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James M. Winchell

Letter addressed to James WinchellConstitutional Delegate. Born: 1823, Avon, New York. Died: February 2, 1877  Hyde Park, New York.

Born at Avon, Livingston County, New York, in 1823, J. M. Winchell was educated at the State Normal School at Albany and worked as a teacher and journalist before moving to Kansas Territory in 1854. He came to Kansas as a correspondent for the New York Times and settled at Council City (Burlingame), Osage County, being also one of the directors of the "American Settlement Company," which had established that town, but he spent considerable time in Lawrence. Winchell was a delegate to the first Republican National Convention at Philadelphia, and in 1856, with William Hutchinson, was appointed a commissioner of the Kansas State Central Committee to solicit aid from the North to protect free-state settlers. Winchell was a delegate to the Free-State Convention at Lawrence that met December 23-24, 1857, to discuss participation in the election of officers under the Lecompton Constitution, January 4, 1858. Winchell, along with Charles Robinson, William A. Phillips, Samuel Pomeroy, and others favored voting, but by 74 to 62, it was decided not to participate. Winchell was a delegate to the Leavenworth Convention, and a few days after his Wyandotte Convention adjourned, on August 3, 1859, Winchell was elected permanent chairman of the Republican Convention at Lawrence for nominating a delegate to Congress--M. J. Parrott selected. A delegate to the Republican State Convention, Topeka, October 12, 1859, Winchell was defeated by William A. Phillips (31 to 29) in a contest for temporary chairman (Phillips was subsequently elected president of the Convention). Winchell served in the territorial House of Representatives in 1860 and 1861.

Unsuccessful in his political pursuits during the years following admission, Winchell served as a war correspondent and had charge of the Times' Washington bureau in 1862-63. Back in Kansas in August 1863, Winchell was a "guest" at the Eldridge House in Lawrence on the night of August 20 but survived the infamous early-dawn raid lead by William C. Quantrill the next morning: he "was required to give up a fine new coat which he was wearing, but after he had surrendered it he bought it back, to the gratification of both parties, with a ten-dollar bill. In like cases occurring outside both money and life were taken without any return." For a short time after the war, Winchell was involved in management with the Kansas Pacific (i.e., Union Pacific, Eastern Division) and then engaged in mining. He then returned to his native New York state and served as "one of the editors of the New York Times, as he had been its correspondent while in Kansas." Winchell "purchased the estate at Hyde Park, on the Hudson," where he died there at age 53 on February 2, 1877.

Entry: Winchell, James M.

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: June 2011

Date Modified: July 2012

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.