Winters, Thomas Merrill (History - 1867)




----Source: 1918 History of Clark County, Wisconsin


Thomas Merrill Winters, 1914 ca.


THOMAS MERRILL WINTERS, a leading citizen of Washburn Township, and many years chairman of the township board, and a farmer by occupation, was born in Waupaca County, Wis., Sept. 14,1867, son of John M. and Sarah (Hitchcock) Winters. The father was a native of New York State, born on a farm, and a millwright by trade.


He served three years as a soldier in the Civil War and, subsequently, came to Waupaca County, Wis., where he was married and followed his trade. Six weeks after the birth of his son, Thomas, or in November, 1867, he came to Clark County, the party consisting of himself and wife, the child, Thomas M., Mrs. John M. Winters' mother, an uncle, Thomas Hitchcock, and two sisters of Mrs. J. M. Winters, Jennie and Marie Hitchcock. The journey was made with a wagon and team. The country was so wild that they had to cut their road for a part of the way, and in coming down the steep hills had to tie trees to the rear of the wagon to act as a brake.


John M. Winters located first in Section 2, Washington Township, where he had homesteaded 160 acres of land, and there he built a shanty 18 by 20 feet in size, with sloping roof. From that place he removed later to a tract of eighty acres in Section 4, one mile north of where the Shortville store is now located, which land was also wild. On this latter claim he built a log house the same as his first, but with shake roof and consisting of two rooms and a pantry, the floor being made of rough boards. The barn was 16 by 30 feet, constructed on logs, with shanty roof. As the uncle, Thomas Hitchcock, owned the team that had brought them all to Clark County, Mr. Winters had nothing but his hands with which to begin work, and it was eight years before he got a team of his own. He might have accomplished this sooner, perhaps, but for the fact that for most of his time he was employed as a timber locator, not being able to devote much attention to his farm. At the end of the period mentioned he put up a sawmill on Cunningham Creek in Section 4, Washburn Township. The mill was run by waterpower, and he conducted it for about ten years. He also dammed up the creek that the loggers might be able to float down their logs, and for this water privilege they paid him a rental. Quite frequently, also, he worked for the camps. Later, he gave more attention to his farm, doing carpenter work at intervals, and in time succeeded in clearing thirty acres, also erecting good buildings. On this place he is still living, having now reached the venerable age of 90 years. His wife is also living at the age of 67.


During his active career, John M. Winters was a prominent man in his township, serving as assessor for two years and as township clerk for five or six years. He was also one of the organizers of School District No. 1, his wife being interested in the work of the Presbyterian Church. Thomas M. Winters grew up on his parents' farm, and at the age of 16 years was employed as a log driver on the river and lumbering. When 21, and industrially independent, he went to work in the stave mill of Lee Archer, located in Section 10, Washburn Township, but two or three months later left that occupation and returned to the woods, being engaged in logging and lumbering for four years.


He then worked one year in the old Boyington mill, being employed as foreman. At the end of that time he resolved to try farming, and being now ready to take up the responsibilities of domestic life, was united in marriage with Jennie Short, daughter of James Short, a pioneer of Washburn Township. He and his wife located on a farm of eighty acres in Section 3, this township, of which tract five or six acres were cleared, there being a house and barn on the property. With the aid of a horse team he began the work of improvement, and in time got forty acres cleared and a better house and barn built. Three years ago he sold that property, for which he paid $650, for $3,300, and then bought his present tract of 160 acres in Section 5. Previously, however, he had purchased the store at Shortville, with an acre of land, and built a barn there. On his present farm he has erected a barn 36 by 70 feet in size, it also being provided with other good buildings. Here he is engaged in general farming, now raising Shorthorn cattle, also a good grade of horses. He is a member of the Shortville Dairy Company, also a stockholder in the Farmers' Elevator of Neillsville, and for many years has been agent for the Lynn Fire Insurance Company. The office of township chairman which he held, he served in at intervals for the last twenty years, and has also served fifteen years as treasurer of the school board.


His fraternal affiliations are with the Mystic Workers of the World and the Royal Order of Moose.


He and his wife are the parents of three children--Aneita, who married F. G. Wall, they reside in Rock County, Wis., and have two children, Wayne and Donald Gladys, who manages her father's store at Shortville and Merrill. The two elder children are graduates of the Neillsville high school.




THOMAS MERRILL WINTERS, a leading citizen of Washburn Township, and many years chairman of the township board, and a farmer by occupation, was born in Farmington, Waupaca County, Wis., Sept. 14,1867.  He was the son of John M. and Sarah (Hitchcock) Winters. John, the father, was a native of New York State who had been born on a farm, and become a millwright by trade. He served three years as a soldier in the Civil War and, subsequently, moved to Waupaca County, Wis., married and followed his occupation. In November, 1867, just six weeks after the birth of his son, he and his extended family made a two week journey in a covered wagon, drawn by a team of oxen, to relocate in Clark County, Wisconsin. The party included himself and wife, little Thomas M., Mrs. John M. Winters' mother, an uncle, Thomas Hitchcock, and two sisters of Mrs. J. M. Winters, Jennie and Marie Hitchcock.  At that time, the Washburn area was so wild they had to cut a road for part of the passage, and when moving down steep hills had to tie trees to the rear of the wagon to act as a brake. At the age of 16, Thomas Winters' took his first job driving logs on the Black River. For many years, he worked in logging camps and sawmills on the Black River and its tributaries.


Winters' wife, Jennie, was born in Cresco, Iowa, March 3, 1869. After her mother died in Iowa, her father moved to Clark County.  Jennie spent most of her childhood living with her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. James Short, Sr., in Jefferson Co., Wisconsin, but attended the Washburn School for one term. During that period she met Thomas Winters, who later became her husband.


Mr. and Mrs. Thomas M. Winters were married June 28, 1893,  in the Presbyterian parsonage on the corner of Fifth and Court Street, Neillsville. Rev. R. Everett, the Presbyterian pastor in Neillsville and Shortville at that time, preformed the ceremony. The day of their wedding, they drove to Neillsville in a one-horse, top buggy. Their honeymoon was the buggy ride from the parsonage back to Shortville where a wedding dinner was served. Their wedding attendants were Mrs. George Bue and William Winters. As was the custom then, friends and neighbors from miles around came to their home on that wedding night to have a charivari. They came carrying whatever loud noise makers they could find, such as guns, metal items.

Thomas M. and his brother, William J. Winters, obtained the Shortville store in 1903, continuing the partnership for ten years, when Thomas bought out his brother's share, operating the Shortville store until 1933. Between the years 1924 and 1932, Edward and Dora Bowen leased the business and Winter's took it over again when the Bowens left.


The Winters farmed on land which was later purchased by Clarence Reinart. They had three daughters, Anita (Wall), Gladys (Stevens) and Merille (Vincent). When Anita began school, she was very shy and became upset about having to leave her parents and  travel a considerable distance to the Shortville school. To comfort and ease Anita's fears, the Winters leased out their farm and purchased the Shortville store, so they could live right across the road from it.

Merchandise for the store was shipped by railroad to the Neillsville station.  The Winters picked up the orders with a team of horses and a wagon. Flour, sugar and other staples were packed in wooden kegs or barrels. When their daughters were old enough to help in the store, they filled bags, weighing out 5-10 pound amounts of bulk foods to stock the shelves.


Mrs. Winters worked in the store and performed her household duties as well. Throughout the school term, teachers of the Shortville School boarded at their home.

Thomas Winters served on the Washburn town board and was school treasurer for many years.  He was also the director of Lynn Mutual Insurance Company. The first concrete culvert built in Shortville, was installed with his assistance in 1909, but was removed in 1942 when Hwy. 73 was relocated.


Through the years, Thomas & Sarah other obtained farms.  One, north of the store, was later owned by Adolph Mazourek. They also purchased a farm on Pleasant Ridge which was later owned by Gehrt family. Their daughter, Gladys, married Irving Stevens and the couple farmed one Thomas and Sarah's farms.


The Winters retired in 1923 and moved to Neillsville to the house on the corner of Court and Division. It later became the office building of Greater Insurance Services. They celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary before Thomas died at the age of 97 and Sarah at the age of 96.



1880 Federal Census-Washburn Township, Clark Co., Wisconsin
 Name  Relation Marital Status Gender Race Age Nativity Occupation Father's Nativity Mother's Nativity
 J. M. Winters   Self   M   Male   W   52   NY   Lumberman   NY   NY 
 Sarah Winters   Wife   M   Female   W   26   ENGL   Keeping House   ENGL   ENGL 
 Thomas Winters   Son   S   Male   W   12   WI      NY   ENGL 
 William Winters   Son   S   Male   W   7   WI      NY   ENGL 




Thomas M. Winters was born Sept. 14,1867 and died in 1965.  He was the son of John M. and Sarah (Hitchcock) Winters.




1918 Clark Co. History; Military Records, Cemetery & Courthouse Records; History of Shortville, Washburn Twp., WI.




Clark Co., WI History Buffs


Related Links


Cemetery Records



© Every submission is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.


Show your appreciation of this freely provided information by not copying it to any other site without our permission.


Become a Clark County History Buff


Report Broken Links

A site created and maintained by the Clark County History Buffs
and supported by your generous donations.


Webmasters: Leon Konieczny, Tanya Paschke,

Janet & Stan Schwarze, James W. Sternitzky,

Crystal Wendt & Al Wessel