The Plowman Family: Lide Remembers Father, part one

August 1, 2009
 
Mary Eliza "Lide" Plowman

Mary Eliza "Lide" Plowman

According to her grandson Mark Andrews, the following is a letter written in late 1921 by Mary Eliza Plowman Benedict and directed to the PLOWMAN CHRISTMAS TREE.  Mary Eliza, better known as “Lide,” wrote from the home of her daughter Pearl Jones in Brooklyn, New York.

 I am going back to the time when our father went from Oakland Co. Michigan, to Orange Co. NY, where he was born Feb. 20 1813 (Wm. Tuttle Plowman) to get his first wife Mary Ann Potts.  This was in 1833.  He told me about it one night in 1866, when I was sitting up to watch for the meteoric shower.  He said he was in N. Y. state and going home from seeing Mary Ann Potts when the heavens seemed to be falling.  It was a wonderful sight!  I was not rewarded, however, for my watching and learned later that the “shower” was not visible in Michigan.

 Father and his first wife lived in Oakland on rented farms, working by the month until Ezra was born in 1834.  They had oxen and other things for settling on a new farm, and Sam Boughton and wife Kiziah or Jane E., father’s cousin, and two other families came with them to Westphalia.  There were only six families in the township (36 square miles) at that time.  It was not an unusual thing for bears to be looking for some of their live stock.

 Father built his first log house and began to clear the land, when one of his oxen was killed by a falling tree.  This made it necessary for them to go back to Oakland Co., and make a new start.  Charlie was born there in 1837 and they probably came back to Westphalia in ’40 or ’41.  Saron was born in 1842, and father was left with three little children (Mary Ann Potts died in childbirth).

 Aunt Adaline came from Oakland Co. to care for them, and Aunt Sarah came for company and help (they were about 13 and 19 years old).  [Note: Adaline and Sarah are William’s sisters.  See the chart.  JSW]  You can realize something what it meant when their only mode of travel was an ox team, through woods, and all the disadvantages of a new country.  But they came and I think Aunt Adaline always had a tender spot in her heart for Saron, and who could blame her.

 In 1843 father married our mother, (Emily Crane) who lived with her uncle Sammy Crane.  He had moved to Westphalia about the time father did.  His brother Francis Crane (Abagail’s father) lived just east of the Casper farm.

 Father was an enterprising, energetic man.  He soon had a large apple orchard, and the peaches, plums and cherries we had when I was a child were larger and better than Clinton Co. can offer now.  I could not have been more than seven or eight then.

 The four and six gallon crocks of peach and plum preserves made with maple sugar would be a wonder to you now.  All from their own labor and no money expenses.  When I was about sixteen I tried to can fruit in a crock by sealing it over with a mixture of resin, beeswax and lard.  But my first attempt failed, although “Met” had been able to keep it this way.  (Met – Luna’s mother).  [Note:  “Met” is Mariette, Charles Nelson Plowman’s wife, JSW]  It was just after this that glass cans began to be used.

 The only thing they could sell for money was “black salts” made from the ashes they gathered where they had burned the log heaps in clearing the land.  The leaches would hold six or eight barrels of Ashes, and with a dozen leaches to run off, they took some water.  The Lye was boiled down to a shiny black sticky mass.  When it was ready for sale, which was a real blessing as it supplied the necessaries they could not produce from the soil (Lute collected it in hollowed out logs).  Lyons or Ionia was the place of sale.  The land office was at Ionia so that was an important town.

 This was a real pioneer’s life (would you like it?) 

Plowman Family Tree

Plowman Family Tree

 


The Plowman Family, Introduction

July 29, 2009
William Tuthill Plowman

William Tuthill Plowman

 

I am beginning a series of posts on the Plowman family in Wacousta, Michigan and Clinton County.  I have uploaded a genealogical file William Tuthill Plowman Descendants to ancestry.com to share the information that I have.  If you are not a subscriber to ancestry .com, you can get a 14 day free trial; or, if you e-mail me at jwinegar@tampabay.rr.com,  I can provide a guest membership for this file.  I have decent records up until about 1975 when the last reunion that I am aware of was held.  Since then, I only have information on my immediate family.  I would be very pleased to establish contact with other Plowmans or descendants and bring these records up to date. 

Emily Crane Plowman

Emily Crane Plowman

William Tuthill Plowman was born in Oakland County, Michigan in 1813.  He and his first wife, Mary Ann Potts, settled in Westphalia, Clinton County, Michigan around 1840.  Mary Ann died in childbirth with her third child.  William then married Emily Crane and had eight more children.  The Plowmans were to play a major role in the development of Clinton County.  Most of the 11 children settled in Clinton County and raised their families.  Their many children were very close and there was much interaction among the cousins. 

The Plowman brothers and sisters, ca 1880.

The Plowman brothers and sisters, ca 1880.

In the family photo above, Lide (the author of the stories about her family, is on the far left of the back row.  Don’t be fooled by the somber faces in the photographs.  This was a family who enjoyed life and one another, as will be evident as you read about their adventures.

In 1874, the first Plowman Christmas Tree was held. This became an annual event and was a family reunion.  Significant formal planning went into the event.  Officers were elected, and the menu and entertainment were planned.  The Christmas Tree continued until at least 1936.  Several  other reunions were held later. 

In 1921, Mary Eliza “Lide” Plowman Benedict, wrote a letter of her memories to be read at the Christmas Tree.  In subsequent years, she wrote at least four more letters for later trees.  These letters provide a wonderful look at the family and their history.  They are quite long so I am planning to divide them into several posts each.

Because of the size of the families, it is difficult to keep track of all the people.  Below is a chart that will help as you read Aunt Lide’s fascinating narratives.  The chart will be repeated in future posts, so there is no need to memorize the names!

The Plowman Family Tree

The Plowman Family Tree


Mary Deone Daniells Winegar, 1910-2003

July 26, 2009
Mary Daniells Winegar

Mary Daniells Winegar

Mary Deone Daniells was born on her parents’ ranch near Mercedes, Texas.  Her grandmother, Dora Bliss helped with her delivery.  The house in the picture is the house where she was born.  Her parents, W.C. and Iva Daniells, were proud of their new glass window that they got before Mary was born.  Her middle name is the name of one of her mother’s closest friends, Deone Oppenlander.

House in Mercedes, Texas, where Mary was born.

House in Mercedes, Texas, where Mary was born.

When she was about six months old, the Daniells family moved to Chicago and, about 18 months later, to Watertown Township near Wacousta.  Except for her third grade year, Mary and her sisters attended Watertown Center School until she completed eighth grade.  The family spent her third grade year in Tavares, Florida.

This is the school Mary attended.  Mary and her two sisters, Dora and Betty, are among the children pictured.

This is the school Mary attended. Mary and her two sisters, Dora and Betty, are among the children pictured.

In 1923, the family moved to Eustis, Florida, where Mary graduated from high school.  She enrolled in Florida State College for Woman in Tallahassee.  Money was scarce during the depression, and she worked in the school lunch room and supplemented her income by darning silk stockings.  Her mother assisted by taking in teachers and also repairing stockings.  At the end of her junior year, Mary moved back to Michigan to live with her grandparents and completed her last year at Albion College.

Her first teaching job was at the Everett School in Lansing.  She taught first and second grade.  Then she taught for two years in Grand Ledge, Michigan, where she taught first and second grade music, Jr. High music, and ninth grade grammar and literature.

Donald Winegar and Mary grew up attending the same church in Wacousta and knew each other slightly.  They attended different schools and really had little contact other than at church.  In 1928 the Daniells family visited Michigan during the summer.  She attended the Epworth League at the church.  It was decided that there should be a debate.  Nina Winegar, Don’s older sister, and the minister’s son were the negative side, Mary and Don became the affirmative side.  Mary doesn’t remember what the topic was, but she remembers that she and Don won.  This was the first time that they saw themselves as a couple.  They were married 10 years later.

Bass Lake cottage where Mary and Don honeymooned in 1938.

Bass Lake cottage where Mary and Don honeymooned in 1938.

Don and Mary spent their honeymoon at the lake cottage near Greenville, Michigan, built by Orla and Kate Bailey around 1932.  Kate Bailey was a cousin of Iva Daniells, Mary’s mother.  The Winegar family loved Bass Lake and the cottage so much that 22 years later, Kate insisted that they should have it and arranged an open ended loan that allowed them to pay it off as they were able.  Many years later after the death of Mary, her son Jim bought out his brother and sisters and now owns the cottage.

The Winegar family in 1987: left to right, Mary E., Carl, Mary D., Don, Jim, and Donna.  This is one of the last pictures made of the entire family.

The Winegar family in 1987: left to right, Mary E., Carl, Mary D., Don, Jim, and Donna. This is one of the last pictures made of the entire family.

After their marriage, Mary worked full time as a minister’s wife and a mother of four.  They had twin daughters and two sons. They were:

  • Donna Lorraine, b. 1939
  • Mary Elaine, b. 1939
  • James Steven, b. 1944
  • Carleton David, b. 1952

After Donald’s death, Mary moved to Bishop’s Glen retirement home in Holly Hill, Florida.  She and her sister Eleanor had apartments on the same floor.  As Mary’s health declined, Eleanor played a major role in her care.  Mary passed away in 2003 in Holly Hill, Florida.  Mary and Donald are buried in Wacousta Cemetery.  Eleanor Daniells, the last remaining of the five Daniells sisters, died in 2008 and is also buried in Wacousta Cemetery.


Donald Stephenson Winegar, 1909-1987

July 24, 2009

 

Donald S. Winegar

Donald S. Winegar

The following is an autobiography written in 1972 by Donald Winegar:

I was born in the little town of Wacousta, Clinton County, Michigan, twelve miles northwest of Lansing, in the house which had been built by the great grandfather of the girl who was to become my wife.  N. I. Daniells as he was called built the house to serve as a courtroom for his Justice of the Peace Court.  The living quarters was a twenty-one foot square room with a pantry taken out of the northwest corner next to the kitchen.

  
Wacousta School graduating class of 1926: left to right back row - Larry Arthur, Charles Main, Donald Winegar; seated - Vera Jones.

Wacousta School graduating class of 1926: left to right back row - Larry Arthur, Charles Main, Donald Winegar; seated - Vera Jones.

I attended the public school located two blocks from our farm home.  Farm chores and a paper route kept me busy for a good share of the time.  As my parents were active members of the Wacousta Methodist Community Church, I was brought up in the faith, and in my teens took a very active part in the youth program which was called in those days the Epworth League.  These experiences of Epworth League Institute at Albion College served to turn my attention to the possibility of going into full time religious work.

Upon graduating from the 10th grade high school in Wacousta, my sister Esther and I attended Central High School in Lansing, Michigan where we graduated in 1928 in a class of 286 students, quite a contrast to the graduating class two years before of four students in the class at Wacousta.

  
   
Don Winegar on his Harley.

Don Winegar on his Harley.

A job of selling bottled milk in the Motor Wheel shop became a stepping stone to getting a more profitable job on the assembly line.  Times were good and the desire to earn money for further education became the main objective.  Then came the “bust “ of 1930 and the depression that followed.  I was laid off at the Motor Wheel and there followed a series of jobs to keep busy: work in a store in Wacousta, a cemetery, work on the road for the township, day labor for farmers during the summer harvest for $1 a day, an 11 month jaunt to the West Coast where I picked apples in Washington, and later a job in a Piggley Wiggley in California where I lived with my cousin, Ellis Wood and his wife.  While living with them, I had my Harley Davidson crated up and sent to me from Wacousta.  The depression hit California in the winter of 1931 and I lost my job again.  In June of that year, I strapped all my worldly goods on my motorcycle and started for Michigan via the southern route.  This 3000 mile trip was accomplished in six sweltering days.

That fall because work was still scarce, I enlisted in the Civilian Conservation Corp and went to Camp No. 689 at Shingleton in the upper peninsula near Munusing and Lake Superior and the pictured rocks.

In March of 1932, George Bateman, a farmer in Watertown Township asked me to work for him by the month.  With the promise of work, I left the C. C. C. and went home again.  My wages were $15 a month, room and board in winter, and $20 a month in summer.

The Herman Bliss farm was located but a half mile from the Bateman farm and their granddaughter Mary Daniells who had then returned to Michigan, attended the Wacousta Methodist Church with her grandparents.  Our friendship was encouraged to grow.

Don Winegar BenchFor a number of years, I had had a feeling that I was not yet doing the work which I had been brought into the world to perform.  After consulting with some minister friends, I decided to enter the Christian ministry.  That decision behind me, I had to secure the necessary educational foundation.  A local preacher’s license from my home church at Wacousta was the first step.  Admission year work at the Conference Course of Study was the next step.

Finally, in September, 1936, I was appointed to a three point charge in the Michigan Conference of the Methodist Church.  I served Price, Green Bush and Fowler Methodist Churches for the next nine months, going part time to college at East Lansing.  It was during this nine months that the friendship between Mary Daniells and I began to deepen.

In June of 1937 I was appointed to the single point charge of Howard City, Michigan.  I attended Central Michigan College at Mt. Pleasant during the school year, coming home weekends to do the work of the church.

  
Donald Winegar and Mary Daniells wedding, 1938.

Donald Winegar and Mary Daniells wedding, 1938.

It was in the following year of 1938, that Mary and I were married, August 25 at the Bliss House [Note: the Pivot, JSW] in Watertown Township.

October 18, 1939 twin girls were born in the parsonage at Howard City.  With the husband and father in school during the week and church and family responsibilities on the week end, it was a busy life.  Mary was left alone during the week to cope with the problems of a family and a needy church.

I graduated from college in June of 1942.  Seminary lay ahead.  World War II was going full speed ahead.  Tires were difficult to get as was gasoline which was rationed.  In June, 1942, the Conference appointed me at Centreville and Nottawa Methodist Churches in St. Josephs County, Michigan.

There followed five busy years there.  I entered Garrett Seminary in the winter of 1943, commuting each week end to take up the work of the family and the parish.  A son, James was born March 17, 1944.  Three years in Seminary was at last completed with graduation in the spring of 1947.  Seven Years of higher education had been completed in ten years.

In June, the Conference appointed me to Bellevue and Kalamo Methodist Churches in Eaton County.  Three years later, we were moved to Ithaca, a single church situation.  It was there that Carleton was born October, 23, 1952.  June of 1956 saw us moving again, this time to Eaton Rapids, Michigan.

In June of 1960, the family was extremely busy.  The two daughters Donna and Mary were married — Donna in Eaton Rapids and Mary in Ithaca.  During the same month, we moved to Urbandale Church in Battle Creek, Michigan.

After six very busy years the family moved to Clare to service the Clare United Methodist Church.

 

Donald wrote this autobiography in 1972.  In June of that year he had a heart attack and was unable to continue preaching.  In December, he and Mary moved to Daytona Beach, Florida.  After several years, he recovered so that he was able to be on the staff of the Community United Methodist Church in Daytona Beach.  He did a lot of calling on shut-ins or hospitalized members.  During these years, he devoted a great deal of time to genealogy and family history.  The Stephenson and Winegar records reported in this project are only a small portion of the data he collected.He had open heart surgery in 1984 and died of a stroke April 4, 1987.


The Bliss – Daniells Wedding, August 14, 1907

July 23, 2009
The Plowman family members who attended the Bliss-Daniells wedding.

The Plowman family members who attended the Bliss-Daniells wedding.

 

Following is the newspaper account of the wedding of Iva Bliss and W.C. Daniells.  Although I have the actual clipping, the name of the newspaper and date of the article is not on the clipping.  Group pictures were taken of the attendees and of the Plowman family by Estee Daniells, brother of the groom.  Both photographs are in the possession of Jim Winegar, the one of all the guests hanging over the mantle in his Michigan lake cottage.

The newspaper account reads:

The event of last week was the Daniells-Bliss wedding, which occurred on Wednesday at noon, every feature of which was the most auspicious possible, not a single occurrence to mar the flow of geniality and good spirits.  One hundred and thirty-five guests were present to witness the ceremony, which was the short ring service, performed most impressively by Rev. Dr. DeLamarter, of Lansing, assisted by the M. E. pastor, Rev. D. A. Rood.  The bridal party consisted of Miss Hazel Field, maid of honor; and Mr. Rex Plowman, best man, both cousins of the bride, the Misses Pearl Benedict, Lora Cooley and Deone Lee, bridesmaids, and Messrs. King Lee and Roy Rice, groomsmen, little Miss Bailey, of Lansing, flower girl, Paul Maier, ring bearer, with Mrs. Cooley at the piano, who rendered Mendelssohn’s wedding march.  They marched from an upper room in the usual manner, the bride coming last, leaning upon the arm of her father, and stood in front of a bank of ferns and water lilies, the bridal couple standing under a beautiful bell composed of sweet peas.  All the decorations were by an uncle of the bride, Mr. George Plowman, a florist of Iron Mountain, Upper Peninsula.  The bride was attired in a dress of lace net, elaborately embroidered with darned work, and made over white silk, all the labor and gift of her mother, and carried a shower bouquet of beautiful pink and white roses.  Congratulations followed the ceremony, and soon after all were summoned to an elaborate six course dinner, the preparation and serving of which would have done honor to a professional caterer.  The dining hall consisted of a large tent spread on the lawn west of the house, and was screened from the sun and street by a woven wire fence set upon the north and west sides, and thatched with wild rice seven feet high, making a decorative as well as effectual screen.  Occasionally during the dinner Rex Plowman entertained the guests by singing the verses of an original poem enlarging upon the “beauties” of the groom’s new farm in the Texas gulf country, in which cotton, cactus, mesquite, Texas rattlers, and other characteristics were touched upon in a manner peculiarly his own.  Later Miss Pearl Benedict sang magnificently several with the bride as accompanist.  Mr. Frank Andrews sang the laughing song so effectually that all his audience joined in the chorus by compulsion.  Rex Plowman recited dramatically several selections, and Mrs. Frank Andrews sang several songs, in one of which her sister, Miss Pearl, joined.  Estee Daniells photographed several groups, one of the families of Daniells’ relatives, one of the Plowman’s and branches, and one of the remainder of the guests.  It was a most genial company, every one seeking the pleasure of the rest, which is the height of entertainment.

Among the guests from out of town were, Mr. and Mrs. George Plowman, of Iron Mountain, U.P., and son Rex; Mrs. Barbara Plowman, of Isabella county; Mr. and Mrs. C.A. Plowman, and Mr. and Mrs. B.B. Smith of Alma; Rev. Dr. and Mrs. DeLamarter, Mr. and Mrs. Del Field, daughter and son; Mr. and Mrs. Bailey and daughter; Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Hodges, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Hodges, Dr. and Mrs. T.M. Sanford, Mrs. Sarah Daniels, Mr. Sidney Bliss, and Mr. and Mrs. Earl Bliss of Lansing; Mr. and Mrs. E. S. Daniells of London, England; Mr. and Mrs. Allan L. Daniells, Chicago; Dr. and Mrs. Ralph P. Daniells, Toledo, O.; Mr. and Mrs. E. B. Escott and Miss Laura Escott, Grand Rapids, Mrs. Mary A. Bearmore and Mrs. Sarah Corey, of Brooklyn, New York; Mr. Knight of Elsie; and Mrs. Josenhans, a friend from Ypsilanti, and the others were from home and near-by towns.

About 5 o’clock p.m. a large hayrack well cushioned with hay appeared and was quickly loaded to the edge, a broom from which was suspended old shoes, their ensign, and the march taken up for the village.  At every house greetings and their yells were given – “Married, married, yes, they are; the bride and groom are going afar; hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Boom!” and a song sung which usually brought responses and congratulations.  At Daniells & Cooley’s store a shower of peanuts was rained upon them, and at Douglas’ a shower of candy kisses.

The wedding gifts were many and valuable, beautiful and useful.  The couple left for their Texas home Friday afternoon and were accompanied by several carriage loads of friends to the train at Grand Ledge, where they were sent away amid the usual showers of rice, etc., and many adieus and blessings.

They stopped over a few hours at Grand Rapids, taking supper with Mrs. C.A. Wall, an aunt of the groom, and will stop a few days in Chicago, and few days with the groom’s parents in Fort Worth, Texas.


The Daniells in the 1900s

July 22, 2009

 

Will Carleton Daniells, 1882-1973

W.C. Daniells

W.C. Daniells

Will Carleton was born in Wacousta in 1882 and graduated from the Wacousta 10th grade school in 1901 in the same class with Iva Bliss.  The following day, he left for New York where he went to work for Ingersoll Watch, testing 2500 watches per day at $9 per week.  He followed his older brothers Estee and Allan in working for Ingersoll.  In 1902, he went to Fort Worth, Texas, to Draughon’s Business College.  

W.C.'s Diploma from 10th grade in 1901.

W.C.'s Diploma from 10th grade in 1901.

He graduated in 1903 and moved to Chicago where he worked for his brother, Estee, as a shipping clerk at Ingersoll.  He held that job until 1906.  He also worked at the Auditorium nights and was head usher for Gonzales Church when he injured his knee in a fall on the stairs.

Graduation of Will Careleton Daniells and Iva Bliss in 1901.  W.C. is center back row, Iva is far right, front row.

Graduation of Will Careleton Daniells and Iva Bliss in 1901. W.C. is center back row, Iva is far right, front row.

W.C., as he was often known, purchased 40 acres of the King Ranch, Kingsville, Texas, and went there in the spring of 1906.  After a year there, he returned to Wacousta long enough to marry Iva Bliss at her family’s farm, “the Pivot”.  The wedding was quite a social event in Wacousta, and more will be described about the wedding in the next posting.

The Daniells home in Mercedes, Texas.

The Daniells home in Mercedes, Texas.

 

The couple spent two years at Santa Maria, Texas, two miles from the Rio Grande, growing cabbages, beans and onions and then two years at Mercedes, Texas.  Mary Daniells was born in Mercedes, the only one of the five daughters not born at the Pivot.  By the time of her birth, Will and Iva had prospered enough to be able to purchase a glass window for their house.   During the family’s time in Texas, Iva maintained a regular correspondence with her mother in Michigan.  Those post cards are in the possession of Jim Winegar.

Iva and W.C. in Texas

Iva and W.C. in Texas

In 1911, the family moved back to Chicago where Will worked for his brother Allan.  From 1915-1916, he was in Tavares, Florida, developing groves for D.B. and W. at Lake Harris.  He sold watches part time in Florida and South Georgia.  In 1919, he was called to New York by his brother Allan to run the watch service bureau.  He alternated between New York and Florida.  Iva and the four daughters returned to Wacousta during this time, soon to be joined by a fifth daughter in the same year.  In 1923, W.C. purchased a home in Eustis, Florida, and the family rejoined him.

Don't mess with Iva!

Don't mess with Iva!

Will spent the rest of his career involved with citrus. Working with Frank Savage, he developed the tangelo, a cross between the tangerine and the grapefruit.  He became known as the “Tangelo King of Florida” and, at one time, owned the largest acreage of tangelos in the world.  He was known as a businessman of upmost integrity and honesty. He died in Eustis in 1973. 

 

 

Iva Bliss Daniells, 1884-1946 

Iva was born in Riley Township, Clinton County, Michigan, and later moved with her parents to Watertown Township, near Wacousta.  She was an only child but grew up close to many cousins.  One of her best friends was Deone Oppenlander, for whom she named her daughter Mary Deone.  Iva graduated from the Wacousta School in 1901, along with W.C. Daniells, her future husband.  She attended Michigan State Normal College at Ypsilanti for two years and then taught at the Simmons district school and at New Baltimore.  She was a
Iva Bliss Daniells and her daughters.

Iva Bliss Daniells and her daughters.

very able musician (pianist, accompanist, member of vocal quartet) and a leader in community affairs.  She was president of the Lake County, Florida, PTA, active in church work, and involved in the Eustis, Florida, PEO.  She saw to it that all five daughters got through college during the Great Depression.  After a two-year fight against cancer, she died at the Pivot in 1946.

  

The five daughters of W.C. and Iva Daniells were:

  • Dora Katherine
  • Mary Deone
  • Estella Elizabeth (Betty)
  • Eleanor Grace
  • Iva Georgean (Jean)

 

 

The Daniells home in Eustis, Florida.
The Daniells home in Eustis, Florida.

Winegars in the 1900s

July 21, 2009

 

Edwin Ashbel Winegar, 1873-1946

Edd and Myrtie Winegar on their wedding day.

Edd and Myrtie Winegar on their wedding day.

Edwin Ashbel was born in Vergennes Township, near Lowell, Michigan.  In 1879, his father, Ashbel, died leaving his mother, Mary Rease Roberts, with four young sons and no one to help raise them.  In 1883, she moved back to New York to live with her sister.  She died in 1889.

The next record we have of is of Edwin aged 16 and his younger brother Ira age 14, living in Clinton County, Michigan with a Howe family.  According to Howe records, the boys were orphaned and found shelter in an unused shack.  Fred Howe felt this was not a proper place for the young boys and took Edd in.  Ira went to live with Fred’s brother Rozelle.  Edd worked for room, board and school and became a member of the family.  A young son of the Howe’s reports on how he cried when he learned that Edd was not his brother.  Edd stayed with the Howe family until he was ready to attend Michigan Agricultural College and learn the dairy business.

The Howe home was not far from the Edward W. Stephenson farm and he became acquainted with the Stephenson sisters, Bertha and Myrtie.  At first, he courted Bertha until Myrtie was old enough to date.  He and Myrtie were married in 1900 at the bride’s home.

Edd worked for a short time in a creamery then worked on a farm until he could afford to buy his own.  He purchased a small farm in Wacousta, a small town of 150 inhabitants.  Across the street was a creamery, and he ran that as well as farming.  The house they lived in had been built by Nathaniel Irish Daniells, the great, great, grandfather of Mary Winegar whom Donald Winegar would later marry.  N.I. Daniells had his office as Justice of the Peace in the house.  Demand for the creamery fell off, and Edd turned to farming full time.

Edd’s son Donald Winegar writes:

Dad had a very good mind and was a great reader, always trying to improve his knowledge.  He worked hard and faithfully.  He was honest as the day was long.  I never heard my father swear or say anything that could not be used in mixed company.  His favorite expression when perplexed or exasperated was ‘Oh, Shaw.’‘

But for all his goodness, he had one failing.  He was not a good manager, nor was he of mechanical mind, both qualities that a farmer should possess.  He ‘toggled up’ machinery, harnesses, buildings and the like.  Many people who knew him best, said he was out of his element as a farmer.  He should have been a teacher, for he was a good one.  But this I can say for him, in spite of his inadequacies, he kept on keeping on.  He didn’t give his children property nor money; he gave them the legacy of a good name.

Dad was a Christian.  From earliest memory, he was faithful in things of his faith.  He was a good churchman.  He was faithful in attendance and in giving.  He lived his faith seven days a week.

For several years, Dad was postmaster of the little community of Wacousta.  Progress dictated, however, that the post office be eliminated and the people of Wacousta put on rural routes.  I can still remember people coming to the office, which was in a small room in the southeast corner of the house.

Dad wanted his children to have a high school education.  Because Wacousta had only a ten grade school, this meant that the other two years had to be gotten elsewhere.  This took money, in fact more money than dad and mother could afford.  But they managed by paying for their children’s education rather than paying off the mortgage on the farm.

After my grandfather, E. W. Stephenson, died in 1931, his farm was divided between his two daughters, and as one part of the farm had a tenant house, my folks fixed up the old house and moved in.  The old farm in Wacousta was allowed to go for its mortgage.  The man who took over the mortgage discovered he had gravel on the property. Dad had made tests before but not at the right locations.  The first year the pit was in operation, the owner realized $6000 in profit.  But such is life!

Edd continued to farm until age 72 when he had to retire because of illness.  He died of cancer of the stomach in 1946.

 

Myrtie Louisa Stephenson, 1880-1954

Edd and Myrtie Winegar in later years.

Edd and Myrtie Winegar in later years.

Myrtie was born in Wacousta in 1880.  She and her sister Bertha were very close and remained so for all of their lives.  According to Donald Winegar, she and her husband rarely spoke of their early life, and he knew very little of their past.  Myrtie had rheumatic fever as a child and was left with a bad heart.  She could do a lot of work but occasionally had to rest her heart.  During those times, the children had to help with all the heavy work.  Donald remembers that his work included churning butter and pumping the washing machine in the back room.

Donald writes:

In many ways, it was a hard life for my mother.  Money was always scarce and she rarely spent money for clothes for herself.  Things for the home to make her work easier had to pushed aside until another time.  She, too, was determined that her children should have a high school education, something she did not have.  For years, she dreamed that things would be better someday.

Through it all, she was sustained by her Christian faith.  She tried to be a good mother.  She wanted her children to have the best possible life.”

When mother and Dad decided to move to the new location, give up the mortgage on the Wacousta farm, and start again free and clear of debt, they fell to with a will, making the house liveable and the barn ready for horses, cows and chickens. I  don’t know when I ever saw her as happy and carefree.  At last, they had a place which belonged to them.  She took delight in making plans for the days to come.  She sang at her work and seemed to take a whole new lease on life.

When Edd died in 1946, Myrtie lived with her children for a number of years.  Ill health and the fact that she could not bear the confusion of her grandchildren any more led her to enter Clark Home in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1953.  She died the following year of hardening of the arteries of the brain.

Myrtie had a hard life.  Donald Winegar ends his biography of his mother with the following:

 They are born; they live,

They struggle; they die.

But this in no way fills in the chinks of life — its dreams, its hopes, its failings, its joys and its sorrows.  What mortal can know what it means to live, to struggle, and to die?  But we believe that God knows and remembers.  Praise be to God!  Amen.

Edd and Myrtie Winegar had six children.  Nina Irene died of tuberculosis shortly before she would have graduated from Michigan State.  Mary Louise died in infancy.  Other children were Esther Alta, Donald Stephenson (my father), William Edwin Ashbel, and Paul Ray.  Below is one of the few pictures ever made of the entire family.

The Edd Winegar Family, from left to right: Edd, Bill, Myrtie, Paul, Nina, Esther, and Donald.

The Edd Winegar Family, from left to right: Edd, Bill, Myrtie, Paul, Nina, Esther, and Donald.


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