Sunday, December 13, 2009
A LIFETIME IN A LETTER
Doing genealogical research turns up many interesting things; it sometimes turns up very sad things too. Below is the story of “Great-Auntie Winton,” a relative on my Dad’s side.
In October of 1857 Elizabeth Dobbins Kinsey married John A. Winton, a businessman and postmaster in Prairie City, Kansas. After this marriage, she does not appear on any further Kansas records, but almost her entire history can be found in John Winton’s Civil War Veteran Widow’s pension files in the National Archives. In these pension files there is a copy of a letter she wrote in 1898 from her home in Las Animas, Colorado to Washington DC. after she heard the news of her husband’s death in an old Soldier’s home in Leavenworth, Kansas. She appeals for assistance. Here is her letter, in part:
….Now I will tell you something of the former part of our lives. John R. Winton and I were married at a hotel in Lawrence, Kansas on the 26th day of October in 1857 by a Camalite [sic] minister, and we lived at what was then Prairie City, now called Media, Douglas County, Kansas until about 1863 in the spring. We then went to Dayton, KY where we lived until the fall of 1881, when John R. Winton came home in July that year with a very loathsome case of gonorrhea. In all those years we had had four children, two girls in Kansas and two boys in Kentucky. Now in 1881 we just had one daughter living about 14 years old. She was already very sickly so I was compelled to leave him. I stayed in Dayton till in December 1881 then came here to Las Animas [Colorado] to my brother [James Sellers Dobbins] and have been right here ever since. John wandered about from one [Veterans] Home to another, up in Wisconsin, at Leavenworth, and Dayton, Ohio, and finally wanted to come back to me. He said he was well and wanted to come back. I had not applied for a divorce but heard that he had, but he denied ever getting a divorce, but I said I would not live with him unless he married me again. So you see he came here to my home that I had earned all myself and had three hundred and ninety eight dollars laid by beside taking care of my daughter and making the living for her. She died in 1885, and now my money is all gone and I have broke myself down waiting on him for he has been sick nearly ever since he had come here. I have been an invalid ever since last May, am scarcely able to cook a bite for myself. Can you do anything ….?
Mrs. E. C. Winton.
The records show indeed she did remarry him when he came to Las Animas, Colorado. She was, of course, eligible for her Widow’s Pension.
She died on January 27, 1922 in Las Animas. Her obituary says she “was one of the pioneer residents of 1882….accompanied by her daughter, Alvira, who later passed away. She opened a boarding house shortly after coming to the city and conducted it for some time, after which she followed dressmaking as long as she was able to do this work. She was a faithful member of the First Presbyterian Church….”