Thursday, July 21, 2016

Bickerton Lyle Winston (1857-1904)

Portrait from the Richmond Post-Dispatch, December 13, 1904.

   Following up on July 16th's profile of Virginia state delegate Moncure Woodson Camper, we continue our stay in Virginia to examine the life of a man named Bickerton....an odd first name to be sure! A standout figure in the county of Hanover, Bickerton Lyle Winston was for many years active in the fields of both medicine and politics, being a two term member of the State House of Delegates as well as serving on the State Board of Medical Examiners. 
  Born into a prominent Hanover County family, Bickerton Lyle Winston was born on February 8, 1857, one of several children born to William Overton and Sarah Ann (Gregory) Winston. He began his schooling in the public schools of Hanover and later attended the Randolph-Macon College in Ashland. Deciding upon a career in the medical field, Winston enrolled in the medical school at the University of New York City and received his degree in the class of 1884.
   In the late 1870s Bickerton L. Winston married to Fanny Byrd Tunstall (1850-1936). The couple would have seven children born to their union, including Bickerton Lyle Jr. (1880-1966), Frances Byrd (1891-1989) and Josephine Allen (1893-1982)
  After receiving his medical license Winston returned to Hanover Court House, Virginia to begin his practice, residing there until his death two decades later. Winston would also engage in farming in addition to practicing medicine, serving as president of the Virginia State Farmer's Alliance in the early 1890s.  
   During his years as a practicing physician Bickerton L. Winston was especially devoted to the affairs of the deaf, and for several years served as a member of the Board of Visitors for the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind, located in Staunton. Winston's eldest son, Bickerton Lyle Jr. (1880-1966) suffered from deafness and beginning in 1897 was enrolled as a student at the aforementioned school. Winston's tenure on the board of the Staunton school received prominent mention in his memorial notice published in the New York Deaf and Mutes Journal a few days after his passing. In it, Winston is remarked as having:
"Served with ability, and his services were always along lines practical, helpful and far reaching into the good all the while. He was unselfish, conscientious, nurturing and devoted to the deaf--largely because of having a deaf boy, perhaps. To him much credit is due for the condition of the school to-day, for he never lost any interest in it or in the class."
From the 1898-99 Virginia House of Delegates composite photograph.

   In 1892 Bickerton Lyle Winston entered the political life of his state for the first time, serving as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention that nominated Grover Cleveland for the presidency. Two years later Winston was elected to fill a vacancy in the House of Delegates that had been occasioned by the resignation of Richard H. Cardwell, who had recently been elected to the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. Winston served out the remainder of Cardwell's term and in 1895 was elected to a term of his own in the legislature. He would win a second full term in 1897 and wasn't a candidate for renomination in 1899. 
   Winston's six years in the legislature saw him sit on the committees on Prisons and Asylums, General Laws, Agriculture and Mining, as well as taking a special interest "in all matters relating to humane institutions of the state." Winston was also responsible for introducing a bill that advocated "separate institutions" for the blind and deaf, as well as requesting that a school for the blind be established in Ashland, Virginia. Despite "being reported favorably to the committee of the house to which it was referred", the bill wouldn't pass
  Following his time in the legislature Winston continued in the practice of medicine and for three years (1901-1904) served as a member of the State Board of Medical Examiners. In the last several months of his life Winston suffered through a "protracted illness" that would eventually lead to his death on December 11, 1904. Just 47 years old at the time of his death, Winston was survived by his wife and children and was later interred at the Blenheim Winston Cemetery in Hanover.

From the Richmond Times Dispatch, Dec. 14, 1904.

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