Patricia Craig Johnson --- Searching for My Ancestors --- Sharing My Life Stories

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Friday, June 6, 2014

My Patron Ancestor William Oliver Sanford 1822-1914

William Oliver Sanford & Joanna T. Baker

William Oliver Sanford is the one I call my "Patron Ancestor".     When my mother gave me a copy of a story William O. wrote, I immediately fell in love with this gentleman.  It was written around the end of the 1800's.  I haven't been able to pin down the exact date.  At first I figured it was around 1902.  Because I now know that his youngest son, Orion, died in 1892, and he refers in his story that he is writing it at Orion's request, I presume he wrote it around 1890.

When he wrote it would be nice to know, but I am most grateful that he wrote it at all ‑‑‑ and that it miraculously survived. In his story, William O. describes his parents, grandparents and brothers and sisters.  He also describes his experiences in the "War Of The Rebellion" as a volunteer in the 23rd Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He describes his boyhood in Tioga County New York, and many of the everyday experiences that seem to be from an unknown and foreign world.

Among the precious descriptions William Oliver Sanford wrote were:

Timothy Sanford ‑ "My father was rather a rigid disciplinarian but generous and kind.  He was a good musician, played several instruments, was the leader of the Old Presbyterian Choir and teacher of music, was a drummer in the last war with England in Connecticut but in what department I do not now remember.  He was     never a rich man but always owned a good home and maintained a comfortable living.  He required prompt obedience in every precept, was thoroughly orthodox in the teachings of Solomon, especially in the dogma that to spare the rod was to spoil the child yet he was in no wise cruel and only dusted our jackets whenever we had thoughtlessly perhaps, committed some boyish indiscretion."

Lucinda Teal ‑ "My mother was a small slender woman, patient and  gentle in disposition and wholly devoted to her husband and children.  She governed by kindness and never by the rod, was very indulgent and generous, was a good singer and a main stay in the church choir.  With a family of eight children her time was wholly occupied with cooking, washing, mending, spinning, quilting and making clothing for the family ‑‑ which could not be bought then as now, yet she was always cheerful and pleasant to all."

John Harlan (his tyrannical teacher) ‑ "A thorough flogging of the whole school about twice a day ‑ large and small‑ was the principle part of his duties.  And it is unaccountable that the parents tolerated him, but that was the spirit of the age for that   Presbyterian principle was thoroughly orthodox in Solomon's wisdom     wisdom "Spare the rod and spoil the child" tho strange they repudiated in practice at his other grand system of poligamy.  But Harlan was esteemed a model school master and they employed him a second term.  But we lived through it."

In 1987, I retyped the manuscript.  As I read, and studied, and typed these pages, I felt many times that William O. was standing at my side, directing the whole scene.  Some of the facts he states in his story are erroneous.  I have since found the real facts about some of the incidents he mentions.  I still love his story and I treasure it.  He wasn't  too far off on the few things that aren't correct, and he was very descriptive on so many events.  He related things as he had heard them and as he     remembered them.

William Oliver Sanford was born 21 Jul 1822 in Tioga County New York.  His father was Timothy Sanford and his mother was Lucinda Teal Sanford.  His father was the grandson of a true American Revolution Hero.  Ebenezer Sanford Sr, lost his life in the "Struggle for Independence".  His son, Ebenezer Jr, was Timothy's father and William Oliver's grandfather.

I visited my great aunt, Esther Cary Chisman, in Ottumwa, Iowa in 1992.  During this visit I asked her if she could tell me about her memories of William Oliver Sanford.  He died in 1914 and Aunt Esther was born in 1905.  Her family traveled periodically to Hamilton, Illinois to check on him.  She remembered that he was     blind in his later years.  He had a pure white beard and hair.  She said the children all laughed when he would throw objects at the door to scare away the squirrels.  He couldn't see that the screen door was closed and it was having no effect on the     squirrels.

When the Cary family traveled to Wichita, Kansas in 1914, William Oliver Sanford was dying.  He had outlived everyone of his OWN generation and all of the NEXT generation.  The people he had left were grandchildren from his son, Charles Baker Sanford.  None of his other children lived to produce any progeny.  He was living    with grandson, Roy Guy Sanford and his wife, Kate.   Apparently, the family all gathered to be there in his last days.  Aunt Esther remembers everyone sitting around a large table in the dining room.  They sent her upstairs to "see if Grampa is breathing".  She said she went upstairs to the bedroom where he lay.  She tiptoed over to the bed and looked and looked and   couldn't see him breathing.  She went back downstairs to tell the adults, William Oliver, "Wasn't breathing as far as I could tell".  He was at rest at last.   He had lived 92 years.

From a boy in Tioga County New York, to an ambitious young man in Akron, Ohio to a soldier in the Civil War, to a builder and civic minded man in Hamilton, Illinois he had traveled many miles and across a great distance of time.

William Oliver Sanford married Joanna T. Baker on 27 Oct 1847, in  Akron, Summit County Ohio.  He had moved there from New York after completing his apprenticeship to a cabinet maker.  His older brother, David Gleason Sanford, had already established a business of cabinet making in Akron.

William Oliver and Joanna had one child.  Charles Baker Sanford was born 4 Apr 1851 and Joanna died 8 Apr 1851.  What a heartbreak that must have been for William Oliver Sanford.  To care for a newborn infant presented him with a great challenge.  He had to put his baby in the homes of various friends, "who for liberal pay cared for him until he was about six years old".  Around 1860 William Oliver sent for Charles and he joined his father in Hamilton, Illinois.  William Oliver had married Sarah Kauffman and had established a home there.

William Oliver Sanford made Hamilton, Illinois his home.  As always, he became active in community affairs and worked at a variety of occupations, such as, "legal, mechanical, R.R. and merchandising".

As I retyped his manuscript in 1987, there were several words that I thought were misspelled.  With my new word processor I had the spell checker feature.  I would engage the spell checker, and GUESS who would be correct?  Yes, my William Oliver Sanford was a meticulous and exacting person, even with his use of the English language.

He died 22 Jun 1914.  He was one month short of being 92 years old.  He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Hamilton, Illinois.     His three children, Arthur J. born 27 Mar 1859; Emma L, born 17 Feb 1861; and Orion H., born 21 Sep 1863, are buried in the same family plot.  He is a human bridge for me.  He describes a people and a time of so long ago.  He describes them with a sense of humor and in such detail that I can see them and know them.

I am compelled to write a sketch about Joanna T. Baker.  She is the ancestress that haunts me more than any other.  I know so little about  her, but I feel a special bond with her.

Joanna T. Baker was born "about" 1825.  She married William Oliver Sanford 27 Oct 1847 in Akron, Summit County, Ohio.   She had her son, Charles Baker Sanford on 4 Apr 1851 and she died of typhoid fever, four days later, 8 Apr 1851.

These are the vital statistics for Joanna, and unfortunately, they are all I know at this point in time.  I have spent countless hours and dollars in my search for Joanna's ancestry, to no avail.

Joanna is buried in Glendale Cemetery.  The cemetery is also called the Rural Akron Cemetery.  The office at the cemetery has the following record of her:
"Joanna T. Baker Sanford was born at Bainbridge, Chenango County, New York, and died 8 Apr 1851, age 26, of Typhoid Fever.  She is buried in Section 2, Lot 90."

There is no stone on her grave according to my friend, Connie S. Ferguson of Hudson, Ohio.

Further investigation in Chenango County, New York revealed no further information about Joanna's family.  I know a great deal about "other" Baker families, but nothing to link Joanna to them.

I am not sure WHEN her story will be revealed to me, but I am sure that it WILL be revealed to me in the future.

She lived such a short time, but such an important time in my ancestry.  My existence was hanging by a very thin thread in1851.  I am so greatful that she endured long enough to have her son, Charles Baker Sanford.

**** Author's note: I have since found all of Joanna T.'s family and many ancestors as well. See her stories in this blog.

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