Book Review of Captive of the Labyrinth: Biography of Sarah Lockwood Pardee Winchester by MJ Ignoffo

by DerdriuMarriner

Sarah Winchester’s life divides in two. The first part is lived with the loves of her New Haven life. The second leads her to family estates and rich widowhood in California.

Llanada Villa epitomizes California’s European settlement. It expresses pre-twentieth century tendencies to give place names designations evocative of:
• Mexico;
• Spain.

It also fits with the socio-economic orientations of Sarah Lockwood Pardee Winchester’s (1839 – September 5, 1922) life after the deaths in her native New Haven, Connecticut, of:
• Daughter Annie Pardee Winchester (June 15, 1866 – July 25, 1866) from marasmus (inability to absorb calories, digest foods, make proteins);
• Husband William Wirt Winchester (1837 – March 7, 1881) from tuberculosis.

It honors Llanada Alavesa in the southern Basque Country’s Araba (Álava) province. Araba’s open plain and wide valley huddle at the Pyrenees mountain base. Viewing Basque cultivated lands, large estates, and rural villages in 1876 predicts William’s California-based business plans.

view of Llanada Alavesa: Sarah Winchester's Llanada Villa honors the high plateau, at 1,640 feet (500 meters) located between two parallel sub-ranges of the Basque Mountains. ~

Araba/Álava is the largest of the Basque Country's three provinces.
Monte Aratz, Sierra de Altzania y Llanada Alavesa desde la subida del monte Ballo en la provincia Álava en España.
Monte Aratz, Sierra de Altzania y Llanada Alavesa desde la subida del monte Ballo en la provincia Álava en España.

 

George Pardee (1624 – 1700) arrived in New Haven from Somersetshire in 1644, as:

  • Descendant of a French family;
  • Younger son of an English clergyman.

He became:

  • Apprenticed tailor to Francis Browne;
  • Father to four children by marrying Martha Miles in 1650;
  • Hopkins Grammar School rector in 1662;
  • Parent to four children by marrying Katherine Logan in 1655.

He bequeathed his youngest child:

  • Family home near the Green;
  • 34 acres west of Quinnipiac River;
  • Town lots.

Carpentry sustained:

  • Joseph (1664 – 1742) and Elizabeth Yale;
  • Enos (1691 – 1771) and Abigail Holt in Hamden village;
  • Thomas (1725 – 1802) and Lois Bradley;
  • Joel (1760 – 1811) and Sally Murray.

Stepfather Eli Goodyear urged Leonard’s (1807 – 1869):

  • Dominating joinering, machining;
  • Investigating New Haven.

 

Pardee family home was located near historic New Haven Green, 16-acre (65,000 m2) park and recreation area designed and surveyed by John Brockett (May 20, 1611 – March 12, 1690) and completed in 1638.

Upper New Haven Green in spring, New Haven County, southwestern Connecticut
Upper New Haven Green in spring, New Haven County, southwestern Connecticut

 

Leonard arrived in New Haven in 1827. He and the daughter of Milford farmers and oysterers Ralph and Polly Morehouse Burns converted from Congregationalism to Reverend Benjamin Hill’s Calvinistic Baptistry.  Married in 1829, they lived at:

  • 12 Hill Street, with Leonard machining and woodworking;
  • 29 Orange Street, with Leonard maintaining City Bathing House;
  • 65 Court Street, with Leonard partnering Artizan Street’s carriage hardware and factory metal and wood parts and with the Winchesters First Baptist Church parishioners and next-door neighbors from 1850 onward;
  • 10 Brown Street, with Leonard running Leonard Pardee & Company’s mill and wood shop next door, at 39 E. Water Street.

Daughter Sarah wed their son Leonard’s best friend William on September 30, 1865.

 

Sarah Winchester: 1865 Hand-tinted ambrotype by Taber Photographic Company, 121 Post Street, San Francisco

History San José
History San José

 

John Winchester (1611?/1616? – 1694) arrived in Massachusetts Bay Colony from Kent. In 1636, he became a Plymouth Colony freeman (voting member). He had five children with Cohasset heiress and wife, Hannah Sealis. Grandson of John (1642 – 1718) and Joanna Stevens and son of Henry (1682 – 1750?) and Frances White, Jonathan (1717 – 1767), Congregational minister and Harvard professor, had ten children with Sarah Croft. Samuel (1757 – 1811), Boston and Brookline laborer, had six with two wives and five with third wife, Hannah Bates. Stepfather Richardson made Samuel Croft and Oliver Fisher (1810 – 1880):

  • Stop attending school;
  • Train as carpenters.

The twins opened Baltimore Street’s Winchester & Co.’s men’s hats, shirts, suits near Maryland’s merchant- and politician-frequented Barnum Hotel.  

 

Oliver Fisher Winchester (November 30, 1810 – December 11, 1880) patented curved seams in clothing and later switched to ammunitions.

The Granger Collection, Brooklyn, New York
The Granger Collection, Brooklyn, New York

 

Oliver invented -- and in February 1848 patented -- curved arm-to-neck, collar-to-shoulder seams. With New York clothier John Davies, he leased a State Street house and -- as New Haven’s Winchester & Davies Shirt Manufactory -- shop. He moved family and work respectively into 57 and 59 Court Street in 1850. He paid for only surviving son William Wirt’s:

  • Education;
  • European travels of 1858 onward.

He shared Court Street and 423 Prospect Hill with:

  • Hope relatives;
  • Winchester extended and nuclear families.

By the War Between the States’ (1861 – 1865) end, he sold John’s son Cornelius the factory. He switched to ammunitions and firearms by:

  • Investing in Volcanic Repeating Arms Company;
  • Operating New Haven Arms Company, Winchester Repeating Arms Company

 

Oliver Winchester invested in Volcanic Repeating Arms Company, over which he soon assumed ownership: reorganized first as New Haven Arms Company in 1857 and then as Winchester Repeating Arms company; now known as U.S. Repeating Arms Company. Inc. (USRAC).

Winchester Repeating Arms Company: 1897 photograph by New York City-based Mutoscope and Biograph Company
New Haven, southwestern Connecticut
New Haven, southwestern Connecticut

 

Sarah and William checked:

  • European contacts;
  • San Francisco offices at 108 Battery Street.

They directed Prospect Hill’s:

  • Building;
  • Decorating;
  • Landscaping, lighting;
  • Plumbing;
  • Windmill-powering.

Sarah grieved the deaths of:

  • Daughter;
  • Father, father-in-law;
  • Mother;
  • Sister-in-law Anne Rebecca Winchester Dye (1835 - 1864).

Art, French, music, and Turkish super-proficiency inspired Sarah’s European relocations until sister Mary Augusta Pardee Converse’s (1833 – 1884) death. Her brother-in-law’s Oakland Mills College professorship prompted rheumatoid arthritis-stricken Sarah’s:

  • Accompanying Antoinette E. (1835 – 1913) and Homer Baxter Sprague (1829 – 1918) to California;
  • Joining Doctors Charles and Clyde Wayland, lawyer Charles Franklin Leib, and Winchester agent Edward Rambo in San Jose;
  • Purchasing properties for sisters Isabelle Campbell Merriman (1843 – 1920) and Estelle L. Gerard (1845 – 1894) and their families.

 

Sarah Winchester maintained a houseboat in the affluent San Francisco Bay Area community of Burlingame before and after San Francisco's earthquake of April 18, 1906 stopped her making her San José farmhouse a supermansion for relatives and their employees

Coyote Point Park, with distinctive covering of eucalyptus grove, Burlingame/San Mateo border, San Francisco Bay Area
Coyote Point Park, with distinctive covering of eucalyptus grove, Burlingame/San Mateo border, San Francisco Bay Area

 

In spring 1886, Edward advised Sarah’s purchasing John Hamm’s eight-room farmhouse. The 45-acre (18.21-hectare) ranch near San José cost $12,570. Sarah proximitously purchased in:

  • Atherton: 40+ acres (16.19+ hectares), 4-acre (1.62-hectare) Britten Place, Frank Moulton Place, Frank Moulton’s 44 Inglewood Lane residence, Frank Moulton’s 4-acre (1.62-hectare) Fair Oaks residence;
  • Burlingame: The Pasture’s Belvedere-built houseboat on 100+ acres (40.47+ hectares) subsequently showcasing canals, channels, dikes, docks, floodgates, locks, sloughs accompanying Bay-impacted, 102 Panama Canal Act-inspired traffic;
  • Burlingame Park: 2-acre (0.81-hectare) Tudor cottage at Camino Real and Oak Grove;
  • Mountain View: El Sueño (The Daydream) Adobe Creek house, with 140 acres (56.66 hectares);
  • Palo Alto: Melville Avenue, Waverley Street residences;
  • San José: 115 acres (46.54 hectares), Stockton Road bungalow.

 

Burlingame's Saint Paul's Episcopal Church included Sarah Winchester among parishioners:

Successful fund drive in 1926 led to construction of English Gothic Style church, designed by architect-parishioner William Charles Frederick Gillam (1867-1962).
WCF Gillam, "Saint Paul's Episcopal Church, Burlingame, California," Architect and Engineer (January 1927), p. 80
WCF Gillam, "Saint Paul's Episcopal Church, Burlingame, California," Architect and Engineer (January 1927), p. 80

Conclusion

 

DeAnza College Professor Mary Jo Ignoffo explains California’s history. Her expert biography honors:

  • Boldoni and ITC Garamond typography;
  • Jacket designer Susan Ferber;
  • Text  designer Stephanie Foley;
  • University of Missouri Press.

Captive of the Labyrinth identifies Sarah’s:

  • Attendances at New Haven’s First Baptist Church and Burlingame’s Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church;
  • Contributions to marasmus and tuberculosis research and treatment;
  • Employment of craftspeople, landscapers, professionals, tradespeoples;
  • Proficiency at organ-, piano-, violin-playing.
  • Residencies at employee-housed, relative-lodged San José (1890 – 1903) and Atherton (1903 – 1922) properties.

It indicates Winchester Mystery House’s dark truths. John and Mayme Brown’s and Jay and Everis Hayes’s strange tales indeed portray Mary Hayes Chynoweth:

  • Generous, Episcopalian Sarah’s neighbor;
  • Hayes brothers’ Wisconsinite mother;
  • Self-proclaimed True Life Church spiritualist.

 

Mary Folsom Hayes Chynoweth (October 2, 1826 - July 27, 1905) held services for the True Life Church, which she founded, at the chapel on her San Jose estate, Hayes Mansion, and also at San Jose's First Unitarian Church:

Designed by George W. Page (1851-1924), also architect for Mary's mansion, in 1891, First Unitarian Church, was added to National Register of Historic Places on November 17, 1977.
First Unitarian Church, on St. James Park, San Jose, California
First Unitarian Church, on St. James Park, San Jose, California

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

 

Sarah Winchester, ca. 1920

last extant image of Sarah Winchester
last extant image of Sarah Winchester

Sources Consulted

 

Gillam, W.C.F. 1927. "Saint Paul's Episcopal Church, Burlingame, California." Architect and Engineer, Vol. LXXXVIII, No. 1 (January): 73 -80.

  • Available via Internet Archive at: https://archive.org/details/architectenginee8827sanf

Ignoffo, Mary Jo. 2010. Captive of the Labyrinth: Sarah L. Winchester, Heiress to the Rifle Fortune. Columbia and London: University of Missouri Press.

Selby, Lisa L. 2006. The Inscrutable Mrs. Winchester and Her Mysterious Mansion. Baltimore, MD: PublishAmerica, LLLP.

 

Sarah Winchester's grand design and mysterious legacy: San José's landmark Winchester House: view looking northwest

Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey
Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

The Inscrutable Mrs. Winchester and Her Mysterious Mansion by Lisa L. Selby

Sarah Winchester biographies

Captive of the Labyrinth: Sarah L. Winchester, Heiress to the Rifle Fortune by Mary Jo Ignoffo

Since her death in 1922, Sarah Winchester has been perceived as a mysterious, haunted figure.
Sarah Winchester biographies

Winchester Mystery House - San Jose, CA

Winchester Mystery House - San Jose, CA - Technical

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 05/08/2015, DerdriuMarriner
 
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