2 Sep 2005
Source: Portrait & Biographical Album of Whiteside Co., Illinois
Originally published 1885
Chapman Bros., Chicago, IL
Transcribed by: Denise McLoughlin
Tampico Area Historical Society
Warren Olds, of Albany, is extensively engaged in the cultivation of small fruits, and is also a market gardener. He is the oldest son of Cheney and Amma (Walker) Olds, and was born Nov. 29, 1818, in Sturbridge, Worcester Co., Mass. His father was born March 3, 1793, in Brookfield, Mass., which was also the birthplace of his mother, June 23, 1794. The family descent on both sides is from the English. The progenitors emigrated to Worcester Co., Mass., in the early part of the eighteenth century. Ezekiel, father of Cheney Olds, was born in Worcester County, and about 1800 went to New Jersey. Soon after the close of the second war with Great Britain, he settled in Auburn, Cayuga Co., N. Y., where he became interested in the lumber business, owning a saw-mill, and managing the traffice in its various avenues until his death.
Cheney Olds was 12 years of age when his father removed to New Jersey with his family, and he there attained to man's estate. His employer was drafted as a soldier in the War of 1812, and he took his place as a substitute, serving until the close of the contest. He went to the county where he was born, after obtaining his discharge, and was there married, locating on the homestead estate of the family of his wife. He lived in Sturbridge until 1828, when he set out with his family for the State of New York, removing by the aid of teams to Albany, and thence on the Erie Canal to Weesport, in Cayuga County. After a residence there of two years duration he went to Cattaraugus County, and bought 140 acres of land included within the Holland Purchase. The heavy timber of that section has become traditional, and it was necessary to cut the trees and born them on the ground, the farmers cultivating the ground between the stumps. There the family remained until 1838, and Mr. Olds cleared 100 acres of land. In the spring of that year, having sold the farm, he removed his family to Olean, on the Allegheny River. They arrived there about the middle of March, intending to go down the river by the ifrst steamer that moved after the ice should go out, but failed to do so. Their disappointment was fully alleviated by the intelligence of the explosion of the steam boiler of the "Mozelle," causing 160 deaths! Mr. Olds and his sons engaged in the common business of cutting pine logs until the last day of April, when the family, consisting of the parents and nine children, took passage on one of the rafts on which the father and sons were employed, and went to Cincinnati, where they arrived May 16. They went thence on the steamer "Knickerbocker" to Albany, which they reached May 23, at 2 o'clock in the morning.
Mr. Olds made a claim three and a half miles east of Albany, where he broke a few acres. It was Statland, and he afterwards abandoned his title. He readily obtained plenty of work at boot and shoe making, which he had learned in his native State. He built a frame house in Albany on the corner of Church and Vine streets, where he resided until his death Dec. 7, 1874. Mrs. Olds, the mother, died Jan. 18, 1883.
Their children were bon in the following order: Warren, in Sturbridge, Mass; Chester, in Sturbridge, July 27, 1820 (died at Albany, March 3, 1852); Louis lives in Woodland, Yolo Co., Cal.; Nancy is the wife of Peter Van Nest, of Garden Plain Township; Ezekiel and Walker live in Albany; Cheney resides in Woodland, Yolo Co., Cal.; Asenath is the wife of John Faxon, and lives in Nebraska; Mary died in Albany in 1838, aged three years.
Mr. Olds of this sketch, was nine years of age when his parents went to the State of New York, where he grew up. He accompanied them on their removal to Albany, Ill., and on arrival there obtained immediate employment at the carpenter and joiner's trade. While living in Farnaklinville, Cattaraugus Co., N. Y., he obtained a practical knowledge of the trade of carpenter, at which he worked during the year previous to his removal to Albany. The first work in Illinois done by Mr. Olds was the building of a sod fence at a point seven miles south of Albany, in which he was assisted by Warren Fay and Timothy Clark. They occupied a log shanty, and attended to their domestic affairs after the method known as "keeping bach." They had numerous adventures, all of which served to break the monotony of toil, and aided materially in making the situation interesting. One Saturday afternoon the party were on their way to Albany in a skiff on the river, when five stalward Indians swam out to them and compelled them to go ashore, where they were detained two hours. Their captors searched their clothes thoroughly, and after holding a council of some sort, they were set at liberty, and made their way to Albany. During the period of their detention their thoughts were made entertaining by visions of scalping, burning, an other interesting devices they had seen delineated by illustrations of the encounters between whites and Indians.
Mr. Olds passed his first summer in Illinois at a point two miles north of Galena, where he obtained employment in haying and harvesting. In 1839 he went ro Platteville, Grant Co., Wis., and the next two years he was engaged in steamboat and barge building at Rock Island. He returned at the end of that time to Albany, and was employed by George Clark five years as a builder. A few years later, in company with Duty Buck, he built a steam saw-mill at Albany, in whose management they were jointly interested until their establishment and business were wrecked by the tornado of June 3, 1860, in which Mr. Buck lost his life.
Mr. Olds continued to operate as a contractor and builder until 1877, when he engaged in the enterprise to which he has since given his attention. He owns 31 acres of land in first-class condition, situated adjoining the village of Albany, where he cultivates all kinds of small fruits. His market list for 1884 comprised 13, 344 quarts, 202 cases of red rasberries, 255 cases of blackberries, 40 cases of cherries and 50 cases of grapes. He also raises many varieties of vegetables.
Mr. Olds was first united in marriage to Harriet Shively, and they had two children. One is now living - Mary Jane. The wife and mother died in 1850. Mr. Olds was married a second time in Hancock Co., Ill., to Phebe, daughter of Jacob Golden. She was born in Mason Co., Ky. Four children were born of the second marriage, one of whom, George W., is still living.