MICHIGAN TRAILS
GENEALOGY and HISTORY
 

Edwin B. Winans
Governor (1891 - 1893)



Hon. Edwin B. Winans, who began his duties as Governor of Michigan, January 1, 1891, is a son of the Empire State, of which his parents also were natives. From German ancestry on the father's side, he derives the instincts of frugality and careful consideration of ways and means, and these are strengthened by the substantial traits of the Puritan forefathers of his mother. Both lines have transmitted to him the love of country and home that has led thousands into untrodden wilds where they might secure that which would be for the future good of themselves and posterity.

John and Eliza (Way) Winans removed from New York to this State in 1834, and settled on a farm in Livingston County, where the boyhood of Gov. Winans was passed. He was about eight years old at the time of the removal, having been born at Avon, Livingston County, N.Y., May 16, 1826. Up to the age of eighteen years he attended the district school, and he then entered Albion College, from which he was graduated in 1850. The excitement attendant upon the discovery of gold in California had not died out, and young Winans felt a strong desire to visit the coast and try his fortune in the mines. He decided in favor of the overland route, crossed the plains in safety, and spent the ensuing eight years in seeking the precious metal -- a quest that was fairly successful.

Returning to Livingston county, this State, Mr. Winans bought land and engaged in general farming. He has retained the farm as his home through all the changes various official positions have brought him, and joyfully returned to it whenever his faithful discharge of public duty would allow. His estate now included four hundred acres of land under a high state of cultivation and improved with building of the best construction and modern design. In connection with general farming Gov. Winans has given considerable attention to raising stock of high grades, and his understanding of agriculture in its various departments is broad and deep. He believes that his success in political life is largely due to his thorough identification with the agricultural interests of the State and no doubt he is right.

The public career of Gov. Winans began in 1860, when he was elected to represent his county in the State Legislature. He served two consecutive terms, covering the period from 1860 to 1865. In 1867 he was a member of the Constitutional Convention of the State, and in 1876 he was elected Probate Judge of Livingston county for a term of four years. The next important position occupied by Gov. Winans was that of congressman during the Forty-eight and Forty-ninth Congresses, representing the Sixth District. It was always his lot to be nominated for office when the Democratic party was decidedly in the majority, but such were his personal characteristics and his reputation as one interested in the welfare of that great class, the farmers, that in every case he made a successful race. When he was put up for congress the opposition had a majority in the district of three thousand votes, but he was elected by a plurality of thirty. While in Congress he took an active part in all measures tending to the public good and served on the committees on Agriculture and Pensions. In the fall of 1891 his name headed the Democratic ticket and he was elected Governor of the State.

In his private life Gov. Winans has been as exemplary as in his public career he has been useful and influential. He is a consistent member of the Episcopal Church and in his religious faith and practice has the close sympathy of his wife, who belongs to the same society. His marriage was solemnized in Hamburg, Livingston County, in 1833, his bride being miss Elizabeth Galloway, who was born and reared on teh farm she still calls home, as it was bought of her father by Gov. Winans. She is a daughter of George and Susan (Haight) Galloway, who are numbered among the early settlers of Livingston county, whither they came from New York. She is an educated, refined woman, whose numbered among the early settlers of Livingston county, whither they came from New York. She is an educated, refined woman, whose mental attainments and social qualities fit her for the position which she occupies as hostess of the Gubernatorial mansion. Governor and Mrs. Winans have two sons, George G., who is now acting as his father's private secretary, and Edwin B., Jr., a graduate of West Point.

Gov. Winans has in former years shown himself capable of close application to the duties which lay before him, and his judicious decisions and wise course when attempting too bright about a worthy object, area well known to those who are acquainted with the history of the State. Although it is often said that it is scarcely safe to judfe of a man until his career is closed, yet Gov. Winans has acted his part so well thus far in life that his is confidently expected to add to the credit that already belongs to the great commonwealth of Michigan, and which to a certain extent lies in the hands of those who have been and are its chief executives. Among his personal characteristics are those of a love of truth, justice and progress, and a cordial, kindly spirit which makes warm friends and stanch adherients.

1892 Portraits and Biographical Genesee, Lapeer & Tuscola Counties Pg 181

OBITUARY

Hamburg, July 5. -- Ex-Governor Edwin B. Winans died at 4:30 yesterday afternoon of heart failure at his residence near this village. The funeral will be held tomorrow at 2 p.m. with a private burial. Ex Governor Winans had been ill for about two weeks, but was about to be up about the house until the last few days. On Saturday he was out in the garden directing the boys who were applying paris green to the potatoes, and it is thought he probably overdid himself, as  Dr. Smith says he should have been in bed.

He sat up in bed Tuesday and read the newspapers. His voice was strong and he talked with friend at his bedside until within a few minutes before he died.

He leaves a wife and two sons, Major George Winans of this place and Lieutenant Edwin B. Winans, Jr,. of Fort Supply I.T.

The deepest gloom is spread over the entire community, as the governor always had a pleasant word and a smile for everyone he met.

Edwin B. Winans was born at Avon, N.Y., May 16, 1826, and when 8 years of age was brought to Michigan by his parents, locating at Hamburg. There his father died while he was still young and the young Winans was early forced to work, learning the trade of clothmaker in the Hamburg woolen mills. He saved enough money to enter Albion college when he was 20 years old, intending to follow up with a law course at the University of Michigan. The outbreak of the gold fever in California in 1849 led him to go with a party of young fortune hunters to the Pacific coast, the young men making the journey across the continent on foot.

He tired of mining, started a bank, prospered, grew homesick, came back to Michigan and then returned to California, where he remained until 1858, when he sold all his California interests and came east. He settled on a 400 acre farm at Hamburg where he still resides. In '61 he was elected to the legislature , serving two terms. In 1867 he was a member of the constitutional convention, in 1877-81 judge of probate, and from 1883 to 1886 he was a member of congress. In 1890 he was elected governor by a plurality of 11,000 over James M. Turner, being the first governor elected on a straight Democratic ticket since the war.

Governor Winans was a clear-headed, modest man, who possessed to an unusual degree the confidence of the agricultural and business interests of the state. In politics he was an uncompromising Democrat, and in his public declarations he has always been an advocate of tariff reform and the free coinage of silver. In the recent division among Michigan Democrats he cast his lot with the antireferce side of the controversy.

Governor Winans was married in 1853 to Elizabeth Galloway, whose parents were Livingston county pioneers. Mrs. Wians is still alive.

Published in The Democratic Expounder (Marshall, Michigan) 6 Jul 1894

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