Albert Maver Winn
Founder of Native Sons of the Golden West
Albert Maver Winn, a Virginian, came to California on May 28, 1849 and settled in Sacramento on June 25 of that year. He immediately became active in civic affairs and in the fall of 1849 was elected the first mayor of Sacramento. In 1850 California organized a militia of four divisions and eight brigades. By resolution of the Legislature on April 10, 1850, and with the approval of Governor Peter H. Burnett, Winn was appointed brigadier general.
General Winn not only made his contributions to the civil and military beginnings of Sacramento, he was a prime mover in the fraternal and religious liftc of his community as well. In 1851 he organized the first Odd Fellows Lodge on the Pacific Coast and was its first Noble Grand. He also was instrumental in the establishment of Grace Church (later St. Paul’s), the first Episcopal church in Sacramento, of which he was both officer and communicant. Winn was also a Mason. Indeed his granddaughter wrote, “We are told that the general belonged to every fraternal society in Sacramento in the early days and it is quite probable that this is true.”
Winn moved to San Francisco in 1860 and engaged in the real estate business. He was a regular contributor to the New Age and to the Daily Alta Californian. He also edited a Labor journal known as The Shop and Senate. In 1869, Winn attempted to organize the Native Sons of the Golden West but failed because the boys were too young. He tried again in 1875 and succeeded in perfecting the organization on July 11, 1875.
Winn died at Sonoma on August 26, 1883 and his body was taken to Sacramento for the funeral. The Masons whose precepts he had so well adhered to, the Odd Fellows he had served so long and so faithfully, and the ministry of Grace Church he had helped to found might well have conducted his funeral, but this honor was given to the Native Sons of the Golden West who laid their Brother-Founder to rest under the ritual of the Order which gives back the body of the fallen son of California to the soil of his native state. Sacramento paid a high tribute to its first mayor, with courts and civic offices suspending business on the day of the funeral.
In 1887, the Grand Parlor voted to assess each member fifty cents to raise money for a monument on Winn’s grave. The monument, erected in 1888 and restored in 2003 by Sunset Parlor #26, is a granite shaft fifteen feet high in Sacramento’s Pioneer Cemetery, a fitting tribute to the founder of the Native Sons of the Golden West.