THE MOVE WESTWARD
While many of the RYKER families remained in the New York/New Jersey area, in about 1780 some 75 people -- including Gerardus RIKER, Sr. and his family -- decided to "head west" under the leadership of Hendrick BANTA. The particulars of their westward move- ment are shrouded in mystery, but it is likely that some of them floated 700 miles down the Ohio River to the Falls of the Ohio (Louisville, Kentucky) and came ashore there. Others, led by Samuel DURYEA, came by wagon via the Cumberland Gap and the Wilderness Road to the Mercer County area. Regardless of their mode of transportation, it is fact that a number of these families settled on a tract of land at the "Low Dutch Station on the Beargrass," about 15 miles from the Falls of the Ohio. In 1784 they purchased 10,000 acres of land from Squire BOONE, brother of Daniel BOONE, and commander of Painted Stone or Boone's Station, Kentucky. Gerardus RYKER, Sr. subsequently moved his family further inland from the Beargrass to Shelby County, around what is now Bullskin Creek, where he and his sons had a farm and where Gerardus, Sr. later met his death at the hands of marauding Indians (see Floyd's Defeat ).
Due primarily to 'defects' in their Kentucky land titles [the state of Virginia claimed all land lying to the west of its N-S border!], in 1804 John RYKER, the second son of Gerardus and Rachel (DEMAREST) RIKER -- accompanied by his brothers, Gerardus, Jr. and Samuel -- moved straight across the Ohio River north and settled on a ridge (Rykers' Ridge) above Madison, Indiana in Jefferson County. John was the first RYKER to make this move, having decided that he did not care to raise his family in a pro-slavery state, an influence that was already beginning to be felt in Kentucky. Therefore, upon hearing that Indiana was being surveyed by sections and was open to entry, he decided to move to that state.
Large groups of families, including RYKERS, kept moving further west.
Among other destinations, many Rykers & Rikers -- with allied families SEBURN,
WHEAT, and WOODFILL (among others) -- moved on from Jefferson County, Indiana to Lawrence
County, Missouri in the 1840s, where they became pioneer settlers. It was in 1852
that Jared RYKER, eleventh child of Gerardus, Jr. and Leah Smock RYKER, left 'The Ridge'
and moved with his wife (Bythinia Miller RYKER) to Missouri.
[This page was last updated 02/10/00]