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The Wenns


[Record of Wenn family....  from notes provided by Fred B. Wenn, taken from records of his father, William John Anderson Wenn (1861-1899)]

      There are some interesting comments regarding the family names of Wenn and Cowburn.  The name "Wenn" was originally "Venn," and it is a Flemish name.  In the thirteenth or fourteenth century, the Venns migrated to Saxony because of religious persecution from the Spanish rulers of the Netherlands.  They took with them the worsted, or weaver, trade.  At that time the worsted industry was almost wholly located in Norfolk and Suffolk, England.  The Saxon language was not characterized by the extensive use of the the letter "V," as was the Dutch.  The name soon changed from "Venn" to "Wenn."    The name "Cowburn" is Scottish and has been Anglicized from the family name "Cockburn."

      The known history of the Wenn family begins with John Wenn, son of a William Wenn, of whom there is no further record.  John Wenn was born in Great Ellingham, near Hereford, Norfolk, England, on December 27, 1830.  He learned the shoemaker trade while a youth.  By 14 he had nearly finished his education and was teaching school.   By about the age of 22, John had become a Methodist minister among the Primitive Methodists.    Rev. Wenn married three times.  By his first wife, who died in childbirth, he was left with a daughter named Sabina.  Seven or eight years later, he married Susan Hume Anderson.  From this union, five children were born:
       William John Anderson Wenn
       Henry Joseph Hume Wenn
       Julian Gray Wenn
       Isabella Campbell Wenn
       Alfred Wenn (died when only 11 months)

      Susan Hume Anderson, Johnıs second wife, had been born in Hamilton, Scotland.  Her father was a physician, who died when Susan was only a year old.  When Susan was only 12, she lost her mother.  She completed her formal education while living with friends and relatives, and she became a school teacher.  In Wishaw, Scotland, she met her future husband.  At that time, both were following their chosen professions.  She and John Wenn were married in either 1859 or 1860, and in that year John was transferred from England to Edinburg, Scotland.  The church to which he was assigned stood, at certain times of the day, in the shadow of Edinburg castle.  While serving in Edinburg from 1860 - 1876, all five children belonging to John and Susan were born.  William J.A. Wenn was born on the first of March, 1861. 

      Susan Wenn died in May of 1876, and in January, a year later, John married Emily Clews of Littleover, England, in the county of Darbyshire.  No children were born of this union.  The John Wenn family was transferred back to England, and John and Emily are buried together in the Anglican graveyard in Littleover.  They died about 1908.  [Pictures of the grave site are in my possession -- W. Wenn]. 

      William John Anderson Wenn grew up in Littleover, although he made frequent trips back to Scotland.  William was frail physically, and in an effort to improve his health, he hired out as a cabin boy on the Clyde Line out of Glasgow.  In his many trips aboard ship, he was encouraged by his captain to keep up with his studies, which he did.

      On August 27, 1884, William married Mary Ann Cowburn, who was then residing in Glasgow.  He had met her previously while on a visit to relatives in Edinburg.  William had become a Presbyterian minister, and at the conclusion of a church service one Sunday, 1884 or 1885, he was approached by a gentleman named John Wannamaker of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States.  Mr. Wannamaker, widely known as the "merchant prince" and a leader in the Presbyterian church, was in Scotland buying woolens for his  large department store.  He was so impressed with the preaching of the young man, he invited William to go to the United States under the direction of the Presbyterian church to be a missionary to the American Indians.  In that same year of 1885, William and Mary Ann had their first child on May 28th, naming him William Anderson Wenn.   William decided to accept the offer of the trip to America, and in April, 1886, he sailed from Glasgow to Philadelphia by himself.  If the venture should show promise, then his wife and son, William, would follow him to Philadelphia. 
  
      Upon arriving in America, William (Bill) was assigned as missionary and teacher to the Choctaw Indians in Ataka County, Indian Territory (now a part of Oklahoma).  In September of 1886, William Wenn notified the territorial presbytery that he wished to be considered as a candidate for the ministry.  After satisfying them with his history and qualifications, he was licensed by the aforesaid body in April, 1887.  A year later, in April, 1888, he was ordained a Minister of the Gospel.

      In the meantime, Bill's wife, Mary Ann, and his small son arrived in Philadelphia, where they were met by him.  Returning to the West, they lived in Leigh (sp.?), Indian Territory.  While residing there, they were blessed with the arrival of their second son, John, born on June 12, 1888.

      William worked faithfully with the Indians, as well as preaching on Sundays to the coal miners of the community.  This continued until 1890, when he requested release from his assignment, which was granted with regret. 

      The Wenns then moved to Erie, Kansas, where William became pastor of First Presbyterian Church.  The church had no building of its own, holding its services in rented quarters.  Under Rev. Wenn's "continued enthusiasm and dynamic leadership," within two years his small but proud flock had moved into their new house of worship.  To further celebrate his accomplishments while at Erie, Rev. Wenn welcomed his third son, Frederick, born at 4:00 am Sunday morning on Feb. 8th, 1891.  William personally informed his congregation of this happy event at the regular 11:00 am church service.

      In the Spring of 1892, William was called to a broader field of work by the First Presbyterian Church at Pittsburg, Kansas.  To show no partiality among the various churches where he served, he agreed to go.  On May 29th, 1893, William & Mary Ann had their first daughter, Susan.  Unfortunately, William's health began to suffer, forcing him to resign from his Pittsburg pulpit.  He returned to Erie, spending the winter there recuperating.  By spring of 1894 he was able to accept a call from the First Presbyterian Church of Ottawa, Kansas, where he served for the next four years.  During this time he started construction of a new church building, which was carried to completion by his successor.   On December 12th, 1895, the uncompleted church saw the loss of William's child, Susan, who died of diphtheria at age two.  But along with this sorrow came the birth of a second daughter, Mabel, who was born June 20th, 1896.

      By the Fall of 1898, William's health was so poor that he was forced to resign his pulpit.  He moved again to Erie and took up residence on a small farm at the edge of town.  His health was undermined by diabetes, a disease only faintly understood at that time.  In January of 1899 William contracted pneumonia, and on February 14th, 1899, he died. 


Family Listing:

John Wenn  --  b. Dec. 27, 1830, Great Ellingham, G.B.,  d. 1907, Littleover, G.B.,  married
    Susan Hume Anderson -- b. ? , d. May, 1876
       William John Anderson Wenn -- March 1, 1861 to Feb. 14, 1899
       Henry Joseph Hume Wenn
       Julian Gray Wenn
       Isabella Campbell Wenn
       Alfred Wenn

William John Anderson Wenn, married
    Mary Ann Cowburn (Cockburn) -- May 4, 1857, to June 1, 1936
       William Anderson Wenn
       John Wenn
       Frederick Wenn
       Susan Wenn
       Mabel Anderson Wenn

William Anderson Wenn (apparently moved to California -- no record available) m. Gena Walde
     (no children)

John Wenn,  m. Ethel Lofthouse
       John Wenn Jr. (June 4, 1916, to Nov. 21, 1998)
       Chauncey Wenn
       Wilfred Wenn
       Mary Ruth Wenn (Scott)

Frederick B. Wenn,  married Verral Janice Craven
      Fred Byron Wenn
      Mary Ann Wenn

John Wenn Jr., married
Jean Doris Wallace (1940)
        John Wenn III (b. 1946) married (1972) Katherine Schroeder of Wagner, South Dakota,
       Daughter:  Kara Wenn
Wallace Randolph Wenn (b. 1948), married (1972) Adelfa Eclarinal of Olongapo City, Philippines
       Daughters:  Maraiah Jean Wenn, b. San Diego, Ca.1976
               Sarah Maria Wenn, b. Big Bear Lake, Ca. 1982