Winans Migration
New Jersey to Ohio

After more than a century in New Jersey, a significant number of Jan (John) Winans' descendants migrated to the Miami valley of Ohio, along with several other interrelated families. John's great grandson, Samuel Winans, who was a Revolutionary War veteran, and Samuel's son, Stephen, were among this wave of New Jersey residents who migrated to Ohio in the first decade of the 19th Century. These first Winans settlers seem to have been Methodists from the very beginning of their time in Ohio. The following brief account is taken from Chapter 19 of Harbaugh's 1909 History of Miami County:

Since many of the pioneer preachers professed the faith of John Wesley, it was natural that the Methodists should obtain a strong foothold in the county. This church has always been aggressive, and to this fact, no doubt, it owes much of its present prosperity. The Methodists or Wesleyites, as they were called in an early day, were among our first pioneers, though the Quakers or Friends arrived here about the same time. The first Methodist churches in the county was supplied by traveling ministers who came at stated intervals and held services. The congregations, at first were very small, but increased in numbers, owing, no doubt, to the numerous camp meetings which were held by that persuasion. Before the first Methodist church was established here, meetings were held at Mr. [Samuel or Stephen?] Winans house, where Raper Chapel now stands.

A description of the Ohio to which our ancestors came was shared by a member of the OHMIAMI-L list, Donna M. St. Felix, who found it in the 1 Nov 1814 Salem (MA) Gazette. These two paragraphs were printed in quotes, as it was apparently a letter from Ohio:


"From Urbanna to the Miami of the lake is a perfect wilderness. Through this wilderness, a distance of 120 miles, and through a country of which the Indians were the inhabitants and proprietors, the army had to cut a road when they advanced; and it was the only road by which supplies of any kind could be received. From the Miami to the settlements on the Detroit river, the country is little better than a wilderness, there being only two or three little settlements - along the Detroit river the country is partially cleared and cultivated. The improvements extend from half a mile to a mile back from the river, and in part of these improvements, on the margin of the streights, is the road to the town of Detroit. The whole country from Urbanna to the town of Detroit is filled with savages; all of who, with very unimportant exceptions, became hostile to us, and infested every part of the road which was not protected by an armed force. From the Miami to Detroit, a distance of 72 miles, the road runs so near the waters of Lake Erie and of the Streights, that the enemy having the command of these waters, could with the greatest facility transport from their shore, and from one point to another, detachments to intercept the communication."

"Among the vast number of chiefs who lead the hostile bands, Tecumseh, Marpot, Logan, Walk-in-the-water, Split-log, &c. are considered the principals. This numerous assemblage of savages, under the entire influence and direction of the British commander, enabled him totally to obstruct the only communication which I had with my country. This communication had been opened from the settlement in the state of Ohio, two hundred miles through a wilderness, by the fatigues of the army, which I marched to the frontier on the River of Detroit."

The article continues with an opinion (like an editorial) by the paper and then ends with:

Gen. Hull's chief exploit was making war upon the Indian Wilderness in time of Peace; we had indeed, by treaty, permission to cut this road; but it was a great and arduous work, equal to the passage of the Alps by Hannibal.

Some of the details of the Winans' early days in Ohio can be found in the History of Miami County, published in 1880 by W. H. Beers & Co., Chicago. This book is available at the Los Angeles Public Library, where it is catalogued as GenR 977.11 M61Hi.

On pages 387-388, under "Staunton Township", Beers states:

The first settlements were in 1807. In 1807, Uriah Blue, Richard Winans and Rev. David Clark settled on Section 14. According to Isaac Rollins, "Raper Chapel was built about thirty-five years ago." [i.e. about 1845]

The biography of John Clawson Winans is found on page 557 and includes a great deal of detail on my 4g-grandfather, Samuel Winans, and of the details of his coming to Ohio. Page 723 summarizes briefly the life of Abner Winans, Troy, Ohio:

He was born at Rahway, New Jersey and his people came to Ohio 1849. He married Mary Holliday July 22, 1859. Their children are Nellie V, Charles A, Lulu M, [?] and Warren. Mr. Winans' parents Abner and Mary (Brant) Winans were born in Essex Co., New Jersey.

A fellow Winans researcher, Jay D. Winans, has observed that there seem to be two groups of Winans who migrated from NJ to Miami county, OH -- Jan Winans' descendants via Jan's son Conrad Winans' son Jonathan, e.g. my ancestor Samuel Winans, and those who are descended from Jan's son John, via Lewis, via Benjamin Winans, who is Jay's ancestor. Jay observes that "there were numerous other Winans families that moved to other counties in Ohio, particularly Eastern Ohio in Greene and Turnbull and other counties, whose source I have not traced." I, too, have often stumbled over the Winans name in other parts of Ohio without being able to identify these distant cousins with my own line.

This page was last updated 17 Jun 2006.