Edward William Stephenson (1854-1931)
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.
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.
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.
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.