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
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
Written by Rosalie Harman Spirek