Our story is taken from the autobiography of Caroline Redman Edelblute, ancestor of Lowell resident Charles Drewry, who loaned his copy to the Old Timer. Caroline never lived in Lake County, but she wrote an interesting story about the joys and the trials of the early settlers of the Midwest.
She was born in 1847 in Ohio and had little memory of her father, who passed away when she was five years old, leaving her mother with eight children. She knew death early in life, for soon five of her brothers and sisters also died. She saw death so often, she never expected a long life herself.
Joy came into her life when her mother married again, and the excitement of moving and having a new home became a happy time -- "There were many strange things to look at in our new surroundings."
Her stepfather was well-to-do and owned two pet deer which Caroline and her siblings enjoyed feeding. But sadness struck the family again when her mother was taken sick with the dropsy and her sister Rebecca died of consumption. Heart trouble added to her mother's health problems, "but she was very ambitious and kept at her work, when others would have given up and retired."
When Caroline was 19 there was great excitement in the neighborhood, for a young man, who had been away from home for 10 years and was thought to be dead, appeared in the village alive and well -- and worth about ten thousand dollars in gold! He had been out West and made his fortune in the California gold mines.
Caroline went with the others to welcome him -- "We stood still and looked at each other -- neither spoke -- until we were introduced, and we shook hands." The next time they met he paid her a great deal of attention and soon began frequent visits to her home. Caroline and Lucius Samuel Edelblute were married in the spring of 1867.
Soon after they married, he bought a nice farm of 15 acres and stocked it with 150 Merino sheep, eight good horses (the carriage horse cost $350), two milk cows, hogs and chickens.
In the spring of 1868 their daughter Luella Maud was born, and soon after, not satisfied with the climate in Ohio, they moved to Tennessee, where they heard (incorrectly) that the grass stayed green all winter. With the money they received for the sale of their property, a plantation was purchased.
"We bought 785 acres of land in Franklin County, Tenn., in the fall of 1868, going by covered wagons, along with a family by the name of Hammond. Twelve in the party, with six wagons, and a nice time was had on the journey. But it was soon after the Civil War, when the countryside was filled with people who had no use for Yankees. Some parts of the country was full of outlaws, and cared not what they did. One day, going thru a mountainous section of Kentucky, we met a band of highwaymen on horseback. All had guns in front of them, and a wide belt around their waists with two pistols.
Lucius bluffed the men by pretending to be out of money, and offered to sell some of his sheep, and the men rode past on their way. They traveled by way of the battlefield at Murfreesborough, Tenn., and were saddened by the ravages of the late war, with fields grown to weeds and houses and fences in ashes.
Their new home was three miles south of Tullahoma, Tenn., where the area was not so forlorn and desolate. They had a two-story frame house and three small log cabins in the back yard for the servants. In 1870 Caroline gave birth to another daughter, Alice May, as the little family was getting settled in their new home in the South. Alice May (Jewett) became the mother of Caroline J. Drewry.
After one of their more friendly neighbors was shot by a Southerner, Caroline feared for her husband's life, but one native told her that it was her husband's bravery that saved him, as they were afraid of him. Other fears came from the many "wild cat" stills near their plantation, where many government men were killed.
At one time 36 barrels of whiskey were found and the government men drafted Lucius to haul it to the depot, surrounded by 25 U.S. soldiers. But that same night the men of the South came to their house and forced him to haul it back, for they had recaptured it by forcing the engineer to move the train to a wooded area where they removed the barrels.
After a few years, the family moved into the town of Tullahoma, and in the fall of 1872 a son was born to Caroline and Lucius and named John William. With all the problens in the South, they wanted to return north, so they sold their plantation by sections and traded some of it for land in Jennings County, Ind., where they owned two farms, a half mile apart, two frame houses and two log houses. They traveled to Nashville, boarded the boat "Silverthorne," then sailed the Cumberland River to the Ohio River, changed boats at Evansville, and were soon aboard the steamer "Henry Turner" on their way to Madison, Ind., where they boarded a train to their new home in Vernon.
Soon after, another son, Lucius, was born. In 1877 Caroline and her family decided to move again. This time it was back to Ohio. Her husband had gone to Cincinnati with a car load of mules, and while there he traded his Indiana farms for lots in the Ohio city, where he was soon in the manufacturing business. The family was increased with the birth of Elsie in 1882.
Caroline wrote: "We next were in the flood of 1882, and suffered heavy losses from the water. The factory all but turned over, but the part with the machinery stood firm, but that was all under water. We next sold some of the property for half price after the flood. When the water went down, everything was covered with thick yellow mud. We sold our property and never went back."
Their next move was to Sheboygan, Wis., in 1884, where Lucius became a partner in a large factory that made hay rakes, wood sawing machines, table slides, and other items invented by him. But this was not a paying venture, and a considerable amount of money was lost.
Lucius took on several positions, working for factories in other cities for almost two years, and then returned to Sheboygan when the factories there were thriving once again.
Caroline ended her story, written in 1890: "I prefer Ohio or Indiana in which to live, as it seems more like home to me, and the people are more like home folks. The population here is mostly German, but I am contented wherever my lot is cast. We have a pleasant home and everything comfortable, and many kind friends."
This is a very condensed version of Caroline's story, for there were 16 pages, where she told in detail about her life as they kept moving around in the Midwest states, with all the trials and the joys of the early settlers.
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