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Madera Biographies: VANWINKLE


Isaac Vanwinkle, the father of Abram, was born in Kentucky and in 1837 migrated to Perry County, Indiana. He followed farming until 1843 when he removed to Iowa, locating in Davis County, and there resumed agricultural pursuits, which he followed until 1850. In that year he disposed of his interests there, outfitted with ox-teams and crossed the plains to California. The first two years after his arrival here were spent in the mines near Hangtown, his efforts being well rewarded. He then returned to his home in Wapello county, Iowa, where he remained the balance of his life, his death occurring in 1895, at the age of seventy­two years. His wife, who in maidenhood bore the name of Agnes Miller, was born in Kentucky, and is the mother of ten children. She is now [1905] living in Iowa at the advanced age of eighty-four years.

Abram Vanwinkle, the second in this large family, was born in Perry county, Ind., January 4, 1841. Like most boys of those early days his schooling was limited to a few terms in the district schools near the home farm. In 1862, he started out to make his own way in the world and the same year crossed the plains to California. The first three years of his life in this state were spent in teaming between Sacramento, Virginia City and Austin, Nev. He then engaged in the lumber business on the Russian river in Sonoma county for two years, at the end of which time he located in Napa county, where he engaged in farming until 1870. The next three years were spent in Stanislaus County on the San Joaquin River. Prior to locating in Fresno County he was engaged in the sheep business in Fresno, now Madera County, but this venture proved a failure and he lost every dollar he had. In 1879 he purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land, two and one-half miles west of Kingsburg and three miles south of Selma. Here he engaged in farming and stock raising, also conducting a medium-sized dairy, and keeping a herd of Angora goats, from which he derives a good profit.

In 1872 Mr. Vanwinkle married Miss Emma Brown, who was born in Australia, coming to the United States with her parents when a child. Her father, Henry Brown, was born in England and at the time of the discovery of gold in Australia, left his native country and followed mining until his emigration to California. To Mr. and Mrs. Vanwinkle have been born three children, namely: Charles, who lives in Arizona; Amanda, wife of Albert Elder, of Fresno county, and Agnes, who lives at home. In politics Mr. Vanwinkle votes the Republican ticket, but further than exercising his right of franchise, he has never cared to appear in the arena of public life. He has, however, been prominent in local affairs, never failing to give both his moral and financial assistance to any movement which he deemed of benefit to the county. Ever since leaving home he has had to make his own way in the world and as a result of his energy and perseverance he has accumulated a competency. During his residence in California, since 1862, he has made five trips to Iowa to visit his parents, making eleven trips over the plains.

Guinn, J. M., History of the State of California and Biographical Record of the San Joaquin Valley, California, (Chicago: Chapman Publishing, 1905), page 1441.

Transcribed by Harriet Sturk.

Last update: October 17, 2012
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