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George Whitfield Hemenway was one of the early postmasters of Winters. He was also a printer and proprietor. He died at a relatively young age while his son Fred was attending school at the University of California in Berkeley. It is said that his service in the war damaged his health, precipitating his untimely death.





George W. Hemenway, third from left with cane, was the Postmaster of Winters when this photo was taken in 1890. Above the entrance are the words 'Post Office'.
Walter Hemenway is pictured second from right..

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

G.A.R. Meeting

HEADQUARTERS, COL. A.W. PRESTON POST, NO. 114, DEP'T CAL., G.A.R., Winters, Cal., January 24, 1891.

At a regular meeting of this Post, held in Seaman's Hall, January 24, 1891, the following officers, being duly elected for the ensuing year, were properly installed by Senior Past Post Commander and Special Aid de Camp, J.P. Trumbull: 

Post Commander, G.W. Hemenway, Senior Vice, Joshua Steward, Junior Vice, J.P. Trumbull, Quartermaster, Samuel Cooper, Surgeon, P.J. Aiken, M.D., Chaplain, James Wilson, Officer of the Day, Joseph Connor, Officer of the Guard, J.W. Ball, Sergeant Major, A.N. Babcock, Quartermaster Sergeant, T.E. Boyd 

Representatives to Department Encampment, J.P. Trumbull, Joseph Connor, A.N. Babcock, G.W. Hemenway and P.J. Aiken, M.D. Alternate, James Wilson.

Comrade Samuel Cooper was admitted a member by transfer card.

from the Winters Express,  1891


An Old Soldier and Well Known Citizen Passes to the Great Beyond

Rather suddenly, though not entirely unexpectedly, the people of Winters were called upon Monday last to attend the last sad rites to the memory of a fellow townsman, G.W. Hemenway.

He had long been a sufferer from disease resultant from exposure in the army, but for many years was able to attend to his business until last spring, when his old trouble returned with unusual rigor. On account of his age he had not the vitality to withstand it, and succumbed to the disease at 8:25 o'clock Sunday morning, December 9, at the home of his brother, Dwight Hemenway, where he had been receiving the best of care and undivided attention. A simple and impressive funeral service was held at the house of Dwight Hemenway Monday morning, Rev. H.C. Culton officiating, and the remains were interred in the Masonic cemetery.

George Whitfield Hemenway was born at Wayne, DuPage county, Illinois June 17, 1842. Deceased was third of a family of ten children, six of whom are still living. Mr. Hemenway passed his boyhood days on his father's farm at Wayne. At the age of nineteen, September 23, 1861, he enlisted for three years as private in Co. K 36th regiment of Illinois volunteer infantry. He served through the Missouri campaign, was at the battle of Stone River, Wilson's Creek and Pea Ridge. His next battle was at Perryville, and it was during the march from Perryville to Murfreesboro that the disease developed which resulted in his death. It was while in the campaign around Chattanooga and Murfreesboro that he was discharged, October, 20, 1863, as physically unfit for military duty.

He returned home and having to some extent recovered, he and his father went to Atchinson, Ill., as broom makers. When Mr. Hemenway again returned home he was elected tax collector of Wayne township. He then completed a course in the business department of Wheaton College and secured employment in the wholesale stationery establishment of Ezra Cook in Chicago.

He was married November 17, 1869, to Anna Filer, whom he met while they were students at Wheaton College. After the Chicago fire in which Ezra Cook's establishment was burned, he found employment in printing the Christian Cynosure, a paper edited by President Blanchard of Wheaton College. In 1877 Mr. Hemenway and wife moved to Kansas, bringing three children, Walter, Luella and Fred, born to them in Chicago. He remained in Kansas, near Madison, conducting a farm ten years. Here Harvey and Jessie were born.

The family moved to Winters in the fall of 1887, where deceased served for six years as postmaster, to the entire satisfaction of the community. The deceased was prominent in G.A.R. circles, a well-known and respected citizen of Winters and an enthusiastic supporter of all patriotic movements. Besides the five children, who are all living, he leaves and invalid wife to mourn his loss. The heartfelt sympathy of the whole community reaches out to comfort the bereaved ones in their deepest sorrow.

-from the Winters Express December 1900

The President appoints George Postmaster

Click to enlarge

Walter G. Hemenway owned and operated several studios in Northern and Southern
California, including one in San Diego where he and his wife, the former Cornelia Sweitzer, operated the largest photographic business in that city.  They later moved to Los Angeles and built up the leading gallery in all of Southern California.  Then  Nelia died suddenly, shortly after Wally purchased a gallery in New York City where they were to move.  No one knows what happened to Wally, but he may have remarried.

Walter George (Wally) Hemenway and his studio in San Diego


Walter's Studio Logo

L.A. Street Scene circa 1905

Early Hemenway Photographs

The earthquake of 1892 damaged Winters heavily. Many downtown buildings and residences required major repair (all were repaired within a month) and the Army was asked to provide tent shelters for the homeless during reconstruction.

from City of Winters: Cultural and Historical Heritage


…Some were so blanched with fear that they kept motionless, their hearts almost ceasing to beat. Others gave vent to their fear by loud and continuous screaming, while others calmly dressed themselves and got out to see what was going on…

Winters 1892

After surveying the damage to their homes, people started for the business district, where crowds began to gather by 3:00 am. At the Hotel DeVilbiss, where forty guests were lodged, it was said that men, women and children could be seen getting out as fast as they could. Miss Clara Jensen was pinned beneath the fallen stones of the Bertholet building, but was quickly rescued. Jeff Darby, a dishwasher residing in the Cradwick building, was less fortunate. He became the only fatality when he died at the county hospital three days after a brick wall fell upon him.

Local photographer Walter G. Hemenway was on hand to record the damage and the initial clean-up efforts. Also, the pages of the Express are full of human interest stories about how individuals dealt with the destruction about them. Within days, the businessmen of the town had either relocated or repaired the damage enough to continue serving their customers.

-- Winters: A Heritage of Horticulture, A Harmony of Purpose – J. Larkey

This photo of the Wolfskill's, who were among the earliest American pioneers in California, was taken by the Hemenway Studio. John R. Wolfskill is seated at
the right. In back of him is his wife Susan Cooper, cousin of Humphrey Jackson Cooper. Milton Wolfskill, on the left with his wife Anna Sweaney, settled in Los Angeles.


Jessie Geraldine (Tid)

Masonic Hall earthquake damage

Ella and Jessie camping out after the 1892 earthquake.

Portrait of Jessie,
youngest daughter of George W. & Anna Persis Filer.
Jessie Ritchie lived her last years in Capitola, CA.



Walter, known as the "Photographer to the Stars", shot this portrait during Harvey's visit to Los Angeles to attend the Olympics in 1932.


Tid & Ella

Wally's Hunt

Poker Game

L. to R. Robert Lincoln, Edgar Stevenson, Arthur Cooper, Alex Ritchie


Chester's home in San Francisco

Chester, son of Dwight Hemenway, moved to San Francisco after marrying Eva Mae Cooper in Winters.  At one time Charles Hemenway came to live with him.  Chester returned to San Francisco from Winters after the earthquake to find his home damaged but not destroyed.  His son Clyde later moved south to Burlingame where his family ultimately settled.

Fire engulfs the Call Building

City Hall



"It was bedlam, pandemonium, and hell rolled into one."
- anonymous

The evacuation of San Francisco 1906

Harvey Edwin (Scoot), youngest son of George and Anna. He was an avid hunter and logger in Mendocino County. Scoot is pictured at the far right.  Scoot led a hard life of drinking and smoking and eventually died of tuberculosis.

Logging site

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