A Man Named Winne: from the HCHM Archives

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

There are thousands of stories waiting to be discovered at the Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives. Since we have recently hosted several programs related to the Civil War, I did some exploring in the  John C. Johnston Collection of Civil War Pensions. This collection contains a wealth of information on Civil War veterans and their families that settled in Harvey County. Fox Winne was the name I picked for this blog post.

In late April 1863, 20 year old Fox Winne joined the 11th Kansas Cavalry, Co. G. which was involved in a number of skirmishes on the Kansas/Missouri border.  From August 20-28, the 11th Cavalry was involved in operations against Quantrill during his raid in Kansas under the command of Col Thomas Ewing,Jr.   Co. G also acted as body guard to General Samuel Curtis at Fort Leavenworth, Ks.


Henry Barnes, Harry Boothe, Fox Winne, N.D. Horton, members of Co. G, 11th Kansas Volunteer Calvary, 1863. Photo courtesy Kansas Historical Society.

The 11th Kansas Cavalry mustered out of service at Fort Leavenworth, July 17, 1865.  The regiment lost 173 men in roughly 2 years; 63 killed during or as a result of battle, 110 died of disease.

Fox Winne had come to Kansas in 1855 at the age of 12 with his parents Jacob and Magdalena Fox Winne.  The family originally was from Minden, New York and had spent time in Illinois before settling in Riley County near Manhattan, Kansas.  After the Civil War, in 1866, Winne married Mary E. Haulenbeck.  By 1880, Fox and Mary with three children were living in Newton, Kansas.


Fox & Mary Winne Home, 200 W. Broadway, Newton, Ks, 1886.

Thirty-six year old Winne was listed as ‘a lumber dealer.’  Between 1876 and 1880, Winne established the Newton Lumber Co at 113 E. 6th, Newton.  No doubt he was able to take advantage of the building boom of the mid-1880s.

Newton Lumber Co, 113 E. 6th, Newton, Ks. ca. 1885

Newton Lumber Co, 113 E. 6th, Newton, Ks. ca. 1885.  Owner Fox Winne.


Newton Lumber Co., 113 E.6th, Newton, Ks, 1905.


Interior, Newton Lumber Co., 113 E 6th, Newton, KS, 1919.

Eventually, a son-in-law, John B. Olinger, joined Winne in the business.



Newton Lumber Parade float, ca. 1921.

The war left it’s mark. Winne experienced health problems throughout his later years, some related to his two years in the cavalry. In the 1890s, he worked with John C. Johnston to apply to the Department of Interior, Bureau of Pensions to file a claim.


He received his pension with the diagnosis of “Disease of the Digestive Organs and Piles” and “Chronic Diarrhea.”


According to other documents in the file, he “contracted  Chronic Diarrhea and piles which has resulted in fistula disease of rectum” at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, April 1, 1865.   At that time he was treated at the Ft Leavenworth hospital, but apparently continued to experience problems for the rest of his life.

These health difficulties did not stop Winne for seeking business opportunities, both in Newton and in Texas.

In 1894, the state of Texas opened the eastern section of Chambers County for settlement under a homestead grant.

The Santa Fe Railroad saw an opportunity and sent Newton businessman, Fox Winne as an engineer to review the prospects.  In 1895, the town of Winnie, Tx  was surveyed and named in honor of Newton contractor and investor, Fox Winne.


Fox Winne, Newton businessman, ca. 1925.

Fox Winne died at the age of 84 on July 20, 1927.  He had been in poor health for two years. He was survived by his wife, Mary, sons John, Elmer and Grant and daughter Maud Winne Olinger.

Note on the name “Winne.” In most of the historical documents, the last name is spelled “Winne,” including  census’, pension records and tombstones.  For some reason, a change occurred with the naming of the town “Winnie” and on the marriage certificate of his daughter, Maude where it is “Winnie.”


  • Winne, Fox File. John C. Johnston Collection of Civil War Pensions, HCHM Archives, Newton, Ks.
  • U.S. Census, 1880
  • City Directories for  Newton, Ks 1885, 1887, 1902, 1905, 1911, 1913, 1917, HCHM Archives, Newton, Ks
  • Voters Registration List 1882-1902, HCHM Archives, Newton, Ks
  • Evening Republican Kansan 20 July 1927, 10 Dec. 1934.
  • http://www.civilwaronthewesternborder.org/content/henry-barnes-henry-boothe-fox-winne-and-nd-horton
  • http://www.pddoc.com/skedaddle/010/0078.htm
  • U.S. Civil War Soldiers Index, 1861-1865.
  • U.S. National Park Service, Battle Unit Details – The Civil War at www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battle-units-detail.htm.
  • Winnie Area Chamber of Commerce – Winnie Early History at winnietexas.com/early-history/
  • County Markers at uncoveredtexas.com/texas-historical-markers-detail.php?city=Winnie&county.

A Most Tragic Death: Willis T. Green

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

(Note: This is part two of a three part series on the Opera House Fire on January 1, 1915)

On the evening of Dec 31,1914 around 7:30, W.T. Green, age 70,  walked with a friend, Albert Nichol, from the Arcade Hotel to his room on the third floor of the Knoepker Opera House.  At 2:30 in the morning on January 1, 1915 fire was reported at the Opera House.  Within an hour the entire structure was involved.  The next morning, people began to realize that no one had seen Mr. Green since 7:30 the night before, and the worst was feared.

“Several witnesses of the fire have stated that they saw a man at the window in the room which was occupied by Mr. Green.”  The man stood “at the window for a brief while.  He appeared there in an undershirt, then in a moment disappeared. . .. No one of the big  crowd that gathered around the ruins this morning had seen Mr. Green since last evening.”


A group of about forty men worked  to move debris in the area where they believed Green’s rooms would have been. At about 2:00 in the afternoon, Phil Lagree, foreman of the Newton street department, “picked up something with his shovel that looked like flesh.”  The paper  noted that even though “his features were unrecognizable” the body of W.T. Green had been found. From the location of the body, it looked “as though he had made an effort to get out in the hallway when the floor caved in.”

Newton Kansan Republican, 2 January 1915

Newton Kansan Republican, 2 January 1915

Green, a Civil War veteran, was an early settler in Harvey County.  Born in Putman County, Ohio, in November 1846, Green served with the 194th Regiment Ohio Volunteers Infantry Company I in 1865.   He moved to Harvey County in 1872 with his wife, Mary Smith Green, and three children. Here, he homesteaded a hundred and sixty acre farm in Darlington Township, section 15.

Darlington Township, Sect 15, 14,22, 23.  Edwards Plat Map, 1882

Darlington Township, Sect 15, 14,22, 23. Edwards Plat Map, 1882

After several years, he moved to Newton.  In 1898, he served as a clerk of the district court and for several years, worked as engineer at the city water works. His wife, Mary, died in February 1905.  For the last years of his life, Green, was not employed and lived on the third floor of the opera house where he felt “at home in his old room.”

On that night, Green was unable to escape the blazing building.

The Kansan reported;

“During the excitement of getting the people out of the rooming house . . . it was not known that he had not escaped . . . when several remembered having seen a man’s form at the window . .   the whole building was in flames and had it really been known for a certainty that a man was in the building, it would have been impossible for any one to attempt to rescue him.”

Willis T. Green, Marker Greenwood Cemetery, Newton, Ks, courtesy Jullian Wall

Willis T. Green, Marker Greenwood Cemetery, Newton, Ks, courtesy Jullian Wall

Green was survived by three children, Mrs. Joe Shuck, Mrs. L.C. Palmer and Frank C. Green and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Newton, Ks.


  • Newton City Directories: 1885, 1887, 1902, 1905, 1911, 1913.
  • Evening Kansan Republican, 1 January 1915
  • Newton Kansan Republican 2 January 1915, “Willis T. Green Met Awful Death”, p. 1.
  • Evening Kansan Republican, 1 January 1915
  • Newton Journal 8 January 1915.
  • Newton Kansan Republican, 6 February 1905 “Mrs. Willis Green Dead”, p. 1
  • Edwards Atlas, Darlington Township, 1882.
  • 194th Regiment Ohio Volunteers Infantry Company I at http://www.civilwarindex.com/armyoh/rosters/194th.oh.inf
  • U.S. General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934, Wilson t. Greene, 1890.
  • U.S. Veterans Adminstration Pension Payment Cards, 1907-1933, Wilson T. Greene, 1907-1933.
  • Sgt W.T. Green, Find A Grave Memorial #43771804
  • Mary E. Greene, Find A Grave memorial #43771835
  • Burial Record for Willis T. Greene and Mary E Greene at http://newton.harvey.ks.govern.com/cmquery
  • Fent, Mary Jeanine. Ragsdale Opera House — Newton, Kansas, 1885-1915. MA Thesis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1977. HCHM Archives.
  • HCHM Photo Archives


Next week, Part 3 will conclude the series with businesses affected by the fire.