The Winchester Tradition

Tomorrow is my husband’s birthday. Since I don’t post about living people, I thought of another way to honor his special day (especially since I didn’t buy him a present yet!) 
In my husband’s family there has been a tradition for several generations when naming a child to give them the middle name of WINCHESTER. Where did this start you may ask? 

Read on to find out more

No one in the family had the last name of Winchester –
but it makes a nice illustration for the post, doesn’t it?

According to family lore as written by my father-in-law, William “Bill” Winchester Holman:

So the tradition went. All my husband’s Holman siblings carried the middle name of Winchester, honoring the long-gone step-mother. By 1985, there were 14 grandchildren born…..not a one was given the Winchester middle name! Flash forward to September, 1989. My husband and I were expecting our second child, most likely the last grandchild in the chain. If the baby was a girl, the first name was a given – she’d be named after her cousin as it was thought she might “arrive” on her cousins birth date. 

But…the middle name….really? Could we do that to a little baby girl? Give her an odd middle name, following a tradition about some woman we knew nothing about? We could…and we did. 

I think she’s actually proud to be the only grandchild to carry on the tradition. Will any of this generation decide to keep the tradition going? Only time will tell.
If you like the legend….don’t read any further!
Today, I decided to research “Mrs. Winchester” Based on what I found either I have more work to do or my father-in-law’s story has some holes in it.
One step at a time:

  • “My father’s grandfather, a widower with several young children….” I have not been able to locate the name of Bill’s great-grandfather.

However, using information in a Sons of the American Revolution application, I was able to determine that his grandfather’s name was Aaron John Holman. Aaron (born 1822 or 1823 in Indiana) actually did marry a woman with the last name of Winchester. Elizabeth Lucinda Winchester was born  on May 5, 1842.

  • “…married a widow….” From what I found, they were married on November 17, 1857. Aaron would have been 25. Elizabeth would have been 15!!! 

Where does this leave us? If we choose to take Bill’s story as a gospel (pun intended, after all, he was a minister!) then I have some more work to do. It is possible that Aaron’s father married a woman named Mrs. Winchester and Aaron married one of her children. This is a very likely scenario, especially considering Elizabeth married Aaron so young. (shotgun wedding, anyone??) Except that….

  • “Winchester it has been for Father’s father…” From my research , it appears that Bill’s father’s father was Aaron and his middle name was John.

No matter what the truth is (and I will work to find it!), 

  • “She raised the children who came to love her so dearly that they chose Winchester as the middle name for all their children.” 

…the Winchester tradition has been long-standing and hopefully, the few members of our family who still have a shot at bearing children might consider carrying it on.

And, as Bill wrote, “…after 20 years of a wonderous partnership with Dorothy….”, stepmothers deserve the honor. (Dorothy and Bill married after his first wife died. Together, they raised his five children and her two, forming a strong and wonderful family that I am proud to be a part of.)
I would love to collaborate with anyone who may care to research this with me – it is a fascinating story.

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