Family Tree Tuesday – Oliver Winchester
Oliver Winchester was an American businessman and politician. He was known for manufacturing and marketing the Winchester repeating rifle. He discovered that a division of Smith & Wesson firearms was failing financially with one of their newly patented arms during the time he was a clothing manufacturer. Winchester took the opportunity and acquired the Smith & Wesson division (known as the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company) with other stockholders in 1850. The name of the company was later changed to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company after the successful production of the Henry Rifle. He also served as Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut from 1866 to 1867.
Oliver Fisher Winchester was born on November 30, 1810 in Boston, Massachuesetts to Samuel and Hannah Winchester. He married Jane Ellen Hope and had three children Ann Rebecca, William Wirt and Hannah Jane Winchester. The ownership of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company was passed to William Wirt when Oliver died in 1880. William Wirt Winchester died in March of the following year of tuberculosis, but William’s wife Sarah Pardee believed that it was a curse placed on the family by the spirits killed by the Winchester rifle. She moved to San Jose, California and in order to confuse the spirits seeking revenge, Sarah began building a chaotic mansion with her inheritance, now known as the Winchester Mystery House. Sarah continued uninterrupted, round the clock construction of the mansion for 36 consecutive years creating many staircases and corridors leading nowhere.
Did you know Oliver Winchester’s 8th great grandfather was part of the Salem Witch Trials? Thomas Danforth was a judge for the Salem witch trials, in 1693 he generally cleared those accused of witchcraft.
Check out Oliver Winchester’s family tree and see how you maybe related!