by Leanne Wiese

John Baker Winsor-

Milpitas The Centrury of Little Cornfields
by Patricia Loomis-

"The last of many smithies that lined Main Street when it was known as the Oakland Highway, the Winsor shop was opened in 1926. The Winsor brothers, Tom and George, who built their establishment on this site were decendents of John Winsor, an Englishman who settled in Milpitas in the 1860s after a stay in Iowa.

The last of its breed, the Winsor shop catered to the many ranchers, farmers and orchardists in the area. The agricultural tools made by the Winsors may still be stored in barns and sheds in the foothills. The Winsors made the branding irons used by many area ranchers. The irons were tested by heating them red hot and burning the design into the south wall of the shop where they still may be seen. When some partially rotted boards were replaced on the south wall in 1994, several of these historic brand marks were thrown away as trash.

It is fitting that this blacksmith shop should be the sole survivor of its kind in Milpitas, for John Winsor himself was a true survivor. The following account is taken from Milpitas: The Century of Little Cornfields by Patricia Loomis.

"Winsor almost didn’t get to Milpitas. Coming overland in 1852, he became ill and was left beside the wagon trail in Utah Territory to die. Nursed back to health by Indians, he spent the winter trapping and then joined another California-bound train.

"At the mines on the American River, Winsor met a man newly arrived from his hometown in Iowa who told him his wife had learned of his death and remarried.

"Winsor gave up mining in 1856 and after working a while on a farm in the San Joaquin Valley, came to Mission San Jose where he met and (in 1858) married and Irish girl named Catherine Costello. For about five years the Winsors lived back in the hills in the Smith Creek area, then came to Milpitas and bought 40 acres on the Milpitas-Berryessa Road (now Capitol Avenue)." (The Smith Creek area is on Mt. Hamilton)

Today the blacksmith shop, though vacant, is still owned by the Winsor family and is one of about a dozen designated historic sites in the city."

I had been looking for the father of Mary Frances Winsor for a decade or more.  Mary was b. in 1849 in Ontario, Canada to Mary Ann (Gilroy) and John Baker Winsor.  Also born to these parents were William H. Winsor b. abt. 1851 in IL and Sophia Ann Winsor b. June 23, 1852 in IA.  (Mary Frances married Gurden Hatheway, who are my grandmother's grandparents, and William married Caroline (Carrie) Elizabeth Geer and Sophia married George Buzza.)  I knew that Mary Ann Winsor married a second time to a man named Joseph McElroy on Sept. 22, 1853.  I was startled by the little time separating the birth of  Sophia and her marriage to Joseph.  Recently, thanks to another online cousin (from Seattle, Washington) and the information from the Milpitas website and the genealogy library, I discovered the following stories of my pioneer third great grandfather, John Baker Winsor:
Personal narrative written by George Buzza and signed:

My mother, Sophia Winsor Buzza, told we children this story about her father, John Winsor, all through our childhood.

John Winsor and twenty-seven pioneers of Sabula, Iowa, started with a few pushcarts and some stock, about the middle of September 1849, to push across the plains for California. Near Laramee, Wyoming, making slow progress, a blizzard caught up with them. All perished – all but John Winsor, who was taken by Indians into the Yellowstone country, nursed through, then John went on into California the following spring.

My mother, brother and sister were very poor. Joe McElroy, a bachelor who owned a lumber mill on the Mississippi, carried food to my grandmother and the others in Sabula during the winter of '49. In the summer of 1850, when the bones of the party were found and put together, they counted twenty-eight, word came back to Sabula, and my grandmother married Joe McElroy. My mother, therefore, had a half-brother and half-sister, Joe and Jessie McElroy.

In either 1853 or 1854, this photograph was taken of my Grandfather, John Winsor, in San Jose, California. About this time, John took a small bag of gold and found his way back to Sabula and got as far as the livery barn, which, in those days, was a sort of town hall in any small pioneer community. The "boys" told John that he'd been given up for dead, that his wife was married again to Joe McElroy and she was carrying a child. He left the gold dust for her with his friends, came back to California, married, settled in Melpetas, some ten miles north of San Jose, and raised a family of seven children, some of which are still living there. (Members of the Winsor family have verified this story, after Mother's passing in 1929 to me a number of times.) Signed: Geore E. Buzza

EDWARD WINSOR, Son of John Baker Winsor

In the Genealogy library in Santa Clara, I found confirmation of the above stories in the following rare book:
The following article is from the book:
Pen Pictures From the GARDEN OF THE
Edward Winsor
Edited by H.S. Foote
The Lewis Publishing Company
Santa Clara Public Library
Santa Clara, California

JOHN WINSOR is the owner of thirty-nine acres of land in the Orchard School District, located on the Berryessa and Milpitas road, about six miles north of San Jose.  The farm is of fertile soil, and very productive.  Ten acres are devoted to fruit culture, pears and apricots being the chief products, although there may be found trees of nearly every kind grown in the county.  The remainder of the land is used as hay and grain fields, except such parts as are used for pasturage.  When Mr. Winsor took possession of the property, it was in a wild and uncultivated state, and its present fine condition is the best proof of his thorough understanding of horticulture.
The subject of this sketch was born in Devonshire, England, in 1821, and is the son of George and Mary (Couch) Winsor, who were natives of that county. His father emigrated to Simcoe, Louden District, Canada West, where he engaged in agriculture, in which the subject of our sketch was trained.  When sixteen years of age he went into an apprenticeship to the tanner and currier's trade, at which he worked until he attained his majority.  He then rented a farm in the Branford District, Canada West, and there engaged in farming uritil 1848, when he came to the United States and located on a farm in Kane County, Illinois.  He made his home there for about two years, and then removed to Iowa, engaging there in farming, until, in 1852, he started overland for California.  On the way he spent about a year in Utah Territory, engaged in trading.  In the fall of 1853 he completed his journey and went into the mines.  He soon tired of that, however, and established a livery stable at Rattlesnake Bar, in Placer County. After a few months' experience in that line, he sold out and returned to mining, which he followed until 1856. Going into the San Joaquin Valley, he spent about eighteen months in farm labor, removing thence to the old mission of San Jose, in Alameda County. Two years were spent there, before coming, in 1859, to Santa Clara County.  For the three years follow-ing, he engaged in farming and dairy business, taking up his residence on his present homestead, in the fall of 1862.  During the many years of residence in the county, Mr. Winsor's quiet life and honest dealings have won for him the esteem of associates and neighbors.
On the tenth of October, 1858, Mr. Winsor was united in marriage with Miss Catherine Costala, a resident of Alameda County.  Four children were born from this marriage, three of whom are living:
Delia, born June 8, 1860; Margaret Catharine, born May 5, 1862; and Edward, born May 14, 1863.  The second daughter, Margaret, is the wife of Lawrence Finneran, of San Jose.  Mr. Winsor suffered the loss of his wife on the twenty-fourth of December, 1877.   His present wife, whom he married January 29, 1878, was formerly Miss Frances Mary Kelly, of Bernard and Mary Kelly, residents and Dublin, Ireland.

Here is a picture from our family album of the Winsor sisters of Jackson Co., IA (Mary Frances and Sophia Ann are daughters of John Baker Winsor and Mary (Gilroy) Winsor.  Jessie McElroy is the daughter of Mary Ann Winsor and Joseph McElroy.:

Jessie McElroy, Mary Frances Winsor, Sophia Ann Winsor
The date of this picture is calculated to having been taken before 1874.

It is strictly coincidence that I have ended up living in Santa Clara, CA and have lived here since 1972.  Mary Frances and her husband lived out their lives in IA.  Their son, Galen Hatheway, lived his life in South Sioux City, Nebraska and in South Dakota. My Grandmother, Cleone Hatheway Eames and her husband, Havilah F. Eames and my mother, Joyce E. Eames, came to California in 1930 and settled in Ventura Co., CA.  My mother and father lived in Kern Co, CA, where I grew up.  I came to Santa Clara, Co., with my husband and daughter in 1972, when my husband was transferred here by Teledyne Semiconductor.  I am pleased as punch to know that I have pioneer roots in California, and a gold seeker to boot!
I am currently trying to locate living descendants of John Winsor's California family.  If you know of any, I'd sure appreciate the help.

Leanne Wiese