from Atlas of Moultrie County and the State of Illinois, 1875 ,p.234-5, Source and comments provided by John Winings.
The subject of the following sketch is one of the oldest settlers and prominent men of Moultrie county. The ancestry of the family is German on the paternal side, and Welsh on the maternal. There were three brothers who left Germany and came to America prior to the Revolutionary war. From them the Winings have sprung.
The name in the course of time became slightly changed. Ross Winans, of Baltimore, the millionaire inventor of the steamship, and builder of the great Russian railroads, was a direct decendant from one of these three German emigrants.
John, the grandfather of William Winings, was the youngest of these three brothers, and was but six years of age when he came to America [around 1733]. He grew to manhood here, took part in the Revolutionary war, and hauled supplies and provisions for the patriot forces. He was a man of large frame, possessed of great strength and powers of endurance, and lived to the great age of one hundred and one years. He drifted into Western Pennsylvania, and there made his home until 1818, when he removed to Dearborn county, Indiana, and remained there until his death.
He married Elizabeth Ryder [Grider], who was of German parentage, and a native of Maryland. She died in Indiana, at the great age of one hundred and three years. Her father and two sons [Elizabeth's brothers?] were soldiers of the Revolution, and the latter lost their lives in defense of their country.
By this union was [born] Abraham, the father of the subject of this biography. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1804, and was in his fourteenth year when his father moved to Indiana. He followed farming in the summer, and in the winter the flat boating and coasting trade down the Ohio river. In 1852, he came to Illinois, and the first year stopped in Sangamon county, then removed to Macon county, where he died in 1870.
He married Sarah Ricketts. She died in Macon county, in 1862, in her fifty-fourth year. She was descended from a Welsh family. Her father, Robert Ricketts, was also a soldier of the Revolution, first a substitute, and afterwards enlisted and served until the close of the struggle.
By this latter marriage there were four children, two sons and two daughters. William is the eldest of the children. He was born in Ohio county, Indiana, July 24, 1825. He received but a limited education in the schools of his native state. This has, however, been much improved in later years by self-culture, and he is now well posted upon current events and transacts all kinds of business in a businesslike manner.
He remained in Indiana at work upon the farm and in farming until the fall of 1852, when he moved to Macon county, Illinois, and remained there until 1857, when he purchased a quarter section of land in Section 11, T. 15, R. 4 E. [now Dora Township, Moultrie County], upon a part of which the town of Lake City is now built. It was raw, unimproved land, and all the improvements have been made by him. He may be regarded as the first settler of the town, as the first house erected was upon his land.
On the 25th of December, 1846, he married Miss Nancy Jane Chamberlin, a native of Ohio county, Indiana. Her father was a Virginian. Her mother's maiden name was Lucretia Cheek, daughter of Page Cheek, who died in 1832, from cholera.
There have been born to William and Nancy J. Winings three children, two sons and one daughter. Their names in the order of their birth are: Secreta J., Wilson W. and Scott Winings. Mr. Winings is not a member of any religious denomination, but in belief is liberal, with a strong tendency to Universalism. Politically he has been a democrat since 1848. In 1872, he espoused the cause of the Grangers, which developed into the National Greenback party, and if their principles could gain control and shape the laws he would gladly vote that ticket.
In his township he has been frequently elected to offices of trust. He was for two terms elected justice of the peace, and served out a part of another term caused by a vacancy, holding the office for nearly ten years. He was also school treasurer for ten years, and at present is town treasurer and clerk of the board of commissioners. While these offices do not carry with them large trusts, they serve to show in what estimation he is held by his friends and neighbors, with whom he has lived and associated for nearly a quarter of a century. In 1880, he engaged in the grain trade, and at the present time is one of the largest shippers in Lake City. He has a large elevator, and handles large quantities of grain annually.