Eli was born in Carroll County, VA. According to his father's bible his actual name was Elijah but there is no evidence that he ever used it. When about 15 years old, Eli left home and walked to the home of his Uncle Enoch Stamey in Greensboro, North Carolina, wearing bib overalls with a hole in the seat to seek his fortune. He somehow made his way to Olympia, Washington. It is believed he stayed for a while with his Uncle Forney Stamey. At some point, Eli began to ride and race bicycles and did so well that he became a professional.
When Eli married May, she was the widow of T.H. Coolidge. She was the mother of Blanche J. Bailey (born about 1882) who married Robert H. "Bobby" Walthour. By marrying May, Eli became Bobby Walthour's father-in-law as well as his manager. May is rumored to have been an actress. Forney Stamey's daughter believed she was known as May Dane. Whether Dane was another married name or a stage name is unknown at this time.
Eli obtained a divorce from the former Mrs. Coolidge November 1, 1900 in Seattle, Washington. While there, he crossed over into British Columbia, Canada, where he won the British Columbia championship.
An April 1902 article in The Constitution: Atlanta, Ga., reads in part: "Eli Winesett, manager of Bobbie Walthour, and Miss May Steele, daughter of Mrs. H. J. Pogue of 742 Elliott Street, Bellwood, Ga., were united in marriage on the evening of April 8 by Rev. W. A. Babb, of Western Heights." The article goes on the state that the license was obtained in Marietta and the members of the wedding party were pledged to secrecy. It reported that Eli picked May up at the Battle Hill school and carried her away. Mrs. Pogue was known as in the family as "Mama Kate". She outlived several husbands including Mr. Pogue.
Eli made several trips to Europe with Walthour before retiring from bicycle racing and returning to the Virginia mountains. Eli bought and sold land. He would buy a tract of land, cut and saw the timber with his own saw mill equipment, build a house, live in it for a while, sell, and then move on to another project.
Evidently Eli took his family to Alamogorda, New Mexico before the summer of 1908 when and where Mae was born. He returned to Virginia by 1913. While in Alamogorda Eli bought a ranch. Rattlesnakes were a problem on the ranch and the boys killed a lot them and hung the skins on a fence. The boys would catch wild burros that came to the water holes and ride them for fun. Eli bought and branded half-wild Texas horses and shipped them to Virginia where they were sold on the basis of "what you see is what you get." Eli sold out and returned to Galax, Virginia, came back and then returned again. At one time Eli owned a hotel in Alamogorda. The boys would sell sandwiches to soldiers and other passengers on trains passing through town. It is believed that the family lived in Alamogorda area on three separate occasions. Eli's brother, Alex L., also lived in the area for several years.
Eli at one time owned property known as "the Glades" located near the Virginia and North Carolina border. He had a two story house on about 250 acres of land. The Glades was somewhat unusual in that is was flat being situated a plateau atop the Blue Ridge mountains.
Another family story is that Rance Green and his children lived on the farm. The story is that Eli and his brother, Robert "Uncle Bob" who had a large store, were kind to blacks who were called "darkies" in the area. Eli supposedly gave them land without charge. Lem said some of Rance's descendants still live in the area and remember Eli with fondness.
About 1917, Eli sold all his land and equipment in Virginia and moved the family to Hermiston, Oregon. A typical western town of about 750 people without a single paved street. Main street was graveled and the sidewalks were boarded. Hermiston has very little rainfall and the alfalfa crops had to be irrigated from canals fed by a large reservoir. Eli bought an alfafa ranch of approximately 250 acres and some bees. This was at the end of World War I and both hay and honey sold very well. There was also an apricot orchard which Eli traded for 20 unseen acres of land and some lots in Brooksville, Florida.
About 10 acres of the Florida land was sold for a very hansome profit when the family lived in Whiteville. Eli also bought or traded for about 320 acres of Texan land. Some of this land was traded for the apple and peach orchards in North Carolina and the rest to pay the doctor bills for the children born in Whiteville, NC.
The Federal Bureau of Land Management records, Accession Ser. No. 914656, reflect that Eli and Ralph I. Skinner purchase 20 acres of land in Umatilla County on 22-Aug-1923. I would appreciate any information on Mr. Skinner and his relationship to Eli.
Mama Kate and daughter Edna moved to Hermiston and lived on Eli's ranch. Edna married married Mark Nadeau (rhymes with meadow) and Mama Kate married a man named Mossi. Mr. Mossi was building a house for Mama Kate. They lived first in a tent and later in the cellar while the rest of the house was being built. It seldem rained in Hermiston. The Mossi later moved to Bend, Oregon.
In the spring of 1925, Eli sold out and the family once again boarded a Union Pacific passenger train and returned to Galax, Virginia. There the family stayed with relatives while Eli bought 550 colonies of bees from a Mr. Johnson who owned and published the Mout Airy newspaper. He also bought a new Ford pick-up truck. The entire family moved to Whiteville, North Carolina.
The family's arrival caused a sensation which was recorded in the Whiteville press. When the family arrived wearing bradded khakis, cowboy boots and cowboy hats, the locals thought Zane Grey's novels had come to life. However, that was nothing compared to the arrival of two or three carloads of bees which were parked on the railroad siding in downtown Whiteville. The year of their arrival is questionable but the 1930 Federal Census has the family there.
The Whiteville area was not very good for bees nor the family economics. Eli bought an apple and peach orchard about six miles north of Mount Airy and this helped keep the family going. Bill talks about May keeping a fruit and vegetable market in Whiteville and a gas station. One of his chores was to raise a chicken wire fence around the stand each evening. There is evidence that May also did some hair dressing for local women.
While in Whiteville, the family suffered fires. Their home burned down 17-Sep-1931 and another fire threatened their home on 10-May-1934. Frank told be that he was responsible for the 1934 fire when he built a fire in the honey house where lumber and beewax was stored - he failed to properly close the door.
About 1936, the family moved to Plymouth, a small town on the Ronoke River, which flows to the Albemarle Sound on the coast of North Carolina. Eli purchased a large tract of land from the Gulf Oil Company. The large strudy buildings were ideal for the honey business and the entrance area was paved in concrete. In the late 1940's, Eli built a subdivision around the old plantation house and named it "Winesett Circle". About 1950, Eli retired and he and May moved to Nokomis, Florida. Several years after Eli's death May went into a nursing home near Whiteville.
May had long hair. The Webmaster remembers her standing in a chair to brush and comb her hair so as to keep it off the floor. She usually kept her hair wound in a bun.
Mae always looked younger than her age. Eli always joked that he was twice her age when he married her and she kept him that way thereafter. The webmaster remembers that as a young boy, Mae's mother, "Mama Kate" visited with her husband. He was hushed when he asked, "Who is that old man with Mama Kate?" Mama Kate was 20 years older than her husband. She outlived several husbands.
Eli and May's children are:
1. Eli Jr., (8-May-1904 to 3-Jan-1964),
2. Dan (17-Oct-1905 to 1-Oct-1988),
3. Helen Mae (22-Jun-1908 to 11-Jun-1995),
4. Lemuel (19-Feb-1913 to 25-Oct-1997),
5. Gladys (7-Jul-1914 to 14-May-1958),
6. Kate (21-Aug-1915 to 22-Feb-1996),
7. Nell Louise (21-Mar-1918 to 12-Oct-1999),
8. Robert Alexander (22-Apr-1919 to 22-Mar-1975),
9. FrankMarion (12-Mar-1921 to 20-Aug-1997),
10. Carole Virginia (6-Aug-1923),
11. William Steele (14-Feb-1926), \
12. James Dow (1-Aug-1928 to 27-Jun-1990), and
13. Linda Leigh (13-May-1931 to May-1949).
Eli Jr. and Dan were probably born in Atlanta, GA; Mae in Alamogordo, NM; Lem, Gladys and Kate in Galax, VA; Nell, Bob, Frank and Carole in Hermiston, OR; and Billy, Jimmy and Linda in Whiteville, NC. Linda Leigh's name does not appear on her birth certificate. She died of leukemia at age 16.
Any additional information about the members of this family
would be appreciated.