28 March 2018 23:43 น. news

William Johnson Winniford left Dallas County on March 12, 1850. He was on his way to high adventure and fortune in the gold fields of California. He was twenty years old, unmarried and unattached. He traveled with his two brothers, Norvell and David, and several other friends from Lancaster in Dallas County and from the Bear Creek area in northern Ellis County. The trip is recounted in detail in a series of interviews published by the Lancaster Herald in 1909, and it is good reading for anyone interested in the history of the time.

William J Winniford, Abt. 1958

William J Winniford, Abt. 1958

William was the son of Norvell Winniford and Susan Johnson. He was born in Casey County, Kentucky, on May 26, 1828. The family, consisting of the parents and twelve children, moved to Illinois about 1837, where both parents as well as the oldest brother died. So they came to Texas as many people were doing at the time. Several of the sisters and one brother settled in Hopkins County, while the others came to the Lancaster area. Brother Norvell was the apparent leader of this faction along with a
brother-in-law, John Mullican, husband of the oldest sister, Nancy Jane. William, as well as several of the other younger siblings, made his home with this good family after the death of his parents. They arrived in 1845, and became citizens of the Republic of Texas.
William Johnson and his brother, Norvell, returned from the gold rush after about two years. Brother David had died near San Diego, and Norvell’s wife had passed away at child birth. They returned by way of Panama, from there to New Orleans, and then to Texas by horseback. They considered this a very elegant way to come home. William claimed land on Bear Creek, where he lived and farmed the rest of his life. The W. J. Winniford Survey straddles the Dallas-Ellis County line, but the home place was on Bear Creek in northern Ellis County. Seymour V. Connor’s well known book, The Peters Colony of Texas, also notes “William Winniford was issued a certificate for 320 acres by the county court of Dallas County in 1853, which he patented in Dallas County (Robertson Third Class No. 1776).”
Sarah Jane Vaughan was his first wife and the mother of his two oldest children, Martha Angelina and George Washington. They were married on December 20, 1855 and she died on August 8, 1860, leaving the two small children.
Before his second marriage, he was conscripted into the Confederate Army, but he refused to fight and hid out in Ten Mile Creek bottoms. Martha Angelina told of taking his meals to him in a basket. Her Aunt, Lurena Vaughan, was caring for the two small children, and it was necessary for the aunt to take the children with her when she carried his meals to him in order to prevent his capture as a deserter.

The home was a log cabin, and they would experience Indian raids during William’s absence. The Indians would circle their cabin and yell fiercely, in an attempt to steal their cattle. Their “Aunt Lou” would run around the cabin, firing a gun through a hole in each of the four walls, to deceive the Indians into thinking that several people were defending the home. Meanwhile the children would hide under the bed until the Indians left.

William married his second wife, Sarah Allen Lewis, on February 24, 1865 before Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865. She was born in Indiana in 1841. She was a relative of Meriwether Lewis. This marriage produced ten children, a total of twelve for William. The children of William and Sarah Allen Lewis were: Andrew David, William Winfield, John Lewis, Louisa Jane, Lenora Ellen, Susan Rebecca, James Monroe, Charles Edison, Mamie Belle, and Jessie Grant.

Charles was the eighth child, born in 1881 at the home on Bear Creek. He married Laura Elizabeth Lowrey, also of Lancaster, in Dallas at the Central Christian Church on February 29, 1912.
William was a fifth generation American and a true pioneer in this part of Texas. He made a living on the farm, raised a large family, and lived a good and useful life. In the later years he was widely known in the area as “Uncle Billy”. Unfortunately, he became blind in one eye. He loved music and played the fiddle and piano. Shortly before his death at age 88 he played the fiddle for a dance. He also liked to quote from the writings of Robert Burns. He and Sarah belonged to the First Christian Church in Lancaster. His funeral was preached there after his death on December 31, 1915. She died in 1922. Both are buried in Edgewood Cemetery in Lancaster.

William once made the statement that he wanted to live long enough to be able to say “Arise daughter, go see your daughter, for your daughter’s daughter has a daughter”. This wish was fulfilled when Mrs. fia Jones Bateman- was born, for her mother was Josie Horton Jones, the eldest child of Alice Watts Horton, who was the eldest child of Martha Angelina Winniford Watts, the eldest child of William Johnson Winniford. The third child of Alice Horton, Odah Blanche married (1) David Ross Estes, and (2) Hugh Herbert Strickland.

Byu John Carrick Winniford, Grandson and Marie Estes McMahan, Great Granddaughter for Dallas County Pioneer Association‘s Proud Heritage, Volume I.