young, perhaps as young as 11 or so, and that Frank dropped out of school to work but I am not sure if it was that early.  The 1940 census report indicates Frank had one year of high school (and our grandmother Ruth Gearen Ryder had two).  Apparently, he was a voracious reader and self-educated himself to what probably was the equivalent of an early 20th century electrical engineer.

Injury, Prayer and Recovery

There is another family legend about Frank that probably affected his whole life.  Somewhere along the line, never certain if Sioux City or Chicago, in his young adulthood Frank fell from a pole (telephone, electrical, a wall?) and had a severe leg injury, critical enough that the doctors proposed amputation.  He apparently refused and sent a message to the Poor Clare convent asking them to pray for a miracle for him.  He survived, with a limp, but he survived and despite not being a regular church-goer, he always contributed food and money to the Poor Clares who would ride around town in a horse-drawn cart ringing a bell to attract attention soliciting alms.  Whether that was in Sioux City or Chicago and if it caused him to return to Sioux City or not, I don’t know.  He was not yet married so someone had to care for him during that time and it had to have been a drain on the families. 

Eventually, Frank was a management man, rising to Chief Master Mechanic of Cudahys (probably electrical, mechanical and facilities).  He was not fond of unions and he followed Senator Joe McCarthy, including on a early television set he built from a kit.  I’ve never connected the McCarthy families but the name was the same as his mother’s maiden name so they may have been influenced by that. 

Anna Ryder

During this time, his sister Anna probably had to be out working. She was a fitter, seamstress and dressmaker at several Sioux City department stores including J.C.Penney, Younkers and Martin's department stores.  Perhaps she learned to sew from a neighbor dressmaker who lived at 904 Main in Sioux City. It is also possible that there was no four year public high school for her to attend.

Margaret Ryder

His sister Margaret would have been four years younger and perhaps by the time she was age appropriate, there probably were both public and Catholic schools and high schools.  She completed four college years according to the census reports, probably Iowa University in Iowa City, and that is all I know except that she taught for all many years at Sioux City East High School.

Benjamin Ryder

Another family legend was about their brother Ben Rider/Ryder who was killed in a train robbery. If Fred was not supporting the family, then obviously they all needed to work but I cannot explain why Ben who had already had a job in Chicago was in a train boxcar in the southern Plains working harvest in 1915 when they had jobs in Chicago before that time.  I took that as another indication of family dysfunction.

It was a great surprise to me that Ben was not headed west on a passenger train to California and then mounted gunmen swooped down the main line, stopped the train and robbed everyone as my imagination had been fed by Western movies and novels.  As the newspaper article relates, some uncles traveled with Fred to retrieve his body.  There were McCarthy uncles (George and Tom) in Sioux City and vicinity at that time and others in Chicago so I can’t say who traveled with Fred after the murder.  Fred also had a brother Charles B. Rider in Sioux City.  And I had never heard a connection between that story and Marge’s education as quoted in the newspaper.  

The  Careers of Anna and Margaret Ryder

Most of Frank's son Jim Ryder’s (Dr. James E Ryder, M.D.) high school years, Frank and Ruth were living in Sioux City and Jim had been attending high school, probably Morningside High School. When Frank was transferred back to Omaha, Jim stayed behind with another aunt and uncle - Marge Gearen Wilson and her medical doctor husband Leo Wilson - and for Marge's tutoring in math and Latin.  It may have been a short time as he is shown on the census in both Sioux City and Omaha. Jim attended Creighton University in Omaha through an Army medical program and served in the Army at the close of World War II in the Philippine Islands.   Frank was very committed to education, all of his children attended Catholic schools.  His daughters had at least one year of college if they wished.  His youngest son Tom became an attorney.

Frank's sister Anna worked as a seamstress for many decades. One of the recollections recently shared with me was that Anna sewed until late in her life and never used a mechanical sewing machine! She taught my mother to sew including coats, and my mother made most of her siblings and many of her own children’s clothes for years.  My mother enjoyed it and although infrequently she sewed until well after she went to work when all three of us were finally in school.   Connie Ryder's story will add to this information about Anna. Unfortunately, it seems we missed an 2016 exhibit in Sioux City about Sioux City's historic department stores:

Historical Sioux City Department Stores

Visits Between the Sioux City and Omaha Families

Frank’s family and his sisters were in touch and they sometimes visited Omaha. One of my cousins remembers that they would drive down and park in the driveway at Frank and Ruth's on Rockbrook Drive but not come in the house.  I recall very little of seeing them, but remember clearly that in the months before my grandfather died in 1957 they came down to visit him.  I’m not sure who drove but I remember their car in the driveway. They brought him a hand loom with which people wove hot pads, perhaps to give him something to do.  He handed me the loom later, and I made a few hot pads.  I was only 11 and didn’t realize how sick he was.  He died in October, 1957 but I’m not sure of the date of their visit. 

Frank’s sisters came one other time one and that was when Frank’s daughter, our beloved aunt Bernadette, died in 1966.  Anna and Marge (I don’t remember anyone else from their families attending) arrived at my aunt Franny Ryder Wear's house for lunch after the burial.  They would not come in the house because the walls were green and that was bad luck.  I’m not sure who talked them in but they did come in for a time.  As you might imagine, we thought that was maybe an old Irish superstition, or maybe just odd.    In reality, Anna and Marge were simply people who in 1966 were from another time in America and I probably missed an opportunity to know them.   
The Missed Opportunity to Know Anna and Margaret

Every generation of Americans experience enormous and often rapid economic and cultural change. Our Ryders shared those experiences and those who stayed in Sioux City have such stories and struggles, as well, and I hope our cousin will add more to their stories soon.