Bringing Alice Schell Berger out of the shadows: 1868 thru 1885

Some women in my family tree lived extraordinary lives for their times. They traveled, worked, and had experiences that weren’t the norm for women of their day. Alice Deisher Schell is not one of those women. She had a nice middle class upbringing, and sustained that through her marriage.

She is the kind of person who normally wouldn’t be remembered when talking about your family history. Unlike some other women in my family tree, there are no “can you believe Alice did…” stories; no mysteries; and no secrets that were revealed when I was researching her life. Which is precisely why I wanted to write about her. She may not have done extraordinary things, but she is still someone I descend from. I wanted to learn what I could about her and bring her out of the shadows so she is not forgotten. Continue reading

Anna Eliza Blessing Winney Obituary

As part of my multi-post series about the Blessing Sisters, below is the obituary for Anna Eliza Blessing Winney mentioned in Part 6. It’s from the book that Michael Winney wrote in 2007, Ancestry of The Winney Siblings: Arthur Jr., Margaret, Patricia, Kathleen, Leonard & Michael.


Fennimore Times, May 19, 1909
Obituary – Mrs. Anna Eliza Winney

“The death of Mrs. Winney came as a surprise to many as the general condition of her health gave no warning of the near approach of the end. She died of heart failure on the evening of April 30th, 1909.

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Blessing Sisters Story Part 6

Blessing Sisters Story Part 6

This is a multi-post series about the Blessing Sisters. Anna Eliza Blessing Winney is my 3rd great grandmother. You can see all of the posts in the series here: Blessing Sister Stories


Nebraska’s Drought and Depression

A few years later, Anna’s life is once more upended. “Nebraska in the early 1890s suffered from protracted drought, and farm prices fell to new lows. Conditions were so unfavorable that immigration, which had more than doubled the state’s population in the 1880s, almost ceased. Financial conditions grew worse and the entire state was almost in the grip of actual famine. Some became so discouraged that they sold or gave up their property and left the state. ”(54)

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Elizabeth Jane Blessing Basford Obituary

As part of my multi-post series about the Blessing Sisters, below is the obituary for Elizabeth Jane Blessing Basford mentioned in Part 5. It’s from the book that Michael Winney wrote in 2007, Ancestry of The Winney Siblings: Arthur Jr., Margaret, Patricia, Kathleen, Leonard & Michael.


“Mrs. Elizabeth J. Basford, wife of Hon. Luther Basford, of this city, died Wednesday morning, Dec. 3, of heart failure, aged 67 years, 11 months and 6 days. Continue reading

Blessing Sisters Story Part 5

Blessing Sisters Story Part 5

This is a multi-post series about the Blessing Sisters. Anna Eliza Blessing Winney is my 3rd great grandmother. You can see all of the posts in the series here: Blessing Sister Stories


Elizabeth and Anna’s Community Involvement

I have few insights into Elizabeth’s and Anna’s participation in the local community. I can imagine that Elizabeth had more societal duties due to the prominence of her husband in local and state politics and as a successful businessman.

I also found that the two families were involved in the Temperance Movement. In Butterfield’s history account, he notes that a “lodge of the I.O.G.T.(45) was organized December 26, 1876, the charter members being C.C. Basford, Mrs. Ocea Basford, Mrs. M. Scott, Mrs. Lizzie Basford…W.J. Winney…”(46) Besides these members of the Basford and Winney families, there were eleven other charter members.

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Blessing Sisters Story Part 4

Blessing Sisters Story Part 4

This is a multi-post series about the Blessing Sisters. Anna Eliza Blessing Winney is my 3rd great grandmother. You can see all of the posts in the series here: Blessing Sister Stories


Elizabeth and Anna’s Children

I wonder how Elizabeth and Anna felt about their father leaving, not knowing if they’d ever see him again. They both had their own growing families to tend to, so perhaps that left them with less time to dwell on the loss.

Anna and William Winney’s first two children were born in Cassville, Wisconsin: William in June 1847, and Annie in August 1848. Continue reading

Blessing Sisters Story Part 3

Blessing Sisters Story Part 3

This is a multi-post series about the Blessing Sisters. Anna Eliza Blessing Winney is my 3rd great grandmother. You can see all of the posts in the series here: Blessing Sister Stories

Note: As of November 26, 2019, I was given access to 6 original letters from Abraham Blessing to his family in Ohio, I will be updating this post to reflect the new information.


Elizabeth Blessing Marries

On 23 May 1839, Elizabeth married a local merchant, Luther Basford, in Cassville, Grant County, Wisconsin.(18) She was sixteen years old, and he was twenty-four. Perhaps immediately, but definitely within the year, twelve-year-old Anna went to live with the newly married Basfords.

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