A Quiet Strength
Many of the women in my family history that I’ve written about had outwardly visible strength. They voiced their opinions, they raised families in harsh and sparse conditions while settling the west, and they forged ahead when widowhood left them destitute.
Getting to know my great grandmother, Mabel Wallberg Winney, through her own words in diaries and letters, as well as letters her sister, Louise Wallberg Truxaw, wrote, I came to know that Mabel’s strength, while less visible, was no less intense.
Mabel Eleanor Wallberg was born on July 24, 1899 in Wenatchee, Douglas County, Washington to Edmund Ulrich and Elinore “Ella” Elizabeth (nee Owens) Wallberg.
Her older siblings were Ivor Owens and Castilla Louise (who went by Louise). She also had a younger sister, Edna Bernice.
In February 1912, when Mabel was 12 years old, her mother passed away in Seattle, WA. Mabel’s dad, brother and youngest sister moved back to San Juan Island, WA where they had a ranch.
In late 1911, Mabel’s older sister, Louise moved to Los Angeles to work in a hospital there. Around 1918, Mable moved down to live with her, where she worked at the front desk for Dr. Truxaw, Louise’s husband.
Losing encounter with rooster
This story was handed down from Mabel’s daughter, Patricia Winney Berger, to her daughter, and now to me.
When Mabel was young, her family had a farm on San Juan Islands, in Washington state, which included chickens and roosters. When she was around 8 years old, a rooster plucked at her eye. She ended up losing the eye and having a glass eye.
Not afraid to say something
This story was also handed down through my grandma and mom.
When my grandma, Patricia, was growing up, her family owned an orange grove in Anaheim, CA. They had hired hands to help with the work.
One day, Mabel had some friends over for coffee and Patricia came in from outside looking shaken and whispered to her mom that a hired hand had gotten a little too close to her. (Lisa’s note: when my mom told me this story she couldn’t remember that her mom said how serious it was, but Patricia was around 7 or 8 years old and it was enough that she told her mom).
Mabel responded with a quiet, “Thank you Patricia, I will take care of it.” My grandma never saw that man again.
Love for her children
I have the original typed manuscript of a journal that Mabel kept as a story of her kids (which I plan to scan and publish online). The first entry is in late May/early June 1924, and the last entry is from January 1935.
She and her husband, Arthur Lou Winney had 6 kids: Arthur Jr, Margaret, Patricia, Kathleen, Leonard, and Michael. Her journal is filled with tales of her strong and loving hand guiding her children through their accomplishments and mischief.
Here is an entry from April 1, 1927:
Dear God, Help me to guide these precious children right and please let me live to finish the task.
Sadly, Mabel didn’t live to finish the task and died from a heart tissue infection on February 16, 1936 – less than a month after her son Michael was born.
Sources for these stories
Any source not specifically mentioned in the post is listed here:
- “Dedicated to Our Children” journal written by Mabel Wallberg Winney
- “Ancestry of the Winney Siblings” compiled by Michael A. Winney in October 2007, using family records, stories, and genealogical records.