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.


Family Weddings in the 1900s

July 19, 2009

 

In the post “Coming to Wacousta,” I set out to trace the path of the families of my grandparents from Europe to Wacousta, Michigan.  By the time of the Civil War, all four families — the Blisses, the Daniells, the Stephensons, and the Winegars — were situated in Clinton County, Michigan.  In the 1900s, the families merge.  Following are pictures from the weddings.

Edd Ashbel Winegar marries Myrtie Stephenson in 1900 at the Stephenson home.

Edd Ashbel Winegar marries Myrtie Stephenson in 1900 at the Stephenson home.

W.C. Daniells and Iva Bliss marry in 1907 at the Bliss house, the Pivot.

W.C. Daniells and Iva Bliss marry in 1907 at the Bliss house, the Pivot.

Donald Stephenson Winegar marries Mary Deone Daniells in 1937 at the Pivot.

Donald Stephenson Winegar marries Mary Deone Daniells in 1937 at the Pivot.

Other Daniells Weddings

Iva Georgene "Jean" Daniells marries Don Lowell in 1942 at the Pivot.

Iva Georgene "Jean" Daniells marries Don Lowell in 1942 at the Pivot.

Dora Katherine Daniells marries John Panchik in 1950 at the Pivot.

Dora Katherine Daniells marries John Panchik in 1950 at the Pivot.

Other Winegar Weddings

Esther Alta Winegar marries Clarence Kirkpatrick in 1941

Esther Alta Winegar marries Clarence Kirkpatrick in 1941 in Eagle Twp, Michigan.

Paul Ray Winegar marries Mary Margaret Biergans in 1947.

Paul Ray Winegar marries Mary Margaret Biergans in 1947 in Grand Ledge, Michigan.

 

Bill and Ruth Winegar married 1942.

Bill and Ruth Winegar married in 1942.

A fire destroyed the original Pivot in 1911 after W.C. Daniells and Iva Bliss married.  Subsequent Pivot weddings were at the home that was rebuilt by Herman Sidney Bliss.  A description of the fire, written by Bel Gensterblum, will be in the next post. The rebuilt Pivot is currently owned by Tom Lowell, a Bliss-Daniells descendant.


More Stephensons in the 1800s

July 14, 2009
 

 Edward William Stephenson  (1854-1931)

Edward William Stephenson

E.W. Stephenson

E. W. ”Will” Stephenson was born in Long Island, New York, but traveled to St. Johns, Michigan, when he was an infant.  He grew up and attended school in St. Johns.  As a teen, he learned telegraphy at the local railroad station, and, at 18, went to work for the Detroit, Lansing and Northern Railroad.  In 1873, he was appointed station agent at Eagle, Michigan, where he served for about five years. He then took up farming in Eagle Township, three miles west of Wacousta.  He served as Town Clerk of Eagle Township in 1878-79.

He married Alta Swiler in 1876, and they had two daughters, Bertha and Myrtie, our ancestor.

Alta Adel Swiler

Alta Swiler Stephenson

His grandson Donald Winegar writes:

In later years, he became an agent for farm insurance.  As a small boy, I can remember going with my grandfather in the Model T Ford touring car to call on clients to settle claims.  As a rule, he traveled about 12 to 15 miles per hour if the roads would permit.  At times, however, when he was in a hurry, he would ‘open it up’ to 20 or 25 miles an hour.  What a thrill this gave me.  I thought we were flying.

I can never remember my grandfather without a beard and mustache.  Indeed, my mother, Myrtie, once told me that she could not remember her father without a beard.

E.W. Stephenson Family

The Stephenson Family - Alta and E.W. front row, Bertha and Myrtie back row.

I do not remember much about my grandmother, Alta, except that she was always very good to me, her oldest grandson.  I doubt if there was anything she would have withheld from me, if she thought it would be right to give it.  I was only seven years old when she died.  I was permitted to go to the funeral because I loved my grandmother.

BERTWILL

Bertha and Will Parks

 After the death of his wife, Will invited his daughter Bertha and her husband Will Parks to live with him. They lived with him until his death in 1931.  Both E.W. and Alta are buried in Niles Cemetery, Clinton County, Michigan.

The Stephenson bedroom suite was passed down to Donald Winegar and then to me.  It is still in continuous use in our home.

Stephenson Bedroom Suite

Stephenson Bedroom Suite

EW Stephenson and Bill Winegar

E.W. Stephenson and his grandson Bill Winegar

 

The Stephenson Home

The Stephenson Home


The Stephensons in the 1800s

July 14, 2009

 

George Wold Stephenson, 1813-1896

George Wold Stephenson

George Wold Stephenson

George was born in 1813, the son of George Stephenson and Elizabeth Would.  Family tradition has it that he was named for his second cousin, George Stephenson, the inventor of the first practical railroad steam engine.  To this date, we have not been able to verify this connection.

George was apprenticed at the age of 11 and worked faithfully for seven years.  At the age of 18, he went to London and became involved in the trade union movement.  It became his lifelong ambition to free the labor class from the oppression of the rich. The following year, he marched with 90,000 men to appeal to the King.  He walked 200 miles to Liverpool.

Agnes Catherine Hamilton

Agnes Hamilton Stephenson

He married Agnes Hamilton in Liverpool 1835.  They had five children there, but two of them died very young.  In 1844, with three sons, George and Agnes left for America. The family stayed one year in New York City, and then moved to Long Island where they lived for ten years and had five more children.  The last child born was Edward William, our ancestor. In 1855, they set out for the “West,” settling in St. Johns, Michigan.  George’s son, James, described their arrival in St. Johns in a letter:

In September, 1855, during a heavy storm of rain, which had continued for about a week, my father and mother with seven children, came into this town from Corunna by team with one wagon loaded with furniture and household goods.  In the wagon there was only room for two besides the driver and the roads being in such primitive state and so terribly muddy, all of us were compelled to walk a great share of the way.  I never shall forget my first view of St. Johns.  Emerging from a dense forest on a prominence overlooking the infant village, a strange sight greeted our eyes.  A hole in the wood, about 20 houses and muddy unimproved streets were before us.  Our home was to be the upper story of a store building and our provision to be potatoes, cod fish, and hulled corn.  Nothing else would be obtained in the place for at least six weeks, at the end of which time father succeeded in securing a cow which added miraculously to our commissary.  The roads were utterly impassible and our beds and bedding were in Lansing.

George established a business as a merchant tailor which prospered throughout the years.  He was very active in community affairs.  He was president of the village trustees and was appointed by the governor to serve in management of the State House of Corrections.  When the Clinton County Courthouse moved from Dewitt to St. Johns, the court rented space in Clinton Hall from George for several years.  The Clinton Independent  was started in 1866 by two of his sons, and it operated in the back of his store.  He also helped establish a “Live Association,” the intent of which was to provide a good burial at a reasonable price.  He was treasurer of the association for the next 29 years.

He was a member of the Knights of Labor for fifty years. He was considered a “free thinker,” and was a liberal in many fields, including his Christian faith.  He was one of the founding members of the Episcopal Church of St. Johns, and the names of George Wold and Agnes Stephenson were inscribed in a memorial window in the church.  Donald Winegar saw the window in 1936.  I don’t know if it is still there.

G.W. Stephenson's Watch

G.W. Stephenson's Watch

Agnes died in 1879. George retired in 1888 and died in 1896.  They are buried in St. Johns.   At his death, his pocket watch was given to his son, E.W. Stephenson, who carried it for 53 years and gave it to Donald Winegar, his oldest grandson, in 1931.  James Winegar, Donald’s son now has possession of the watch, and it is still working.


Winegars in the 1800s

July 11, 2009

 

Edwin Ashbel Winegar,  1873-1946

Edwin Ashbel Winegar age 18

Edwin "Edd" Ashbel Winegar, age 18 or 19

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 Edwin and his younger brother Ira, at ages 16 and 14 respectively, is of them 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 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.
Myrtie Louisa Stephenson Winegar, age 18

Myrtie Louisa Stephenson Winegar, age 18

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 be courted.  Edd and Myrtie were married in 1900 at the bride’s home.  More about Edd and Myrtie will be covered in the 1900s section.

 

Other Winegars 

William Wirt Winegar

William Wirt Winegar

William Wirt Winegar, a second cousin to Edwin Ashbel, fought in the Civil War and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.  Apparently a huge number of these awards were granted, many of which were rescinded.  We do not know if his was or not.  An account of his award can be found on the Internet.

 Dr. Ira Winegar, possibly a cousin to Ashbel, served as a surgeon during the Civil War.  He was commissioned in 1861 and mustered out with a disability in 1865.

 
Another group of Winegar moved to Michigan by the Erie Canal in 1864.  At Detroit, they purchased a ticket on the train to “as far as the track is built.”  On August 19, 1844, they were a few miles out of Marshall, and the conductor told them that he was going to run into Marshall on the wooden framework even though the iron rails were not laid.  The conductor said that anyone so inclined might take the chance and ride in too.  Isaac and Jacob Winegar were on the first train to reach Marshall.  The trip from Albion was made in 40 minutes compared to the stagecoach time of two hours. The distance was twelve miles.


Migration to Michigan – the 1800s

July 6, 2009

At the beginning of the 1800s, the Bliss family was living in Massachusetts, the Daniells and the Winegars had settled in New York State, and the Stephensons were living in Lincolnshire, England.  By 1855, all four families had relocated to Clinton County, Michigan.  What made this migration possible was the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825.  This opened  up the “West” for development. 

Click on the link on the right side of the page labeled Routes to Michigan for an interactive map showing the paths the four families traveled.  You can click on both the markers and the lines to get information about the families and the routes they traveled.

The Erie Canal in the 1800s

The Erie Canal in the 1800s

Erie Canal today.  Photo by Sandra Winegar.

Erie Canal today. Photo by Sandra Winegar.


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.


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