Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Sanfords of Milam County, Texas

I mentioned recently that in Salt Lake City, I found that my great-great-grandfather died at age 106. William Sanford, born in Virginia, first appears in the census of Milam County, Texas, in 1880 with wife Emely and daughters Catherine, Addie, Anna, and Bettie. I wondered what brought the family to Texas and when. I found a number of Sanfords in Milam County on the 1870 census who apparently came from Tennessee. The 1860 census shows seven Sanfords in Milam County, all from Tennessee. But the 1860 census doesn't describe relationships, so it was hard to tell exactly who was who. So I was stumped for awhile until I placed a query on a Milam County chat board asking for information about the Sanford family. I then heard from a woman who wrote, "Reuben H. and Mary W. Sanford were my gg grandparents. Their youngest daughter was my g grandmother." That was the break I needed. Now I think I know a lot more of the story.

Reuben Sanford was born in Virginia in about 1798. There is some evidence that his parents were James Sanford (born Va. 1769) and Sally Nance (born Va. 1767). His grandfather may have been George Sanford (born Va. 1740). In any event, the family eventually moved to Tennessee and Reuben settled in Williamson County. He married Mary Wood on July 6, 1820. They had seven children, Archer Wood, John T., Reuben Henry, and Elizabeth and three other daughters whose names I've not been able to discover. Reuben, Sr., died in about 1846. In 1854, his widow Mary moved to Milam County with at least two of her children, Archer and Reuben Henry [who sometimes appears in the census as "Henry"] and their wives and children. This is the family group that appears in the 1860 census of Milam County. At the time, Reuben Henry was married to a woman named Catherine. They later had a daughter, Susan, and sometime after that, Catherine died. Reuben married a woman named Martha in about 1871. The Sanford family, meaning the descendants of both Reuben Henry and Archer Wood, became prominent citizens of Milam County. Reuben Henry Sanford died on June 30, 1910, in Tracy, Texas.

The person who wrote me continued: "I gather your line connects to Otis Manson and Elizabeth "Betty" Sanford. I have Betty as the daughter of William and Emily Sanford. I found their names in Milam Co. but never knew how Wm. relates to my line of Sanfords." Well, here's the answer: despite the entry in the 1900 census that William Sanford and his family were white, all other evidence is that they were black. When the Virginia Sanfords moved to Tennessee, they brought a number of slaves with them. This is evident from the censuses and slave schedules. One of these must have been William. (To be continued in the near future).

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