The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

    History instructor writes eerie tales about Winchester mystery legend

    De Anza College’s Mary Jo Ignoffo shared her new book about the eerie tale of Sarah Winchester with an audience at the Stevens Creek Boulevard and San Tomas Expressway Barnes and Noble bookstore on Nov. 11. 

    The book “Captive of the Labyrinth: Sarah L. Winchester, Heiress to the Rifle Fortune,” addresses legends about Winchester’s life and the facts about her life that were documented. 

    Ignoffo, a history instructor at De Anza, gathered information and documents in several archives, including the history of San Jose and Stanford University.

    The early twentieth century house is surrounded by urban legends about its owner, Sarah Winchester, widow of rifle inventor William Winchester. 

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    “[Sarah was] a Victorian woman with Victorian sensibilities and tastes,” Ignoffo said.

    “In May 1880, Sarah Winchester’s mother died. Eight months later her husband’s father died; three months after that her husband died. So, in a period of 10 months, she lost the most influential people in her life,” Ignoffo said.

    Regarding Sarah Winchester’s religious beliefs, she “seemed to exercise a very traditional religious outlook, much more traditional than her other family members. There is no evidence for Sarah Winchester’s spiritualism,” Ignoffo said.

    Ignoffo read two excerpts from her book including one about Sarah Winchester’s estates in San Jose, Atherton and San Mateo. Ignoffo also read about her younger sister, Estell Pardee, who was one of the first persons cremated in California, which “was brand new practice at the time,” she said. 

    “It is yet another example, of several in the book, showing that Sarah Winchester and her family were usually at the cutting edge of progressive ideas.” 

    “I’m interested in the local history since I moved to California from Illinois. I’m still learning California history, for almost 40 years,” audience member Joan Moeller said.  

    Ignoffo is the author of six other books about local history including “Gold Rush Politics: California’s First Legislature” and “Sunnyvale: From the City of Destiny to the Heart of Silicon Valley.” She will also be doing a local book tour and can be contacted throught her website


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