Have you ever thought about tracing your family lineage? Do you wonder who your ancestors really were? My father told me that his mother’s ancestors started the town of Winnsboro
, so I planned a trip with my family to visit the town and see what we could find out about our family.
I first called my relatives to trace our family names back as far as possible. I was able to get information as far back as my great-great grandmother. Then I called the Town Hall in Winnsboro to find out who would be a good contact for researching our ancestry. They referred me to the Fairfield County Museum
, which conveniently has a nice genealogy room complete with books, copies of records, a computer for research and printers. Museum Director Pelham Lyles and a few museum volunteers pulled out information on the Winn family and had it waiting on us when we arrived.
In Winnsboro, we toured the Fairfield County Museum, which is maintained by the Fairfield Historical Society
. The museum is housed in an early 19th century house, which through the years has been a school, a hotel, a boarding house and a home. Original heart pine floors and hand carved woodwork have been meticulously preserved, and more than 4,000 artifacts from the town’s history are now housed there. The collection includes medical tools, a telegraph set used for sending and receiving messages in the 1900s, an early dentist’s chair complete with foot pump drill, musical instruments, dishes, furniture and military uniforms.
Upstairs in the genealogy room we spent some time on Ancestry.com
tracing our family tree back as far as the Winns, who first came to America from Wales. We took the names we found and flipped through thousands of pages of family stories, news articles and historical documents.
We learned some interesting things about my ancestors, the Winns. Indeed, I am directly related to Gen. Richard Winn, the founding father of Winnsboro. We also found out he was a land surveyor, like my father, and he was an important figure in the Revolutionary War. Winn was a captain under Gen. Thomasl Sumter and helped defend Charleston against the British. He represented South Carolina in Congress in the late 1700s and became Lieutenant Governor or South Carolina in 1800.
We made copies of our information to take home and left with a Historic Winnsboro self-guided tour map in hand.
We drove around looking at the sites and stopped by the Winn-Hannahan House on East Moultrie Street. It is one of Winnsboro’s oldest buildings and was built by Richard Winn’s brother, John. Before leaving town, we also visited Richard Winn Academy High School, where an original painting of Winn hangs in the office.
It did not take much digging to locate my family roots, but some families are quite difficult to trace. There are great resources in South Carolina
to help you get started. Visit South Carolina’s Genealogical Society website
or begin your search on Ancestry.com