Ephraim L. Van Winkle was born in Wayne County, Kentucky, on July 20, 1827. His father was Micajah Van Winkle and his mother was Mary (Phillips) Van Winkle. His grandfather Abraham Van Winkle was the first of the family to come to Kentucky. The Van Winkle family came to the New World with Peter Stuyvesant in 1647.
Ephraim attended the Monticello Academy and graduated with highest honors from the Law Department of the University of Louisville in 1850.
He practiced law in Wayne County until 1855 when he was elected to the state legislature. In 1856, he was elected Commonwealth’s Attorney for the sixth judicial district and moved to Somerset. In 1860, he was a presidential elector from the state-at-large for the ticket of John Bell and Edward Everett.
He was appointed Secretary of State by Governor Thomas E. Bramlette in 1863. He was an emancipationist, “believing that the institution of slavery was a blot on the nation.”
He died on May 23, 1866, and is buried in Frankfort. His brother John S. Van Winkle succeeded him as Secretary of State.
"Biographical Encyclopedia," (1878), pg 769;
Perrin, "History of Kentucky, Vol. IV," pg 1051;
Augusta Phillips, "A Century of Wayne County," (1939), pgs 93-94, 160-63;
Phillips cites an obituary from the "Frankfort Yeoman" which was reprinted in the "Louisville Daily Courier," May 29, 1866.