Elizabeth Wellman Winney’s Journey from Orphan to Matriarch Part 3


1919 Winney

The Winney family at the Winney Ranch in Anaheim, CA, 1919. Back row L – R: Lou, Elizabeth, Leonard, Abe Front Row L – R: Annie, Mae, Alice, Marie, and Rena.

Elizabeth’s Story

Part 1 of Elizabeth Jane Wellman Winney’s story took Lizzie from the 1860 Census living with her mom, Mary, and sister, Josephine, to 1870 where she’s a 14 year old orphan living with her grandmother, Stephania DeViche Heuertz Gaus, and her family in Bloomington, WI.

In Part 2 of Lizzie’s journey we saw her and Leonard James Winney move from Wisconsin to Iowa around 1883 to have a baby and eventually get married.

Now we move into the next chapter of life for Lizzie, Leonard, and their growing family.

Westward Ho!

Lizzie and Leonard’s daughter Rena was born in Calhoun Co, IA on June 1, 1885. Their next move was to Stuart, NE sometime after Rena was born and before their son William was born in Oct 1889 in Stuart.

Leonard’s sister Caroline and her husband, Anton Vogt, moved their family to Stuart, NE in late 1884 or early 1885. Caroline and Leonard’s widowed mother, Anna Eliza Winney, lost the family farm in Glen Haven, WI in 1884 to foreclosure and came out to NE to live with the Vogt’s, along with the six youngest Winney children who were still at home.

So Leonard and Lizzie’s move to Stuart was most likely to help take care of Anna and Leonard’s youngest siblings. I don’t know what it was like for them to be back around family after having left Wisconsin so young and under less than ideal circumstances, but I like the thought of them being around family again.

In addition to William “Abe”, born in Oct 1889, Lizzie and Leonard had daughter Fannie “May” in March 1891 and son Arthur “Lou” (my 2nd Great Grandfather) in Oct 1892. The names in quotations are their middle names and the ones they were known by.

Nebraska’s Drought and Depression

In the early 1890’s Nebraska was experiencing ongoing drought and depression which led to farm prices declining. It’s no wonder that Lizzie and Leonard left Nebraska some time in 1893 and headed to their final destination – California!

Orphan to Matriarch

More additions to Lizzie and Leonard’s family came after the move. Annie Dora was born in November 1894, Marie in June 1897, and Alice in July 1900 – Annie and Marie in Redlands, CA and Alice in Anaheim, CA.

They continued to farm in California, and eventually owned a ranch in Anaheim, where their children and grandchildren visited often.

Although Elizabeth (my mom’s maternal grandmother) died before my mom was born, my mom remembers her great aunts and uncles (Elizabeth’s kids) as being close.

And Mike Winney (my mom’s maternal uncle) also notes how close they were in his “Ancestry of the Winney Siblings” compilation. One letter that he shared in the book stands out to me. It’s written on Nov 8, 1918 from Leonard’s sister, Annie Winney Scott, who is visiting from Glen Haven, WI, where most of the Winney family still lives.

In the third and fourth paragraphs, Annie says:

Now I am going to tell you some sad news. Aunt Lizzy is very sick. They don’t let anyone to see her but Rena and Alice. Marie lives at Los Angeles but came up here so she could stay with her pa and hear from her mother everyday. Len’s house is a mile from Rena. He sit up in the fore and Alice and Rena the latter of the night. I stay with Marie at Lens.

[L]ast night she had a fairly good night. Len said he did not have to fan her but once and she ate some boil milk….it will be the last of Uncle Len if he loses her.

(Rena, Alice and Marie are Lizzie’s daughters. Len is what the family calls Leonard.)

Both of Lizzie’s sons were stationed overseas in World War I and I have letters they wrote between each other that show the obvious affections between mother and sons.

December 5, 1919

Elizabeth Wellman Winney passed away on December 5, 1919 of a cerebral embolism, with the contributing factor being stomach cancer, according to her death certificate. She was only 52 years old.

Lizzie’s life may have started marred by family loss, but it ended surrounded by the love of the close-knit family she and Leonard raised.

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.

One thought on “Elizabeth Wellman Winney’s Journey from Orphan to Matriarch Part 3

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

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