Sunday, August 2, 2015

Tombstone Series ~ Dr. Robert Fulton Winchester 1845-1932

Robert Fulton Winchester was my Great Grand Uncle, brother to Charlotte Maria Winchester Bagg wife of my Great Grandfather Stanley Chipman Bagg. 

He was born April 27, 1845 in Brewer, Maine. As a young man interested in medicine, he became an apprentice to a doctor, and then volunteered as a surgeon for the Union army during the Civil War. After the war ended he attended Bowdoin College in Maine and graduated in 1867. Drawn by the lure of the west, he moved to San Francisco in 1868 to set up his practice. 

When the smallpox epidemic broke out in San Juan Bautista, he volunteered to leave his practice to come to the aid of the stricken community where he met Colonel William Wells Hollister. Impressed with his dedication Colonel Hollister asked him to move to Santa Barbara and become the family doctor and run a clinic. 

According to Walker A. Tomkins:

"As an enticement to get Dr. Winchester to come south, in 1870 Colonel Hollister purchased 1,000 acres of prime land in the doctor’s name in the lush arroyo west of Ellwood Canyon. Winchester agreed to the move. After a few years, he grew tired of rural life and moved into Jose Lobero’s adobe at 110 West Carrillo Street, which the Hollisters had used as temporary living quarters while the Glen Annie ranch house was being built.

In 1872, Dr. Winchester started his practice in competition with the town’s well-established Dr. Brinkerhoff. When the Fithian Building opened at State and Ortega in 1896, Dr. Winchester leased a suite of offices. By this time, Winchester had served as Santa Barbara County coroner, county doctor and city health officer. He retired from practice in 1925, although he continued to see patients for the rest of his life. He died at age 87 at his home at 412 West Montecito Street, Santa Barbara, now a historic landmark".

The Trussell Winchester Adobe circa 1903 at 412 West Montecito Street
from the family photo collection

Charlotte Winchester Bagg

Once Dr. Winchester was settled in, the Winchester tribe headed west from Maine. From a letter written by my Grandfather to Mrs. George H. Finley, who was doing a story for the dedication of the Adobe in 1957. 

"Charlotte (my mother) was a passenger on the first Pullman sleeping car to cross the continent to San Francisco. From this I assume the Tribe was along: Sara Blake Kidder Hayes Winchester (Aunt Sadie), Uriah Winchester, Sarah Augusta, and Charlotte Maria to settle in Santa Barbara with Robert. The above advertisement is dated 1937 which means Charlotte and family came west in 1877." 

Sarah, a Santa Barbara school teacher, purchased the home at 412 W. Montecito in 1882. In 1884 the ownership passed to Robert and then to niece Katherine Bagg Hastings in 1929. It remained in the Winchester family until 1955 when Katherine bequeathed it to the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. 

Tell me my Great Grand Uncle, Dr. Robert Fulton Winchester, doesn't bear a resemblance to Tom Skerritt

Dr. Robert Fulton Winchester

Actor Tom Skerritt