Elizabeth Jane Wellman Winney is one of my family mysteries. She’s actually somehow entwined with another mystery, Kathryn M. Lorenz.
Elizabeth, or Lizzie as she was known, was born on June 3, 1867 in Clayton County, IA. After months of searching I still I haven’t found any records of who her parents were, with one small exception – the 1870 Census.
According to that Census, taken on June 1, 1870, Lizzie is 3 years old and living in Guttenberg, Iowa with her 2 year old sister, Josephine Wellman, and her mother Mary Wellman. Mary is 28 years old and is listed as being born in Luxembourg.
Lizzie’s father isn’t living with them, and the 1870 Census doesn’t ask if someone is married or not, so I don’t know if Mary is till married to him, his first name, or what’s become of him.
Lizzie Is Orphaned
I have no records for Lizzie, her sister Josephine, or mom, Mary for the next 10 years. Where were they living? How was Mary supporting her two little girls? In 1870 she’s listed as “Keeping School” so maybe she was a teacher in Guttenberg.
What I do know is that by 1880, Lizzie has lost her sister and her mom. Maybe they’re still alive, but she’s not living with them. The 1800 US Census shows her living in Bloomington, Grant, WI with her grandmother Stephania DeViche Heurtz Gaus, and her second husband, Henry Gaus. Lizzie is just 14 years old.
In the 1880 Census, they did ask where the parents were born. It says Lizzie’s dad was born in Ohio. It’s not much, but it’s the first real clue I have about him other than his last name.
Other people living with them are Katie Lorentz, age 5, also listed as a grandchild; and Angeline Heuertz, age 23, and listed as a stepdaughter. Angeline is Stephania’s daughter, and Katie sent letters in her later years to her nephew, who was Elizabeth’s son.
These gave me the initial clues that linked Stephania to Elizabeth rather than to Henry.
Further research confirmed that Lizzie was Stephania’s grandchild. I believe that her daughter, Mary Heuertz, was Lizzie’s mom. The Mary Wellman who is shown as Lizzie’s mom in the 1870 Census would’ve been born in 1841 or 1842.
The Iowa State Census in 1856 shows that Stephania’s daughter Mary was born about 1842, so the two Marys match up, but I don’t have definitive proof they are the same person- yet.
Meeting Her Future Husband
I don’t know why Lizzie’s grandmother, Stephania, had moved to Wisconsin from Iowa. But I do know that this is the beginning of the next chapter of Lizzie’s life.
To be continued in Part 2!
Sources for these stories
Any source not specifically mentioned in the post is listed here:
- “Ancestry of the Winney Siblings” compiled by Michael A. Winney in October 2007, using family records, stories, and genealogical records.