Most people know the name surname Winchester, because it was the name on the rifles and other guns the family had created. But what most people don’t know is the dark history that followed the family.
In September 1862, during the civil war, William Wirt Winchester married a lovely woman named Sarah Pardee. The wedding was the social event of the season, seeing that Sarah was a well received guest as most social affairs. Having musical, linguistic skill and all around charm.
Almost four years after the couple married, on July 15, 1866, Sarah gave birth to a little girl, whom she named Annie Pardee Winchester. However, the joyous occasion was short lived with the death of Annie. She contracted disease known as Marasmus, an infection that causes the body to simply waste away. Annie died just nine days after birth on July 24.
A distraught Sarah teetered on the brink of madness, withdrawing into herself while she mourned her daughter. For nearly ten year she stayed like this, and she and William never had another child.
Tragedy reared it’s ugly head again when William contracted Pulmonary Tuberculosis and died in 1881, leaving $20 million dollars behind for Sarah. Sarah would also receive nearly fifty percent of the profits the Winchester Repeating Arms Company made and an income of 1000 dollars a day. But the money did nothing to ease the pain of her loss.
Sarah was deeply broken over the loss of her husband, and never fully got over the loss of her child. A friend suggested that she speak to a spiritualist medium to perhaps better deal with the loss. The spiritualist proved to have a message for Sarah from the other side. “Your husband is here,” the medium told her and then went on to provide a description of William Winchester. “He says for me to tell you that there is a curse on your family, which took the life of he and your child. It will soon take you too. It is a curse that has resulted from the terrible weapon created by the Winchester family. Thousands of persons have died because of it and their spirits are now seeking vengeance.”
Sarah sold her property after being told to do so by the medium, and head into the setting sun. She was told her husband would guide her and she would know it when she saw it. Sarah started a new life in hopes of easing her pain and suffering as well as the spirits that haunted her. “You must start a new life,” said the medium, “and build a home for yourself and for the spirits who have fallen from this terrible weapon too. You can never stop building the house. If you continue building, you will live. Stop and you will die.”
Sarah traveled west to California, and settled again in Santa Clara Valley in 1884. There she discovered a six bedroom home that was under construction and paid a hefty sum for the house. While she stayed there, there was construction in the house 24/7 . Sarah hired the best of the local workers, paying them well for them to keep up with her demands of oddities. The house grew to 10 then 26 rooms. She worked close at hand with the overseer, often showing him the plans of the house.
The house eventually became a maze, one which Sarah said would confuse the spirits and perhaps they would leave her alone. But for fear of dying, she never stopped building. Oddities of the house included stairs that lead to ceilings, or to a steep drop to the lawn below, three elevators, forty-seven chimneys. It was also clear that Sarah had an obsession with the number 13. All stair ways except for one contained 13 stairs. The one staircase without 13 stairs contained forty-two steps, which would be enough to take you three stories, unless they were two inches tall.
Year after year construction continued on in this mystery house that Sarah was building. While it didn’t make any sense to outsiders, it made perfect sense for Sarah. The house grew to an alarming seven stories, but an earthquake in 1906 destroyed three of those floors. Still Sarah plodded on with construction, closing off thirty rooms in the front of the house so they would never be completed.
Sarah’s madness came to an end when she retired for the night and passed on in her sleep at the age of eighty-three.
Sightings have been reported of Sarah roaming the halls of her house as well as a vast number of other spirits. Staff and guest alike have heard footsteps, banging doors, glass rattling so hard it breaks. Sure all of this stuff could probably be debunked. But where’s the fun in that?
Keep it real and rockin