Huron County Michigan

Richard Winsor, Senior member of the banking, law and insurance firm of Winsor & Snover, at Port Austin, was born April 25, 1839, in Middlesex Co., Ont. He is of English extraction in the line of paternal descent, and on the maternal side is of mixed Irish lineage.

Richard Winsor, his father, was born in London, Eng. He was a builder by profession, and after coming to Ontario he operated extensively as a contractor. Among the buildings he erected is the City Hall, of London, Ont., the public market buildings, the gas works, and other structures of prominence and stability. He married Elizabeth Longworth, a native of County Westmeath, Ireland, and they became the parents of nine children, seven of whom survive. Mr. Winsor, of this sketch, is the eldest; Elizabeth is the wife of Hon. R. W. Irwin, of White Rock, Huron County; Esther is married to William McKenzie, an engineer and machinist at Port Austin; Jane resides at that place also; Thomas is the managing member of the business firm of T. Winsor & Co., of Port Austin; Philip and Henry are employees in the mercantile establishment of the firm last named.

Their father came from the Dominion of Canada to Michigan in the winter of 1856-7, and, locating temporarily at Detroit, looked around for a permanent home on what he believed to be the best portion of Michigan, prospectively, the Huron peninsula, and located 160 acres of land at Light-house Bay. He erected a hewn-log house on a clearing he had made, and was proceeding with all possible vigor and anxiety to develop his home. He operated meanwhile in Detroit during the building seasons. He removed his family to the farm at Lighthouse Bay, and on the 13th of April, 1860, accompanied by his son John, was going from Huron City to his place with a small sail flat-boat, loaded with bundles of fruit trees for his contemplated orchard, and farming implements, when lather and son were drifted into the lake and drowned, and the household left without reliance save the eldest son, then a few days short of his majority.

Mr. Winsor s grandfather, Richard Winsor, was a native of Devonshire, Eng. He was an architect, and had charge of the building operations of the Duke of Kent, father of Queen Victoria, and constructed buildings under his orders at various points and in several countries. He was married in England, and had three children, viz.: Elizabeth married William Hall, a man who pursued the occupation of teaching, accumulated a competency, and in later life operated as a financier; Ann married William Weston, a tanner located at Hall's Mills, near London, Ont., and afterwards at Simcoe, where both died; Mr. Winsor's father was the youngest child.- He removed when quite a young man to London, Ont., where he lived until 1856. Except for a period when a young man, he lived in the United States, and a portion of that time in what is now the city of Detroit.

Capt. John Long worth, his maternal grandsire, was born April 7, 1790, in County Westmeath, Ireland, and in early manhood entered the British service and participated in the Peninsular War, under the Duke of Wellington. The Government of Great Britain bestowed upon him testimonials of appreciation of his gallant conduct in action, in the form of medals, bearing designs to commemorate the battles in which he had distinguished himself. One of these bears in its clasps the inscribed names of Albuhera, Busaco and Talavera; the other, that of Waterloo. These medals, with other relics, arc in the possession of Mr. Winsor. After the surrender of Napoleon, Captain Longworth returned to Ireland and operated as a civil engineer in the service of the Government until the spring of 1830, when he resigned his position and emigrated to Canada. He arrived at Quebec in May and entered the service of the Canada company as a civil engineer, establishing himself at Goderich, Ont. There he built the harbor, the first construction of that character on Lake Huron. He afterwards constructed many other public works in the interest of the company, and resided at Goderich nearly 53 years. On the 20th of October, 1882, he was removed to the home of his grandson, Mr. Winsor, at Port Austin, on account of his declining health. He died Jan. 17, 1883, nearly 94 years of age.

The facts above stated are taken from the Annual Register of the Dominion of Canada for 1883, which makes permanent record of his long and useful career.

Captain Longwortn first married Elizabeth Bruce, whose lineage in the paternal line is recorded from the days of the royal Robert, of Scotland, a period of more than 500 years. They had six children. Elizabeth was the eldest and married Richard Winsor. It is presumed that Thomas, the second son, is deceased, as he was a sailor and went to Australia, since which time no definite intelligence has been obtained of him. William remained in Ireland to complete his education, came afterward to America and went to New Orleans, where he became a lawyer in the State Courts of Louisiana. He went thence to Texas, where he resided about 30 years, and was Judge of one of the Circuit Courts during the period of reconstruction, and became peculiar I and erratic from these troubles. He resides near Denver, Col., and is an accountant in a mining company. He was an officer of American Customs at London, Ont., three years. Jane is a member of the family of Mr. Winsor. Esther married Daniel H. Lazars, a member of an old Scotch family of position, the first Judge of the County of Perth, Ont., and resident at Stratford. He is still the incumbent of the position. John is deceased. The mother died soon after reaching this country.

Captain Longworth married Ellen Maxwell. They had two children : Susan, wife of Hon. John Robson, now Secretary of the Treasury of British Columbia, who was for a number of years a leader of the Reform party there. Frances married Capt. Thomas Niell, and resides near her daughter, Mrs. James Jenks, at Sand Beach. Captain Niell was a sailor, and, in company with Hon. Malcolm Cameron, of Ontario, owned a line of transportation vessels on the lakes. He came to Port Huron, and was interested in the same business on Lake Huron. He was thrown from a horse at Port Austin in 1881, where he was engaged in mercantile business, receiving injuries to the spine which resulted in his death a few days later.

Mr. Winsor was a resident of Ontario until he was 17 years of age. He was a pupil five years in the first graded school instituted at London, under the present free-school system of Canada, established by the appropriation of Glebe, or Clergy Reserve Land, funds. This school had six departments, and afforded the best facilities for securing liberal elementary education, including modern languages and classics. Mr. Winsor came with his father to Sanilac County, and at the time of the death of the latter was the sole stay of his widowed mother and seven younger children.

In 1859 the house at Lighthouse Bay was destroyed by fire, with all its valuable contents, including furniture, a fine library and all the belongings of a family of culture and refinement. He was at work at Huron City, and at the same time picking up, as he could, some knowledge of law. He set out from the ruined home with his three small brothers, Thomas, Philip and Henry, at times one on his back and the other two under his arms, and made his way to Huron City. He bought a piece of land, and at intervals cleared and improved the place, kept the family together, attended to the education of his-brothers and sisters, and exercised the care they needed until they were old enough to care for themselves. His brother William (third son) was drowned at Fort Gratiot He was in poor health, and was taking a trip on a vessel laden with stone, which fouled on the dock of the Grand Trunk Railroad Company, and sunk. William Winsor and a comrade with him were drowned.

He prosecuted his law studies under John Divine, of Lexington, and was admitted to practice in the State Courts of Michigan at that place, passing his examination in open court in 1867, Judge Dewey presiding. Previous to that he had maintained an office several years at Huron City, and had practiced in the Circuit Courts.

Mr. Winsor has been prominent in the affairs of the Huron peninsula from the beginning of his career. His abilities, energies and persistent struggle in the accomplishment of the purposes which he formed in early life, established him firmly in the confidence of the settlers of Huron County; and in the fall of 1862, when he was but 23 years of age, he was elected to the Legislature of Michigan on the Republican ticket. He was re-elected in 1864, and served a second term. lie was nominated again in the fall of 1866, but declined the position, from the urgency of his business relations. In the spring of 1867 he was elected and served as a member of the Constitutional Convention at Lansing. In the fall of 1868 he was elected to the State Senate, the District then including Sanilac, Tuscola, Lapeer and Huron Counties. He served during the sessions of 1869-70 and 1870-1. In the fall of 1880 he was again elected to the Senate of Michigan, and served in the regular and extra sessions of 1881-2. He was one of the prime movers in securing the extra session for the purpose of devising ways and means for the relief of the fire sufferers in his district, and introduced the Fire Relief Bill, which provided for the necessities caused by the devastation. In the session of 1882, he introduced the bill for the organization of the 26th Judicial Circuit, placing the counties of Huron, Sanilac and Tuscola in one Judicial District.

Mr. Winsor has been active in the prosecution of all enterprises which tended to the development of Huron County and to place it on a par with other sections of the State in point of progress and the facilities of civilization. He was one of the chief instruments in obtaining an extension of the Port Huron & Northwestern Railroad to Port Austin, and he, with Caleb H. Gallup, moved primarily in the matter of securing the telegraph from Port Huron to this point. After consultation, the two put forth every exertion to secure the purpose desired, and spent weeks in canvassing to obtain sufficient funds to induce the Western Union Company to put the wires through, which was done.

Mr. Winsor removed to Port Austin Dec. 24, 1867, having a large family on his hands and a small capital in hard cash. The investment of his resources in that line caused him little anxiety, as the entire amount was but 25 cents. The county seat was then established at Port Austin, and he engaged immediately in the practice of law. In the spring of 1871 he associated Robert W. Irwin with himself as a partner. This relation existed until July, 1876, when his present Associate, Horace G. Snover (see sketch), purchased the interest of Judge Irwin. The firm are engaged in the transaction of the most extensive law business in Northern Michigan.

Their operations in insurance are also large, and they represent the most reliable and solid companies of England and America, including the London & Liverpool & Globe, the old "Home" of New York and the "Union" of California. Their banking house transacts the varieties of business common to such institutions, in which they have widely extended relations. The building in which they now operate was erected in 1884, at a cost of over 84.000 and is one of the most complete business structures in the State. It is built of brick, is 27 x 55 feet in dimensions, with two stories and a basement. It stands on solid rock, is heated by steam, and has all the most approved modern appliances. The vault is lined with steel (railroad rails) four inches in thickness, manufactured by the Detroit Safe Company. The access thereto is by means of a steel outside door, with burglar-proof door inside, made of two-inch steel. The door joints are connected by steel bolts to the railroad iron, with all fastenings inside. Within is a burglar-proof chest constructed of steel three and a half inches thick, with another inside. It is of the most substantial character known to safe-builders. The steam-works were put in by the Detroit Metal & Plumbing Company.

The firm of Winsor & Snover own several thousand acres of land in Huron County. They own 160 acres in Meade Township, where the water-lime current has been discovered, said to be the most superior quality of water-lime rock on the continent. A Milwaukee firm have sunk the shafts, and preparations are being made to develop the quarry.

Mr. Winsor is the individual proprietor of about 2,000 acres of land. He owns one 700-acre farm on sections 10, 11 and 14, in Dwight Township, with 300 acres under first-class cultivation, and raises grain and stock. He has 200 head of Cotswold sheep and 100 head of cattle.

His marriage to Martha Turner occurred at Lansing, in June, 1863, and Mr. and Mrs. Winsor are the parents of four sons and a daughter, born as follows: Richard, April 26, 1864; Amos F., Feb. 20, 1866; Irwin, Oct 16, 1867; Bessie, March 26, 1871; Horace G., Nov. 20, 1879. The three first were born at Huron City; the others were born at Port Austin. Mrs. Winsor was born Feb. 23, 1845, in Ingham Co., Mich., and is the daughter of John and Rebecca (Haynor) Turner. Her mother was a member of the Haynor family, of Troy, N. Y., where she was born. Her family were German and of excellent position and culture, and she spoke the language of her paternal ancestors with the same facility as English.