Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mr. Winters goes to Chicago

Chicago's lakefront hosts the 1893 Columbian Exposition and a man from Orange County named Winters makes his mark. (Photo, Library of Congress)

*Updated June 2017*

   In 1893, Chicago hosted the World's Columbian Exposition---a 630-acre international world's fair of extraordinary scope and the subject of a multitude of books and documentaries.  The four Southern California counties banded together to create the Southern California World's Fair Association, joining their exhibits in the Columbian Exposition's California Building.

   The final report of the California World's Fair Commission remarks, "Orange County displayed her citrus and deciduous fruits in such a manner as to bring them prominently before the public.  Her exhibit of fruit in glass was among the largest of any of the southern counties, while her output in the agricultural line disclosed a pleasing variety of marketable vegetables and luxuriant grains.  Her large beets, squash, celery, cucumbers, corn, oats, etc. attracted much attention, while the specimens of peat soil evoked marked comment."

The California Building at the World's Columbian Exposition. (Image, Final Report of California World's Fair Commission, 1893)


Liberty bell constructed from Southern California citrus, inside the California Building at the World's Columbian Exposition. (Image, Final Report of California World's Fair Commission, 1893)  

   A large part of the success of the Orange County exhibit has to do with Henry Winters, for whom Wintersburg is named.  In A History of Orange County (Samuel Armor, 1921), Winters is described as, "a conspicuous example of a successful agriculturist, and notably associated with the advancement of the county..."

   "In the early years of the county's history, Mr. Winters purchased twenty acres of land in Ocean View, where his home is situated in what is now the great celery district..." continues Armor, "His land yielded 137 bushels of shelled corn and 100 sacks of marketable potatoes to the acre the first year...samples of this remarkable showing were placed on exhibition at the World's Columbian Exposition, in 1893, and created a sensation.  Probably this exhibit, more than any other display from California, had a tendency to place the resources of Orange County in the proper light before the world in general."

   Because Winters' name was with the exhibit, he received "a large correspondence from incredulous and inquiring observers, which he personally answered."  Winters went on to display the agricultural wealth of Wintersburg Village at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and at county fairs. 

   Winters' successful agricultural ventures and his ambassadorship for Orange County led to his being named the president of the California Celery Company, according to Armor, during which he placed Orange County celery in eastern U.S. markets.  Winters also donated land for the rail line that went through Wintersburg and land for other township purposes, such as the armory.  Grateful residents circulated a petition to name the town in his honor, creating the little community of Wintersburg Village.

LEFT: Henry and Cordelia Winters, for whom Wintersburg Village was named. Henry Winters donated land for the railroad and for local civic efforts, such as the Wintersburg M.E. Church. Cordelia Winters was a member of the Wintersburg Presbyterian Church, which helped found the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Mission. (Image, History of Orange County, Samuel Armor, 1921)

   Winters built a "beautiful and commodious bungalow in the suburbs of Wintersburg, where he and his family reside and keep up the old time hospitality for which California of olden days was renowned," writes Armor, lauding Winters for keeping a family orchard and vegetable garden "in which he grows fifty varieties of fruits."

   The name of Henry Winters was lost from Wintersburg Road as the farming areas of Orange County developed.  Wintersburg Road was renamed Warner Avenue after Orange County Supervisor Willis Warner.

RIGHT: Fountain Valley's first mayor, James Kanno, with Orange County supervisor Willis Warner and other city and county officials at the Warner Avenue bridge dedication, circa 1961.  James Kanno's father, Shuji Kanno, was an elder in the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Mission and James Kanno attended Sunday school at the Mission.  He was the first Japanese American mayor in the United States. (Photo, Los Angeles Herald Negatives Collection)

   Today, Wintersburg Village---named after a man instrumental in the development of early Orange County---has faded into Huntington Beach.  However, a significant degree of Huntington Beach's and Orange County's early agricultural development success is due to Winters' efforts.  

   Samuel Armor's final comment about Winters was that "the wealth and success he has wrested from crude but promising materials commend itself to the consideration of the younger generation who may be imbued with ambition and possess the adequate energy and continuity of purpose to surmount the obstacles that lie in the pathway of success."

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2 comments:

  1. Enjoyed your blog! Especially the information on Henry Winters. He is my great-grandfather on my mother's side. He was born Luther Henry Winters, in Warren OH and married Cordelia Wilson, who was born in Pasadena. My mother and cousin, who are granddaughters of Henry, are still alive in CA. They tell me that Henry's land was on Warner and Gothard. He had 6 children, my grandmother Bonnie was the oldest.

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  2. Hi Diane, Thank you for leaving this comment on the blog! I am going to include your notes about Henry Winters on a future blog post. Happy to know there are Winters descendants still in California!

    ReplyDelete

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