Thomas Gale Helps Billy Crampton

   His mind was made up, he would leave Lincolnshire and strike out for the new land--America.  It was not an easy decision, after all he was a married man with four sons.  However as he looked at his sons, he realized that they were the reason for this idea.  He, William Crampton, did not want to see his sons in the coal mines.  He was a miner and so that would be his sons life too.  It was hard, backbreaking work.
   After selling many possessions he managed to have money for the boat fare, however, he only had enough money for one.  It was decided that William would go to America; work hard; save his money and send for Mary and the children.  In 1849, he was ready to leave.  Mary announced that she was expecting again and he would not be there for the birth of child number five.  There was not too much a woman could do to support herself in the 1840’s.  However  with the help of her parents and by teaching sewing to young ladies, Mary managed to survive.
   William’s journey to America took close to six weeks.  He landed in New York City with just a few cents in his pocket.  He had heard that Illinois was a good place to settle and that was where he decided to go.  He was used to hard work.   He dug ditches to drain off the new land and worked his way West.  He harvested crops for farmers in Pennsylvania and continued West.  If there was no work he even begged for a meal.
   He arrived in Hamilton, Indiana.  By coincidence he came in contact with Thomas Gale.  Mr. Gale needed some ditching done.  Mr. Gale must have had some misgivings---here was a small man barely five feet tall with thinning red hair, oval shaped face and slightly protruding hazel colored eyes.  He had a heavy English accent and shabby clothes.  However there was something about this William Crampton and Mr. Gale took him home to Angola.
   For over a year, Billy, as Mr. Gale called him, stayed with the Gale family.  He dug ditches to drain off this awakening fertile land in Steuben County.
   In the evenings this quiet man would sit on the stump out in Mr. Gale’s yard, dream, plan and smoke his pipe.  The Gale’s wondered what he was thinking and finally Mr. Gale intruded on William’s quiet evenings and asked him.  William told him of his family in England and of the birth of another son, Thomas, that he had not even seen.  Mr. Gale offered to loan him the money to bring his wife and children to Indiana.  Billy accepted the offer.
   Mary and the five sons made the trip across the Atlantic in 31 days.  However Thomas, the baby had been sickly and passed away shortly after landing in New York and is buried somewhere in New York City.  Mary continued her journey by water and at Defiance, Ohio she hired a man to bring her to Hamilton by oxen and wagon.  His fee was $5.00 and that left her $5.00 when her husband William  came to Hamilton to collect his family.  It must have been a joyful day.  The Crampton’s lived in Angola for close to one year.  Once again something prompted Mr. Gale to offer Billy the sale of 40 acres in Steuben Township, Billy accepted the offer, built a small log cabin and moved his family there.  This site is located on county road 700 South just West of the R. R. Tracks.  Over the years more land was purchased and fire brick homes were built by the sons.
   Thomas Gale must have been an interesting man.  What prompted him to help a new immigrant, not once but at least twice?  Was it a hunch or did he “know” human nature?  We can only speculate today.  I’m glad we had men of Thomas Gale’s convictions living in Steuben county so many years ago.     
   Billy Crampton was my great, great, grandfather on my Mother’s side.

Written by Rosalie Harman Spirek