Blessing Sisters Story Part 5

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 Community Involvement

I have few insights into Elizabeth’s and Anna’s participation in the local community. I can imagine that Elizabeth had more societal duties due to the prominence of her husband in local and state politics and as a successful businessman.

I also found that the two families were involved in the Temperance Movement. In Butterfield’s history account, he notes that a “lodge of the I.O.G.T.(45) was organized December 26, 1876, the charter members being C.C. Basford, Mrs. Ocea Basford, Mrs. M. Scott, Mrs. Lizzie Basford…W.J. Winney…”(46) Besides these members of the Basford and Winney families, there were eleven other charter members.

As their children grow up and make their own lives, the Basford and Winney families continue to do well in Glen Haven.

The 1880 US Census now shows Luther Basford as a dry goods merchant. That year’s census didn’t have questions about real estate or personal value, as the earlier ones did, but we know from the 1901 biographical sketch that Luther is doing well, and continues to give Elizabeth a fairly care-free life. “Mr. Basford has ever been one of the representative men of Grant county, has been remarkably successful as a business man, and as a citizen has always been held in the highest esteem.”(47)

Anna and her husband, William, are also enjoying good fortune. According to the 1880 US Census, William is a farmer and owns land.(48)  Their youngest child, Maud, is about school age, so perhaps Anna is looking forward to the next phase of her life.

Anna Loses Her Husband and Farm

The following year, in June, 1881, the unthinkable happened. Anna’s husband, William died(49), leaving her with five children at home: Charles, 17; Alice, 15; Abraham, 12; Grant, 9; and Maud, 4.

Grant County probate records obtained from descendants show that William Winney died without a will, and gave us this narrative, “Son-in-law Anton Vogt, husband of daughter Caroline was appointed by the court as administrator of the estate. The files tell a sad story. William had borrowed $4000 in 1875 giving the lender the mortgage to the farm as collateral. He was to pay 10% interest per annum and the principal eight years later–1883.It doesn’t appear his family knew of the loan until a Contingency Claim was filed by the lender, Cyrus Sergent. Anton Vogt had the land and personal property appraised. Ultimately, in 1886 the farm and all equipment and possessions thereon were auctioned to satisfy the debt. As it was, the creditors only received 13% of money due them.”(50)

But even when Anna was left widowed, her children rallied to her. Anna and the youngest children may have stayed on the farm after William’s death, but probably not for long since the debt collectors were looming over them.

Anna’s son in law Anton Vogt (Caroline’s husband), also a farmer, moved his family to Nebraska between the time of William’s death and June, 1885 when the Nebraska Census is taken. Anna and her four youngest children went with them. Anton, Caroline, Anna, Alice (19 years), Abraham (14 years), Grant (10 years), and Maud (8 years), are listed as living on the Vogt’s farm in Stuart, Nebraska.(51)

Between 1885 and 1889, Anna’s son Leonard, with his wife Lizzie and their young daughter, joined them in Nebraska, moving from Iowa. Leonard and Lizzie had left Wisconsin for Iowa in late 1883 when Lizzie was pregnant and they weren’t married. (Their story is told in this series on Elizabeth Wellman Winney)

It seems reasonable to think that Leonard and Lizzie move to Stuart to help take care of Anna, as well as 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.

It’s a shame that Anna had to move away from the only home she’s known for the past fifty years, but she has the comfort of her daughter Caroline and son Leonard, and her grandchildren.

Elizabeth Passes Away

While Anna was in Nebraska, her sister Elizabeth passed away on 2 December 1890 in Lancaster, Grant, Wisconsin, just a few weeks shy of her sixty-eighth birthday. She was buried in Hillside Cemetery in Lancaster.(52)

A copy of her obituary was included in Mike Winney’s family history book(53), and I’ve added it as a separate blog post: Elizabeth Jane Blessing Basford’s Obituary. Interestingly, her sister Anna isn’t mentioned at all in her obituary.


Caroline Winney Vogt and her husband, Anton Vogt with their children.

Photo courtesy of Mike Winney, great grandson of Anna Eliza Blessing Winney.


Fully cited sources can be found on the Blessing Sisters Story Cited Sources page. Below are the footnotes for Part 5 of the series. I’ve continued the numbering from Part 4 to make it easier to follow.

45. (International Organization of Good Templars)
46. (Consul Wilshire Butterfield 1881)
47. (Higginson Book Company 1901, pp 42 – 44)
48. (1880 US Census, entry for William Winney household 1880)
49. (Find A Grave memorial page for William James Winney)
50. (Michael A. Winney 2007, pp 43 – 44)
51. (1885 Nebraska State Census, entry for Anton Vogt Household 1885)
52. (Find A Grave memorial page for Elizabeth Jane Blessing Basford)
53. (Michael A.Winney 2007, pp 46 – 47)




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