Sunday, March 28, 2010

William W. Winsor Revisited

As I always tell budding genealogists, never underestimate the power of a Google search.

Back in December, I mentioned finding a William Winsor who was the right age to be my great-great-great grandfather in the 1860 census of Tatooch (Tatoosh) Island, Clallam County, Washington.  Since my William disappears after 1860 and I cannot find a death record in Massachusetts, I felt certain this was the same person.

The history that the Clallam County Historical Society and others have on William state that he, as well as Rufus Holmes, the first settler of Port Angeles (a name my fellow Twi-Hards will recognize) was a bachelor.  The very kind and helpful research librarians could not find any information on William's death, or anything beyond the histories I had located online already.

Rufus Holmes, William Winsor and Alexander Sampson, all of Duxbury, Massachusetts, were married with children.  So was this simply a mistake on the part of the people writing a history for Clallam County, or a coincidence of names and birth dates?

It turns out that it is an error in the written history.

Today I returned to William W. Winsor. I Googled "William W. Winsor" and "Duxbury", and came up with this result for the Duxbury Clipper.

If you go to the second page, the first 3 columns of the article talk about how Rufus Holmes left Duxbury to go to Port Angeles, purchased a schooner to begin shipping fresh halibut to San Francisco, and brought in his childhood friend, William W. Winsor - first cousin to Rufus's wife, Clara.

The article goes on to say that the other Duxbury native they invited into their business venture was Captain Alexander Sampson.  Captain Sampson kept a diary of his time in Port Angeles.

While the article does not say what became of William, it confirms for me that my great-great-great grandfather, the William Winsor who is credited with being one of the early settlers of Port Angeles, and the William Winsor found at Tatooch Island in the 1860 census as the lightkeeper are the same man.

Next step?

I have contacted both the Duxbury Free Library and the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society to see if either one has a copy of Captain Sampson's diary.

It would feel great, not just to know my great-great-great grandfather was one of the founders of the city made famous by the "Twilight" series, which I must admit to loving, but also to know where he went from there.  I have no death date on him and I do not know if he remained at Tatoosh Island or Port Angeles.

I only know that he would have died sometime after 1860, and that it could have happened in Washington or Massachusetts... Or anywhere in between! 

That is quite a large "in between". 

Let's hope that Captain Sampson's diary was preserved and may at least shed a little more light on my great-great-great grandfather's life in the Port Angeles area.

Copyright (c) 2010 Wendy L. Hawksley


  1. My great great grandfather sold one of the schooners he built to William Winsor. One of your great great great grandfather's trips aboard the Jk Thorndyke is mentioned in James Swan's book "Almost out of this World"

  2. Oh wow, thank you for the tidbit of information, Mary!

    I looked to see if that book is available on Google books. Unfortunately, it is not, but I have copied your comment into my file on William. Someday I may be able to locate the book and read that part about my great-great-great grandfather.

    Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing!