This is a multi-post series about the Blessing Sisters. Anna Eliza Blessing Winney is my 3rd great grandmother. You can see all of the posts in the series here: Blessing Sister Stories
Elizabeth and Anna’s Children
I wonder how Elizabeth and Anna felt about their father leaving, not knowing if they’d ever see him again. They both had their own growing families to tend to, so perhaps that left them with less time to dwell on the loss.
Anna and William Winney’s first two children were born in Cassville, Wisconsin: William in June 1847, and Annie in August 1848.
Between 1850 and 1854, the growing Basford clan moved eleven miles upstream from Cassville to Glen Haven, Wisconsin. Here, Charles was born on 17 April 1854. Around this time, Elizabeth lost her daughter, Alice. Elizabeth’s obituary notes that Alice died in childhood, and Alice isn’t listed in the 1860 Census.
As Luther’s stature is growing in the community, he is also expanding his real estate holdings. On 10 November 1855, he procures land patents in sections fourteen and fifteen of Grant County.(35, 36)
As the wife of a prosperous farmer and merchant, Elizabeth was able to give her children many advantages. Her daughters Caroline, Martha, and Adelaide (Addie), went to the Platteville Academy High School and are listed in the 1 September 1857 – 31 December 1858 yearbook. Ahead of its time, and before Wisconsin became a state, the Platteille Academy was “established in the town of Platteville, in the county of Grant, a seminary of learning for the instruction of the young, of either sex, in science and literature…”(37) The course of study included “Higher Arithmetic, Map Drawing, Elocution, Ancient, Medieval and modern History; Astronomy; Latin, French, German, Greek Philosophers; Rhetoric; Logic; Bookkeeping; Theology; Music; and so much more!
Elizabeth must have been thrilled that her daughters had opportunities that she couldn’t have even imagined as a girl whose father worked in the lead mines.
Good news, unfortunately, was tempered by loss once again. Caroline, Elizabeth’s oldest child, was not to graduate with her class. She passed away on 24 October 1858(38), at the age of 18, and her name is marked with an asterisk noting that she was deceased.(39)
By 1860, Anna’s and William’s clan has grown by four: Martha in 1851; Luther in August 1853; Arthur in May 1857; and Caroline in October 1858. I wonder if Anna was paying tribute to her niece who had passed, when she named her own daughter Caroline the same month.
Although Elizabeth has lost two daughters in the past decade, in general, life is going well for her, as well as Anna. The 1860 US Census shows both of them living with their families in Glen Haven, Wisconsin, not far from each other.
Luther, Elizabeth’s husband, is a farmer and has a real estate value of $4,500, and a personal estate worth $2,000. William, Anna’s husband, is also a farmer. He has a real estate value of $4,000; and a personal estate worth $2,000.(40) The Blessing sisters must have marveled at their good fortune of escaping the rootlessness and hard times of their childhood.
Elizabeth and Anna each had a child in 1861. Harry, Elizabeth’s last child, was born in January. Anna’s son, Leonard (my 2nd great grandfather), was born in April. Sadly, according to Elizabeth’s obituary, Harry also did not survive childhood.
Then tragedy struck again for Elizabeth and Luther. Addie died in 1865, just six weeks after her marriage.(41) Martha and Charles were now their only living children. Martha had married in 1861 and moved to California. Charles married in 1876 and stayed close to home. The 1880 US Census shows him living next door to his parents in Glen Haven, with his wife and two children.(42)
Anna and James had three more children in the 1860s: Charles in September 1863; Alice in 1866; and Lillian in 1868.
Despite her heartbreaking losses, Elizabeth seemed to fare better long term, as her husband, Luther, outlived her and was quite prosperous. Luther owned land, was involved in manufacturing, and was a prominent member of Grant County, Wisconsin.
She was also noted in her obituary as being a very pleasant person, “In her every day life she was of a happy and cheerful disposition; she readily made friends and permanently retained them. Her sunny presence will be missed from the society of a large circle of friends.”
On the 1870 US Census for Glen Haven, Wisconsin, Luther Basford is listed as the Assistant Marshall. His occupation has changed from farmer to insurance; his real estate value is $6,000, and his personal estate is worth $8,000. Their daughter Martha is shown as living with them with her son Harry, with a note in the census that they are visiting.(43)
At the time, a woman depended on her husband to set the path for their life. And for awhile, Anna settled in nicely as a farmer’s wife. In the 1870 US Census, William’s real estate is valued at $9,000; and his personal estate at $2,000.(44)
Having already borne ten children, Anna had four more during the next decade: Abraham in 1870; Grant in 1873; and Daisy in June 1875. Anna was 50 years old when her youngest child, Maude, was born in April, 1877. Anna also experienced loss in the early 1870s: Daisy was only a few months old when she died, and Lillian was five years old.
I imagine it was difficult for Elizabeth to have lost four of her children, while all but two of her sister Anna’s fourteen children survived to adulthood. I wonder if Elizabeth found comfort with her sister, or if it created a gulf between them.
I don’t have any pictures of Elizabeth Jane Blessing Basford, but I have this one of Anna courtesy of Mike Winney’s family research.
Fully cited sources can be found on the Blessing Sisters Story Cited Sources page. Below are the footnotes for Part 4 of the series. I’ve continued the numbering from Part 3 to make it easier to follow.
35. (Records of the Bureau of Land Management, entry for Luther Basford 1855)
36. (Records of the Bureau of Land Management, entry for Luther Basford 1855)
37. (A History of the Platteville Academy 1994)
38. (Bible of Luther Moulton Basford and Elizabeth Jane Blessing)
39. (Twelfth annual catalogue of the officers and students of Platteville Academy)
40. (1860 US Census, entry for Luther Basford household 1860; 1860 US Census, William Winney household 1860)
41. (“Elizabeth Blessing Basford Obituary,” Michael A. Winney 2007 pg 46)
42. (1880 US Census, entry for Charles Basford household 1880)
43. (1870 US Census, entry for Luther Basford household 1870)
44. (1870 US Census, entry for William Winney household 1870)