JOHN FREDERICK WINGER. Whatever may be said of the rest of the state, the development of Western Kansas has required men, men of sturdy mold, of determined character, and of that perseverance which does not wilt before obstacles and hardships and carries through trials and discouragements as numerous as have ever beset a home loving people in search of new lands and opportunities.
It is of this class that John Frederick Winger of Mitchell Township, Stanton County, is a sterling representative. He was one of the early settlers of the county, arriving here in the fall of 1886. He was at that time a man of thirty-six, and had had considerable experience as a farmer in Indiana and also in Kansas.
He was born in Elkhart County, Indiana, September 19, 1850. His father, Jonas Winger, was a native of Canada, but when a youth came to the United States and settled in Elkhart County, where he married Elizabeth Black, a native of Ohio and daughter of John and Magdalene (Flagel) Black. Jonas Winger spent his active career as a farmer in Northern Indiana, and died in LaGrange County in 1896, at the age of sixty-eight. His widow survived him a number of years and passed away in St. Joseph County, Michigan, in 1911, aged eighty-eight. Their children were: John F.; Samuel of Michigan; Henry, of Lagrange County, Indiana; Mary, who died in LaGrange County the wife of Levi Berger; Jacob and Katie, wife of George Kline, both of LaGrange County.
John Frederick Winger was twelve years of age when his parents removed to LaGrange County, Indiana, and there he grew to manhood and obtained his education in the country schools. He took up life as a farmer, and was a man of family when he came to Kansas.
He came out to Western Kansas in company with a son, driving a farm wagon. Later he brought other members of the household by train to Hartland. He had previously lived in Harvey County, Kansas, and there he and a neighbor chartered a car to bring their modest possessions further west. This property consisted of two teams, a few hogs and chickens, and household goods, while his cash capital was only sufficient to put up a pioneer shelter and dig a well. He filed as his homestead on the northeast quarter of section 32, township 27, range 39, and with that location his experiences as a Western Kansas settler began. As the home for his small family he built a dugout of one room 14 by 18 feet, with a dirt roof, with a floor, three windows and a door. This done he turned to some money making occupation, and plowed a number of acres of sod, but during the winter months he was unable to find any employment, though he was ready and anxious to give his services for as low as 50 cents a day and board. The season of 1887 repaid his labors with a crop of sorghum and millet, and some roughness for feed was his chief crop for several seasons. For three years he raised wheat, but failures came so frequently that he abandoned the experiment and has never resumed it. His chief agricultural operations have centered around the growing of such feed as maize and broom corn.
Mr. Winger brought with him a few cows and he has never been without the resource of at least a home dairy. It was early impressed upon his mind that this was primarily a cattle country and he forthwith bent all his efforts toward getting into the cattle business. Mr. Winger has in fact been one of the chief stockmen of Stanton County for a number of years, though he no longer handles as large a number as formerly. At one time he had as high as 175 cattle, Galloways chiefly. He has also been a horse breeder for some fifteen years and has sent many mules from his ranch to market. He owns an imported grand Percheron, and his stables have done not a little toward raising the general grade of horses and other livestock in the community.
After six years of residence Mr. Winger proved up his homestead, and later entered school lands and proved up the quarter on which his residence now stands. For many years he grazed his cattle on the open range, without disturbance from other settlers. Gradually as the country developed and the free range was closed he invested his surplus in land and also leased large tracts. At present his ownership includes four quarter sections while he leases about six quarter sections.
Mr. Winger probably takes the more pride and satisfaction in his present home surroundings owing to the fact that his house of seven rooms has been a matter of successive additions, created as his means justified. At present his home is a most convenient one, with all the comforts, and with ample porches screened in. He created a barn 32 by 40 feet with mow capacity for thirty tons, and other permanent improvements include a garage, where his automobile is in readiness both for business and pleasure, a cow stable and breeding stable. Mr. Winger has also had some success in growing trees for shade purposes, though his efforts have not altogether materialized in the growing of fruit.
He has exerted his influence in behalf of many community matters, especially schools, and was treasurer of his home district for twenty-one continuous years, finally declining to serve longer. He has also been a member of the township board and for eight years was a county commissioner. While he was on the county board one matter of special historic interest that came up was the prosecution of Pierce for the murder of John Silvey, one of the best citizens Stanton County ever had. A county jail was also built during Mr. Winger's service and some of the county bonds were liquidated. Politically he began voting as a republican, his first presidential vote being cast for General Grant. Through all the subsequent years he has followed his party faithfully in state and national elections. His parents were members of the Evangelical Church, but Mr. Winger is now a Methodist.
In December, 1871, he married Miss Margaret Ellen Miller, daughter of Adam Miller. Their married life continued only six years, when it was interrupted by Mrs. Winger's death. She was the mother of two sons, James Henry and Jonas. Both are now farmers in Stanton County. James H. married Eliza Claypool, and their children, grandchildren of Mr. Winger, are Elsie May, William Hayden, Harold K., Leon H. and Vera. The son Jonas married Nettie Young and has two children, Margaret Ellen and Lorrin.
For his second wife Mr. Winger married Mary Deihl, daughter of Jacob and Annie (Hurst) DeihI. Her father was a native of Germany but came from that country to be rid of its aristocratic institutions, and spent an active and useful life in Indiana and in Kansas, dying at Newton in this state. Of the children of Mr. and Mrs. Winger the oldest is Bertie J., who lives in Grant County and married Mrs. Mary Falls. Leroy, the second son, is a resident of Ford County, Kansas, and by his marriage to Viola Falls has a son, Walter. Stella married Julian Brown and lives near Shreveport, Louisiana. Charles and May are twins, Charles being a farmer of Stanton County and married Dietta Moore. His twin sister May is the wife of Hugo Walters of Reno County, Kansas, and has children named Zelda, Harold and Maxine. Clarence Winger is still at home with his parents. Pearl, the youngest of the family, married Orvin E. Josserand, who is a soldier in France.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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