The Stephenson family in the 1700s

July 2, 2009

 Henry Stephenson, 1697-

Henry Stepheson was born in 1697 and married Martha Richardson in 1723 in Hogsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England.  They had three sons and three daughters.  Martha Richardson Stephenson was christened in Mumby Chapel in 1702.  The original building washed into the sea in 1750 and was rebuilt. 

St. Thomas Church at Mumby, Hogsthorpe, Lincolnshire.

St. Thomas Church at Mumby, Hogsthorpe, Lincolnshire.

Henry Stephenson, 1728- 

Henry and Martha’s second son Henry, our ancestor, was born in 1728.  He married Mary Swin (or Swinn) in 1765. 

George Stephenson, 1774-1846

Our ancestor George Stephenson was born to Henry and Mary in 1774.  He married Elizabeth Would (or Wold) in 1797.  More information will follow on the life of George.

The Bliss Family in the 1700s

July 1, 2009


David Bliss (1722-1760)

Following the death of Thomas Bliss in 1650, his widow Margaret Hulins Bliss relocated the family to Springfield, Massachusetts where she lived with her daughter Mary Bliss Parsons.  Margaret died in 1684, outliving both her husband and her son Lawrence. 

David Bliss, Margaret’s great-grandson, was born in Springfield in 1722 and probably lived in the house shown below.  He was for many years Town Constable of Springfield.  He married Miriam Sexton in 1757.  He lived only three years after his marriage and died of smallpox just a week before his 38th birthday. 

Home of Margaret Bliss in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Home of Margaret Bliss in Springfield, Massachusetts.

David Bliss, Jr. (1758-1791)

David Bliss, Jr. was born in Springfield in 1758.  He married Lucy Stebbins in 1787.  He was a shoemaker, tanner, and currier.  His health failed, and he lived only four years after his marriage.  He died in 1791 at the age of 33. 

Courthouse of colonial Springfield, Massachusetts.

Courthouse of colonial Springfield, Massachusetts.

Parsons Tavern in Springfield, Massachusetts, 1776

Parsons Tavern in Springfield, Massachusetts, 1776

More Winegars in the 1700s

June 30, 2009


Garrett Winegar (1702-1756)

Garrett Winegar, the only son of Ulrich and Anna, was born in Germany in 1702.  He traveled with his family to New York, lived 14 years in the East Camp previously described, and then settled in Amenia in 1724.  He was naturalized in 1716 under the name of Hans Gerhard Weyniger.  He married Catherine Snyder, another Palatine immigrant,  in about 1725.  Garrett had 14 children, nine boys and 5 girls.  Our ancestor is Ulrich(3).

Garrett is frequently referred to as Captain Winegar and probably served in the British Army.  He was confirmed Ensign of the South Company of the Train Band of Sharon Connecticut in May, 1745, and Captain of the same in October, 1747.  In about 1739, he purchased 300-400 acres in Sharon, Connecticut, and built a grist mill.  This was the first mill in the area and ground grain that the settlers ate.  He held a number of positions in the community and was considered intelligent and well educated, mostly in German.  He was very friendly with the Indians, by whom he was regarded with greatest respect and many times defended them against the injustice of his white neighbors.  In his death, he charged his children to never allow an Indian to go from their door in want of food.  He died of Bilious Cholic at the age of 54 and was buried with his parents in the Amenia Cemetery.

One of Garrett’s sons Hendrick built a mansion in Amenia in 1761.  It became know in the area as the Winegar House and survived until about 2000 when it collapsed under a load of snow.  An effort by Winegar descendants to raise money to preserve it was unsuccessful.  The pictures below show the house as it was before and after the collapse.

Winegar House, before and after collapse.

Winegar House, before and after collapse.

Ruins of the Winegar House.  Photo by Sandra Winegar.

Ruins of the Winegar House. Photo by Sandra Winegar.

Garrett owned one slave named Tom.  In his will he referred to Tom as “a faithful and good tenant my will is that when he is unable for service he shall be maintained out of my estate comfortable as long as he shall live and not be sold out of my family nor from this house if any of my family living there.”  In the 1790 census his son Conrad is showed owning one slave. This is 35 years after Garrett’s death and may or may not be the same man. No other records I have seen show slave holding among the Winegars.

Dr. Thomas Young

Thomas Young practiced medicine in the Oblong (Amenia) for 11 years.  At one time he lived in Garrett’s home and met Garrett’s daughter Mary, whom he later married.  While living in Amenia, Young became friends with Ethan Allen.  He became convinced that Dutchess County was not doing enough to stop the British from interfering in colonial affairs.  He moved to Albany and actively opposed the operation of the Stamp Act and then moved to Boston.  As war approached he became a member of the Committee of Correspondence.  Other than Samuel Adams, he was the most active member.  He spoke at the Old South Meeting House on December 16, 1773 a few hours before the tea was thrown overboard.  Young was the only member of the Boston Tea Party who was not disguised as an Indian

When friends learned of an attempt to kidnap Young and take him to England to be tried for treason, he escaped to Philadelphia where his family joined him.   Here he became secretary of the Whig Society and associated with a small group of radicals who with the counsel of Benjamin Franklin framed the constitution of Pennsylvania.  He died in 1777 from an illness contracted while caring for wounded and sick soldiers.

Thomas Young is credited with naming the state of Vermont, as well as Amenia.

After her husbands death, Mary Winegar disposed of her property and took most of her pay in Continental currency, which became worthless, and she became penniless.  This was a common occurrence among several of our ancestors.

Thomas Young Marker at Amenia.  Photo by Sandra Winegar.

Thomas Young Marker at Amenia. Photo by Sandra Winegar.

Ulrich Winegar (3) (1729-1812)

Ulrich was the third son of Garrett.  He married Anna Nase about 1748.  Possibly because of a conflict with his brothers, he built his own grist mill about a mile northof the one built by his father.  He was not very successful in business and was frequently quite poor.  At times he was supported by his son Ashbel (our Ancestor).

Ulrich served as a Sergeant in the French and Indian War.  He and Anna had 5 sons and two daughters.  His wife died, and he remarried Sarah Tolles.  It is interesting to note that Sarah is a direct descendent of Roger Alling, a Bliss ancestor.  He died in 1712 in Nassau, Rensselaer Co., New York at the home of Ulrich (5), his grandson.

Ashbel(4) Winegar (1754-1809)

Ashbel, a house carpenter, was born in Amenia.  He married Elizabeth Carr and had nine children, Ulrich (5) being our ancestor.  He served in the Revolutionary War in both the 6th Regiment, Dutchess County Militia and in the 4thRegiment, Albany County Militia.  He is in the 4th Regiment records as Ashbel Vinigar.  Dutchess County was very important to the revolutionary effort.  It is located on the Hudson River, which was the main route between British forces in Canada and in New York City.  Whoever controlled the river had a major advantage.  Those living in the county had to take a loyalty oath to either the Brittish or the Colonials.  The population was divided with approximately one-third supporting the British.  James Fennimore Cooper’s novel, The Spy was set in this area and time.


James Fenimore Cooper's The Spy

James Fenimore Cooper's The Spy

Uldrich Winegar in the 1700s

June 24, 2009

At the end of the 1600s Ulrich and his family were located in Wurttemburg, Germany.  He and Anna had two daughters, Anna and Elizabeth, and a son Garrett, who were born between 1698 and 1705.

The Palatines

The Palatine region, where the Winegars settled, was torn by wars throughout most of the 1600s.  The Thirty Years War was from 1618-1648.  This was followed by other wars.  It is estimated that as much as 50% of the population lost their lives during these conflicts.  The ruler of the region broke with France, which infuriated Louis XVI.  He ordered the region burned to the ground, and two cities and 25 villages were reduced to ashes.  We don’t know if the Winegars lived in any of these areas.

At this time, the ruler controlled all the land.  Workers were heavily taxed to support the war effort and could only buy and sell through their landlord.  During 1708-1709, the region experienced a devastatingly cold winter.  The rivers froze and all the crops, including the vineyards, were destroyed.  Starvation was everywhere.

During this time, England was busy colonizing the New World.  Queen Anne saw the Palatines as a valuable source to populate the region and create wealth for England.  She had advertisements distributed throughout the Palatine region promising land in America.  Facing starvation in their own land, thousands responded.  The ruler prohibited migration and even threatened death to those caught leaving, but most ignored the threats.

To escape, the Palatines had to make a four to six week trip during the winter, up the Rhine River to Rotterdam, Holland.  The Dutch were unprepared for all the immigrants and quickly arranged to send them on to England.  England, likewise, was unable to handle so many sick and starving people.  As quickly as possible, they were relocated, many to the New World.  English sea captains were paid a “bounty” by the crown to recruit and transport colonists to America.  The Palantines who spoke only German signed English language contracts which commited them to pay for their passage perhaps from their labor in the new world where they were promised land. 

Most of the Palatines were sent to Pennsylvania, and they became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch.  Ulrich and family were on the List of Palatines leaving England in June of 1709.  They went to New York.  On the list, Ulrich said he was 41 years old, of the Catholic Religion and gave his occupation as Husbandman and Vinedresser.  Being Catholic would have been unusual in that most of the Palatines were protestants and oppression by the Catholic Church was another reason for escaping from Germany.  We have no record of the family being Catholic in New York.

Conditions on the voyage were terrible.  Approximately one-sixth of the passengers were buried at sea.  When they arrived in the New World, the local population was so afraid of all the sickness on board that the passengers were quarantined on Governor’s Island for six months.  This was the first case of a quarantine of immigrants in America.

Eventually, in 1710, they reached the area where they were to settle.  The Palatines lived in camps across from each other on the Hudson River – the East Camp, where Ulrich lived with his family, and the West Camp.  The East Camp came to be called Germantown, New York.  It is said that, although people in the two camps could see one another across the river, they were unable to meet face to face except in the winter when they could cross on the ice.  Even with today’s modern roads and bridges, the distance is 17 1/2 miles between the two camps.  The campsites are memorialized in monuments, one bearing the names of the residents of the camps.   

East Camp Marker.  Photo by Sandra Winegar.

East Camp Marker. Photo by Sandra Winegar.

Note name "Winninger" in East Camp list, last name on second row from bottom.  Photo by Sandra Winegar.

Note name "Winninger" in East Camp list, last name on second row from bottom. Photo by Sandra Winegar.

View from East Camp to West Camp across Hudson River.  Photo by Sandra Winegar.

View from East Camp to West Camp across Hudson River. Photo by Sandra Winegar.

 Although we have no real information on life at Germantown, we do know they became tenants to the lord of the manor, Robert Livingston.  The colonists had been promised land but did not receive it until 1724, 14 years after arriving.   Ulrich, bitter that others had profited unfairly from his labor, sold his land the same year and relocated to the Oblong, which is now Amenia, New York.


Map showing Amenia and Germantown

Map showing Amenia and Germantown

Ulrich, his wife, and son Garrett moved from the East Camp (Germantown) to Amenia, a distance of about 50 miles,  in 1725.  At the time, there was only one other white person living in the area.  Ulrich obtained land from the Indians and built a house.  Later, when the area became part of the colony, he was able to purchase this land at a reasonable price.  Apparently, they got along very well with the Indians in that they had no need for blockhouses or forts although other nearby communities required them.  We know little about Ulrich’s life in Amenia, but he was known as being a very laborious man, possessed of an iron constitution and of great muscular power.

Anna died in 1735 and Ulrich in 1750.  They are buried in the family cemetery in Amenia.

Jim Winegar at Ulrich's grave.  Photo by Sandra Winegar.

Jim Winegar at Ulrich's grave. Photo by Sandra Winegar.

The Daniells Family in the 1600s

June 24, 2009

(The following information is gathered from The Daniels – Daniells Family, Vol. 2, A Genealogical History of the Descendants of William Daniell of Dorchester and Milton, Massachusetts 1630 – 1957, compiled and edited by James Harrison Daniels, Jr., 1959.)

The Mary and John

The Mary and John

William Daniel (   -1678)

On March 20, 1630, a group of Puritans sailed from England on the Mary and John, a ship of 400 tons.  Among the passengers on the ship was John Grenaway (Greenway), whose daughter Catherine was to become the first Daniels mother in the new world.  The voyage took 70 days and was comfortable and accompanied by daily “preaching and expounding on the Word of God.”  They settled at Dorchester, Massachusetts which is now a part of Boston.  The town prospered.  A meeting house was built in 1831 which was a place of safety in case of problems with the Indians.  Everyone was required to attend church and come armed and all houses had to be built within one half mile of the meeting house.  Dorchester established the first free tax-supported school in America.  Girls were not admitted for several years but Katherine somehow learned to read.

Katherine married William Daniel (there was no uniform spelling of the last name for several generations) about 1645.  There is no record of how or when he came to America but recent researchers have reported that he was the son of Peter Daniells and Christina Grosvenor.  John Grenaway left land to William and Katherine in the area which became Milton and they built a tavern there.  For many years the people of Milton had to travel to Dorchester for church which was mandatory in the colony.  This was a great hardship in bad weather “perhaps with the father on horseback, the mother on a pillion behind him and the children trudging through the snow”.  The church was not heated.  The people stood during prayers which could last an hour.  The sermon might last two hours. 

Katherine undertook to teach some of the local Indians to read and was so successful that the commissioners of the colony commended her and provided 12 pounds in payment   plus another 3 pounds to continue for another year.   

The couple had 6 children including John, our ancestor.   Their daughter, Mary married Jonathan Wood.  When her husband was killed in an Indian uprising, Mary who was pregnant went into shock and died in childbirth.  The child was named Silence.

Memorial in Windsor, Connecticutt, with names of passengers on the Mary and John

Memorial in Windsor, Connecticutt, with names of passengers on the Mary and John

 John Daniel (1648-1718)

John was born in Dorchester but spent most of his life in Milton where he was an Inn keeper and was active in town affairs.  He was married to Dorothy Badcock.  They had 11 children including two sets of twins, but only 7 survived to adulthood.  John prospered as an Inn keeper and was one of the wealthiest men in the town.  In 1683, a public holiday was held and a minister read an address of loyalty to the king.  Many signed it but John and several others chose not to.  This was almost 100 years before the revolution.

17th Century map of Dorchester and Boston Harbor

17th Century map of Dorchester and Boston Harbor

The Bliss family in the 1600s

June 23, 2009


Thomas Bliss (1585 – 1650/51)

Thomas Bliss was born in Gloucester, England.  He married Margaret Hulins in 1621.  We do not know when or how they came to America, but he was in Hartford, Connecticut by 1639, and the records show that he had built a house by that time.  At his death, his widow was granted land in Springfield, Massachusetts, where she lived until her death in 1684.  She vigorously defended their daughter Mary Parsons when Mary was under suspicion of witchcraft in 1656, but in 1674 a formal charge was made resulting in Mary’s trial and acquittal in Boston.

Mary Bliss Parsons, who was charged with being a witch.

Mary Bliss Parsons, who was charged with being a witch.

Lawrence Bliss (1626-1676)

Lawrence, the son of Thomas, was born in England.  We do not know for sure how he came to America, but he probably came at the same time as his father before 1639.  He married Lydia Wright in 1654 in Springfield, Massachusetts.  He died in Springfield in 1676.

William Bliss (1670-1740)

William, son of Lawrence and grandson of Thomas, lived his whole life in Springfield, Massachusetts.  He married Margaret Lombard in 1710.

Bliss Mill at Chipping Norton, England.  Our family may have been associated with this mill that made woolens.

Bliss Mill at Chipping Norton, England. Our family may have been associated with this mill that made woolens.

Winegars in the 1600s

June 23, 2009

Ulrich Winegar was the patriarch of the Winegar in America.  Almost all of the American Winegars descended from him.  We know very little about his early years.  He was born in 1668 in Zurich, Switzerland, and moved to the Wurttemburg region of Germany along the Rhine River (in the vicinity of Stuttgart and Heidelberg on the map).  Ulrich and Anna lived in the Palatine region where residents were called Palatines.  His first child Anna was born about 1698.

The name Winegar probably comes from Ulrich’s occupation as a vine dresser or worker in the vineyards.  The name may have been pronounced something like Vine-ak-er.  For at least the first four generations there was no uniform spelling of the name.  Since the family spoke German, it was as likely to have been spelled and pronounced with a V as with a W.  Early records show the name also as Weyniger, Winniger, Viniger, and even Von Wegener.

A vinyard on the Rhine River

A vinyard on the Rhine River

Coming to Wacousta – 1600s

June 22, 2009

During the 1600’s, European colonies were founded in the New World.  Among the earliest families to arrive in New England were the Daniels who settled in Dorchester and Milton, Massachusetts, and the Blisses who settled in Springfield, Massachusetts.

 The first Winegar in our records was Ulrich who was born in Switzerland in 1668 and by the end of the century was living in southern Germany under extremely harsh conditions.

 Our earliest record of the Stephensons was Henry who was married in 1691.  The Stephensons lived in Lincolnshire on the east coast of England.

Maps of England and Germany in the 1600s

Maps of England and Germany in the 1600s

Coming to Wacousta Intro

June 22, 2009

My grandparents, the Winegars, the Stephensons, the Daniells and the Blisses all settled in Wacousta, Michigan, a very small farming community.  The Winegars originally came from Switzerland and Germany and the other three families came from England.  How they all ended up in Wacousta has always been interesting to me.

I have genealogical information on all of the families dating back into the 1600’s.  What I propose to do is to trace the four families from my earliest records up to the present time, sharing not just genealogy but other facts of interest that I may have.  I am calling this history, Coming to Wacousta.  I plan to look at each century and to share where my ancestors were and what they were doing.  I did this on a web site about 15 years ago but unfortunately the site was lost and I have to reconstruct most of it.  I will be posting it as it is developed.


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