Elizabeth Wellman Winney’s Journey from Orphan to Matriarch Part 2

Elizabeth’s Story

Elizabeth Wellman and Leonard James Winney family

Elizabeth & Leonard Winney Family

We left off in Part 1 of Elizabeth Jane Wellman Winney’s story in 1870 with Lizzie being 14 years old and living in Bloomington, WI with her grandmother, Stephania DeViche Heuertz Gaus; her step-grandfather; her aunt, Angeline Heuertz; and half-sister Katie Lorenz (Update 1/16/19: my original post said they were cousins. I later found family information that Katie is her half-sister and not her cousin).

Talk about a blended family! I don’t know how old she was when she first started living with them, but I wonder how Lizzie felt to be in this house with this hodgepodge collection of loosely related people.

But, perhaps Lizzie was very young when her mother Mary died (or otherwise left the picture), and is quite content with her family as it is. Well, that is for future speculation. Let’s continue with Lizzie’s story.

Meeting Her Future Husband

Looking at other pages in the 1870 Census for Bloomington, WI, I found another family living in not too far from the Gaus home – Marshall Scott, his wife Ann Eliza, and their 4 children.

No street number is given, but the Scott’s dwelling # is 200 and the Gaus dwelling # (where Lizzie lives) is 207 so they were in close proximity.

Why is it interesting that the Scott family is living so close to Lizzie’s family? Because Lizzie’s eventual husband is Leonard James Winney, Ann Eliza Scott’s brother. In 1880, Leonard was 19 years old and living in Glen Haven, WI, which was only 12 miles from Bloomington.

He lived close enough to visit his sister and her family, and his nieces and nephews were near Lizzie and Katie’s ages: Leonard was 11; Mabel was 9; Fred was 3; and Guy was 1.

Bloomington was a small farm community so it would make sense that the few children would know each other. Sisters Lizzie and Katie may have met the Scott children at school or just played together since they lived so close to each other.

Glen Haven had grown into an important shipping point for stock and produce. Perhaps Leonard, who’s working on a farm, wanted to escape the growing city, and met Lizzie in Bloomington when he visited his sister and her family.

Leaving Family Behind, But Why?

However they met, we know that Lizzie and Leonard grew close, because in late 1883 or early 1884, they moved to Calhoun County Iowa.

It would’ve been an easy enough move to make. Guttenberg, IA was just across the river from Glen Haven, and a steam ferry began operating between them in 1856, But from there, Calhoun County is about 220 miles. Why move in the first place?

Lizzie was born in Guttenberg, IA and may have still had relatives there. So why go all the way to Calhoun County instead of the closer city?

I moved my search to other online places and found a birth record on FamilySearch.org for a baby boy born on May 17, 1884 in Calhoun, IA. The father is Leonard Winney, age 23, and the mother is Lizzie Wallman, age 20. We know that Lizzie’s real age was 16 or 17 years old, but she may not have wanted people to know how young she was to be having a baby out of wedlock.

Finding this record was a happy and unexpected surprise because this is completely new information in my research! Now it makes sense that they moved away from their families. And, it gives me a better idea of when they left Wisconsin. It would’ve been hard to travel across the Mississippi River and through Iowa in the winter, so they could have left as early as Fall 1883 after she found out she was pregnant.

Or maybe in Spring 1884, closer to the birth. Although if she didn’t want people to know about it, leaving in 1883 makes more sense.

But again – why Iowa? Other than being born there, I haven’t found evidence of other family members there who could help her and Leonard.

On Their Own, But Not Alone

The 1885 Iowa Census gave me a clue that they might not have traveled alone, which made me so happy when I found it!

Leonard’s brother Arthur Clinton Winney also lived in Glen Haven, WI until 1884 or 1885. The 1885 Iowa Census, dated April 2, 1885, shows Arthur and Leonard as farmers living next to each other with their families in Jackson, Calhoun County.

So they may have chosen Calhoun County simply because it offered better farming opportunities.

Arthur and his wife, Dora, have a son whose 4 or 5 years old when they move so Lizzie has another woman and mother for support. She’s just a month shy of 17 years old, without her own mother, so I’m sure it was a difficult time for her.

I don’t know why Arthur and his family decided to move to Iowa with Lizzie and Leonard. Maybe he wanted to get out of Glen Haven and go where there was more land to farm. Or maybe he wanted to help his brother and Lizzie start their new life with their baby.

Baby Freddie Winney

The birth record I found didn’t have a name for the baby, but the 1885 Iowa Census did. A baby boy, Freddie Winney, is also part of Lizzie and Leonard’s household in the Census. His age is listed as 0, so he’s less than a year old. This would seem to confirm the birth record I found for a baby boy born on May 17, 1884.

When I first found the birth record for Freddie in Iowa, far from Lizzie and Leonard’s families, I was sad that they had to go through being young, in a new place, and pregnant by themselves.

I was very glad to see that they had Arthur and his family nearby, and that they had settled into farm life in Iowa.

Part 3 of Lizzie’s story will look at her and Leonard’s move from Iowa to Nebraska, and eventually settling down for good in California with their family.

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.
  • Mississippi Valley Traveler Website

2 thoughts on “Elizabeth Wellman Winney’s Journey from Orphan to Matriarch Part 2

  1. Pingback: Elizabeth Wellman Winney’s Journey from Orphan to Matriarch Part 1 – The Women Who Gave Us a Legacy of Strength

  2. Pingback: Elizabeth Wellman Winney’s Journey from Orphan to Matriarch Part 3 – The Women Who Gave Us a Legacy of Strength

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