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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Winecoff, Thomas Edward

by Warren L. Bingham, 1996

29 Nov. 1867–29 May 1942

Thomas Edward Winecoff, minister and scientist, was born in Concord, the son of James and Margaret McKibben Winecoff. After he was graduated (1890) and obtained a master of arts degree (1893) from Davidson College, Winecoff studied law at The University of North Carolina in 1897–98. He left Davidson in 1890 to become an instructor of Latin at Centenary College in Louisiana. Although a Presbyterian by birth, he joined the Methodist church as a youth, and he left Centenary to become president of Cooper Normal College, a small Methodist college in Mississippi.

Photographic image of Chapel of the Cross, Chapel Hill, NC, by Jack E. Boucher, March 1962.  From the Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Online Catalog.  Thomas Winecoff was rector at Chapel of the Cross from 1897-98. Winecoff was at Cooper for only a year, for in 1893 he turned to the Protestant Episcopal Church and was ordained to the ministry. From 1896 to 1898 he was in charge of the Chapel of the Cross in Chapel Hill, then spent some time at West Virginia University and the University of Washington while continuing work in the ministry. From Washington Winecoff went north to the Arctic Circle, where he became a U.S. marshal at Fort Yukon. He also collected arctic insects for the National Museum at Washington and the French national museum in Paris. A lover of outdoor life and biological science, he was able to enjoy both in the Arctic.

In 1918, near the end of World War I, Winecoff volunteered as a welfare worker in the French army. Ranking as an officer, he carried the official notice of armistice along the five miles of the French firing line on the morning of 11 Nov. 1918.

Winecoff returned to the United States to engage in home mission work in the Rocky Mountains, where he served an area more than four times the size of Delaware for over eight years. In 1927 he moved to Scranton, Pa., to become pastor of the Church of the Good Shepherd. He retired from the pastorate in 1929 and accepted a position as consulting biologist, in charge of research, for the Pennsylvania State Game Commission.

In 1892 he married Allie Estelle Black of Oxford, Miss. They had one daughter, Anna Thompson. Winecoff, a cousin of Thomas Dixon, author of The Clansman, died in Williamsport, Pa., and was buried in Concord, N.C.


Alumni Files (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill).

Clipping Files, including correspondence and family records (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill).

Daniel L. Grant, Alumni History of the University of North Carolina (1924).

Scranton (Pa.) Times, 2 Nov. 1927.

Additional Resources:

Henderson, Archibald. The Church of the atonement and the Chapel of the cross at Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Hartford, CT: Church Missions Publising Company. 1938. 51. (accessed February 24, 2014).

Winecoff, Thomas E. "Portion of letter concerning the discovery at Fort Yukon of burials using hollowed-out logs as coffins." [1916 or 1917]. Archives, Manuscripts, Photographs Catalog, Smithsonian Institution Research Information System.!135204~!3100001~!3100002&aspect=Browse&menu=search&ri=1&source=~!siarchives&term=Alaska+--+Fort+Yukon&index=PSUBJ (accessed February 24, 2014).

"Valedictorians at Davidson." Archives & Special Collections, Davidson College. (accessed February 24, 2014).

"Eminent Scientist Speaks in Chapel Period Wednesday: Dr. Thomas Winecoff Talks On Man as an Artist and As an Architect." College Times (State Teachers College, Lock Haven, PA), May 14, 1931. (accessed February 24, 2014).

Image Credits:

Boucher, Jack E. "Historic American Buildings Survey, March, 1962 FRONT (SOUTHERLY) ELEVATION. - Chapel of the Cross, 304 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, Orange County, NC". Photograph. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. (accessed February 24, 2014).