From Jesse Green’s memoirs:
I will give an account of the most sudden, and greatest change in temperature, in my recollection, which occured in the early winter of 1837 & ’38. I left home about noon when it was drizzling rain sufficient to wet my clothing, and when I reached a point a little below Starved Rock, it commenced turning cold so fast that I ran my horse as fast as he could go to Utica, and by the time I reached the hospitable home of Simon Crosiar, it had frozen the ground hard enough to bear up my horse, and my clothing as stiff as it would freeze from being wet. I had to be helped from my horse, and saddle and all together my clothing being frozen to the saddle, and I do not think I could have gone a quarter of a mile farther.
The next day returning home it was a terrible cold day, my left side against the wind was nearly frozen by the time I reached Ottawa, where I went into a store to warm myself, and all I could do to prevent it, fell asleep in a short time, I heard a number say that during that blizzard, they saw chickens frozen in their tracks.
Jesse was a year off in his memory of the event, as the “sudden change” happened on December 20, 1836, but he well remembered the after effects, as did many others. The meteorological background of the sweeping cold front, and a number of stories of Illinoisans caught as Jesse was, can be found here.