Herman Winters House

We posted this Sacramento house one year ago this week using Snickers on a stick, but since we live here now, we had to return to the Herman Winters house for an in-person photo.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it’s got quite a dramatic history. German immigrant Herman Winters made his was to California via New York and become a successful grocery store owner here.

With his first wife, Catherine, he had three children, one of whom died in infancy. Shortly after Catherine’s death in 1886, he married Effie Park, who was around the same age as his children at the time.

They had a tumultuous relationship. After one 1889 spat, Effie moved back in with her mother, taking tons of stuff from the house and then going on a $1,000 shopping spree using Herman’s credit in local stores. In turn, he refused to pay the bill and the case went to court.

No word on how that turned out, but they eventually patched things up and remained together until Herman died in 1904. He split up his estate, worth $38,000, between Effie and his two children.

Effie’s brother, Frank Parke, tried to have Effie deemed insane so that he could take over her assets. The court ruled in her favor, but when she died at 48 the next month, he contested her will, claiming she was mentally unsound when writing it. Frank had previously been the benefactor but after he tried to have her declared insane, she changed her will, leaving the bulk of her estate to her Methodist minister, L.S. Jones.

Loads of evidence was presented that she had changed after being thrown from a buggy in 1901. While she dressed well, spoke fine and took care of her assets, she also had erratic behaviors, such a writing letters to Jesus and signing them ‘the Bride of Christ,’ claiming to make the stars move, and calling her friends “nymphs of the devil.’

She was posthumously declared mentally incompetent after five doctors examined her brain and called it “unusually light.”

Frank didn’t keep the house for very long, though, and it was not cared for by subsequent owners. The Winters house was restored in 1996.

Herman Winters has an elaborate plot in the Sacramento City Cemetery. His first wife, Catherine; his daughter, Anna; and a grandson, Samuel, are buried there also. Effie and his son, John, however, were not interred there.

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