According to some sources, the Boston Medium consulted by Mrs. Winchester explained that her family and her fortune were being haunted by spirits – in fact, by the spirits of American Indians, Civil War soldiers, and others killed by Winchester rifles. Supposedly the untimely deaths if her daughter and husband were caused by these spirits, and it was implied that Mrs. Winchester might be the next victim.
However, the medium also claimed that there was an alternative, Mrs. Winchester was instructed to move west and appease the spirits by building a great house for them. As long as construction of the house never ceased, Mrs. Winchester could rest assured that her life was not in danger. Building such a house was even supposed to bring her eternal life.
On a more practical note, maybe a change of scenery and a never-ending hobby were just what Mrs. Winchester needed to distract her from her grief.
Whatever her actual motivations, Mrs. Winchester packed her bags and left Connecticut to visit a niece who lived in Menlo Park, California. While there she discovered the perfect spot for her new home in the Santa Clara Valley. In 1884 she purchased an unfinished farm house just three miles west of San Jose - and over the next thirty-eight years she produced the sprawling complex we know today as the Winchester Mystery House.