James Winsor has proven to be a most elusive ancestor. As the last of the Winsors born in Rhode Island he is the “missing link” between generations in our family, and as a young father who died before he was 33 years old, James continues to baffle his descendents. Much work remains, but here is what I have been able to learn.
According to Aunt Mercy MacPhee’s genealogy charts, James Winsor was born May 2, 1796. He was the son of James Winsor and Betsy Randall of Johnston, Rhode Island and married Mercy Mathewson, also of Rhode Island and born August 19, 1795.
Records show that James immigrated to Vermont as a young adult, returning to Rhode Island to marry Mercy Mathewson. The couple settled in Windsor County, Vermont and had a son, Henry M. Winsor June 23, 1821 in Clarendon. State records do not record Henry’s birth, but this is not surprising as Vermont did not require that births be recorded until 1857.
James did not survive the harsh New England conditions long. Legal proceedings in the State of Vermont Supreme Court show that his estate was sued by Calvin French in 1852 for a dispute over land purchased by Josiah French from James Winsor in 1825. Josiah French was the step-father of James’s wife. Court documents reveal that James Winsor died August 8, 1827 leaving Henry M. Winsor his only child. At the time, James was a widower and his death left Henry an orphan.
He would never know that Henry would grow to manhood and enlist in the Union Army to serve from 1864-1865, nor that Henry would marry and father seven children. He would never know that Henry left Vermont with hopes for land of his own and settle in Kansas, where he farmed, died and was buried at the age of 60. James would never know that his descendents live in California, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.
I am so glad to find that we have cousins through Henry’s children in Sara Winsor and her daughter Kate. James can be proud of the legacy he left behind, even though he could never have imagined the sprawling family tree he planted.