The Byron Center Historical Society Museum

October 19, 2010

As we travel and do genealogical research, Sandra and I have found that local historical museums often provide valuable information.  We went to Byron Center, Michigan, to see the Winegar Cemetary located a few miles out of town on the land settled by Isaac Winegar, Jr.   Back in Byron Center after our visit to the cemetery, we noticed a sign pointing to the museum and discovered a real gem.  At the museum we met Elaine Snyder, a direct descendant of Isaac Winegar, Jr. and his son Isaac Milton Winegar.  After comparing notes we found that Elaine is my 6th cousin. My branch of the family pronounces the name as “vinegar with a w” while her pronunciation is “Wine-e-ger.”    

The Sarah Whitcomb Winegar Friendship Quilt

The Winegar family tended to maintain a great number of family treasures, many of which have been passed down to Elaine.  Over time she has brought them into the museum.  One of the museum’s treasures is a Friendship Quilt that belonged to Sarah Farnsworth Whitcomb, wife of Isaac, Jr.  Quoting from a museum description of the quilt:

Sarah had married Isaac Winegar, in New York in 1840 at the age of 14, had her first child at 16, and moved to Michigan at 17, the year of 1843.  Isaac and Sarah were among the first pioneers to settle in Byron Township.  Sarahs friends missed her so and decided to each make an autographed and signed quilt square to send with her father.  Sarah made it into a quilt in 1852, at the age of 27.

This quilt has been proudly handed down to the oldest granddaughter in each generation over the years.  Loa, her granddaughter, entered it in the Southwest Community Fair and won a blue ribbon.  It was next given to Sarah’s great, great granddaughter, Vivian Suchovsky, then to her daughter, Elaine [Snyder - JW], who has proudly lent it to the Historical Society to display.

The museum is a wonderful display of the history and culture of the area from the mid-1800s, but it has become also a Winegar Museum.  During his time as editor of The Winegar Tree, Arthur Gould used to travel around the country visiting Winegars.  I think this museum would have really pleased him.

All the pictures in this post were taken at the museum by my wife Sandra.

Tools belonging to Isaac Winegar, Jr.

Crutch on the far right was carved by Isaac Winegar, Jr.

Elaine Snyder holds Isaac Winegar, Jr.'s Pipe

Typewriter used by Loa G. Winegar in her writings about family genealogy, top shelf, left.


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