Petaluma is a small town in Sonoma county, California, about 40 miles north of San Francisco, with a history of European settlement dating back to Spanish times. American pioneers flocked to the area soon after the 1849 Gold Rush. Petaluma is in the midst of a rich agricultural area and was once known as the "Egg Capital of the World". As we read in his biography, the husband of one of the Winans women was principally responsible for starting Petaluma's poultry industry. Petaluma changed its house numbering system around 1906, so some of the places whose addresses you see in this page may now be at different addresses. The entire surrounding area is a part of California's "Wine Country". Among other cities in Sonoma county whose names you'll see in these pages are Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, Sonoma and Sebastopol.
While studying Alice Winans Egy Woolley's Winans Genealogy, I became fascinated by the number of Winans who migrated to this small town, mostly from Miami county, Ohio, but it wasn't until I was contacted by Fran Kimball, who had already gathered considerable data on these Winans settlers, that I began to put together their stories. Fran is responsible for most of the information on the families you'll see in this page. I've included Mrs. Egy's identifying numbers, with links to pages in her book, after many of the people's names. Fran sent me so many newspaper articles dealing with these Winans families that I found it necessary to start a separate "Petaluma clippings page", with links to appropriate articles which look like this:Visit the Petaluma clippings page!
During the second half of the 19th century, several Winans families came to Petaluma. The first to arrive were the four children of James Winans (1-7-1-6-5-2) and his second wife, Martha Ashby. James was born 28 May 1810 in NJ and died 4 Sept 1878 in San Rafael, Marin county. Martha was born about 1820 in Ohio and died before 1856, probably in Indiana. After Martha's death, the widowed James brought their four children to California from New York via Panama, arriving in San Francisco on the Golden Gate1 in 1856, and settling in neighboring Marin county. James' third wife, Emeline F. Olds, was born 10 May 1809 in New York and died 25 Oct 1894. She is buried in Petaluma's Cypress Hills Cemetery. Although James seems to have remained in Marin the rest of his life, three of his children moved to Sonoma county during the 1860s:
A more complete biography of David, which has a great deal of information about the circumstances of his father's coming to California, is from An Illustrated History of Sonoma County, published 1889, reprinted 1997, pp. 692-693:
Winans, David M. A native of Elkhart county, Indiana, was born September 11, 1838, where he received his education and resided upon a farm until 1856, when he emigrated to California via Panama, arriving at San Francisco the latter part of November that year. After spending about three weeks in Alameda county, he proceeded to Marin county, and after spending three years as a common laborer, he engaged in dairying, which business he pursued seven years; he came to this county, remaining only a short time when he went East, remained about two months, when he returned to this county and purchased his present estate, about two miles north of Petaluma. During his residence in Marin county he filled the office of road master one term. He married April 7, 1870, Miss Mariah E. Newell, a native of Elkhart county, Indiana, born December 19, 1848. By this union they have two children, Annie M. and William J.
The D. N. Winan or Wiman who was enumerated as a laborer on S. A. Nay's dairy farm in Marin county in 1860 is undoubtedly David. His wife Maria Eliza Newell, was born 19 Dec 1848 in Elkhart county, the daughter of William and Harriet (Evans) Newell and died 26 Mar 1935 in Petaluma. In 1870, David and Maria were living with the Nays on their farm near Petaluma. David M. Winans bought about 23 acres of Allotment #5 of the former 16,000 acre Rancho Roblar de la Miseria (Oak of Misery Ranch) for $4000 in 1872.2 By 1897 he had about 37 acres adjacent to his brother-in-law, Samuel Nay. The farm, located on Petaluma Blvd. North just north of Corona Road, had about 12 acres of apple and pear orchard in addition to other fruits. The 1880, 1900, and 1910 censuses listed them on a farm adjacent to the Nays. Maria Winans was living with her son William on a fruit farm on Main Street Road in 1920 and 1930. They had two children:
DAVID M. WINANS was born in Elkhart County, Indiana, September 11, 1838, the place of his birth being about three miles from the Michigan State line. His father, James Winans, was born in New Jersey, in 1810, and when he was a small child his parents moved to Ohio, and settled in Miami County. He grew to manhood there, married, and afterward lost his wife, and also their only child.
From Ohio he moved into Indiana, and there married again on the 28th of September 1837, his wife being Martha Ashby. The country was new and the land thickly covered with timber, which was being chopped down by the settlers in clearing places for homes, and carrying on agricultural pursuits. Mr. Winans bought a farm in Elkhart County, and erected a log cabin, in which the family made themselves very comfortable, considering the disadvantages of those early days.
In 1854 he came across the plains with a party bound for California, being about six months from the time they left the Missouri River until they arrived in the valley of San Jose. In the fall of 1855 he returned to Indiana, and one year from that time disposed of his property there, and again embarked for the Golden State, this time bringing with him his children, his wife in the meantime having died. They sailed from New York, via Panama, and arrived in San Francisco, on board the Golden Gate, about the last of November, 1856.
He located in Marin County, and bought, what he supposed at that time to have been, government land, upon which he lived a number of years, before he found that the title was not good, and was compelled to give it up. He afterward leased the place for two or three years, then changed his residence to a place near San Rafael, and finally moved into that city, where he died September 4, 1878. In the family there are four children, three daughters and one son.
David M. Winans, the subject of this sketch, lived with his father until he became of age, when he hired out to William and Sam Nay, a greater portion of the time employed in the dairy business. During the first year he was thus employed he purchased 400 acres of land near San Rafael, for a part of which he went in debt. He continued on in the employ of the Nay brothers for another year, chopping wood, and doing various other kinds of work, and all the time saving his earnings, in order to pay for his land, which he did by the close of the second year. After a time he bought twenty cows, and established a dairy on the place, remaining there two years.
He then, with Sam Nay, leased the Saise ranch, and began dairying with a hundred cows, increasing the stock from time to time, and carried on a successful business for five years, after which the stock, numbering 150 head, was sold at $55 a head. In 1870 Mr. Winans returned to Indiana, and was married, April 7, of that year, to Maria E. Newell, who was born and reared in the same neighborhood that he was, in Elkhart County. He returned to California the following year, and bought his present place in this county, about three miles from Petaluma. Mr. Winans is paying considerable attention to the raising of fruit, having about twelve acres in orchard, devoted mostly to winter apples and Bartlett pears, together with a variety of other kinds of fruit.
He has been an Odd Fellow since 1872. Mr. and Mrs. Winans have one son, William James, born January 29, 1872. Misfortune came to them in the death of their eldest child, Anna May, who was born April 8, 1871, and died March 20, 1888.
During the next twenty years, several other Winans families moved into Petaluma. I'm not sure whether there was any connection between their arrivals and the earlier arrival there of all four of James Winans' children, or between each other's arrival, but could it be a coincidence that, when James Edwin Winans arrived in 1882, he purchased a fruit orchard next door to David M. Winans' property?
Since Abner and Mary Ann celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in 1898 and since their first child was born in 1859, their marriage date must be off by one year in the biosketch.
ABNER R. WINANS, carriage manufacturer, Troy. Abner R. Winans is a manufacturer of carriages and spring wagons, and is otherwise known by his political and religious influence in the city; he was born at Rahway, N. J., and his parents emigrated thence to Miami Co. in 1849. His marriage to Miss Mary Holliday was celebrated July 22, 1859, and their children are named respectively Nellie V., Charles A., Lulu M., Gertie and Warren. Mr. Winans' parents, Abner and Mary (Brant) Winans, were both born in Essex Co., N. J. The wife of the subject of this sketch is an Illinois lady; her mother was born in South Carolina, and her father in Virginia. Both Mr. and Mrs. Abner Winans are members of the Presbyterian Church; their home is a model of neatness, taste and skill being everywhere displayed.