Silas was one of the first settlers of Stephenson County. He was the second child of Isaac Vail Gage and Polly Lozier. He assisted his father in running their farm in Pennsylvania and in tilling the land remaining in his native state until the spring of 1835, then, starting for the West, he first embarked on a raft on the Allegheny, whence he moved up the Ohio to Cincinattie, where he took a steamer to Galena. After six weeks spent in Daviess County, he came over the line into Stephenson on foot, crossing the pecatonica River on the 15th of May. He was still unmarried and made his home at various places in that neighborhood. There was at that time one log cabin on the site of present day Winslow. Freeport was nowhere, and there were no indications of the village of Lena for twenty years after.
Young Silas worked by the month, lived economically and saved his wages, and in due time purchased a yoke of oxen and made a claim to the land which later constituted his lifelong homestead. In 1836 he erected a log cabin on his claim, the lumber being sawed at Winslow Mill. This dwelling was erected after the fashion of those days with a "shaker" roof, but with a plank floor, the first of its kind in the county. A large fireplace extended nearly across one side, and the chimney was built without sticks or mud. To this modest abode he conducted his bride in November of that year. This dwelling constituted the early home of their children, who were born beneath its roof and played about the doors shaded by hop vines, until 1857, when the erection of a more modern structure was begun.
When Silas first came to Winslow, the nearest market and supply depot was at Galena, whose mines were being worked by numbers of men requiring the the farm produce of the area to sustain them. Wild game was plenty including so many turkeys as to be troublesome. This changes fairly rapidly though, as civilization advanced in the area, and soon game was hard to come by.
Silas was an early member of the Whig party, but upon its demise became a staunch Republican. His family regulary attended the United Brethren Church.
Submitted by: Steve Higley on 4/9/98