Family Stories

Civic Minded Henry Wingate – Franklin County

Henry Wingate

Who has heard of Henry Wingate?  How many of you have heard of his famous grandson, Paul Sawyier, the famous Kentucky painter?

Henry Wingate lived, but was not born in, Franklin County.  His parents, Smith and Susanna Wingate, arrived there when he was still at an early age.  July 3, 1819, he married Penelope Hart Anderson, the daughter of Reuben Anderson and Sarah Runyon.  The couple had eight children – Henry, Susan Mary, Lucien, Reuben A., Robert J., Maria L., Ellen and Sarah H.  If you would like to read more about this family another blog was written in 2014.

Henry was first a mechanic, then a clerk.  But he was best known for his civic mindedness.  In 1832 Henry, along with James Shannon and Charles H. Moreland, was appointed to supervise the building of a new courthouse.  Henry, in 1840, was one of the trustees to oversee the new Frankfort common school system.  And in 1844 he helped organize the Frankfort Cemetery – only the second cemetery organization in the United States.  And in addition to these activities Henry Wingate was a Mason of the highest degree.

Two articles printed 42 years after Henry’s death show the respect and love he still held in the hearts of Frankfort citizens.

The Frankfort Roundabout, Franklin County, Kentucky

Saturday, May 14, 1904

Splendid and Life-Like Portrait

Mr. Paul Sawyier, the artist, has just completed one of the finest and most life-like portraits of his grandfather, the late Mr. Henry Wingate, that it has ever been our pleasure to see.

We had the good fortune to know, to honor and to love Mr. Wingate.  As a boy he was our beau ideal of a grand and dignified Kentucky gentleman.  Over six feet high, his magnificent figure was carried so erectly, even after the snows of many winters had bleached his locks, that made him appear almost a giant in stature.

Grave and dignified in demeanor, yet as tender-hearted as a woman, he was a Christian gentleman in all the name implies, and when he knelt in prayer, as we so often witnessed, he seemed to be close to the throne of the Most High, and to draw down the blessings he so earnestly besought.

But we digress.  The portrait is so perfect that the grand old man looks as though he were just about to extend his hand in gentle greeting, and to speak the words of earnest consideration he knew so well how to do.  It is indeed a triumph of the painter’s art, and proves Mr. Sawyier a portrait painter of unusual power.

The portrait will be presented by Miss Jennie McKee, a granddaughter of Mr. Wingate to Frankfort Commandery, No. 4, of which Sir Knight Wingate was a charter member as well as the first Grand Commander of the State.  (Mr. Wingate officiated as Master of Hiram Lodge, No. 4, when we first knelt at the Masonic shrine.)

It will be a cherished and valued memento for Lodge, Chapter and Commandery.

And the second article in the same newspaper:

Henry Wingate was the most prominent Mason in Frankfort and one of the most prominent in the State, having been Grand Master of the Grand Lodge, Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter, Grand President of the Order of High Priesthood, Grand Master of the Grand Council and first Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery.

He started in life as a mechanic, but for many years was bookkeeper in the Branch Bank of Kentucky and an insurance agent.  He was a prominent member of the Baptist Church, and resided on Broadway in the house at present occupied by Mr. John L. Jones, but when a young man lived in South Frankfort, that part of the city then being a separate corporation.  He was the father of Mrs. M. L. Campbell and Mrs. N. J. Sawyer.

Penelope Hart Anderson Wingate survived her husband by 28 years and was just as well loved in the community as her husband.

The Courier Journal, Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Wednesday, February 5, 1890

An Aged Christian

Death of Mrs. Penelope Wingate, one of Kentucky’s Best Women, full of Years and Noble Virtues

Frankfort, Feb. 4 – This community today is mourning the death of Mrs. Penelope H. Wingate, one of the oldest citizens of Frankfort.  She was a woman whose name was a synonym for charity and all the Christian virtues, and she was revered and beloved by all for her gentle character and disposition.

She was a Christian in the highest sense of the word, and probably the last act of her life was the donation to the Baptist church here of its beautiful little chapel, which has just been completed.  Mrs. Wingate died of the infirmities incident to very advanced age.  The interment will take place here Thursday afternoon, at 2:30 o’clock.

She was born in Franklin County in 1799, and consequently death found her in her ninety-first year.  She removed into the city when quite young, and has lived here continuously for seventy-five years.  Mrs. Wingate’s daughters are Mrs. Dr. Sawyier and Mrs. Maria Campbell, of this city, and Mrs. Judge George R. McKee, of Covington.  Her son is Robert J. Wingate of West Virginia.

Henry Wingate Family Memorial, Frankfort Cemetery, Franklin County, Kentucky.


2 replies »

  1. The research and rich history that you share is remarkable and so much appreciated. I enjoy reading your accounts and can feel I’ve stepped back in time with your articles. Thank you for generously sharing your research and well written thoughts.

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