Winder Family History


The Winder Family history is full of speculation and supposition.  So I will try to explain the logic behind the extensive original research done by the writer of this piece.

The Winders are the most elusive of my research thus far.  Piecing together stories and documents given to me, I begin with the most distant great grandfather, John Winder who supposedly lived in York County, Pennsylvania during the time of the Revolutionary War.  He was married to a woman named Anne.  He fought with the German Regiment of the Maryland line.  His son, Warren Winder, who we have evidence of existence, also fought as a teenager for the Continental Army and was wounded.  Warren's travels take him westward to Washington County, PA where in 1810 he has started a family with a woman named Martha.  Then in 1820 they are found in the center of Pennsylvania in Turbot Township, Northumberland County. They are not found in the 1830 census but are believed to have traveled through Philadelphia and New Jersey. By 1840 they are found in their 80's in Forks Township, Sullivan County where it is believed that they passed away and are buried in long-forgotten graves.   They seemed to have left a trail of children as the decades progressed.  The 1830's leaves their daughter, Martha, in Whitehall, Montour County married to a W. Abraham Welliver.  The 1820's drops their son, John in Trenton, Mercer County, New Jersey and the 1840's they are found living next to their widowed daughter Hannah Vough, who remarried Jeffery Clarke in Forksville, Sullivan County. 

Of these three Winder children, we believe John is the eldest, born in 1799 followed by Hannah in 1801 and Martha in 1806.  Their naming patterns seem to follow that of the Scottish tradition. 

John married a woman named Phoebe and their first child was born in 1821, his name was Warren.  They had 9 children in total: David, John R. Winders, Theodore Winder, William Milnor Winder, Charles, Isabelle, Peter Roziello Winder and Ambrose Stephen Winder; the last of whom is our direct ancestor.  We know that Warren, John, Theodore, William and Ambrose lived to adulthood.

During the years just prior to the Civil War, these families became established.  We are not sure why John and William migrated to Lycoming County perhaps to work on the Railroad building project from Bloomsburg to LaPorte and beyond.  The Civil War broke out and these men all enlisted in the Union Army, including young Ambrose who was only 17 at the time.  Warren lost his life in the fight before 1862 leaving a family in New Jersey.  Most likely angered by this loss, the other men enlisted to finish the war.  John R. Winders was a farmer in Unityville and William Winder was a postmaster in Jackson Twp., Luzerne County.  Theodore was a laborer in Trenton, New Jersey. 

Soon after Ambrose's enlistment and encampment in at Gloucester Point, Virginia he became ill with dysentery and was admitted to the hospital at Camp Barry in Washington, DC.  One April day in 1864 he walked away from the Camp never to return.  We believe he went home to Trenton then to live with his brother, John in Unityville after the war.  Ambrose met a girl named, Catherine Holdren who we believe is related to his brother William's wife, Sarah Holdren.  Their first child Katherine Lucy Winder was born in 1867.  We find that Ambrose was arrested and convicted of larceny and sentenced to 3 years in Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.  In the meantime, his wife and mother lived in Lairdsville near his brother, John.  After his sentence ended, Ambrose began using the name Stewart Winder.  He and Catherine moved back to Elizabeth, New Jersey before 1880 and had two additional daughters, Victoria (our ancestor) and Roseanna.  By September of 1884, they must have moved back to Lycoming County, because their Katherine, now known as Lucy is married to William Sebastian Lutz.  Lucy and William had 12 children.

According to the marriage license for our great great grandmother, Victoria R. Winder, in 1887, her mother had died and the whereabouts of her father are unknown; so she is given in marriage by her sister, Lucy, to Frederick W. Fry.  They settled their family on a farm near the White Church in Muncy Township.  They had 11 children including our great grandmother, Ethel Viola Fry. 

By this time, Lucy seems eager to marry off her remaining sister, Roseanna, and finds Frederick W. Fry's brother, C. Edward Fry, a suitable match.  Roseanna and Edward had two daughters before his death in 1904. 

Ambrose aka Stewart is still alive as of 1891 as he wrote a letter to the Civil War Pension board asking for his pension because he is disabled, which was denied.  Here ends the trail of our 3rd great grandfather, which leads this researcher to believe he was arrested for desertion and incarcerated.

As a young woman, Ethel Viola Fry, meets Kenneth Arthur Smithgall and marries him.  Their first child Mary Matilda Smithgall was born in 1912, followed by Mabel in 1913, Frederick in 1916 and Esther (our grandmother) in 1917.  By 1920, Arthur has abandoned the family and has started another, no divorce record can be found...  Ethel raised her four children with the help of her parents, farming the children out to live with their grandparents at times. 

Mary Matilda Smithgall married Thomas Nichols and had  two children, one of whom is living.  Mabel married Eugene Miele and had a daughter, Marie, who died in 2006.  Frederick Smithgall died in 2007, he was predeceased by two sons, Freddy and Kenny; his wife, his wife, Janet Hoffman and a daughter survive him.  Esther Victoria Smithgall married Walter Pacacha, she died in 1997 and he in 1975; they had three sons, all of whom are living.