Biography - Edward B. Cutler

CAPT. EDWARD B. CUTLER, who was a valiant officer in the Union Army during the late war, has since attained a leading place among the most progressive and enlightened farmers and stock-raisers of this county and the land that he purchased in Penn Township when he came here nearly twenty years ago has been developed by him into one of the choicest farms in this part of the State in point of cultivation and improvement.

Captain Cutler was born in the town of Jay, Essex County, N. Y., July 11, 1822. His father, Thomas Cutler, was also a native of that county, of which his father, John Cutler, was an early settler. The latter was born in New England and was a descendant of early English ancestry that had settled in that part of the county in Colonial times. After his removal to Essex County, N. J., he bought a tract of timberland in Jay and at once commenced to clear it and prepare it for cultivation. He was drowned while attempting to cross the Au Sable River in 1830. He was a soldier in the Revolutionary War.

The father of our subject grew to man's estate in his native county and was there married to Jane Steele, a native of Moore's Hill, N. H. In 1828 the parents of our subject removed to the wilds of St. Lawrence County, N. Y., and settled in the town of Willney, two miles south of Hoovelton, where the father bought timbered land, upon which he erected a log house for a dwelling. At that time that county was but thinly inhabited and bears were frequently seen by the settlers, while deer and other game was plentiful and helped to vary the meager fare of the people, who had to live on their farm products. The women clothed their children in homespun that was the result of their own handiwork.

Mr. Cutler cleared quite a tract of his land and resided on it until the fall of 1839, when he became the pioneer of another state. Accompanied by his family he started with a team for Watertown, whence he went by boat to Rochester, from there by canal to Buffalo, thence on Lake Erie to Cleveland, from there to Portsmouth, Ohio, where he embarked on a steamer on the Ohio River and was conveyed to his final destination at Lawrenceburg. He farmed there two years and then proceeded on a flat-boat down the Ohio to Louisville and from there to Troy, Ind., where he bought a tract of heavily wooded land eight miles from the Ohio River. The surrounding country was still in a wild condition, as there were not then many settlements there, and deer, wild turkeys and other kinds of game roamed at will where are now smiling farms and evidences of thrift and plenty on every hand. The father built a home, but his life was not spared long after he took possession of it, as his career was cut short by his untimely death in 1842. His wife also died on that farm in Perry County. She was the mother of these five children: James M., Catherine, Abigail, Thomas and Edward. Edward and Abigail are the only survivors of the family.

Edward Cutler was seventeen years old when his parents removed to Indiana. He assisted his father in clearing his land until the latter's death and then he and his brother Thomas continued the improvements begun by their father and they farmed in partnership until Edward's marriage, and then his brother went into the mercantile business, while our subject engaged in agriculture and boating on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, beginning in the latter business in 1842. He would build a flat-boat, load it with farm produce or coal, take it to New Orleans and then sell boat and cargo and return home by steamer. He thus made eighty-four trips to the Crescent City.

The breaking out of the Rebellion found our subject busy in the management of his interests and as soon as he could arrange his affairs he volunteered to help fight his country's battles, enlisting October 20, 1861, in Company E, Forty-ninth Indiana Infantry. He was mustered in as Captain of his company at Camp Joe Holt November 21, and in the trying years that followed he showed himself to be possessed of good soldierly metal and his military record is one of which he and his may well he proud. He took part in the battle at Cumberland Gap and when he and his brave men started with others in pursuit of Gen. Bragg's forces their knapsacks were empty as they had run out of provisions, and they had to forage for a living. They used their bayonets to punch holes in their canteens that they might use them as graters to reduce the dry corn to meal and in various other ways did they show their fertility of resource in any emergency. From Kentucky the Captain accompanied his regiment to West Virginia, where it was stationed three months and then was dispatched on transports down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to Memphis. From there the Forty-ninth Indiana was sent to Vicksburg to help carry on the siege of that city and it also took an active part in the battles of Gibson, Thompson's Hill, Big Black River, Chickasaw Bayou and Arkansas Post.

At Vicksburg our subject led a successful charge on the works on the 22d of May. After that he went to Grand Gulf with his command and did some hard fighting at Thompson's Hill, which resulted in the enemy being driven back. He next assisted in the reduction of Jackson. Miss., and went from there to Vicksburg, afterward facing the rebels in two hotly contested battles at Edward's Station and Champion Hill. We next hear of his services at the battle of Big Black River and after the surrender of Vicksburg he accompanied his regiment to New Orleans, going thence to Matagorda Bay, Tex., and returning to New Orleans, he then went on the Red River Expedition and did some hard fighting at Shrevesport. After that the Captain and his men fought the rebels at Kane Creek, whence they returned to Shrevesport, where they laid a dam to let the gunboats pass the falls. From there Capt. Cutler inarched with his command to Morganza Bend and thence to Lexington, Ky. He was appointed to provost duty in that city and was thus engaged until his resignation from the army July 4, 1863.

After his honorable career as an officer in the Union service Capt. Cutler returned to his old home from the seat of war, bearing with him a high reputation for coolness and courage in the heat of battle and for fidelity in the performance of his duty. He quietly resumed farming on the old homestead in Indiana and dwelt there until he took up his residence in this county in 1872. He then bought the farm in Penn Township, which he still occupies and which at the time of purchase was merely a tract of wild prairie. He has transformed it into one of the most valuable farms in the township, ranking with the best in the county, as regards its many fine improvements, its high state of tillage and its productiveness. He has erected upon it a fine set of buildings, commodious and roomy and neat in their appointments. In the management of his farm the Captain has shown himself to be an expert farmer, of progressive views, with a good understanding of the best modern methods of carrying on agriculture, and on every hand are evidences of his successful prosecution of that calling, which Horace Greely denominated "the noblest of professions."

Capt. Cutler's marriage with Miss Mary Hyde was solemnized in 1860. She was a native of Ferry County, Ind., and a daughter of William and Nancy Hyde. As daughter, wife, mother and friend she filled in a perfect measure those sacred relationships, and in her the Baptist Church had an exemplary Christian member. Her death in February, 1891, was a sad bereavement not only to those of her own household, but to others to whom she had endeared herself. Our subject has four children to solace his declining years. They are Grant, Florence, Heber and Verton.

The Captain is an intelligent thinker and observer, is fond of reading, having an excellent literary taste, and keeps himself well informed on all topics of general and public interest. He has decided opinions of his own; especially is this true in regard to politics, and we find him firmly arrayed on the side of the Republican party, voting as he fought for what he considers to be the best interests of the country. Religiously he is of the Methodist Episcopal faith; socially he is a member of the Masonic fraternity and of John Clement Post, No. 363, G. A. R. The worth of his loyal citizenship is appreciated by his fellow-townsmen, who have entrusted responsible offices to his care, and at one time he represented Penn Township as a member of the County Board of Supervisors.

Extracted 26 May 2018 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 530-532.

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