Sunday, December 7, 2014

Finding Our Ryders - A Course Correction

The Family Of My Maternal Grandfather

Arthur Fremont Ryder, a noted genealogist and librarian at Wesleyan University's Godfrey Memorial Library of genealogy and Family History in Middletown, CT (originally from New Jersey), in Preliminary Materials for a Genealogy Of The Rider (Ryder) Families in the U.S., Middletown, CT 1959, (available as a database on found three volumes of Rider stories in America:

“…nearly 40 entirely independent American Rider-Ryder families receive here some record, ‘independent’ in the sense that they have descended from that many different immigrant ancestors.”

Fremont Rider is not a relative of my family but here's an example of that: there were two unrelated Fred Ryders living in Chicago in the early 20th century and one of them is my maternal great-grandfather. It is embarrassing to admit it, but for about four years, I picked the wrong Fred Ryder family and researched it extensively.  This post is a brief confession.  It is not a sourced genealogy post.  

Frank Thomas Ryder
I started searching through with Frank Thomas Ryder because there was some oral tradition about him, but no facts.  He is the father of my mother Mary Virginia Ryder Wilmes who died in 2000.  I knew Frank well and as spent a great deal of time with him. However, identifying our grandfather Frank Ryder’s father Fred Ryder is a key to confirming the genealogy of our Ryders among Fremont Ryder's 40 families. In our oral family history, nothing was really known about him, not even his name.  After correcting my research based on the correct Fred Ryder, I see that is a rich westward migration story.   I look forward to telling the story in this blog.

I must also acknowledge here that another cousin had earlier created a genealogy which correctly identified Azariah and Fred.  It was unsourced and for that among other reasons, I went with the "Chicago people" story I had heard when I evaluated the early research.  My apologies to the cousin.  

Brookside Museum
I realized the problem with my conclusion in two pieces.  First, in August this year, during our annual vacation to Saratoga,New York, for the horse races, I visited the picturesque Brookside Museum of the Saratoga Historical Society in Balston Spa, Saratoga County, New York ( With the help of their research coordinator, I explored their McCarthys materials.  I was searching for Fred's wife, my great grandmother Mary McCarthy's family. Despite an entry in an 1880 census record for Milford near Balston Spa. where many McCarthys lived for decades, there was no record of our Mary and her father Timothy McCarthy.   If not there, where?

Thomas Francis Ryder Baptismal Record
In October this year, this question was answered in part when I received two documents from the Archivist of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sioux City, Iowa - copies of the Register of Baptisms for 1884 and 1889. Frank was baptized there on October 24, 1889 as Thomas Francis Ryder and his date-of-birth is shown as October 13, 1889.  His older brother Arthur Benjamin Ryder was born there on July 3, 1884 and baptized on July 13, 1884.   Sometime before late 1883 the McCarthys moved to Sioux City.

I do not know where Fred Ryder and Mary McCarthy were married. A federal 1880  census document shows that after the Civil War, Fred's Ryder's family had moved to Sioux City from McHenry County, Illinois, where it is assumed he was born.  In 1880, Fred is shown as an unmarried 19 year old living in Sioux City with his Civil War-veteran father Azariah and mother Mary Jo Jacobs Ryder.    

The McCarthys probably were in Galena, Illinois for some time before moving to Sioux City, but it is not clear when they arrived. It is possible that Mary was born in Galena since one brother was born there, but there is no record so far of Mary.  Later, probably because of relatively easy railroad travel, Fred and Mary moved back and forth between Sioux City and Chicago but the move dates are not clear.   

I had grown up hearing that the Ryders were "Chicago people", and I thought they did not arrive in Sioux City until Frank went there to work for Cudahy in the Sioux City stockyards.  Fred Ryder and Mary McCarthy were married and living with Fred’s father Azariah Rider and mother Mary Jo Jacobs Ryder and Arthur Benjamin there at the 1885 Iowa Census. 

It has taken me a few months to obtain any important facts and documents.  I first read Fremont Rider's three volume index in the spectacular Othmer Library of the Brooklyn Historical Society (   In addition to the Brookside Museum in Balston Spa, New York, and the Catholic Archdiocese of Sioux City, Iowa, there are three critical sources of information:  
  • The McHenry County Historical Society, 6422 Main Street, P.O. Box, 434, Union, Illinois 601980 and Society Researcher Craig Pfannkuche (
  • The Bath County Historical Society, P.O. Box 212, Warm Springs, Virginia 24484 and Karen Buzzard as well as Katie E. Smith, an independent local researcher (
  • The Rider-Ryder Family of Virginia, written by Gordon J. Rider, 1993, published by Gateway Press, Inc., 1905 Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD 21302.  This self-published book is an out-of-print narrative of a lifetime of family research but the publisher has become an online book publisher, a letter to the author's address was returned and the phone listed is disconnected. Gordon's own biographical information in the book shows that he was born in 1919, so he would be 95 years old if still alive.   I accessed the hardcover book on reserve in the New York Public Library's Milstein Division of United States History and Genealogy (www.nypl/ on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. There is no digital copy available online.  
Choosing the wrong Fred was a very big mistake but the American history and the genealogy I learned were rewarding and useful as I began again.  I also had made a very good friend (unfortunately no longer a cousin) in the process and helped her visit some places in New York City where her ancestor lived and worked for Governor Peter Stuyvesant in Dutch New Netherland.  I am embarrassed to admit it to the cousins I already misinformed, but it has to be done.  Much of the other completed research will be sent to the historical societies in Jefferson County, New York (especially the Lyme Historical Center), who were very helpful to me.  Some of the stories may be told here later.  

Future posts to Long Since Dispersed will describe many of these relatives and what I have learned, as well as what remains to be researched.  Some of the stories are very interesting because they are