Biography of Schuyler Ransom

Schuyler Ransom, an emblem of hard work and success, transformed his life from poverty to prosperity in Nelson Township over 25 years. Arriving with little, his determination and savvy in farming and stock-raising allowed him to amass a valuable property, making him a respected figure in the community. Born in 1822 in New York, Ransom ventured to Illinois, overcoming early financial hurdles to eventually own a quarter section of land. Today, his farm stands as a testament to his efforts, featuring state-of-the-art improvements and cultivation, symbolizing the fulfillment of the American dream through perseverance and strategic planning.

Schuyler Ransom located in the township of Nelson more than a quarter of a century ago, and since that time has worked his way up to a leading position among its farmers and stock-raisers. Coming here in poverty, and by his untiring labors, conducted systematically, with business tact and foresight, gathering together a valuable property, the possession of which makes him one of the solid moneyed men of this vicinity. He owns a quarter section of land that he has transformed into one of the finest and best-appointed farms in the State.

Mr. Ransom was born June 25, 1822, in Vienna Township, Oneida County, N.Y., a son of Elijah Ransom, who was a native of Washington County, that State. His father was reared to the life of a farmer, and when a young man went to Oneida County, where he was married to Miss Mary Dunton, a native of Massachusetts. She was of Massachusetts parentage, while he was of Welsh descent. After marriage they began life on a small farm in that county, living for many years in Camden Township, and when elderly people came to Illinois, settling in Ogle County, where the wife died a few years later when a little past fifty years old. Her husband afterwards went to Kansas, and died there when upwards of eighty years of age in the home of his son, Bradley V., who had resided in the Sunflower State since the days of the excitement over the discovery of gold on Pike’s Peak. The parents of our subject were strong Presbyterians in their religious faith and members of the church.

Schuyler Ransom early became acquainted with the pioneer life of Northern Illinois, as he left home when twenty years old to seek fortune’s favors in what was then regarded as the “Wild West.” He was by no means a capitalist at that time, as he did not have money enough to leave the State. But his cousin kindly made up the deficiency by lending him some cash. He arrived in Chicago September 26, 1842, and from there went to Rockford with a teamster. Fifty cents was all the money that he had left when he got there. However, he made his way to Byron, in Ogle County, nothing discouraged by his lack of funds, and there worked for a year at $10.00 a month. He managed to get together a team of oxen, with which he began to break raw prairie, and he turned many hundred acres of sod, working hard to obtain the means to get a good start as a farmer.

He also drove a team all over the northern part of the State, his principal route being from Chicago to Galena and to Dubuque, Iowa. He thus had a good opportunity to see the country while much of it was still in its primitive wildness, with but few signs of the coming civilization, and he can compare its past with its present condition as a witness of the wonderful change that has been effected by the hand of man since he first trod these prairies. The land over which he rode when engaged as a teamster was then wild and often swampy, where are now smiling farms and thriving cities. Frequently on his journeys the roads would be so bad that he would get stuck in some mud hole, and at times would have to work two hours to extricate his team.

Our subject experienced all the hardships and trials of pioneer life in a newly settled country, but his struggles with the adverse forces of nature were at length crowned with success. In 1863 he rented a farm in Nelson Township, and by careful economy was able, in a few years, to purchase the farm that he had rented, but did not have cash enough to pay the whole price at once. He now has nearly the whole of it under a high state of cultivation, has cleared off the encumbrance, freeing himself entirely from debt, and has made many fine improvements, including a very large barn, built in 1885, and a handsome residence, erected in 1883. His farm is one of the most attractive places in this vicinity, everything about it being kept up to a high standard, showing the presence of a master mind and hand.


Biographical Publishing Company, Portrait and biographical record of Lee County, Illinois, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens, together with biographies of all the governors of the state, and of the presidents of the United States, Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1892.

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