Benjamin Winans --
Revolutionary War Veteran?

I once found the following brief mention of a Winans who served during the Revolutionary War in a list of veterans at a Miami county, OH, web site which no longer exists. At the time, when I included it in our Carey family album, I didn't know how he was related to the rest of us...

Benjamin Winans

Benjamin served as a Captain in the 1st Regiment, Essex County New Jersey.

Benjamin was born 1740 in Essex County New Jersey, and lived to be 102 years old. He was listed as 100 years old on a census of Miami County Pensioners for Revolutionary and Military Services, as a part of the Federal 1840 Census. On that census he was living in Springcreek Township with his son, John B. Winans on June 1, 1840.

Several years later, one of Benjamin's descendants came across the item and provided so much additional information about the old veteran, and about his seven grandsons who served in the Union army during the Civil War, that I was able to compile this page and an additional page which is dedicated to the seven heroic Winans brothers.

The information on this page is provided by my cousins, Glen Richard Winans, and Jay D. Winans, both of whom are descended from its subject. A lot of what you see here is still speculative. Your comments are welcome.

Benjamin Winans is a great-grandson of our common Winans ancestor, via the following line:

He was listed in the 1840 census as a 100-year-old Revolutionary War pensioner. (See photocopy of census record on the right.) We will explore in this page whether he did indeed serve in the American Revolution or reach the age of 100, hence the question marks in its title.

Birth date. On page 12 of her book, Alice Winans Egy Woolley gives Benjamin Winans' birth date as 29 Feb 1746, although she is aware of the 1840 census information. Mrs. Egy cites "remarks by John Baldwin of Cleveland, Ohio, and other ref by IW" [Major Ira Winans] as sources for her information on Benjamin. The date in 1746 is questionable because 1746 wasn't a leap year! We have no other evidence beyond what you see here for either 1740 or 1746. It's likely Benjamin was born in Essex county, New Jersey, where his parents were born.

Marriage(s). Mrs. Egy and Orin C. Winans both give Benjamin's wife's name as Mary Sutton. Mrs. Egy says Mary died 6 Sep 1786. We have no information on whether Benjamin remarried or what any second wife's name might have been. Our best guess as to Benjamin's son John's birth year, based on several census entries, is 1800. If Mary (Sutton) Winans died in 1786, John's mother must have been a second wife of Benjamin. Since a woman 70 to 79 years old is listed with Benjamin in the 1830 census, this second Mrs. Winans could have been born as late as 1760, which wouldn't be inconsistent with having a child in 1800.

The Miami county, OH, marriage index lists two marriages for Benjamin Winans which I was curious about:

Jay writes:

I believe that our Benjamin married a woman by the name of Elizabeth Ross in Miami County in about 1807... I believe that she would have been his *third* wife, if indeed Mary Sutton died when Mrs. Egy Woolly says she did and assuming that John B. was born about 1800, his mother being Benjamin's second wife whose identity is completely unknown. But I'm just speculating.

Glen writes:

Old Benj's will, dated 30 day of January 1834 shows, "bequeath my beloved wife Elizabeth Winans Two hundred dollars and the best bed and bedding that is now belonging to the house."

The other Benjamin Winans marriage record to Eliza Todd shown as blank on the web is actually recorded Dec 22, 1836. I think this is the son of Lewis and Lydia Winans who moved to either Iowa or Minn.

The name in the 1834 will agrees with that in the 1807 marriage record. Since there was a woman in the 70-79 age group listed with Benjamin in the 1830 census, but none in the 80-89 group in 1840, it appears Elizabeth, or Betsy, didn't outlive Benjamin.

Children. Mrs. Egy lists, in the order given, the following children for Benjamin Winans:

Orin Winans was only aware of two children - Benjamin B. and John - and gives a 1780 birth date for Benjamin B., based on information received from his descendants. Based on available census information, I agree with the 1780 date. Glen Winans, who is descended from old Benjamin's son John, provides a middle initial of B. for John and lists the following additional children who were named in Benjamin's will:

Revolutionary service. In addition to the mention of Benjamin Winans in the 1840 census record, Glen Winans provides the following citation in support of Benjamin's status as a veteran of the American Revolution, followed by some additional information:

Page 389 in the DAR official ROSTER III, Soldiers of the American Revolution Who Lived in the State of Ohio, 1959, states:

Bur in Mercer Co, O, ae 100 yrs. 48'th N S D A R Report

There has been some confusion about who Benjamin Winans was. Page 665 of Orin Clifford Winans book claims Jacob 2 line, 22-14. Benjamin Winans (son of Aaron) devised a heifer in the will of his grandfather, Benjamin Winans. He was designated by Major Ira Winans as Captain Benjamin Winans, and as the third child of Aaron.

I recently photographed Aarons tombstone stating he was a PVT in N J 2nd Regt. dates 1753-1810. Thus Aaron was too young to have a son in the rev war. I wonder why Orin or Major Ira would have not observed this.

I also photographed Benjamin Winans tombstone stating New Jersey Captain 1 Regt Essex Co Milita Rev War dates 1738-1819. However the Inscriptions on Tombs & Monuments, by Wheeler & Halsey dated 1892, states Capt. Benjamin Winans (no age, no dates). I can not find any Benjamin Winans in Alice WinansEW or Orin Winans having these dates. Of course they have some errors and omissions. How do we know other people are identifying him correctly?

Jay Winans writes:

I have some doubts about the authenticity of Benjamin's service in the Revolution, or perhaps I should say that I doubt he was a pensioner, though he may well have served in some unofficial way, as many many people did...

My only reason for doubting Benjamin's status as a "pensioner" rests on two bits of circumstancial evidence---really, the absence of evidence. First, despite numerous requests and attempts to search in various ways, I have never received a "pension" file, let alone a service record, for our Benjamin from the National Archives. It just doesn't exist. As I alluded to in my last email, there was at least one and possibly two other cousins named Benjamin Winans whose service is recorded in the muster rolls and pay slips kept by the National Archives. But those men, I am certain, are not our ancestor. For that reason, the 1840 note in the census is confounding. If he was a Revolutionary "pensioner," he should have been receiving a pension, and the National Archives should have had some record of it.

Second, there was a 50th anniversary party held in honor of the veterans of the Revolution somewhere close by in Ohio, perhaps Piqua, if my memory serves, that I found on the Internet a few years back. Again, Benjamin Winans was not among the honored guests, nor was he mentioned as a veteran who could not attend. Had he truly been a pensioner, I would have thought he'd have been mentioned.

On the other hand, the DAR's reference to a Benjamin Winans buried in Mercer County is very intriguing. I'll have to look into this...

My research so far reveals that only two men named Benjamin Winans were the right age to be participating in the Revolution, namely our Benjamin and his cousin Captain Benjamin Winans.
Some further thoughts by Glen...
The following on page 245 under Milling, from the Historical collections of Ohio, by Henry Howe, Vol II 1888, is of interest. It quoted from the "Miami County Traditions" and also published in the 1839 Troy Times:

"Nearly the same time Henry Garrard erected on Spring creek a corn and saw mill, on land now included within the farm of Col. WINANS. It is narrated by the colonel..."

He was referred to as the Colonel. Sure enough he owned ground on SE corner of section 2 where Spring creek ran through. Possibly he was known for his military service, or perhaps he just promoted himself. Who Knows?

Sometimes when a citizen took it upon himself to organize and command a company or regiment of militia, he got to be a captain or colonel or whatever. Or maybe he led a guerrilla band which rode thru the countryside, harrassing the British and Tories. Things weren't as well-organized then as now!

Migration to Ohio. Around the beginning of the 19th century, Benjamin and his family migrated to Ohio, settling in Miami county along with a number of other Winans and related families. Benjamin was a second cousin, and a contemporary, of my g-g-g-g-grandfather, Samuel Winans (1746-1830), who also migrated from Essex county, NJ, to Miami county, OH, in the early 1800s, and was also a veteran of the Revolution. We can't fix a year for their arrival, as no 1800 or 1810 census records survive for Ohio or New Jersey, but the 1820 census lists two Benjamin Winans in Brown township, Miami county, on consecutive lines. I believe the first is Benjamin's son and the second is Benjamin himself:

Benjamin Winans jr20001032010
Benjamin Winans sr00110100010

Glen agrees that the first Benjamin is indeed Benjamin Britton Winans, and writes:

He also owned adjoining ground, after being in the 1812 war, in section 2, Spring Creek township in Miami county Ohio. I recently took pictures of the Creek and the farm as it now stands. Benj B moved to St. Marys township in Adams county, Indiana, about 1838. Benj willed Benj B $4.00 in his will dated 1834 and probated Nov 1842.

A biography of Hester Winans in the Adams county history (about 1880) describes Benj B and his family moving from Miami county, Ohio. This also is the only reason that I can justify old Benj being buried in Mercer county, OH, as recorded by the DAR, since it borders St Mary's township in Adams county, IN. I have yet to locate his grave. My g-g grandfather John B is also named in the will, as are other children, He appointed his son in law Lewis Winans and Richard A. Denman to be the Executors. Lewis married Benj daughter Lydia Winans.

Will. Glen supplied the following transcription of Ben Winans' will, a picture of which appears below the transcription:

I Benjamin Winans of the County of Miami in the State of Ohio do make this my last will and testament hereby revoking and making void all former wills by me at any time here before made: and in manner and form following that is to say. In testimony where of I have here unto set my hand and seal this thirtyith day day of January in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and thirty four

Benjamin Winans L S

Signed, published and declared by the above named Benjamin Winans as and for his last will and testament in the presence of us who at his request have signed as ___?___to the same

David Caven

Will of Benjamin Winans dated 30 Jan 1834

In the 1830 census, Benjamin Winans was listed in Spring Creek township, Miami county, OH:

Names of
Heads of Families
Benj. Winans00001000001000000000001000

In 1840, also in Spring Creek, Benjamin's son, John Winans, was listed with eight boys and a girl. Benjamin doesn't show up as a number in a column, but see his listing above from the opposite page.

Names of
Heads of Families
John Winans13310010000000001010000000

Death. As Glen mentions, old Benjamin's will was probated in November 1842, which fixes his date of death some time between the 1840 census and that date. Benjamin Winans most definitely lived to be well over 90, if not over 100, years of age.

Last updated: 22 Sep 2011.