Anna Blessing Winney walked from VA to WI in the 1830s to work in the lead mines

Anna’s Story

Anna Elizabeth Winney_mid to late 1800s

Anna Eliza Winney_mid to late 1800s

Anna Eliza Blessing Winney is my great-great grandmother on my maternal grandmother’s side. Her son Arthur Lou Winney was the father of Patricia Ann Winney, my mom’s mom. She was born on August 25, 1826 in Wythe County, Virginia (now part of West Virginia), to Eliza Wolf and Abraham Blessing.

I’ve bolded the parts in the excerpt below I found interesting. They walked from Virginia to Wisconsin! Anna lived with her sister and her sister’s husband when she was 10 in Wisconsin so she was probably between 6 and 8 when they made the trek. 

So the two sisters are around 16 and 10, their mother has died in the past 4 or so years, and then their dad leaves them to fend for themselves with no relatives around. You gotta be tough to persevere through that!

And, as you’ll see in her obituary I’ve included in this post, she was a widow for many years, “leaving the widow to struggle alone with her children, but she struggled courageously, seeking help of Him who is God of the widow and the fatherless.”

Excerpted Letter from Polly Patterson, Great-Granddaughter of Elizabeth Jane (Blessing) Basford, sister to Anna Eliza (Blessing) Winney

“Anna Eliza Blessing Winney and Elizabeth Jane Blessing were definitely sisters, Anna being the youngest. Their father was Abraham Blessing. He was a widower and he and the two girls (all children that we know of anyway) walked to Wisconsin Territory from Missouri and Virginia in the 1830’s to work in the lead mines around Grant Co. When gold was found in CA, he left for the gold fields and died there. There is no further record of him after he left Grant Co.

Luther [Basford] married Elizabeth Jane when she was only 16 years old. Little Anna, aged 10, lived with them in their home in Glen Haven, Grant Co. WI until she married William Winney.” 

Sometime after the death of her husband William James Winney in 1881 and the Nebraska State Census of 1885 Anna Eliza and children Alice-19, Abraham -14, Grant -12, and Maud- 8, moved to Stuart Township, Holt Co., Nebraska. ( 1885 NE State Census, Locality: Midway Borough ED 192 OS Pg #9B)

Probate records were obtained from the Grant Co. probate office.William Winney died intestate. Son-in-law Anton Vogt, husband of daughter Caroline was appointed by the court as administrator of the estate.

The files tell a sad story. William had borrowed $4000 in 1875 giving the lender the mortgage to the farm as collateral.He was to pay 10% interest per annum and the principal eight years later–1883.It doesn’t appear his family knew of the loan until a Contingency Claim was filed by the lender, Cyrus Sergent. Anton Vogt had the land and personal property appraised. Ultimately, in 1886 the farm and all equipment and possessions thereon were auctioned to satisfy the debt. As it was, the creditors only received 13% of money due them.

Anna and the younger children are listed in the 1885 Nebraska Census. Since she no longer had the farm, they lived for a time with daughter Caroline and son-n-law Anton Vogt on their farm in Nebraska.


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.

Anna Eliza Blessing was born in Virginia, August 25, 1826. On October 25th, 1842 [should be 1845] , she was married to William Winney, and in earlier days they settled on Blakes Prairie. To the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Winney, fourteen children were born, of whom all but three our living. [One of the three, my mother’s GGrandfather, William Henry Winney, died in 1907 at the age of 60.] Mr. Winney died a number of years ago, leaving the widow to struggle alone with her children, but she struggled courageously, seeking help of Him who is God of the widow and the fatherless.

The funeral services, conducted by Rev. A.T. Lacey, were held at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Marshall Scott, of Blake’s Prairie, Wednesday, May 5, 1909, and were well attended. Interment was made at the Scott Cemetery.

The names and state of residence of the children who are living are as follows: Mrs. Annie E. Scott of Wisconsin, Mrs. Mattie Stewart of Oklahoma, Luther M. Winney of California, Arthur C. Winney of Oregon, Mrs. Carrie Vogt of Wisconsin, Leonard J. Winney of California, Charles B. Winney of Texas, Mrs. Alice M. Spangler of Nebraska, Abe Winney of California, Grant Winney of Hutchinson, Kansas, and Maude M. Winney of California.

The descendents of Mrs. Winney were increased by 44 grandchildren and 35 great grandchildren. Grant Winney of Hutchinson, Kansas, was present at the funeral. A grand daughter and a great grandaughter of Mrs. Winney, in the persons of Mrs. Allie Maggs and Miss Alfaretta Maggs of Minong, Wis., were also present at the funeral.

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