William Wenban, The progenitor of those of whom we have written, was born at and spent
most of his life in the village of Sandhurst. This lies about a mile North of the Parish Church on and along an ancient road which runs from the junction of the roads from the coast at Rye and Hastings at Newenden through Hawkshurst in Kent to Wadhurst in Sussex and thence on toTonbridge. This is one of the few ancient tracks through the Weald, once an impenetrable forest fringed by swine pastures, and it is crossed at Sandhurst by a Roman road running North and South.
William was the first born of Thomas and Mary Wenban (nee) Longley, who were married at Sandhurst and are the first known to have each signed their Surname "Wenban" in the present form. He and other before him had been recorded Wenbourne, sometimes without the 'o' or the 'u' or the 'e' but seldom without the 'NB' in the middle. After the birth of William, his parents moved to Wadhurst where the rest of their children were born. Entered in the Parish Register by various Vicars or Clerks, the family name was spelt in no less than four different ways as the eight baptisms were recorded over the twenty years.
There were four other boys, Thomas, James, John and Gideon, and four girls. The boys were all to go to America, John was there in 1828, one of Thomas's sons may have gone a year earlier, and he himself (Thomas) followed a year later. James and Gideon went within the next ten years. Gideon was the last to go after losing his first wife and re-marrying at the end of 1837. Hunger and lack of employment drove the younger men to think of emigration and already in 1826 Charles, son of the younger Thomas, applied for passage money. A year later a party was made up of several families from Sandhurst including Charles and his wife who was pregnant but very healthy and anxious to go.
The only way to travel to London was by road, so a little convoy of wagons and carts would set out for the North to London and the docks. There they would join others from different points and get on board the narrow boats that plied the canals through the Midlands to the North and the port of Liverpool, the main port for America. An agent would have been advised of their coming and he would see them on board ship and pay passage money to the ships master. Many of the ships were of less than 375 tons but some were up to 600 tons. Having discharged their cargo of timber or other goods from America, they took on emigrants for the return passage across the Atlantic. Steerage passage, the lot of these poorer emigrants, varied from the barely tolerable to the appalling but our ancestors seem to have been tough enough for the vast majority to survive. This was of course before the age of steam which revolutionised travel by land and sea, horse-drawn canal boats and sailing vessels were the order of the day.
Not a little of what we would now term "Racketeering" went on among the more shady agents, ships masters and boarding house keepers on both sides of the Atlantic. Liverpool and New York each had their "wharf rats" ready to exploit or steal from the emigrants rich or poor.
If they were properly served by the agents and the masters they found some temporary accommodation while they sought work or decided by which routes and to what destination they would travel into the interior. The approach to New York was pleasant enough even if the wharves and their immediate surroundings were squalid. The sail up the Hudson River was described by contemporary Scottish writer as "Truly beautiful"- Fine hills-magnificent trees- it resembled.... the larger banks of the Clyde" What higher praise could he give?.
The onward journey inland was again by sailing boat or barge taking two to five days over the trip to Albany. The choice between the route to the North and Canada or the West and the Great Lakes had to be made. The Erie Canal was open, 362 miles of largely man-made waterway connecting the upper Hudson with Lake Erie at Buffalo. This was the best way to the West, still sparsely settled land of opportunity. At about a third of the way along the canal was what another writer described as "the improving town of Utica". This was later used by another family of Wenbans as a temporary halt but we next trace Charles and others of his family in records of Euclid, Cuyahoga County,close to the town of Cleveland in Ohio. Charles lies in the cemetary there under an undated stone, but his brother James is recorded as having died in 1885 and his wife Hannah in 1879, His son John P., born in 1840 buried in 1921 and his wife Sarah, 1843--1928 lie beside him. The Census of 1880 records James as widower living with his son and daughter in law, two married daughters and some grandchildren. In 1869 the land register shows he held 23 acres. His wife was a Pennsylvania woman and his children had been born in that city. The death of the other brother John is recorded in Philadelphia in 1896 at 78 years of age but there is no trace of the other two brothers William and Edward.
The next brother John left for America in 1828 with eight children and appears in the city directory of Utica as resident at the corner of Blacker and Second Streets. In 1832 he is still there listed as a coachmaker, his son John with him. A younger son , Moses is an apprentice tinner and brazier boarding in the town. We know from the U.K. records there were three younger brothers then under working age, two of whom, Hezekiah and Simeon we can follow up later. In the case of Simeon a whole chapter in a book published in San Francisco in 1892 entitled
" Chronicles of the Builders of the Commonwealth" confirms that the family crossed in 1828/29 and spent six years in Utica, New York State before passing on to Cleveland, Ohio. John purchased a farm some twelve miles East of Richmond and here in his young manhood , Simeon was to build a saw-mill and found a small but prosperous lumbering business. The records of the township of Euclid also show the elder brother John Jr. owning 36 acres of land in 1849, but he had moved on by 1851 as had Simeon. His brother Hazekiah married Aurilla Spring in Richmond in 1849 and in the 1850 Census his occupation is given as surveyor. John Jr. had married Frances Stevenson in 1842, their sister Susan Ann married a Mr. Staple Stevenson presumably Frances's brother. Simeon married a little earlier in the same year as Hezekiah, a Miss Caroline Shepard.
John Jr. moved nearer the city of Cleveland after his fathers death in 1850 and Simeon and Hezekiah both went to the West. John Jr. had three sons, Henry 1843, Sion Longley 1848, and George 1850, In 1942 correspondence with Sion Wade Wenban 1876, son of Henry living at Rocky River near Cleveland revealed that his father was old enough to be mobilised for the civil war in 1861 and a year after " mustering out" in 1865 married Maria Wade, took a soldiers claim of land in Kansas. After his wife died in 1883 he returned to Cleveland, in 1890 re-married and went to Portland Oregon. He had a copy of "The Births of William and Dinah Wenban" in the family bible which he took with him. While there he met by chance a Maynard Wenban and discovered he was his cousin, a son of Hezekiah. Sion Wade himself had been in San Francisco in 1935 and had occasion to consult a doctor. To his surprise he pronounced his name correctly and an enquiry revealed that the doctor knew about a building called " The Wenban Palace" which had been destroyed in the great fire and earthquake of 1906. This is as we shall see was Simeons property. Sion Wade died in 1964, his son who was childless is now retired from business and living in Florida. The name Sion Longley picks up the family name of his great-grandmother. He was born in Cincinnati, became an artist and appears described in the Chicago "Merchants Census Report" of 1871 at 48, Harrison Street. His brother George is also listed with a news depot. A quite extensive biography appears in "Bryans Dictionary of Painters and Engravers" and an equivalent German directory of artists, for he went to Munich to study in 1879 and ultimately died there, although he was resident in Cleveland in 1887/8. Like many artists he had little success in his life-time but became known through a posthumous exhibition as an etcher, engraver and landscape painter. George was in Cleveland after 1882 moving later to Youngstown where he died in 1927. He was married but without issue, Sion Longley Wenban did not marry.
Hezekiah after marriage moved to Michigan where he had two sons and two daughters. The group still in that state descend from elder son,, Willen Willard, who lived in Lacota. He had three sons, Charles Guy 1880, Burrell H 1888, and Earl 1890, Maynard was in Portland Oregon but had no issue. One of his great nephews was given the same name, he is the son of Burrell and has corresponded saying that he has two brothers in Indiana. This name may be an echo of the fact that a Mainard family were in the original emigrant group from Sandhurst.
Simeon as a lad was allowed unusual freedom to live in the open air because he was considered delicate and a brother had died of tuberculosis. He developed a bent for mathematics and mechanics and the saw-mill he built was the product of this. After his father's death he built a steam mill to replace the old one and provide an income for his mother with whom he left his wife and children with while he went via New York to San Francisco and on to the mining areas of Nevada, then just opening up. He studied mining and mineralogy, became superintendant of a quartz mill in Virginia City, but again went into the outdoors to prospect for silver.
After many hardships and vicissitudes he became owner of 26 locations, found an abandoned mill six miles from his mines and began production. By 1888 he was extracting silver from the ore at anything from 70 to 250 ounces per ton. Finally the Tenebo Mill and mining company became a prosperous concern, and his wife and daughters who had shared his hardships from 1864 onwards were able to settle with him in San Francisco. He had a private house on Van Ness Avenue as well as the office building on the corner of Sutter and Mason Streets. He died on March 4th 1901 and left estate totalling about $600,000. His widow and two married daughters survived him.
A third son of Thomas who certainly emigrated to America was Gideon, the youngest, born in 1785. He was twice married, one son by the first marriage named William went out in 1830's settling in Lake County, Michigan in 1838. He farmed 26 acres, lost a hand in a threshing machine in 1849, died in1878 and is buried in the same cemetery at Diamond Lake as his father and stepmother, Two of Gideon's other sons by the first marriage died young, the other survivor, Eli, had a draper's business at Tenterden in Kent.
After the death of his first wife in 1833 Gideon met some years later a widow, Mary Curtis ( nee Leaney) of Wateringbury. She was some fourteen years younger than he, they married at the end of 1837 and were in America in 1838 in Cleveland where their first son Curtis Gideon was born. She had a son John Curtis by her first husband. They settled with William at Diamond Lake where Gideon died in 1856. His will dated 1852 leaves most of his estate to Curtis Gideon but mentions both William and Eli. C.G. established himself after the civil war in general merchandising in Chicargo then moved to Lake Forest and set up a livery business there in 1879. He was postmaster at Diamond Lake 1866-1879. Like his father and half brother William he was twice married . His first wife died shortly after the birth of their son Albert in 1864, five years later he re-married.
By his second wife , Evoline he had five children, three of them sons, of whom two were still alive and hearty at 92 and 98 in the year 1972. Frank, the middle one, ran a drugstore. Fred and George ran the livery business which added a funeral service which became in modern times a funeral parlor. George Jr. , son of George visited England in 1973, and was current director of the business. At one time they had a Buick agency also. He has two adopted children, son and daughter. Albert, son of the first marriage was a lawyer and had a son Robert who did not marry. He visited Britain at least twice and contacted the Cranbrook Branch.
© 2008 Wenban Family. Website by Myles design.
Here is an article about Simeon Wenban written by Mike Colbruno
From His Mountain View Cemetary Bio Tour
Simeon Wenban was the founder of the Cortez Silver Mine in Cortez
Nevada, which at one time was the third largest silver mine in the
world. Ironically, Wenban made much of his fortune from the limestone
surrounding the silver.
Wenban was born in the English parish of Hawkhurst in 1824, the son
of a wheelwright. In 1828, his parents moved the family to Utica
New York and later to Cleveland. In 1854, Wenban moved to
California to begin a career, but moved to Nevada in 1862.
Before long he was one of the richest men in the area having become a
millionaire many times over.
Wenban Family Mausoleum Mountain View Cemetary California
Photo courtesy Mike Colbruno
Much of his success came from finding new and innovative ways to extract the maximum amount of ore from a mine. During a difficult financial time at his mine, he found it difficult to pay his Cornish workers. They became restless and angry with Simeon. He fired them and replaced them with Chinese workers who were far more patient in waiting for their pay.
Unlike many other miners in the area, Wenban befriended the Ute Indians of the area, who often brought him gifts of game and dressed skins.
In 1888, Wenban moved his family to San Francisco and erected a magnificent home at Van Ness Avenue & Jackson Street. In 1892, out of an act of sheer generosity, he decided to build a beautiful new home for the Bohemian Club, but the officers decided that the expense in maintaining it would be too great and they never occupied the building.
The home (Wenbans Palace ) was destroyed by the Great Earthquake and fire in 1906.
This is all that was left after it had been dynamited.
Wenban Palace after the 1906 Earthquake courtesy Bancroft Library
(Although I believe this is a photo of Simeons other building in San Francisco. (Authors note)
click photo to enlarge
Click photo to enlarge
The following text is extracted from Archie Wenbans book "Rude Forefathers",
Courtesy of Peter Wenban England.
Wenban Palace before the earthquake. S.F.Public Library
Willen William born 1854 died 1923 Son of Hezekiah Wenban
Charles Guy Wenban 1990
Charles Guy around 1943 son of Guy Charles son of Willen William Wenban
Burrel Wenban son of Willen William Wenban
Heres an Email I received from Phyllis Wenban from USA about the above Wenbans.
Well here goes some of the info
Hezekiah Wenban Died in Jan. 20 1901 married Aurrial Spring Died March 15 1890
They had four Children
Minnica S Born 1860 Died 5-6-1884
A Moaroe born 1862 Died 1875
Ella H. born 1852 Died 1866
Willen William born 1854 died 1923
Willen William Wenban Married Inez Hoag Inez Born 11-29-1857 Died 11-18-1899
They had four children
Adeline Hazel (Lina)
Guy Charles Married Laura Gillett
They had One Child Charles Guy Wenban
After Willenís Wife Inez died he married Anna Elizabeth Boyer Brownell 11-22-1902
Anna died in 7-22-1937
I can not find a divorce for Willen & Anna Iím going back again to search at the courthouse.
Willen married again to Emily Annetta Daniels Lull 1-2-1915
Annetta died in 10-21-1944
Charles Guy Wenban Born 1-24-1918 Died 12-22-1992 (My Dad) Married Rita Bunyea Born 7-26-1925 living
They had 5 children
On the web is a picture of Charles Guy Wenban But it says its Guy Charles Wenban I sent it to the owner of the tree the Pictures and have not been able to get in touch with him since to let him know that he has the wrong name on the picture.
I only have been working on this for about a year. I have more info on Earl, Burrell, Lina . Some in info On the rest of Hezekiah Sisters and Brothers Which you have Simeon already. will email again soon with dates on the others. Hopefully I will figure out how to send the Group Sheet to you.
* To see what life was like in San Francisco in Simeon's time, please click here to watch the video taken about 4 days before the Great Earthquake of 1906.
Curtis Gideon standing in the doorway of his livery business next door to his Funeral business which is still operating to this day.Lake Forest. USA