SANDERS 

 OF RANDOLPH AND MONTGOMERY COUNTIES, NORTH CAROLINA, AND JACKSON COUNTY, ALABAMA,
AND OTHER COUNTIES IN GEORGIA, MISSISSIPPI, ARKANSAS, AND TEXAS

 

Copyright to original articles  2001-2014 by Gary B. Sanders.  Graphics by Kari Buziak, midi files by Barry Taylor.

This Web site is dedicated to genealogical research on the ancestors, descendants and collateral lines of four Sanders brothers--William Aaron Saunders, Isaac Saunders, the Reverend Moses Sanders, and Francis Sanders. We know from land and other records that before and during the American Revolution these brothers were living in the part of central North Carolina that is now the counties of Randolph and Montgomery.

Their numerous descendants followed the path of western expansion as American pioneers moved West. Many were in the forefront of settlement in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas. Some family members moved north to Illinois or Indiana; others moved west to Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and California. Sanders were with the Mormon pioneers as they trekked to Utah and Arizona, and there were Sanders cowboys who drove cattle in Texas on the great trail drives. Most were subsistence farmers, but some became citizens of considerable wealth and influence. There were Sanders who owned slaves and others who fought and died for the Union; there were Sanders who were Baptists and Methodists and those who were Mormons. They were farmers and doctors and lawyers and teachers and musicians and businessmen, but usually they were what Thomas Bailey Saunders III called "just plain folks." In their diversity of occupation and accomplishment, they reflected the American experience, especially that of Scots-Irish pioneers.

These Sanders genealogy articles supplement my RootsWeb World Connect Web GEDCOM based file burton-sanders. Because the RootsWeb file was developed over many years and in some cases before I was aware of the scope of my line, it may contain material about Sanders who are not related to me. I am not actively researching those non-related lines but retain them in my file for informational purposes (I will be happy to correct any errors brought to my attention, of course).

For comments, questions, or suggestions please contact me at the e-mail address listed at the World Connect file. I hope you find the information provided here interesting and helpful, and I welcome any additional information or updates you can provide. If you quote material from this site in your research, please give credit to the source of your information, whether the material is my work or that of others I have quoted. See the end notes for further information about the sources of this site. 

It is well to remember that, although the lineages presented here are based on my best attempts at good judgment and plausible reasoning, some of these conclusions may not stand the scrutiny of future research. Genealogical research is always an ongoing and unfinished project.It should also be noted that some articles at this site deal with Sanders who do not have a proven genealogical relationship to my line; in such cases, I believe I have clearly identified which articles examine non-related Sanders. 

Our Sanders are depicted in the differing family traditions of our lines as of Irish, Scottish, or English origin. Most likely, they were of mixed origins. Even though we cannot determine the exact area of northern Ireland, England, or Scotland from which they came, we do have documentary evidence that in the 1750s some of our Sanders were living in Brunswick and Halifax counties in Virginia; by the late 1760s some family members had moved to central North Carolina. In addition to the documentary evidence, there is also a strong family tradition that the family lived in Virginia before moving to North Carolina. DNA tests show that related Sanders were living in the Stafford/Fairfax/Loudoun county area of Virginia at the same time the four brothers appeared in North Carolina. The Fairfax line goes back to Lewis Sanders, a Scottish immigrant who came to America about the first decade of the eighteenth century. Lewis may have been the main progenitor and  immigrant ancestor of our Sanders line in America. If so, he was probably the grandfather of the brothers in North Carolina.

If you are a descendant of the four brothers--Moses, William Aaron, Isaac, or Francis--or have a confirmed DNA connection to the Sanders of Randolph and Montgomery or are related to one of their collateral lines, you may want to contribute to the research on our Sanders line by joining one or more of the following research groups:

Sanders/Saunders and Associated Families
This group was founded in 2008 by Chuck Sanders of Nevada (a descendant of the Reverend Moses Sanders) and currently has over seventy members. It is open to anyone who is descended from the Moses, Aaron, Isaac, Francis line of the Sanders of Randolph and Montgomery, or from the related Lewis Sanders line of Fairfax County, Virginia, or to anyone who has a proven Y-DNA connection to these Sanders lines.

Our Family Connections
This group was founded by Bill Saunders Curry in 2008 and is open to anyone who is related to him by birth or marriage, regardless of surname. He is a descendant of Jesse Sanders of Moore County,North Carolina. Jesse has been proven by Y-DNA testing to be related to the Moses, Aaron, Isaac, Francis Sanders line of Randolph and Montgomery.

Sanders/Saunders DNA Group
Unlike the other two groups, this group is open to any man with the surname of Sanders who is interested in DNA testing or to any woman who may have a male Sanders relative who is considering a DNA test. 

Membership in all three groups is free to those who qualify and provides a means by which researchers can exchange and share information. If anyone else has a similar Sanders group that is dedicated to research on my Sanders lines (Montgomery County line of Moses, Aaron, Isaac, Francis Sanders; Fairfax/Loudoun County line of Lewis Sanders; or Randolph/Chatham County line of Joseph and William Sanders), I will be happy to add a link here.  --Gary B. Sanders

List of Articles and Links
Links to articles/files here at the Sanders of Randolph and Montgomery Web site or my Sanders Genealogy RootsWeb Free Pages Web site: Links to PDF files at this site. These files require Adobe Reader; download free copy here:  Links to other Web sites with information about the Sanders/Saunders of Randolph and Montgomery: Links to other Web sites:

If you would like a link for your Sanders Web page added to this list or if you notice a broken link that no longer works, please send me an e-mail. 

 Sweet Afton

Like music while your browse?
Five
 traditional Scottish tunes
from the Barry Taylor songbook. 

Bonnie Doon


Four Marys

Ye Jacobites By Name

 Tramps & Hawkers

                                      
While searching, you  may return to the the site map or list of links by clicking on any of the three Celtic buttons.

Most recent articles or features:

February 3, 2014: Recent DNA tests (revision)

February 18, 2013:  Sanders Siftings, an exchange of Sanders/Saunders family research, ed. Don E. Schaefer

January 31, 2013: Barbara Rogers' Research on Sanders of Booneville, Mississippi


January  14, 2013: Isaac Sanders of Booneville, Mississippi (revision)

January 10, 2013: Origins of the Sanders/Saunders name

May 15, 2012:
 Isaac Sanders of Leake County, Mississippi--Revisited

January 06, 2011:  Montgomery County orginal land grants (by Joe Thompson)

January 31, 2010:  Martha Sanders, wife of Joseph

January 31, 2010:  Jacob Saunders (1760-after 1818), furniture maker

January 31, 2010:  "Uncle Joe" Sanders of Randolph and Jackson counties, died 1863

January 20, 2010:  Joseph Sanders of Randolph, died 1803 (revision of earlier article)

September 3, 2009: A Sanders Coat of Arms

August 17, 2009:   John Saunders and Catherine Nimrod (revision of earlier article)

August 9, 2009:     Sylvie Escat Saunders (revision of earlier article)

July 10, 2009:       Francis Sanders, the Quaker of Fairfax County, Virginia


 Introduction to the Sanders/Saunders Family of Randolph and Montgomery Counties

My research, and that of many other individuals who have generously shared documentation, indicates that in the years before the American Revolution there were at least four brothers who lived in the Piedmont area of  North Carolina: William Aaron Saunders, Isaac Saunders, the Reverend Moses Sanders, and Francis Sanders. A grandson of the Reverend Moses Sanders, Moses Martin Sanders, referred to Francis Sanders as his great uncle in the ordinances he completed for the LDS church in the late nineteenth century. One of Aaron's grandsons, Thomas Bailey Saunders of Texas, wrote a letter about 1890 in which he referred to  to his grandfather, William Aaron Saunders and to his grandfather's brothers, Isaac and "another brother named Moses, who was a Baptist preacher." There was at least one sister, believed to have been named Tabitha, in the family, and there may very well have been other siblings. 

In the family tradition there is a bit of fanciful material about two Saunders brothers who arrived in America shortly in the early eighteenth century, helped in the capture of Blackbeard, the pirate, and then changed the spelling of their name to Sanders, but this bit of family folklore may only reflect a possibly authentic memory that two brothers were the immigrant progenitors of our Sanders line in America. One of the immigrant brothers was probably the grandfather or father of the four brothers of Randolph and Montgomery. We have no confirmed documentation of the childhood of the four brothers, but by the 1770s they appear in the land records of the Piedmont area of North Carolina that was then Anson and Rowan Counties, but that would later become the counties of Randolph, Montgomery, Iredell, Wilkes, and others.

In 1772, William Aaron received a land grant on Barnes Creek in what is now Montgomery County.  Between 1771 and 1774, Moses Sanders received several grants of land in present day Montgomery County (then Anson County), to the west of Aaron's land. In 1774 Moses and Aaron were ordered to help construct a road. In 1782 Isaac appears on the tax roll of Montgomery County. These are typical of the numerous references to Moses, Aaron, or Isaac in the land records.

There seems to have been a long-standing relationship with the Hamilton family among these early Sanders. Moses Sanders married a Mary Hamilton in Brunswick County, Virginia; one of the descendants of Isaac married a Hamilton;Tabitha, Moses' sister, married a Hamilton; and we know of a William Hamilton who owned land near the Sanders in North Carolina and is believed to have been a brother to Mary, wife of Moses. Most of these Hamiltons appear to have moved to Randolph and Montgomery Counties from Brunswick County. We do not know how long the Saunders family themselves lived in Brunswick County, but there is a family tradition that they were from Virginia, and before that, from England, Scotland, or Ireland. Despite widespread Web postings to the contrary, there is no proof that any of the four brothers were born in England, and it appears that Christopher Columbus Sanders was mainly responsible for popularizing the theory that the Reverend Moses Sanders was born in Wiltshire County in England when he erected a new tombstone in 1902 for his great grandfather and added the inscription "born in England 1742." This theory that Moses' father was a John Sanders from the village of Downton in Wiltshire, England, is apparently based on confusion with a different John Sanders and son Moses who lived in Wiltshire nearly a hundred years before the Reverend Moses Sanders was born.

There are large gaps in our knowledge of Moses, Aaron, and Isaac. The name of Isaac's wife, for example, is not even mentioned in family tradition, though we do know that Isaac had a child named Jacob, and probably several others.  William Aaron's wife was Joan Bailey, who is mentioned in the Thomas Bailey Saunders letter as "of the famous old family of Virginia." No one is quite sure which Bailey family he was talking about or why they were famous. We know that Aaron died in 1782  because letters of administration for his estate were issued in that year. Aaron's widow, Joan (or Joanah) appears on the land records of Montgomery county as late as 1803. In the 1830s, Nimrod Sanders, a son of Aaron and Joan Saunders, sold  his land in Montgomery County and moved to Alabama. Moses moved away from Montgomery County after October 1781, first to Wilkes County, and then further west to the area that became Iredell County. As an itinerant preacher, he traveled frequently, and even moved to South Carolina for a while, before eventually residing in Franklin County, Georgia, where he died in 1817, a highly respected clergyman. Many of his descendants became Mormons.

Francis, who had helped Moses in Georgia with his ministry and who is mentioned in the minutes of the Grove Level Baptist Church in Georgia that was founded by Moses, eventually moved to Tennessee and probably died in that state. He is known to have had sons named Silas and Peter, and we have tentatively identified other children named Moses and Sarah. 

Isaac, who is said to have been the first man to build a house at Cross Creek (now Fayetteville), may have lived longer than any of his brothers, probably surviving well into his nineties. If he was really one of the first settlers at Cross Creek he must have been a young man about 1760. Like his brothers, he owned land in Montgomery County, but it appears he moved to Randolph County by 1800, when he is  enumerated on the 1800 census of Randolph County as over forty-five years of age. The last documentary record of him is a transfer of land by him to Benjamin Sanders in 1808. He lived long enough that Thomas Bailey Saunders, who was born in 1816, could write a letter to a nephew about 1890 and marvel at Isaac's longevity, "I have seen your great-grandfather and his wife, and they were very old then."  If Isaac was born about 1737-1740, then he would have been in his eighties in the 1820s when Thomas Bailey Saunders was a child.

Most of the descendants of William Aaron and Isaac lived in the northern area of Montgomery County, not far from the Randolph County line,  between Duncombe Creek and Barnes Creek, particularly near the community of Ophir, which is described as a village of tradition and pastoral values in the Montgomery County Heritage Book, Volume II:

Nestled in the  Uwharries, Ophir is a family community. A community that still believes in doing things the old fashioned way.“We are all kin up here one way or another, “ said Robert Saunders. “We always tell people they better watch what they say about anybody, because more than likely, they’ll be talking about their own people.” Way back, when folks first started settling in Ophir, Ophir wasn’t Ophir. It was Saunders Hill. “I guess it was around the 1800s that the area as known as Saunders Hill,” said Myrtle Hall. “We had a post office that went across Coggins Gold Mine that was called Saunders Hill Post Office."

The name was changed from Saunders Hill to Ophir in the nineteenth century when a steel mill was built. Ophir was a reference to the land of Ophir mentioned in the Bible as a place where King Solomon obtained gold. From this small area, the descendants of the Montgomery County Saunders moved to other states in the South, Midwest, and West.

The articles offered here and the links to other Web sites cannot possibly cover everything a descendant would like to know about the Sanders of Randolph and Montgomery, nor have I tried to be rigidly systematic in arranging the articles. Rather, I add features as items of interest come to my attention. My hope is provide information that supplements that of other researchers so that, as Thomas Bailey Saunders III said in 1971 in a letter to a relative who was inquiring about family history, we may "find out how many horse borrowers, cattle rustlers, coon hunters, preachers, and just plain good Christian folks there were among us." (quoted in  William Aaron Saunders Research Group Web site.)

The following chart is provided as a brief general introduction to the main Sanders line of Randolph and Montgomery by listing the children of each of the four brothers and Tabitha, who is believed to be their sister. Most of the indicated years of birth are tentative approximations, and I have used italics to indicate individuals whose parentage is especially problematic. It is likely that there were other children in this family, and possible identifications of other siblings will be examined elsewhere in the following articles.

Wm Aaron Saunders, 1735  Isaac  Saunders,  1737 Moses Sanders, 1742 Tabitha Sanders, 1750 Francis Sanders, 1755
     1. Stephen, 1770   1. Jacob, 1760    1.  Aaron, 1769     1. Peter, 1780
     2. Luke, 1772   2. Mary Katherine, 1764    2. Moses, 1771     2. Silas, 1785
     3. Sallie,  1775   3. Benjamin, 1766    3. Sarah, 1773     3. Moses, 1795
     4. Nimrod, 1780   4. Jesse, 1773    4. David, 1775     4. Francis, 1797
  5. Francis, 1782    5. Nancy, 1778
   6. Amos, 1781
   7. John, 1787

The descendants of the four brothers intermarried with the descendants of Joseph Sanders of Randolph County, who made his will on March 18, 1803. Joseph and his wife Rebecca had at least seven children. Three of their daughters and two of their sons married Sanders descendants of the four brothers. DNA testing, however, suggests that Joseph was not related to the other Saunders line. Because, of the extensive cousin intermarriage which was common in those days, tracing the genealogical links between these two Sanders families is rather complicated. Many Saunders and Saunders of Randolph and Montgomery in North Carolina and Jackson County in Alabama are descended from both Sanders lines. For example, Joseph Sanders was my g-g-g grandfather and Isaac Saunders was my third great grandfather. My great-great grandparents were Benjamin Saunders, a son of Isaac, and Mary Sanders, a daughter of Joseph. Like the other Sanders line, Joseph Sanders is believed to have been of Scottish or Irish ancestry, but his parents are unknown.  

Below is a chart that gives a brief introduction to the line of Joseph Sanders of Randolph County, showing the marriages of his children to spouses from the line of the four brothers.

Joseph Sanders
(born about 1755, died between 1803-1805)
||

Rachel, 1779
spouse:
Francis  
Sanders

(son of Isaac
Saunders)



 Mary, 1782
spouse:
Benjamin
Sanders

(son of Isaac
Saunders)



George, 1784
spouse:
Phebe 
Sanders
(daughter of Jacob
Saunders, son
of Isaac)


John, 1785
spouse:
Rachel Randon






Sarah, 1787
spouse:
Peter Wall
Rich





Phoebe, 1789
spouse:
Jesse
Sanders
(son of Jacob
Saunders, son
of Isaac)


Joseph, 1793
spouse: Martha Saunders
(possibly, a daughter of Benjamin )
 Joseph's 2nd wife was
Deborah Saunders,
(a daughter of Jacob, son of Isaac)

 Elijah,
1804
 Benjamin
1804
 Rebecca
1807
David
1809
Joseph
1807
William
1815
 John Francis
1805
Rebecca
1806
Joseph
1808
Joseph
1811
Sarah
1809
Nancy
1818
 Elisha
1814
 Sarah
1808
 Mary
1810
Martha
1815
Jacob
1813
Elizabeth
1821
 Frances
1816
George
1812
 J. Peter
1811
John
1817
George
1816
Benjamin
1823
Wm. Patrick
1819
Pheobe
1815
 Benjamin  F.
1813
Rebecca
1820
Rebecca
1820
Rachel
1825
Mary Jane
1823
Isaac
1818
Margaret
1815
George
1822
Mary
1821
George
1826
       John
1822
Sarah
1821
Moses
1823
Jesse
1824
Ailsey
1829
 Alfred
 1827
Deborah
1823
Mary
1825
Martha
1830
Anna
1825
Jesse
1827
Mary
1833
Phebe
1827
Elias
1829
Joseph
1834
Martha
1830
Isaac
1830
Henry (by 2nd wife)
1840
Phebe Emaline (by 2nd wife)
1842
John (by 2nd wife)
1845

Click on icon to return to Index


John Saunders and Catherine Nimrod

February 4, 2008
Revised  August 7, 2009

Several years ago, I was informed by other Sanders researchers that the parents of the five siblings mentioned in the previous article--William Aaron, Isaac, Moses, Francis, Tabitha—were John Saunders and Catherine Nimrod and that this information came from the research of  Elva Hoge Dixon (1923-2007). After rather extensive research on this topic, I now feel that, although she may have helped to perpetuate the theory in her correspondence with other researchers, she did not claim to have any family tradition or independent research regarding the parentage of the siblings. I believe she was merely passing on information she received from others.

Elva Dixon actually had both Sanders lines of Randolph/Montgomery in her ancestry, going back to Joseph Sanders, Sr., and to Isaac Saunders, one of the four brothers who appeared in Anson County just before the American Revolution. Elva's mother was Phebe Charlotte Lottie Kingery (1885-1971) and her grandmother was Phebe Emaline Sanders (1842-1931). Her great grandparents were Joseph Sanders, Jr., and Deborah Saunders. The latter was the daughter of Jacob Saunders and the granddaughter of Isaac Saunders, brother of William Aaron Saunders and the Reverend Moses Sanders.

Elsewhere I have mentioned that Phebe Emaline Sanders, Elva’s grandmother, corresponded with Sylvie Escat Saunders, the wife of George A. Saunders, a grandson of Thomas Bailey Saunders and great-great grandson of William Aaron Saunders. This correspondence occurred about 1918 when Sylvie Saunders was trying to acquire information about the ancestry of her husband. At that time Sylvie Saunders was a resident of New Orleans and Phebe Emaline lived in Alhambra, Illinois.

Elva Hoge Dixon became increasingly interested in genealogy later in life and began to go through her mother and grandmother’s papers. In a March 1999 letter to Roland Jary, she wrote, “I found all these old papers rolled tightly in an old baking powder can along with old tax papers and letters I’m not sure of…..I wished I had asked mom more questions but I wasn’t too interested then.”  Elva Dixon never owned a computer, kept all of her records on paper, and corresponded with other researchers through mail.

Among the letters she had in her possession was one written in March 1965 by her mother, Phebe Lottie Kingery Hoge, to Mabel Harmon, the daughter of Phebe’s niece:

“I start with the grandparents of Phebe Emeline Sanders although I don’t know much about them, not even their given names so I just have to call them Mr. and Mrs. Sanders. They lived in North Carolina. He built household furniture with the use of hand tools and sold them. I don’t know how many children they had, but he gave each child a homemade chest--made soon after they were born in which to keep their clothing. A daughter named Deborah later became my grandma, my mother’s mother. She was born on March 7, 1803. I don’t know how she first got acquainted with my Alabama grandfather, Mr. Joseph Sanders, but she went to Alabama and they were married. He was much older than her for he had been married before and had 12 children, most of them grown and married, probably at ages of 14-16. I don’t know when they (Joseph and Deborah) were married but probably about 1838 for their oldest son was born about 1840. That was Uncle Henry. Then their second child was my mother who was born May 20, 1842 and her third and last child was Uncle John who was born Aug 30, about 1844. Grandma (Deborah) died when Phebe (my mother) was only 12 yrs. old and mother kept house for her father and 2 brothers (with their help) until Civil War started. Deborah’s mother who was my great-grandma lived to be 106 yrs. old. I remember hearing my mother say she and Isham were married on her brother John’s birthday anniversary and she said that Irene Ryder was born Mar. 7th which was her mother’s (Deborah’s) birthday anniversary. Mother never had the pleasure of seeing her grandparents on either side--all Sanders. I don’t think her mother ever got back to see her people in N. Carolina and I think her grandparents on her father’s side were probably dead before she was born.”

It’s evident from this letter that Phebe Lottie Kingery Hoge was unaware of the given name of Jacob Saunders, the son of Isaac Saunders. If she was unaware of the name of Jacob and Isaac, we have to assume she knew nothing about Isaac's father. She says only, “I don’t know much about them, not even their given names so I just have to call them Mr. and Mrs. Sanders.” Later, Lois Brady, a descendant of Isaac, provided Elva Hoge Dixon with information from the Sampson Saunders (1801-1864) Bible that shows Jacob was the unknown “Mr. Sanders.” This information is revealed in a letter that Lois Brady wrote to Roland Jary in July 2000.

Although her mother didn’t know Jacob’s given name, Elva gave John Saunders as Isaac’s father, and therefore Jacob’s grandfather, in her correspondence with other Saunders researchers in the 1990s.  For example, in a February 1999 letter to Roland Jary, a descendant of William Aaron, she said, “The only thing I can add is my grandmother Phebe’s line which is—John—Isaac—Jacob—Deborah—Phebe—me.” 

According to Michael McGinnis, “ Information about Moses being son of John and Catherine Nimrod Sanders comes from a Bible transcription which was handed down in the family of Elva Dixon, a descendant of Deborah Sanders, daughter of Jacob." The McGinnis Web site states that this information is from “Gretta.” I believe this is a reference to Gretta Saunders, a Sanders researcher whose husband is a descendant of Isaac Saunders. I tend to think the statement about the Bible transcription is a misinterpretation of the situation--this may be a reference to either the Nimrod Saunders Bible which gave the exact birth dates of his children or to the Jesse Elbert Saunders Bible which named Jacob as the father of Sampson Saunders. Elva Dixon did not refer to a family Bible as her source for John and Catherine in any of the letters that I have seen.

In fact, she didn’t specifically give a source at all in her letters for her statements about John and Catherine. She did state that some of her information about the Saunders family came from others and was not based on family tradition. In a June 1997 letter she said, “I see that you sent Andrea Gereighty a letter also. Andrea is the one that gave me some of the information I have.”  In the same letter she said, regarding Lois Brady, “I’ve copied what she sent me in letters and I’ve started with John Saunders born in 1700. This John Saunders is also in Andrea’s line.” These statements suggest that the information about John Saunders came from either Andrea Gereighty or Lois Brady. However, in a letter to Roland Jary, Lois Brady wrote, “All the information I have from Jacob back to Thomas Sanders was given to me by Elva Dixon.”  Therefore, whatever information Lois Brady gave to Elva Dixon, the names John Saunders and Catherine Nimrod were not included.

At the end of the June 1997 letter to Roland Jary, Elva Dixon attached a chart that begins as follows:

John Saunders
John Saunders was born in 1700 in VA.
Married Catherine Nimrod, born about 1700 or 1705
Five children
1.    Isaac Saunders (my line)
2.    Moses Saunders
3.    William Aaron Saunders (this is the beginning of Andrea’s line where it is different from mine)
4.    George Saunders
5.    Tabitha Saunders

In the left margin of the first page of the chart she wrote “came from TBS and Andrea.”  TBS is a reference to Thomas Bailey Saunders III, a descendant of William Aaron through William Aaron's son, Nimrod Saunders; and Andrea, of course, refers to Andrea Gereighty. It’s  not entirely clear if this reference to the source refers to the entire page or just to the part about Isaac Saunders. She then repeats some of the information her mother gave about Jacob Saunders being a carpenter and adds that one of the hope chests that Jacob made for his children was still in the family.  


From these documents and correspondence, we are still not able to make any certain conclusions about the source of  the information Elva Hoge Dixon provided about John and Catherine. The fact that in 1965 her mother did not know the given name of Jacob Saunders, son of Isaac, and referred to him only as “Mr. Sanders” suggests that Elva came by her information on John Sanders not from family tradition but from other researchers.

Among the researchers with whom she exchanged notes was Don Schaefer, a descendant of Isaac Saunders, and editor of the newsletter Sanders Siftings. On one occasion, they met in person and discussed their research.  Don Schaefer wrote in a recent e-mail to me, “I have the latest that Elva wrote, actually an original hand-written manuscript. It has the identical line I got from Andrea going back from Isaac to John Saunders and Catherine Nimrod, Martin Saunders III, etc., back to Harlowen Saunders in 1170 A.D.”

In the other letters cited above, Elva Dixon didn’t go further back than John Saunders. Although it is possible  she already had the names of John and Catherine and added them to the line she received from Andrea Gerieghty, I think it is more likely she knew nothing of John and Catherine until her correspondence with with other researchers.  Don Schaefer suggests as much when he says the chart he received from Elva was the same as the chart he received from Andrea. Then the question would be how Andrea Gereighty came by the John  Saunders/Catherine Nimrod information. She did have access to some of the World War I era research of her grandmother, Sylvie Saunders, but I think Andrea derived the information from a different source.

In the article on Sylvie Saunders, I mention some of her correspondence with other researchers. Her starting point was the letter written in the 1890s by Thomas Bailey Saunders I in which he mentioned the three brothers, Aaron, Isaac, and Moses, a Baptist preacher. At the end of the letter he said he was giving all the information he had. There was no mention of John Saunders and Catherine Nimrod, and it  seems obvious if he had known the name of the father of the brothers he would have provided that information.

Sylvie Saunders, married to the grandson of Thomas Bailey Saunders, did most of her research just before and after World War I. Though she lived until 1963, there doesn't seem to be any record of her doing any research later in her life. It also seems obvious she knew nothing about the parents of Moses, Aaron, and Isaac, the three brothers mentioned in the TBS letter, for if she had any parentage information, she would have mentioned the names of the parents in her 1918 letter sent to a Davis family descendant, a letter which was meant to summarize what Sylvie  knew about family history at that time. Sylvie did state in a 1916 letter that she had received information from  the Nimrod Saunders Bible, provided by Mary Chavers (Chivers?), a great grandaughter of Nimrod, but, obviously, that information was only about Nimrod and his children, not about his grandparents. 

Sylvie corresponded with a wide variety of Sanders descendants, from Alfred Head Mashburn Sanders, a grandson of Isaac; to Elkanah Shuford Saunders, a nephew of Thomas Bailey Saunders I; to Nathaniel Powell Sanders, great grandson of Elva Dixon's ancestor, Deborah Saunders; to John Duff Sanders, a descendant of Nimrod Saunders. She had talked to all these people by 1918 and still did not know the parents of the brothers. In 1918, there were still a few people living who could remember the early years of the 19th century. It  seems unlikely she could have discovered anything new from family tradition in the 1920s and 1930s when there were even fewer people left who had any personal remembrance of ancestors who lived three or four generations previously. It is also doubtful she obtained additional information by research in any archives or county records.
 
After Sylvie discontinued her research, the next person in the family who made an effort to find the parents of Moses, Aaron, and Isaac was Thomas Bailey Saunders III(1906-1974). He was the first cousin once removed of Sylvie Saunders' husband and was also a great grandson of Thomas Bailey Saunders I. Roland Jary provided a valuable clue about the the research of TBS III in an e-mail sent in July 2009: " I have often wondered where the origin of the idea of John and Catherine came from. My uncle Tom who got deep into the line back in the '40s had them on his chart, but I was never able to verify where he got it."  

Roland Jary's message, like Don Schaefer's earlier one, leads me to believe the original source of the John Saunders/Catherine Nimrod theory was Thomas Bailey Saunders III. Andrea Gereightly, who sent information about John and Catherine to Don Schaefer and to Elva Dixon, was a second cousin once removed of TBS III and may have had  access to some of his research.

As for the source from which TBS III obtained the names of John and Catherine, I have no explanation,  but I suspect the two names came from his attempt to tie his ancestor William Aaron Saunders  to the Captain William Saunders of the American Revolution. We know now that the Captain William Sanders who served in the Revolution was not the ancestor of TBS, William Aaron Saunders, but another William Sanders who died in Summer County, Tennessse in 1803. The Captain William Sanders of the Revolution has no known connection to the three brothers of Anson County. 

Another clue comes from the old Cook-Sanders Web page that is available now only through the Wayback Machine:
 
TBS III also corresponded with R.J.L. Backstrom of the International Heraldic Institute in Washington, D.C. In a letter dated February 03, 1948, Mr. Backstrom sent the following:

"Our delay in replying to your special delivery letter of the 27th has been due to our efforts to locate the ancestry of your William Aaron Saunders. We have carefully searched our files and those available at The Library of Congress, but without success.We have a William Saunders (Aaron not mentioned) in North Carolina: Ensign 6th North Carolina, 2d April, 1777; transferred to 1st North Carolina 1st June, 1778; Lieutenant, 6th February, 1779; Captain 8th February, 1779; transferred to 4th North Carolina, 6th February, 1782; retired 1st January, 1783. Evidently this Captain was not killed in battle, but he is the only Captain in Revolution from North Carolina, and believe him to be your man. We do not find any further record of him."

Mr. Backstrom describes the Saunders family Coat-of-Arms in a letter dated 24 January 1948 as follows:

"We do have the record of a Reverend David Saunders, overseer for the colony at James City, Virginia, some of whose descendants moved to North Carolina. An authentic reproduction of the Coat-of-Arms of this family, anciently seated at Buckinghamshire; Brickesworth, Sibbertoft, and, Flower, Co. Northampton, Berkshire and Northampstonshire, England, our #501 is offered for $17.50, framed. This arms is very attractive, consisting of a shield divided in the form of a chevron in black and silver, charged with three elephants' heads, counterchallenged, the crest being an elephant's head."

This was followed in the letter dated 3 February 1948 with the following, in reply to TBS III's question about a different Coat-of-Arms that he had seen.

"Yes, there are many different arms granted to various branches of the Saunders families abroad; the one which we offered you, and which we are making is that borne by the North Carolina family and derived from Berkshire, England; I am certain of this and of course, cannot account for what the other Saunders families have."

We can see from the article at the Cook Sanders Web page that  TBS III did not have a clue in 1948 as to the father of the three brothers mentioned in his great grandfather's letter. Otherwise, he would have mentioned his knowledge in his correspondence with R. J. Backstrom. Therefore, the John Saunders/Catherine Nimrod theory most likely can be dated after 1948.
 
The David Saunders and Martin Saunders mentioned in the correspondence of TBS III and Elva Dixon are said by other researchers to have had  wives named "Elizabeth Isaac" and "Rachel Aaron." There is some documentation about these two Saunders men and enough information that we know they were real people, though they seem to have lived in England and/or Massachusetts, not Virginia. After many years of research, however, no one has ever found any documentation about a John Saunders who married a Catherine Nimrod.

TBS III may have picked up on the surnames "Isaac" and "Aaron" and concluded that maybe he was on the right track in thinking this David Saunders line was his family. Other researchers have also similarly wondered if there could be a connection to our Sanders family, based on those two surnames that are identical to the given names of two of the brothers mentioned in the letter written by Thomas Bailey Saunders I. There were already ideas floating around in the 1940s that the father of the Reverend Moses Sanders was a John Saunders, ideas probably based on the chronological impossible identification of the father of the Baptist preacher with a John Sanders who lived in the 1600s in Massachusetts.

All it would take to get us to the Saunders/Nimrod theory after this suggestion from R. J. Backstrom to TBS III would be for someone to supply the name "Catherine Nimrod" to balance "Elizabeth Isaac" and "Rachel Aaron."   Nimrod Saunders, of course, was the son of William Aaron Saunders and the grandfather of  Thomas Bailey Saunders I.  Often, researchers suggest tentative identifications, maybe in a chart as just a hypotheses, and then other researchers pick them up and once they get spread around, they may easily be accepted as proven. We really don't know how this theory of the parenthood of John and Catherine got started, but that it orginated after 1948 seems likely. 
 
I think the evidence is reasonably clear that William Aaron, Isaac, Moses, Francis, and Tabitha were siblings. It is only the identity of their parents that is in doubt, but we are not going to find their parents by looking in Massachusetts or Wiltshire, England, or among the family of David or Martin Saunders; our only hope for success is in documenting the migration of the parents of the five siblings from Virginia to central North Carolina. So far, that has proven to be a very elusive task.

If we try to find the parents by looking at the various Saunders or Sanders who lived in the Anson area of North Carolina before the American Revolution, we don't get a very clear picture of alternatives to John and Catherine as the parents.  One possibility is William Sanders and his wife Susan. He was probably born about 1705 and he appears in the land records of Anson in the 1760s, but was exempt from taxes about 1764 due to age or infirmity. Three of his children appear to be Patrick, James, and Sarah. Among the descendants of Patrick, family tradition is that the family was from Scotland or Ireland. One of Patrick’s sons, William A. Saunders (born 1776, another William Aaron, perhaps?) moved to Prairie County, Arkansas, where there were also numerous descendants of the Saunders/Nimrod line. DNA tests show that James Sanders, believed to be one of William’s sons, is related to the four brothers. The main difficulty in accepting William as the father of William Aaron, Moses, Isaac, etc. is that his land holdings were not adjacent to those of Moses and William Aaron. On the other hand, James, Jr., the grandson of William, did hold land at one time on Barnes Creek near Moses and Aaron. 

Another possible father of the brothers is Daniel Sanders who appears on the 1759 Rowan County tax list and the 1779 Montgomery County tax list. A 1779 deed by Edward Young (per information from Jim Sanders) refers to Daniel Sanders as having lived on land that is adjacent to that of Edward Young, who is referenced in a later deed as being a neighbor of Moses Sanders.

George Sanders is referenced in a 1773 deed as having property adjacent to Moses Sanders and was ordered to help build a road with Moses and Aaron in 1774.  Some researchers have designated him a possible brother to Aaron, Isaac, Moses, and Francis even though he is not mentioned in family tradition at all.  Other early Montgomery County Sanders are Reuben (1783 deed) and Joshua (1780). Though these two were in the area, we don't have either documentation or tradition that would tie them to our Saunders line.

In the next article, I will suggest an alternative theory that seems to hold some promise of solution to this very difficult genealogical puzzle.

--Gary Sanders

I would like to express my thanks to Roland Jary and Don Schaefer who have been very helpful in providing me information about their correspondence with Elva Hoge Dixon.

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Francis Sanders of Fairfax County, Virginia

This article on Francis Sanders contains my interpretation of Jim Sanders' research in the records of Stafford, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties in Virginia. In the previous article, I discussed the evidence regarding John Saunders and Catherine Nimrod as the parents of the four brothers—Moses, Aaron, Isaac, and Francis-- who lived in Anson County, North Carolina, during the late 1700s. It is unnecessary to provide the same detail again, but basically the information about John and Catherine was said to have come from Elva Hoge Dixon (1923-2007), who possessed Sanders family records that had belonged to her grandmother, Phebe Emeline Sanders (1842-1931). Among these was a tradition that her ancestor Jacob Sanders, the son of Isaac, was a carpenter who made hope chests for his children. Elva Dixon’s family still has one these hope chests. 
 
Now, if Elva had passed on a story that among these records was something about John and Catherine, I would give the story more credibility as a long family tradition, but she did not. It appears she first mentioned John and Catherine in letters she wrote in the late 1990s, but she didn't say where she obtained this information. In the previous article I concluded that her actual source was another relative who had access to the records of Thomas Bailey Saunders III (1906-1974). We do not know his source, but there was almost certainly no family tradition about John and Catherine in his family. His great grandfather, Thomas Bailey Saunders I, did not mention the names of John and Catherine in the famous letter he wrote in the 1890s, nor did his cousin Sylvie Escat Saunders mention the parentage of the brothers in her numerous attempts to research the Saunders line about 1920.
 
Because no evidence for the existence of John and Catherine has been discovered, it is almost impossible to disprove that they are the parents of the four brothers of Anson County. It is easy, on the other hand, to counter most of the other, previous claims about the parentage of the Reverend Moses Sanders and his brothers because we have some documentation, however fragmentary, about the designated individuals.
 
I don't place the John Saunders/Catherine Nimrod information in the same category as the really authentic family traditions about our Sanders family. I feel it is somewhat suspect. Maybe someone didn't knowingly invent the two names, but it seems strange that if these are really the parents of the brothers, we have nothing but the names. Why is there no corresponding family tradition about where John and Catherine were from, or John's occupation? For each of the four brothers, we have some colorful stories, though perhaps embellished, that give life to their histories: we are told that Aaron and Moses fought in the Revolutionary War, that Isaac was the first man to build a house at Cross Creek and that he lived a very long time, that Moses' sister married a Hamilton, etc. For John and Catherine, there is nothing but the names. If we had only the names and a long and solid family tradition, I would be more inclined to acceptance, but we don't have any evidence of a long-standing tradition about John and Catherine. 
 
On the other hand, I trust completely Thomas Bailey Saunders' tradition, documented in his letter from the 1890s, that Aaron, Moses, and Isaac were brothers and I feel that Moses Martin Sanders' information that Francis was a brother to Moses is equally reliable. These traditions go back to the 1870s and 1890s and seem to be based on authentic information passed down through the generations. All our conventional research and DNA testing tends to confirm these traditions. Therefore, the brotherhood of the four men in Anson—Moses, Aaron, Isaac, and Francis-- is to me the starting point for all this research. Whoever was the father of one of them has to be the father of all.

I also mentioned in the previous article that even though the evidence for John and Catherine as the parents was extremely meager, no alternative theory regarding the parentage of the four brothers provided any better documentation. At least, the preceding statement was true until recently. Now, however, land, religious, and legal records from Fairfax and Loudoun counties in Virginia are beginning to give us promise of an alternative theory with a great deal of plausibility.

Beginning in January 2009, Jim Sanders and I began to exchange e-mail regarding Francis Sanders, a Quaker who lived in Fairfax County, Virginia, in the 1750s. Previously, I had been aware of the existence of Francis and two of his children, Moses and Aaron, but had not pursued the possibility that Francis might have been the progenitor of the four brothers and therefore the father of Isaac and a younger Francis in addition to Moses and Aaron.

As readers of this Web site are aware, Jim has done extensive research in the land records of Anson and Montgomery Counties in North Carolina and in Brunswick and Halifax in Virginia.  As a descendant of Francis, one of the four brothers of Anson, he decided to begin a similar project with the records of Loudoun and Fairfax, with emphasis on Francis Sanders, the Quaker.  This research was very extensive and required months of labor in the land, legal, and religious records of Loudoun and Fairfax. Jim’s findings are presented in the link at the end of this article.

The fundamental premise with which I approach this research is that, in the search for a progenitor, we have to disqualify anyone who does not have the potential for being the father of all four brothers. The suggested progenitor may have been the father of siblings in addition to the four, and we do not have to find proof that the progenitor is the father of all four brothers, but if we find anything that proves the progenitor is not the father of one of the brothers, then he cannot possibly be the father of the other three and we have to rule him out for all. Or, put another way, I feel that our previous research provides us with conclusive proof that all four were brothers, and readers who are interested in the argument in favor of this position are referred to the relevant articles elsewhere on this Web site.

Several years ago, through DNA tests, we discovered that the four brothers of Anson had a common ancestor with Sanders descendants of Lewis Sanders, a Scottish immigrant who arrived in Virginia in the early years of the eighteenth century. DNA tests, of course, cannot tell us whether Lewis or someone in a previous generation was that common ancestor of the four brothers. Yet, knowing that Lewis lived in Fairfax County, Virginia, gave us a clue as to the possible boyhood home of the four brothers of Anson. In addition, Glenn Sanders, a Lewis descendant, has provided me and Jim Sanders with a wealth of information concerning his research on Lewis.

The descendants of Lewis apparently did not have much in the way of family tradition about their ancestor, but an old family Bible is mentioned as one source of information in a posting by Betsy French on the Genforum Saunders message board, February 13, 2005:

"A fellow researcher recently sent me this:
-loose paper in Henderson Sanders' Bible, source unknown:
Lewis SANDERS, born 1680, Scotland, a School Teacher, come [sic] to America in 1706, married Nellie DANIEL.
His son, Daniel, married Ruth NELSON.
His son, Daniel, married Mary ANDERSON
His son, George, married Sarah MONEY
His son, John, married Lucy HUTCHISON”

Subsequent research by Tim Doyle, Glenn Sanders, and others tends to confirm that Daniel was most likely the son of Lewis, as was Lewis, Jr., who died in 1792. Jim Sanders’ most recent research indicates that another son was Francis Sanders, a Quaker who is first mentioned in the Fairfax records in 1745. Lewis may well have had other sons and daughters but the evidence for them is less substantial.

No one knows the exact year of the birth of Lewis, but a reasonable estimate, based on the years when his children came of age, is that he was probably born between 1690 and 1695. Note that this is somewhat later that the date given in the Henderson Bible.

Briefly, in the following paragraphs I am listing the main chronology of the documentation regarding the Lewis Sanders family of Fairfax. This, of course, is much abbreviated from Jim Sanders' extensive and comprehensive analysis.

The first mention of Lewis in a record is in 1716 in Stafford County (later Fairfax) when he witnessed the will of John West. Since the usual presumption is that he was at least twenty-one at the time, he was probably born prior to 1695.

In March 16, 1724 William O’Daniel of Stafford was granted 400 acres in Stafford on the main Branch of the Accotink above Lick road and adjoining the plantation of George Mason. Since we also know there was a grant by George Mason in 1728 to Lewis, Sr., it appears this William O’Daniel was a neighbor and was probably related to Lewis’ wife, Nellie. William could not be her father, however, because all his children are known.
 
In 1728, Lewis was granted a 100 acre lease by George Mason, who appears to have been his neighbor. This is Lewis, Sr., of course, as his son of the same given name was still under age.
 
In 1739, Daniel and Lewis Sanders are the chain carriers for a survey for Samuel Stone. Chain carriers could be any age, but often teen age children of relatives or neighbors were the chain carriers. This land was adjacent to George Mason's plantation, indicating Lewis and Daniel's families were also neighbors to Mason. This suggests that Lewis, Jr., and Daniel were sons of Lewis, Sr.
 
In 1744 Lewis and an Isaac Sanders appear on the List of Tithables. Lewis of the tithe list is undoubtedly Lewis, Sr., as Lewis, Jr. was probably either too young to be listed or was lacking in property. We don't know the identity of Isaac of the tithe list, but he may be another son of the senior Lewis who was just old enough to own property in that year. He seems to disappear after 1744; possibly he died at an early age.
 
In 1744, Daniel and Lewis are charged with inventorying the property of Nicholas Carroll, deceased. Daniel was most likely at least 21, which means he was born before 1723. This refers to either father and son or the two brothers.
 
In 1745, Daniel acquired property of his own. One of the chain carriers for the survey is Francis Sanders. We know from subsequent documents that Francis the Quaker is too old to be a child of Daniel. The most likely possibility therefore is that Francis is a brother to Lewis, Jr., and Daniel.
 
In 1745, Lewis, Sr., was exempted from paying taxes.  Probably, this was because of age. If he was 55 years old at that time, he would have been born about 1690.
 
In 1749 Francis is listed as a Quaker on the List of Tithables. Since Lewis, Sr. and Jr., were both members of the established church, Francis was probably a convert. His conversion may have been due to the influence of Mahlon Janney who leased land to Francis in 1753.
 
On November 6, 1749, Lewis Sanders, the Younger, was granted ninety-eight acres of land on the lower side of the Main South Run of Accotink. The senior Lewis sold his 1728 lease a few months later.
 
In 1749 Daniel and Lewis were noted together in a road order, another indication they were closely related.
 
In 1750 Lewis, Sr. sold his 100 acres lease which he was granted in 1728 by George Mason.
 
In 1750 William Wallace sued Francis and Daniel Sanders for 1300 pounds of tobacco. This is another indication they are brothers. Jim Sanders suggests that they probably farmed together and got behind on their debts.
 
In 1750, on the same day Francis and Daniel were sued, a merchant named John Pagan sued Lewis Sanders, Jr. for 338 pounds of tobacco. This suggests once again that Francis, Daniel, and Lewis were all brothers.
 
In 1752 merchants Robert and Edward Maxwell sued Francis and Lewis Sanders. The record doesn't say Jr. or Sr. but the defendant was probably the younger Lewis. This is another suggestion that Francis and Lewis were brothers.
 
In 1752 John Pagan won his lawsuit and Lewis, Jr. was fined 1829 pounds of tobacco.
 
In 1752 Lewis, Sr., sued Robert Colecough. This indicates the senior Lewis was still alive. Lewis won the lawsuit and won 491 pounds of tobacco.
 
In 1753 Francis Sanders rented land from Mahlon Janney, a prominent Quaker. Francis' children are named as Aaron, Moses, and Sarah. He may well have had other children who were not named. In a similar case, in 1761 James Sanders of Loudoun County leased 150 acres to run for the lifetime of two of his sons, Henry and Presley. These were neither his oldest nor his youngest sons. My suggestion is that the rationale may have been that the older ones would soon be going out on their own and the youngest ones might be more susceptible to dying before they were out of their infancy, so the sons in the middle were named.
 
In 1761, Lewis, Jr. is listed on the rent roll, but Lewis, Sr. is not. The last unquestioned reference to the senior Lewis is 1752. He may have lived until about 1760 or so. There are no unambiguous references to Francis, either, after 1760, so Lewis, Sr., and his son Francis may have died at about the same time, around 1760.There are a couple of ambiguous references to Francis' land after 1760, but they don't necessarily indicate that Francis was  still alive.
 
In 1761, Aaron appears in the household of an Isaac Sanders. It appears unlikely this is the same Isaac who was listed on the 1744 list. Individuals named Isaac Sanders are listed on many subsequent rent rolls, from 1761 all the way to 1783, but it's difficult to tell whether these refer to one person or if there were two or more Isaac Sanders.
 
In 1762, Sarah Sanders is listed as a tithable. Although at first thought this could be the daughter of Francis, it appears more likely Sarah was Francis' widow. In 1765, Sarah Sanders, a widow, is involved in a court case. The case involved someone who had previously been involved in a court case with Moses Sanders, Francis' son.
 
In 1764 Moses Sanders appeared as a court witness. He appears again in 1765 on the list of tithables, then disappears.
 
In 1765 a lease granted to Stephen Rozel contained the word “where Francis Sanders lived’’. This seems to indicate Francis was already dead.
 
In 1767 Aaron and Isaac were witnesses in a court case.
 
In 1768 Aaron Sanders appears for the last time on the List of Tithables.

In 1769 Aaron appears in a court case against Isaac Miller and the case is dismissed. This is the last appearance of Aaron in the Fairfax or Loudoun records.
 
In 1771 Lewis Sanders was awarded 500 pounds of tobacco for the support of Eleanor Sanders by the vestry of the parish.  This may be Lewis, Jr., and  Eleanor may be his mother, Nellie Daniel. If she was born about 1695-1700, she would have been in her early seventies at the time.
 
In 1773 a deed referred to Rosamin as Lewis' wife. We assume this is Lewis, Jr. There are no unambiguous references to Lewis, Sr., between 1752 and 1776, and the 1776 reference may be to a Lewis from the Saunders/Gunnell line

In 1781 Lewis Sanders was involved in a property line dispute with Fitzhugh, and in the subsequent survey, the plat map indicated the two dwelling houses of Lewis Sanders; the old house of Lewis Senior and the present dwelling of Lewis Jr.  Also in the case, the son of the younger Lewis was named as Benjamin. (This Benjamin is the ancestor of the Sanders who was the participant in the DNA testing).
 
A bill of sale, dated February 14, 1792, stated that Lewis Sanders had owned forty acres in the Northern Neck area as proven by a deed dated November 6, 1749. This seems to indicate the Lewis who died in 1792 is the same person who acquired land in 1749.
 
Now that a brief chronology has been presented, we must confront the question: can we construct a scenario by which Francis Sanders, the Quaker of Fairfax, is the progenitor of the four brothers of Anson?  We already know from his 1753 lease of acreage that he had children named Moses and Aaron. We also know that Aaron at one time lived in the same household as an Isaac Sanders. The goal is to see how far this hypothesis can take us and whether there are documents that conflict with the interpretation.

If the evidence presented in the preceding paragaraphs was unquestionably obvious, no problem would exist.  But, on the contrary, our evidence is exceedingly ambiguous, and we have to assess the value of that evidence with hypotheses that we hope are plausible, even if we can’t prove them beyond a doubt. Even though we would like to have the evidence speak for itself, I don't think that's going to happen here. There are just too many possibilities and ambiguities, so about all we can do is take the evidence we have and see if the interpretation that Francis was the father of the four brothers is a reasonable and likely one. Still, a lot of questions will remain unsettled.

One of the first difficulties is that we don’t have precise dates for the birth of Francis or for any of his children. All we can do is make what we hope are reasonable estimates based on the few dates that are firmly fixed. It may be tempting to use the tax lists to determine when someone came of age, but from what I have read, many lists are missing and   property owners in Virginia often managed to evade being listed. Therefore, the presence or absence of an individual on any one tax list is of no particular significance, but if the individual is missing for several years or if the individual ceases to be listed at all, we have a pretty significant fact. In other words, we have to look at a pattern and then make our estimates. For example, when the senior Lewis disappears from the lists after being previously listed, we can conclude he has either died or he no longer owns property.

If Francis is our progenitor, he must have been born early enough to be the father of the four brothers of Anson, that is, prior to about 1718. This was the date I assigned to John Saunders, and it would work equally well for Francis.  Since all we know for certain about his year of birth is that he was over twenty one in 1749, he could easily have been born 25 or 35 years earlier. My present estimate is that his most likely birth year was probably about 1715.
 
Taking this approach one step further, I tried to reassess the possible birth dates of the four brothers of Anson, and of the four, the only one where I can see a shift of more than a couple of years is William Aaron.
 
The traditional date for the birth of William Aaron was 1735. I don't know where that date came from, but I've never I've never seen anything that would suggest the 1735 date was anything more than a guess.
 
The first child of Aaron and Joanah was Luke. The later census data gives us an approximate birth date for him of 1766-1770.  Assuming  Aaron was in his mid twenties when he married, this would make his birth date about 1740.  In this case he would be a couple of years younger than Isaac, rather than older, as I originally assumed.  If we look at what we think is the birth date of Aaron's younger brother, Francis, around 1755, it's doubtful Francis had a brother who was more than twenty years his senior. Therefore, Aaron almost certainly has to be born between 1735 and 1745. Though 1735 was the traditional date, he may actually have been born after Isaac, around 1740.
 
If we look at the other brothers, we see this:
 
Isaac. We know from the 1800 census that he was born before 1755, and we have the statement of Thomas Bailey Saunders that Isaac was alive in the mid 1820s but "very old." We have pretty solid documentation that he had a grandchild born in 1780; therefore his son, Jacob, must have been born about 1760. We can adjust the birth years slightly, but I think 1737-1740 is the best estimate of the birth year of Isaac. That would make him in his mid eighties in the 1825.  We might be able to push the year up to 1742 but with some chronological difficulties. For Isaac, I still think the year 1737 is a pretty good solution.
 
Moses. We have the date given us by C.C. Sanders of 1742 as Moses' birth year. I still think this seems to fit the available evidence. If he married at age twenty-five or twenty-six, 1767 or 1768, his first child was born a year of two later in 1769. So,with Moses 1742-44 is probably the range, but here I prefer to stay with the traditional date of 1742.
 
Francis. With Francis, the birth year is pretty much a matter of elimination. If the oldest sibling was born in the late 1730s, it's unlikely he had a sibling born more than twenty years later. Not impossible, but just unlikely.  Francis seems to have been the younger brother of Moses. So I think our estimate of 1755 is a reasonable one, give or take a couple of years. Peter Sanders, his presumed son, was born in 1779-1780, which would be consistent with Francis marrying, like his brothers, when he was in his mid twenties.  

Therefore, the birth dates of the brothers, so far as we can reconstruct them, are consistent with the theses that Francis of Fairfax may be the father. If the Aaron and Isaac on the 1761 Fairfax tithe list are our Aaron and Isaac, Isaac may have been about twenty-three and Aaron may have just turned  twenty-one. Moses first appears on the 1763 list, and if he was born in 1742, he would have turned twenty-one in 1763.
 
If Francis is the father of the four brothers, we don't have to do anything to explain why his son Francis is not mentioned in the records. It would be great if we could find a reference to the young Francis, but it's not really essential. He was just too young to appear in Fairfax or Loudoun records and by the time he was old enough to appear in a record, he was probably living in Anson.
 
The chronology of the appearance of Moses and Aaron in the records is easy to reconcile with their being two of the brothers who moved to Anson. There is no record of Moses in Loudoun/Fairfax after 1765. There is no mention of Aaron after 1769. Isaac of Fairfax/Loudoun however, continues to appear in records from 1760 to 1783.
 
With Isaac, the situation is somewhat different. If we are to provide an acceptable theory that Francis of Fairfax is the father of the brothers, then we have to conclude that there were at least two Isaacs in Fairfax during the 1750s and 1760s.
 
One possibility is that Isaac, the son of Francis, moved away about 1759 to Cross Creek in Cumberland County, North Carolina. This is the interpretation suggested by the Thomas Bailey Saunders letter of the 1890s. Therefore, like the junior Francis, Isaac never appeared in any Fairfax/Loudoun record. In this scenario, the Isaac or Isaacs of 1760-1783 are different persons, possibly  uncles or cousins of the four brothers.
 
If there were two Isaacs in the Fairfax/Loudoun records of 1760-1783, we may have an explanation for why no Isaac is listed between 1762 and 1767 in Fairfax records.  Granted many of the records during that five year period are missing, but it is entirely possible that  one Isaac moved away, possibly to scout out new land in North Carolina.  
 
We know there were four brothers who moved to Anson County, North Carolina. They were Aaron, Moses, Isaac, and Francis. Family tradition and documentary evidence (in the case of Moses) show they came from Virginia.

 
We have DNA evidence that Lewis Sanders of Fairfax is related to these four brothers in North Carolina.
 
We have pretty good reason to believe, though not certain evidence, that Francis Sanders of Fairfax was a son of Lewis.
 
Francis Sanders of Fairfax county in Virginia had sons named Moses and Aaron. He may have had others, but we don't have  solid documentation. We know there was a Sanders from Virginia who named his sons Moses, Aaron, Isaac, and Francis. The first three names are understandable if the father was trying to mold his sons by endowing them with the names of biblical heroes; however, the name Francis doesn't fit the pattern at all. It makes sense, however, if the name of the father himself was Francis.

 
Moses and Aaron, sons of Francis, appear to have been about the same ages, or at least of the same generation, as the Moses and Aaron who lived in Anson.
 
Aaron of Fairfax lived in the same household at one time and had legal dealings with an Isaac Sanders, who was probably about the same age, or at least the same generation, as the Isaac who moved to North Carolina.
 
Moses and Aaron of Fairfax disappear from the Fairfax records after 1769.
 
Moses and Aaron of Anson first appear in the Anson records in 1771.

So, to summarize, if Francis the Quaker is our progenitor, it appears Moses left Fairfax first and moved south to Halifax and Brunswick counties in the later 1760s. Aaron may have gone directly from Fairfax to North Carolina at about the same time Moses moved there, 1770-1771. Isaac is believed to have been the first one to move to North Carolina, about 1760, and he remained there until between 1780 (when he bought land in the part of Cumberland that became Moore county) and 1782 (when he appears on the tax list  of Montgomery in that year). This scenario seems plausible and is not contradicted by any contrary evidence.

It is a plausible scenario but is it sufficient evidence? That depends on the tolerance of a researcher for degrees of proof. It is certainly very intriguing. Is it more likely than the John Saunders/Catherine Nimrod theory? Probably, because it has stronger documentation than anything else we have seen. Unfortunately, we still don't have any documentation that connects Francis the Quaker or his sons with Halifax or Brunswick counties in Virginia or with Anson County in North Carolina. Documentation which might connect any one of the four brothers when they were in Anson with any a Sanders of the Fairfax Sanders would be effective confirmation of Francis Sanders’ parentage of the four brothers.

If Francis is the father of the four brothers, I think it's likely that William Sanders of Anson County may be the brother (or, possibly, the son) of Lewis Sanders of Fairfax. William and Lewis appear to have been of the same generation. DNA tests show William was related to Lewis. These two may well be the two emigrant brothers described in a somewhat jokingly fashion in the 1890s letter of Thomas Bailey Saunders:

"There were two Saunders brothers who came from England long before the Revolutionary war. At that time the Pirates were very bad on the North Carolina coast. The governor of N.Carolina outfitted a vessel to catch them, and in making up the crew he took one of these brothers, and they caught old Black Beard the pirate and hung him to the mast arm. The crew got a good deal of money, and when that brother came back he left the U out of his name. This the reason so many spell their names Sanders."

From what we know of the English border and Scots-Irish immigrants, they often arrived in America with extended families. I think it's unlikely that Lewis came to America alone.

Based on these new findings, I have changed my files by replacing John Saunders and Catherine Nimrod as the parents of the four brothers with Francis Sanders and Sarah Unknown. I also added Sarah as one of the daughters in this family, assigning her a birth year of prior to 1753.  All of this is tentative, of course; right now the evidence is still ambiguous enough that further changes may be necessary as more documentation becomes available. I do not think we can determine the parents with any certainty based on the present level of evidence, but until more definitive documentation is uncovered,  Francis and Sarah seems more likely to be the parents than anyone else.
Gary Sanders
July 2009

Link to Jim Sanders' research:
Sanders of Stafford, Fairfax, and Loudoun

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Sanders of Jackson County, Alabama

Many pioneering Saunders or Sanders from Randolph and Montgomery counties in North Carolina moved directly to unsettled parts of Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, or other points further west, but a sizable contingent of the Sanders clan settled either temporarily or permanently in Jackson County, Alabama. Originally home to the Cherokee Indians, one of the Five Civilized Tribes, the area that would become Jackson County already had established farms and villages and a thriving commerce before it was opened for white settlement when Alabama became a state in 1819. The county, named after the future President, is bisected by the Tennessee river which provided access for the early settlers to points west and south. To the north are the counties of Franklin and Marion in Tennessee; to the east is Dade County, Georgia; to the south are Dekalb and Marshall Counties; and to the west is Madison  County. Jackson County has good farm land in the valleys, but there are also several substantial hills. Crow Mountain, to the north of the present county seat of Scottsboro, is nearly one thousand feet higher than the surrounding countryside, a substantial travel barrier in pioneer days. Throughout most of the nineteenth century the county seat was in Bellefonte. Today, although Jackson County is considered part of the Huntsville metropolitan area, the total population is less than 60,000, and the country retains much of its rural appeal.   

The Sanders and related families from North Carolina arrived in Jackson County in the 1820s and 1830s, but we often don't know the exact year of arrival and have to rely on the census of 1830 or 1840 to get an approximate date. By the time of the 1840 census there were sixteen households headed by individuals with the surname of Sanders. By 1900 there were over two hundred people with the surname of Sanders in Jackson County, and most of them were probably descended from the Sanders of Randolph and Montgomery who were part of the great migration of the 1820s and 1830s.There were many others, of course, who did not have the surname Sanders but were nevertheless descendants of the early Sanders pioneers.Today, there are at least three Sanders cemeteries in the county.

Recent DNA testing reveals that the Jackson County Sanders who came from Randolph and Montgomery in North Carolina were from two separate Sanders lines. The two Sanders families intermarried and therefore their descendants were cousins, but there was not a common ancestor for the two. One line is believed to have descended from the four brothers whose children lived in Montgomery and Randolph; the other line was descended from Joseph Sanders of Randolph County. We can summarize by showing four pioneer ancestors of the Jackson County Sanders:
Jacob Saunders is known by tradition and by other documentation to have been a son of Isaac Saunders, brother of William Aaron Saunders and the Reverend Moses Saunders. For reasons that I explain elsewhere, I believe it is a reasonable infererence that Benjamin and Francis were brothers to Jacob. Recent DNA research shows that Joseph, Sr., was not related by blood to  Benjamin, Francis, or Jacob. Today, many descendants of Jackson County Sanders, myself included, are descended from both Sanders lines because of the original marriages between the two lines described above or because of subsequent cousin marriage.

Researching Jackson County Sanders is often a difficult task. Most of them did not have substantial wealth and therefore did not leave legal or documentary footprints that provide unambiguous evidence for paternity. Genealogists prefer to have contemporary deeds, wills, affidavits, or other documents, but we have to work with the material available to us, and  in many cases all we can do is state that the preponderance of evidence points in a certain direction. For example, just because a child appears in the household  in a certain census year does not provide reliable evidence of paternity. In Jackson County many Sanders families raised orphans, and in some cases non-orphan children of relatives.  I think Bob Griffith expressed very well the frustration all researchers in this area feel when he said in a GenForum posting:   "It's easy to get confused when dealing with the Sanders family of NC and AL. Too many Francises, Benjamins, and other favorite names. For that matter, too many Sanderses!”

Another difficulty is that earlier researchers, searching for an illustrious family origin, tried to connect the Sanders of Randolph and Montgomery Counties, North Carolina, and Jackson County, Alabama, with the family of John Sanders (fl. 1676) of Nansemond County, Virginia, who is mentioned in a  famous article in John Bennett Boddie's monumental genealogical work Historical Southern Families. This connection with John of Nansemond is completely unsubstantiated. The parentage of the four brothers of Randolph and Montgomery is not yet known with certainly, though we think they came from Fairfax County in Virginia; certainly none of the available evidence gives any indication of our Sanders ever having lived in Nansemond or neighboring Isle of Wight. The parentage of Joseph Sanders who died in 1803 in Randolph is even more of a mystery, in spite of similar attempts to connect him to Isle of Wight and Nansemond. Family tradition is that he was of Scottish origin. It is even possible that his father or grandfather may have been adopted into the other Saunders line. Unfortunately, there is as yet no documentary evidence that gives us a lead on the parents of Joseph, Sr.

We have considerably more evidence for the line of the four brothers in Montgomery County. Sometime around the turn of the 20th century, probably in the late 1880s or early 1890s, Thomas Bailey Saunders of Texas, whose ancestors were from Montgomery County, North Carolina, wrote a letter to a relative in response to a question about his family heritage. Thomas Bailey was a son of Nimrod Saunders, a grandson of William Aaron Saunders,  one of the four brothers of Randolph and Montgomery. The letter he wrote is reported to be in the possession of one of his descendants near Forth Worth, Texas. According to O'Gretta Saunders, the recipient of the letter was Thomas Bailey Saunders' nephew, Elkanah Shuford Saunders.  Elkanah was the son of Henry Saunders (son of Jacob Saunders, son of  Isaac Saunders) and Polly Saunders (daughter of Nimrod Saunders, son of William Aaron Saunders). Isaac and William Aaron were brothers. Therefore Elkanah had two Sanders great- grandfathers, Isaac and William Aaron, and two Sanders grandfathers, Jacob and Nimrod.  Here is the relevant portion of the letter which is taken from a  site that is no longer on the Web (http://www.tbox.com/tsanders/Sanders/AaronSanders/johnsaunders.html, maintained by Thomas J. Sanders, and though no longer on the Web, still accessible through the Wayback Machine):

“My grandfather married in Virginia. My grandmother's name was Joan Bailey, of the famous old family of Virginia. My grandfather was killed in a fight with the Tories. His brother, Isaac, which is your great grandfather, was the first man that ever built a house on Cross creek below Fayetteville. And another brother by the name of Moses was a Baptist preacher and they had one sister. I have seen her myself. She married a man by the name of Hamilton. I have seen your great grandfather and his wife, and they were very old then. Your grandfather had two brothers, Ben and Joe, they moved to Alabama and their families are there yet. I saw an old lady in New Orleans a few years ago, she was a Saunders and she told me the same story about the Saunders. I have told you all about the old generation that I know…
Your Uncle,
T. B. Saunders”
This letter gives us valuable clues to the family relationships among the people who are named:

My grandfather married in Virginia.  My grandmother's name was Joan Bailey.  According to family tradition, the name of this grandfather was William Aaron Saunders.

His brother, Isaac, which is your great-grandfather...and another brother by the name of Moses was a Baptist preacher.  Therefore, William Aaron, Isaac, and Moses were brothers.

Your grandfather had two brothers, Ben and Joe, they moved to Alabama and their families are there yet. This grandfather is not named but is known from other documents to be Jacob Saunders, a son of Isaac. Therefore,  Jacob, Ben, and Joe were  sons of Isaac.

Some researchers disagree with me on this point and think that Thomas Bailey meant to say that William Aaron, rather than Isaac, had sons named Ben and Joe. Because Elkanah did have both Jacob and  Nimrod as grandfathers, the phrase "your grandfather" could refer to either one, but since Thomas Bailey refers to Nimrod in an earlier sentence as "my grandfather," I think the only reasonable interpretation is that "your grandfather" refers to Elkanah's other grandfather, the son of Isaac.  

A handwritten note written in 1918 by Silvie Escat Saunders, wife of George A. Saunders, tends to support my position that Ben and Joe were sons of Isaac, not William Aaron. It is believed her information came from a Davis family Bible: 

Aaron brothers were
     Isaac the first man who build on cross creek near Fayetteville N.C.
     Moses a Baptist preacher
     1 sister a Mrs Hamilton
What we know of Wm aaron and John Bailey Saunders married in Va
Wm Aaron was a Capt in the American revolution and killed
     their children what we know of
Sallie Sanders married  Pleasant Callicut of N.C.
Luke Saunders married Agnes Callicut of N.C.
Nimrod Sanders married Elizabeth Ricketts of N.C.
Stephen we  know nothing of so far.
     Nimrod and Elizabeth children
Sarah Sanders born Dec 21st 1803
Tibitha Sanders born July 21st 1806, died Jan 15th 1892
Nathan D.C. Sanders born May 27 1808, died June 23 1832
Aaron Sanders born May 14 1810 died 1862
Stephen Sanders born Mar 28 1812
Polly and Pally (twins) Sanders born Feb 28 1814
Thomas Sanders born Oct 9 1816
a son Sanders born Oct 9 1816
Joanna Sanders born July 8 1820--1879
Jackson Sanders born Aug 21 1822--Sept 21 18??
Harris Sanders born Mar 7 1824--Feb 21 1917
Luke Sanders born Aug 30 1826 died April 10 1893
Agnes Sanders born June 3 1828 died 1900
Allen Sanders born Nov 11 1829
     Susan E Sanders born Aug 15 1854
     William McDufey Sanders born Mar 27 1855
Don't know who these 2 are but think William Luke son who died young
Sarah married Moore Graves
Tibitah married William Graves (brothers)
Nathan D.C. unmarried
Aaron unmarried
Stephen (m) first Huxey Simmons (II) Amy Moore
Pally married Louis Cranford
Polly twins married Henry Saunders {a}second cousin
Thomas our grandfather married Emily Elizabeth Harper
Joanna Married Elias Hooper
Jackson married Martha Brener (II) Frances Ingale
Harris married Teresa Turner (II) Emerline Crump
Luke married Mary Brener sister to Martha
Agnes married Jacob Hooper brother to Elias
Allen married Frances Gibson or Gipson
I found children of all but Sarah and Allen

Nimrod was 9 years at the close of the American revolution Nimrod was know in N. Carolina as Honest Rod was honest in his measure at his grit mill he left N.C. in 1837 and near all left a few years later according to letters in my possession
     Copied Feb 2 1918
     Mrs. G.A. Saunders
     2812 D'abadie St. N.O. LA

(Preceding text of the document is from the Sanders-Cook homepage at the Wayback Machine)

Notice that only Luke, Stephen, and Nimrod are mentioned as sons of William Aaron. No mention at all is made of Ben and Joe, and I believe this confirms that Ben was not a son of William Aaron. In addition, it seems rather odd that Thomas Bailey Saunders would mention only Ben and Joe in his letter and not the other three if he regarded all five as sons of William Aaron. 

If Ben and Joe are the sons of Isaac rather than William Aaron, we still must identity them as documented individuals.The identity of Ben is the most obvious: he appears to be Benjamin Sanders, Sr. who moved  from Randolph County in North Carolina to Jackson County in the 1830s. Further, there are deeds in 1806 and 1808 by which Isaac Sanders of Randolph County sold land to  Benjamin Sanders of Montgomery County. The identity of person referred to as "Joe in the Thomas Bailey letter remains something of a puzzle. The only other son of Isaac, in addition to Jacob and Ben, that I have been able to document is Francis Sanders.

We do have documentation that Benajmin and Francis were closely related, and I think the most obvious explanation is that they were indeed brothers. They married sisters and there was probably no more than sixteen years difference in their ages, but there are more compelling reasons to suspect they were brothers.

Levi Lindsey Sanders, a grandson of Benjamin, lived in Van Zandt County, Texas from the 1860s until his death in 1917. William Redman Sanders of Arkansas, apparently a grandson of Francis, referred to Levi Lindsey Sanders of Van Zandt County as his cousin in a newspaper article written about 1900. It is not probable that these two, who lived in the latter part of the nineteenth century, were third or fourth cousins because their blood relationship would then have been so distant it’s unlikely they would have maintained contact over several generations and through several states.Therefore, the most recent common ancestor probably was the great grandfather of William Redman and Levi and I believe that person to have been Isaac Saunders. Elsewhere I will give further evidence that suggests that Ben and Francis were brothers. This evidence is based on a cousin marriage among their descendants.

The question still remains, if my argument is basically that Benjamin and Francis were two brothers who moved to Alabama, then who is the "Joe" of the Thomas Bailey Saunders letter? There is no easy explanation for this. We have already established that Joe is not Joseph, Sr., who died in Randolph County. Nor can Joe be either of the two Josephs who were in Jackson County at the time of the 1830 census. They appear to be the son and grandson of Joseph, Sr. I can only suggest as a possible explanation that Thomas Bailey Saunders knew there were two brothers but he assumed Joseph, Jr., was the brother of Benjamin rather than Benjamin's brother-in-law. After the move from Randolph County to Alabama, Joseph, Jr., lived in Jackson County the rest of his life until at age seventy he was murdered by bushwhackers during the Civil War. He was known to everyone as "Uncle Joe" and  it is understandable that Thomas Bailey Saunders would have known him as a Sanders progenitor in Jackson County.Therefore, there may never have been a  son of Isaac named "Joe."  It is also conceivable that  there was a son of Isaac named Joe, but, if so, he was missed by the 1800, 1810, 1820, and 1830 census, and he must have died before 1840. Considering the lack of evidence for the existence of  "Joe," I think it more likely Thomas Bailey Saunders was talking about Benjamin's brother-in-law. 

Therefore, tentatively, I am regarding Benjamin and Francis as brothers and Isaac as their father,but Isaac may very well have had other sons and daughters whose names are unknown to us. Isaac disappears from the records of Montgomery County in the early 1780s but is living in Randolph County in 1800 and the census also shows a young male, age between 16-26, living in the household. This  is probably Francis who was born in 1782 and who married Rachel Sanders in 1801. The other sons, Jacob and Benjamin, were already married and living in their own households in 1800, Jacob in Montgomery County and Benjamin just across the border in Randolph County. Benjamin and Francis continued to live in Randolph County until first Francis and then Benjamin moved to Jackson County, Alabama in the late 1820s and early 1830s, along with some of the children of Jacob.

If my thesis is correct, Francis Sanders of Jackson County was the nephew of the Reverend Moses Sanders of Franklin County, Georgia. He was also the nephew of Francis Sanders of Franklin County, Georgia. This Francis of Franklin County was not mentioned as a brother in the Thomas Bailey Saunders letter, but is referenced as a brother through documentation left by Moses Martin Sanders, a grandson of the Reverend Moses Sanders. As part of the Sanders DNA projects, tests have been conducted on descendants of Isaac, William Aaron, Francis, and  the Reverend Moses Sanders. These tests show that these four are from the same Sanders line and combined with family tradition provide persuasive evidence that William Aaron, Isaac, Moses, and Francis were brothers.

Although a great deal of progress has been made recently in establishing the validity of family tradition for the line of  the four brothers, we still have a several confusing issues reamining in regard to Francis and Rachel Sanders and their progeny in Jackson County, Alabama. Distinguishing the children of Francis from the children of his brother Benjamin has been one of the most difficult of my research projects. 

The earliest record we have of  Francis and Rachel is that they were married in 1801 in Randolph County and they are certainly the same couple who lived in Jackson County in the 1830s and 1840s and who appear on the 1850 census of DeKalb County, Alabama. We have good documentary evidence that Francis and Rachel moved to Arkansas in 1851 with their daughter Mary Jane Sanders and their son-in-law James J. Biddie. For the parentage of the other children commonly attributed to Francis and Rachel by previous researchers, we have far less evidence. The best documentary evidence for a direct parental link is with Elisha who died early, with Francis being designated as the administrator of the estate, though the blood relationship of Francis to Elisha is not mentioned. There is also a family tradition that Francis was the father of Elijah Greenville Sanders. Five children usually attributed to Francis and Rachel (Rebecca, Phoebe, Isaac, John, and Alfred) are probably the children of Francis' brother Benjamin. 

A lot of controversy has resulted from the  the statement by Carroll Jackson Brewer in the Southern Claims Commission file of John Sanders, quoted by Don Schaefer and  referring to the murder of Rachel's brother Joseph in 1863: " I know that Thomas Houston and others searched for him (referring to John Sanders) often and did take out his uncle Joe Sanders who was seventy years old.They taken him out of the field where he was at work and shot him on the side of the mountain." Joe Sanders was murdered because his sons and nephews were serving in the Union army. We know that "Uncle Joe" and Rachel were brother and sister because of the will left by their father in 1803 in Randolph County, North Carolina. It appears that Joe Sanders was known as "Uncle Joe" by nearly everyone and therefore the use of the name by Carroll Brewer does not constitute irrefutable proof John was the nephew of Joseph. On the other hand, John and the other siblings are almost certainly the nephews and nieces of "Uncle Joe" because the only possible parents for John and his four known siblings are either Francis or his brother Benjamin, both of whom married daughters of Joseph, Sr.  

Carroll Jackson Brewer stated in his deposition to the Southern Claims Commission about 1873 that he had a half-niece who was married to John Sanders.This statement baffled researchers in the past because most of them believed John was the son of Francis and Rachel and there appeared no possible way for either Francis or Rachel to have had another spouse, unless one of them married someone else before 1801, and their youth in 1801 made a previous marriage unlikely. Other researchers have stated a family tradition that Carroll Jackson Brewer's wife almost entirely of American Indian parentage.  If so, it's unlikely the American Indian heritage was on the Sanders side, but it's possible her mother was of Indian ancestry. It's difficult to reconcile these conflicting statements.

In short, much of the evidence we have is contradictory, fragmentary, and confusing, and a great deal more research is needed to give us a more satisfactory understanding of the genealogy of the Jackson County Sanders. In the next article I hope to provide a possible reconstruction of the families of Francis and Benjamin that will reconcile the competing claims.

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Testimony of John Sanders and Carroll Jackson Brewer,
Southern Claims Commission

(This material written October, 2004, revised February 2006)

In the article on Jackson County Sanders, I mentioned the apparently contradictory statements of John Sanders (1822-1896) and his friend Carroll Jackson Brewer (1834-after 1880) in their Southern Claims Commission file.  Here, I would like to propose a possible solution to this contradiction in the hope that others will find evidence to confirm or refute it.

Carroll Jackson Brewer referred to Joseph Sanders, Jr., who died in 1863, as the uncle of John. Taken literally, this statement means that John Sanders has to be a son of a daughter of Joseph Sanders, Sr., who died in 1803 in Randolph County, North Carolina. Because Joseph’s daughter Rachel is known to have married Francis Sanders in 1801, most researchers have concluded that Francis and Rachel have to be the parents of John Sanders. There is no clear family indication among the descendants of John or his brother Isaac as to the identity of their parents, so family tradition is useless in this context.

John Sanders, in his testimony, stated that Carroll Jackson Brewer was married to his half-niece. The wife of Carroll Jackson Brewer is believed to have been Lucrecia Sanders (1834-after 1870). It is also believed that Lucrecia was the daughter of William Sanders and Martha Sanders because she appears in their household in the 1850 Jackson County census. If John’s testimony is taken literally, William Sanders (1789-about 1872) was John’s half-brother.

The difficulty is that if William is John’s half-brother, then Francis can’t be John’s father because this scenario would require that Francis father a child in 1789 when he was only seven years old.

Is there a way to reconcile these two statements of John Sanders and Carroll Jackson Brewer?  I believe there is.

All Carroll Jackson Brewer’s statement that Joseph was John’s uncle requires is that the mother of John was a daughter of Joseph Sanders, Sr., and that she was married to someone with the surname of Sanders.  It does not require that the mother be Rachel; the mother could have been one of Joseph's other daughters. As it turns out, we do know the names of Joseph’s daughters and the names of their spouses. The 1811 settlement of the estate of Joseph, Sr., does not specifically state that the men mentioned are husbands of the daughters but the implication is clear that the reference is to the spouses. One of the daughters, Sarah, married Peter Rich, so we can rule her out as the mother of the siblings.  Another daughter, Phoebe, married a Jesse Sanders, but they are believed to have moved to Tennessee.  If we rule out Rachel, the only daughter left is named Mary.

Mary married a Benjamin Sanders.  If this Benjamin is the father of John and William Sanders and the two were half-brothers, Benjamin must have been born before about 1770, and his marriage to Mary must have occurred after 1789 when William was born.  Since Mary was born about 1780, the marriage to Mary probably occurred closer to 1800.

Do we have any other records that refer to a Benjamin Sanders, born before 1770 in the Randolph/Montgomery County area, who moved to Jackson County and left numerous descendants?  Yes, there is a person who matches this description exactly, but previous researchers have assumed that he is the same  person as the Benjamin Sanders who married Jane (usually called Jinny or Jenny) Clark in 1803 in Randolph County.

For some time, I have had doubts that the Benjamin who married Jenny Clark was the same person as Benjamin Sanders who moved from Randolph County to Jackson County.  In a book called The Johnsons and Their Kin of Randolph,  p. 81, Jessie Owen Shaw states: “the 2nd child of William Clark and Eleanor Dougan Clark was Jane Clark, b. 9-9-1781, who married a Methodist minister, Benjamin Sanders.”  Further, according to the research of Roger Kirkman,  William Clark and a Benjamin Sanders were members of  a slavery manumission society that met in the part of Rowan County that became Davidson County, adjoining Randolph County. William Clark became a Quaker in 1802 and the Back Creek Monthly Meeting that he attended was in northwest Randolph County. 

Nothing in the family tradition about Benjamin Sanders of Jackson County, Alabama indicates that he was a Methodist minister.  Indeed, the family tradition in Texas is that he was a Catholic who converted at a camp meeting when he was over ninety years old. We know there were at least two Benjamin Sanders in Randolph County about 1800. The question is which Benjamin was the one who moved to Jackson County, Alabama.

Therefore, I propose that researchers consider the possibility that Benjamin Sanders, Sr., who died in Jackson County between 1840-1850, may have been the father of William Sanders by an unknown first wife and the father of John Sanders by his second wife, Mary Sanders. This suggestion is compatible with the testimony of John Sanders and Carroll Jackson Brewer to the Southern Claims Commission. It is also compatible with the census data of 1810, 1830 and 1840.

Another reason to give credence to this theory is the close friendship between John's nephew Jesse Sanders and Levi Lindsey Sanders, who was a grandson of Benjamin, Sr.  Even though they did not live in the same state when they were children, they regarded each other as close enough relatives that they made frequent visits to each other after they both moved, as adults, to neighboring counties in Texas. Jesse's father, Isaac, is enumerated next door to Benjamin, Sr., in the 1840 Jackson County, Alabama, census. Aaron, one of the sons of Isaac, named one of his sons Levi Lindsey Sanders, presumably in honor of the elder Levi Lindsey Sanders, even though Aaron moved from Jackson County when he was about four years old, and therefore could not have known Levi until he was nearly an adult.  If Benjamin, rather than Francis, is the grandfather of Jesse, then Jesse and Levi Lindsey were first cousins.

I decided to test the Benjamin Sanders parentage hypothesis by comparing the 1830 and 1840 census to see whether Francis or Benjamin appears more likely as the father of the children in question.  Before this can be done, we need to narrow the field of possibilities, and that can be done only by examining evidence for the paternity of each child.

Here are some of the known facts about the siblings we are researching:
 
There is documentation from reliable sources that Rebecca, Phoebe, Alfred Head Mash, Isaac, and John were siblings. For example, there is an article in Sanders Siftings, July 2000, about a letter written by Louie Davis of Weatherford, Texas, in 1974, stating that Phoebe Sanders Lee, Louie’s great grandmother, was born in 1813 and she had a brother named Mash and a sister named Rebecca and maybe a brother named John. Alfred Head Mash Sanders (called Uncle “Mash”) stated  on  the pension application of his sister-in-law in 1896 that John Sanders was his brother. John Sanders stated in his file to the Southern Claims Commission after the Civil War that Isaac Sanders of Montgomery County, Arkansas, was his brother. Therefore we have really good evidence that Rebecca, Phoebe, Isaac, John, and Mash were siblings.
 
We also have family tradition and documentation that Jesse Sanders of Henderson County, Texas and Levi Sanders of Van Zandt County were cousins (first or second, probably, very unlikely they were third cousins); and that William Redman and Levi Sanders were cousins (again, first or second and very unlikely to be third). Jesse was a son of Isaac, and William Redman was a son of Elisha Sanders (about whom more later).
 
A few years ago, I received information about an interview with an elderly descendant of Elijah Sanders who stated that Francis Marion Sanders was Elijah’s father. I think this is significant because it appears she got that information from family tradition, not from the Internet or published sources. That this is an independent tradition is also shown by her use of the middle name “Marion” which has not appeared in other sources. Elijah died in 1858 and one of the administrators for his will was a Francis Sanders. Presumably, this was John Francis because Francis, Sr., the father of Elijah was living in Arkansas at that time. Even so, this record of the will suggests that Elijah and John Francis were brothers.
 
The research of Ralph Jackson shows that Elisha Sanders who died in Marshall County, Alabama, in 1840 was a very close relative of Francis Sanders. Although it appears most likely that Francis may have been Elisha’s father, he could have been an uncle or even a half-brother. 
 
The Biddy family application for Choctaw citizenship, provided by Cathy Gallen, provides convincing evidence that Mary Jane Sanders and William Patrick Sanders were children of Francis Sanders.  In fact, this recently discovered evidence is the strongest documentation we have for any children of Francis and Rachel.
 
Southern Claims Commission files give us the testimony of John Sanders that Lucretia, the wife of Carroll Jackson Brewer, was his half-niece. In the same record, Carroll Jackson Brewer stated that Joseph Sanders, Jr., was the uncle of John Sanders. 
 
When we try to arrange the evidence for parentage, we get this:

There are three children where the preponderance of available evidence points to Francis and Rachel as the parents: Elijah, William Patrick, Mary Jane. 

We have one child, Elisha, who is associated with Francis because Francis was administrator of that child’s will, but we can’t tell whether Elisha is a sibling to anyone else.  We know, however, that his son, William Redman, was a cousin to the grandson of Benjamin, Sr. Therefore, Elisha almost certainly has to be either a son of Francis or a son of Benjamin, Sr.

We have five children who are known to be siblings and are traditionally assigned to Francis and Rachel but documentation for their parents is lacking:  Rebecca, Phoebe, Isaac, John, and Mash. However, Justin Sanders has recently discovered that  Benjamin Sanders (presumably the elder Benjamin) was the bondman for the marriage of Rebecca and William Cornelison in Randolph County in 1824. Further Rebecca and her husband were living next door to Benjamin, Jr., at the time of the 1830 Montgomery County census.

We have other children, traditionally assigned to Francis and Rachel, but we have no documentation for their parents or even that they are siblings: John Francis, Frances, and Charles. In the case of Charles there is no documentation for him whatsoever.
 
So, in order to make the 1830 and 1840 census the test case, we need to limit the search to the children that we presume were at home in 1830 and 1840, that is, the ones that we know were not married. We can eliminate William Patrick and Mary Jane because we know Francis was their father. We also eliminate all those who can’t be easily designated as siblings. 

Therefore we are left with Mash, John, Isaac, Phoebe, all of whom should appear on the census of 1830 but only Mash and John in 1840 (Isaac married in 1837, Phoebe in 1839). Phoebe was born in 1813, Isaac was born in 1818, John in 1822, Mash between 1826-1829. 

Therefore in 1830:
Mash was 0-5 years old.
John was 5-10
Isaac was 10-15
Phoebe    15-20

And in 1840:
John was 15-20
Mash was 10-15

If we now go to the census of 1830 (Benjamin still in Randolph, Francis in Jackson County) and 1840 (both men in Jackson), and record every occurrence in which a child listed in the census would be of the right age to be Phoebe, Isaac, John, and Mash, we have a chart like the following:
 

Household:

  Number of  male children recorded on the census:

 

 Age: 0-5

 Age:5-10

 Age:10-15

Age:15-20

Age:20-30

1830-Francis

 

1 (John)

1 (Isaac)

1

 

1840-Francis

 

 

 

 

3

 

  Number of female children recorded on the census:

1830-Francis

 

1

 

1 (Phoebe)

 

1840-Francis

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number of male children recorded on the census:

1830-Benjamin

2  (Mash)

1  (John)

1 (Isaac)

1

 

1840-Benjamin

 

 

3 (Mash)

2 (John)

 

 

 Number of female children recorded on the census:

1830-Benjamin

 

1

 

1 (Phoebe)

 

1840-Benjamin

 

 

 

 

1

Therefore, from this chart, it appears there are six slots where these children appear if they are the children of Benjamin, but only three slots where  they appear if Francis is the father. The census record seems to indicate that Benjamin is more likely than Francis to be the father because every child appears in every single predicted slot in the case of Benjamin. For example, Mash, John, Isaac, and Phoebe appear as expected in 1830 and 1840. But in the case of Francis, there is no place for Mash in 1830 or 1840 and no place for John in 1840.

A further difficulty is that we have very good evidence that Francis was the father of William Patrick Sanders who was born about 1819. Therefore, if Francis is the father of Mash, John, and Isaac, we have to have an additional 10-15 slot for William Patrick in 1830 (not available) and a 20-30 slot for him in 1840(available).

Now, all of this may be coincidence based on mathematical probabilities, but when nearly every proposed test supports the theory of Benjamin's paternity of the five siblings, we probably need to re-evaluate the tradition that Francis was the father. One may wonder if Benjamin is the father of John, Isaac, and Mash, then how is Francis related?  If we follow this alternative proposition, it’s still likely he and Benjamin are brothers. But in this scenario, Benjamin, brother of Francis, can’t be the same person as the Benjamin Sanders who married Jenny Clark; he has to be the Benjamin who married Joseph Sanders’ daughter, Mary. 

What if we try to go back to earlier census records? The 1820 census is missing, but in 1810, as mentioned before, there are two Benjamin Sanders in Randolph County, or rather one Benjamin Saunders and one Benjamin Sanders. According to various land deeds, the Benjamin who later moved to Alabama owned property on the Randolph/Montgomery county line. In the 1810 census, he is listed as being between twenty-six and 44 years old.  This would indicate that he was born after 1766. However, the 1840 Jackson County, census lists him as between seventy and eighty years old, so he couldn't have been born after 1770. There is a woman in the household, presumably his wife, who is twenty-six to  forty-four years old. This is compatible with the age of  Mary Sanders who is reported to have been born in 1782. There are two male children in the household. One is under ten and that person is probably Benjamin, Jr., who was born in 1804. Another is between ten and twenty-five and that person is probably William,  who would become the father of the half-niece that John Sanders referred to. William was born in 1789, according to later census reports.   

The other Benjamin of the 1810 census owned property near the Back Creek area of northwest Randolph County. It may be remembered that this is near where William Clark, father of Jinney Clark, joined the Quaker denomination. Therefore, it appears likely that the Benjamin who lived in northwest Randolph County was the one who married Jinney Clark. Further is is most likely that it was he who was the Benjamin who was a Methodist minister and was active in the Manumission Society.  Although this Benjamin is listed as between twenty-six and forty-four years old, I believe he was younger than the Benjamin Saunders of the Randolph border area because he doesn't appear in the 1800 census and was probably still living in his parents' household at that time.   

The older Benjamin Saunders, the one living in Randolph near the Montgomery County line in 1810, is the same person as  the Benjamin Sanders who appears on the 1800 census in Montgomery County. He is listed in 1800 as between twenty-six and forty-four years old, which is compatible with his being born between 1766 and 1770. This Benjamin Saunders is listed near Luke Sanders, Nimrod Saunders, and Walter Hamilton, all relatives of the Sanders line of the four brothers of Anson. I believe this is the same Benjamin who is mentioned in an 1806 deed by which Isaac Sanders of Randolph County transferred one acre to Benjamin Sanders of Montgomery. I have presented elsewhere in these Web pages the evidence that leads to Isaac as the father of Benjamin. In the 1800 Montgomery census, there is a male child, age ten to fifteen, in Benjamin's household. This appears be William, the future father of John Sanders' half niece, mentioned in Carroll Jackson Brewer's testimony. William would have been eleven years old in 1800.  So far, the 1810 and 1800 census are fully compatible with the proposed reconstruction.

Isaac at one time had owned property in Montgomery County, where he appears on the 1782 tax list. He still owned property in Montgomery in 1794 when he is referenced as a neighbor to George Sugg. He and Joseph Sanders, Benjamin's future father-in-law, were chain carriers for a survey of land for Benjamin Sanders in Montgomery in 1798. Isaac moved across the county line by 1800, when he appears on the Randolph cenusus. His son Benjamin probably continued to live in Montgomery, possibly until his marriage to Mary Sanders. Maybe the motivation for the move was that Isaac was getting too old to take care of the family property and Benjamin moved in to help or maybe Mary wanted to be closer to her relatives. Of course, land records are not always reliable evidence of where people lived, and  Benjamin could very well have owned property in both counties. At any rate, Benjamin was living in Randolph by 1810.

The theory presented here won't work unless Benjamin was married two times, with the second marriage occurring between 1800 and 1810. By  the time of the 1811 estate settlement, Benjamin's wife is referred to as Mary, but because both the 1800 and the 1810 census show a female age twenty-six to forty four in Benjamin's household, the census remains neutral on the basic question of whether Benjamin was married two times. We know that because Mary was born in 1782 and would have been less than 26 years old in 1800, she can't be the female age twenty-six to forty-four on the census of that year. Therefore, if she married Benjamin, the marriage had to take place between 1800 and 1810, and  Benjamin, Jr., born in 1804, could have been either her child or the child of the first wife.  

A question still remains concerning the identity of the other Benjamin Sanders who we may call the Back Creek Benjamin.  I think this is an open and intriguing question. Possibly he is related to the Joseph Sanders, Sr., line, or he could be related to any of the many Quaker Sanders families in the area. It's also possible he is related to Benjamin, Sr.

I have found the evidence for Benjamin Saunders' parenthood of the five siblings previous attributed to Francis plausible enough that I have changed my genealogical charts accordingly. This is a time consuming process, and one which I hope I don't have to do often, but it is sometimes unavoidable if documentation warrants a change. 

The Benjamin Sanders' parenthood theory has no major problems and is fully compatible with all the available evidence. One small matter that might appear to conflict with the new theory is that Alexander Gray was a witness to the marriage bond of Francis and Rachel Sanders in 1801 and of  Benjamin and Jinney Clark in 1803.  For a long time, I thought that there must have been a kinship relationship among the three, but I now believe that Alexander Gray may have been a public official, such as a notary or county clerk, who regularly witnessed marriages in Randolph County.  It's equally possible that the Benjamin who married Jinney Clark was related to  Francis,  the Benjamin who married Mary, or to Alexander Clark himself.

Although I think the situation is somewhat easier to comprehend as a result of these findings,  we still have a lot to learn about the Sanders of Randolph, Montgomery, and Jackson. There is still enough ambiguity in the records that scenarios other than the one presented here are plausible, but the DNA results from the summer of 2006 that proved that William Aaron, Francis, and Benjamin all belonged to the same Sanders line provide further confirmation of the thesis of this article.  It is my hope that other researchers descended from Benjamin Sanders, Sr., or Francis Sanders will provide clues that may help us make a certain determination of our origins.

(Don Schaefer, editor of Sanders Siftings, provided much of the information about the Southern claims file of John Sanders.)
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 Benjamin and Francis, who moved to Alabama

“I have seen your great grandfather and his wife, and they were very old then. Your grandfather had two brothers, Ben and Joe, they moved to Alabama and their families are there yet. I saw an old lady in New Orleans a few years ago, she was a Saunders and she told me the same story about the Saunders. I have told you all about the old generation that I know…”

--Thomas Bailey Saunders, from a letter written in Texas in the late 1890s

In the two previous articles, I presented the thesis that the two brothers who moved to Alabama were  Benjamin and Francis, not Ben and Joe. This thesis is based on there being no person in the records of Randolph, Montgomery, or Jackson counties who could be the Joe of the letter. There is no Joe in the land records, nor is there one in the census records. There is not even a Joe, son of Isaac or William Aaron, in the family tradition, except for the brief mention in the Thomas Bailey Saunders letter.

On the other hand, we do have evidence regarding the life of Benjamin and Francis.Though there is no direct evidence they were brothers, their fraternity is suggested by their having married sisters, by their living near one another at the time of the 1810 census, by their moving to Jackson County within a few years of each other around 1830, and by the pattern of migration of their descendants through Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas.  Further, in a newspaper article written about 1900, a grandson of Francis referred to a grandson of Benjamin as his cousin. Furthermore, another grandson of Francis married a grandchild of Benjamin, Sr., and family tradition is that the couple were double cousins. The best explanation for that double cousinhood is that Francis and Benjamin were two brothers who  married sisters.

Now, of course, there was a Joseph Sanders in Jackson County, Alabama, and he was generally known as “Uncle Joe.”  But Joe was not the brother of Ben. He was Ben’s brother-in-law, and Ben was married to Joe’s sister, Mary. Joe’s father, Joseph, Sr., who died about 1803, lived in Randolph County, North Carolina. Like Ben and Francis, Uncle Joe moved to Alabama with the great Sanders migration of the late 1820s and early 1830s. A further connection of Joe to Ben and Francis was that he was married to Thomas Bailey Saunders’ second cousin, Deborah Saunders, who was Benjamin’s niece.  DNA tests reveal that the Joseph Sanders line is not related to that of Benjamin, Sr., and therefore neither Joe, Sr., not Joe, Jr., can be the "Joe" of the TBS letter.  Maybe, Thomas Bailey Saunders confused the brother-in-law with the brother.

Therefore, we are left with a situation in which it's difficult to reconcile the plain statement of Thomas Bailey Saunders concerning a "Joe Saunders" with the individual for whom we have documentation.  Everything would fall into place if Francis were named Joseph Francis rather than just "Francis,"  and considering the number of individuals in the Sanders family with two given names (William Aaron,  Thomas Bailey, Jacob Henry, William Patrick, Mary Katherine, Levi Lindsey, Aaron H., John Francis),  this is not an improbable solution, but  there is no evidence for it at the present.  Every record we have refers to Francis as "Francis."  His  reported son, John Francis, was sometimes called  "Frank" but Francis himself is never referred to by a nickname. Our records, of course, are so meager, it it is still possible he did use a nickname or had a second given name. 

Unfortunately, most of the individuals we are researching here did not leave wills or land documents that give us a clear record of the names of their children. We have to reconstruct the family based on the census tracts, bits of family tradition, chance references in legal documents, and vague hints in old letters about the parentage of individuals.  What is most distressing about research in the history of the Saunders/Sanders family of Randolph/Montgomery and Jackson County is that most of the material with which we must work is infuriatingly ambiguous. It’s possible we can develop a theory that is plausible and explains everything, but it could still be wrong. Nevertheless, I think we must try to make sense of the situation.

What follows is my attempt to identify the children of Benjamin and Francis who are listed on the 1800, 1810, 1820, 1830, and 1840 census. I started with the children whose names and date of birth are known, and then added the ones who are known only through gender and range of birth dates in the census. For those children with whom we have no possible name and only a range of dates, I have assigned a hypothetical year of birth as a tracking method to see where the child should be placed on the chart. I offer these charts as research guides, realizing their limitations. Further research is needed before we can see how closely these reconstructions correspond to the actual situation at the time the census was taken.


  Benjamin Saunders family in 1800 and 1810

 

0-10

10-15

16-25

26-44

26-44

1800

Montgomery

Female#1 1791

Female#2 1793

Female#3 1795

Female#4 1797

Female#5 1799

William 1789

 

Ben 1766-1770

 

Wife1, born   before 1774

1810

Randolph

Ben,Jr.      1804

Rebecca    1806

Female#7 1808

Female#8 1810

Female#4 1797

Female#5 1799

William 1789

Ben 1776-1770

 

Wife 2

Mary  1782



 Benjamin Saunders family in 1830 and 1840

 

0-5

5-10

10-15

15-20

20-30

40-50

60-70

1830

Randolph

Male#1  1825

Alfred    1827

Female#9 1820

John 1822

Isaac   1818

George       1812

Phoebe 09  1813

 

Mary  1782

Ben 1766

1840

Jackson

 

 

Male#1 1825 Alfred   1827

Male    1825

John          1822

Male         1822

Female#9  1820

Mary 1782 ([age should be 50-60)

Ben 1766

 

Note: There is also some doubt about Phoebe’s year of birth.  Her tombstone has 1813, but all census records have about 1820. However, even if we change her birth year to 1820, she would still fit on the chart, replacing Female #9. The individuals labeled in bold type “Male 1822” and “Male 1825” appear to belong to another family because they don’t appear in the 1830 census but do appear in the 1840 census as over ten years old. At first I was unsure whether George belongs in this family, but  a descendant of his informed me of a family Blble that lists his parents as Benjamin and Mary. This descendant also stated that her family tradition was that his daughter Sarah Jane was a double cousin to her husband Greenville Sanders. Greenville was a grandson of Francis Sanders.  This is further confirmation of my belief that Francis and Benjamin were brothers who married sisters.


 Francis Sanders Family in 1810 and 1820

 

0-10

10-16

16-18

26-45

1810

Randolph

Female#1        1802

Elijah               1804

John Francis     1805

Male#1            1808

Female#2        1809

 

 

Francis 1782

Rachel 1779

1820

Rowan

Male#2            1811

Elisha              1814

Frances           1815

William Patrick 1819

John Francis  1805

Male#1         1808

Elijah 1804

Francis 1782

Rachel 1779

Note: Although the Francis listed on the 1820 Rowan census easily is compatible with the household of Francis and Rachel, I tend to think this household belongs to another Francis. Family tradition and other records appear to suggest that the Francis who moved to Jackson County lived in Randolph before the move and it is not part of the tradition that he was ever in Rowan County. Both the Randolph and Montgomery county census for 1820 is missing.



Francis Sanders family in 1830 and 1840

 

5-10

10-15

15-20

20-30

40-50

60-70

1830 Jackson

Male#3     1820

MaryJane  1823

William Pat 1819

 

Elisha     1814

Frances  1815

 

Francis

1782

Rachel

1779

1840

Jackson

 

 

 

William Pat  1819

Male #3      1820

Male          1815

 

 

Note: Whether the daughter Frances (born 1815) belongs in this family is unclear. The individuals labeled “Male 1815” does not appear on the census ten years earlier; he may be unrelated to this family but living with Francis and Rachel in 1840.  Elisha, Mary Jane, and Frances were already married in 1840.  

Additional note, November 2006, regarding children of Benjamin and Mary Sanders:

I now believe I know the identity of one of the unnamed daughters who were born between 1800 and 1810 and listed in the chart of the known and unknown children of  Benjamin and Mary Sanders. I think she is the Sarah Saunders who married Immer Bean about 1825 in Montgomery or Randolph County. Several Web sites state that this Sarah Saunders was the daughter of Nimrod Saunders, and that she was born December 21, 1803, but there is a tradition among the descendants of Nimrod that his daughter married Moore Graves. Some researchers have tried to reconcile these traditions by having Sarah marrying Moore Graves, then marrying Immer Bean.
Right now, I'm leaning toward the theory that there were two Sarah Saunders: one is the Sarah who married Moore Graves and who was born in 1803. This Sarah was the daughter of Nimrod. The other Sarah was born in 1807 or 1808 and her year of birth is confirmed by census records as late as 1880, when she is listed as 73 years old. She is the one who married Immer Bean.

Recently, looking through my notes, I came across material that I received from Virginia Bean in 2004. At the time I didn't recognize the implications of her statement, but Virginia Bean provided information about a family tradition among the descendants of Sarah and Immer Bean that Sarah's parents were named Benjamin and Mary Sanders:

"This information comes from the descendants of Sarah's son, John Bean. I have never seen any other parents listed for her. Sarah Saunders lived until after 1880, her son John Bean died in 1911 and a daughter, Elizabeth died in 1926. I think that most of the information on this family comes from first hand knowledge passed down by her son, John. "

I now believe this Benjamin and Mary Sanders are the same people as my great-great grandparents. In my reconstruction of the family of Benjamin Sr., I had Ben, Jr. born in 1804, Rebecca in 1806, and two unnamed females in 1808 and 1810. Sarah who married Immer Bean fits nicely in the 1808 slot as the census records show she was born about 1807.

I guess there could have been two individuals named Benjamin Sanders, both married to a Mary and living in Randolph and Montgomery in close proximity to the Bean family, but I don't think it's likely. There were definitely two Benjamins in Randolph in 1810, of course, as explained elsewhere my Web site, but only one was married to a Mary, and the other one lived in the northwest part of Randolph County, not near the Bean property.

Further evidence that Immer Bean lived near Benjamin Sanders' family can be found in the 1881 estate settlement of Immer Bean which states that he died intestate and in possession of "a tract of land on Little River adjoining the lands of John Lucas." This is probably the same John Lucas who bought 300 acres from Ben, Sr., in 1833, when Benjamin was selling his land in Randolph in order to move to Jackson County. From what I can find on the Internet, Immer's daughter Elizabeth married a grandson of John Lucas (the grandson was named John also). The Joel Lucas who was a witness to the 1833 deed of Benjamin Sanders and John Lucas was the uncle of John who married Elizabeth Bean. And, interestingly, the mother of John Lucas the elder is said to have been a Margaret Suggs. Benjamin Sanders' son, Ben, Jr., married another member of the Suggs family, Lynna Suggs. All of this suggests the Bean and Benjamin Sanders families were neighbors and probably lived on or near the border of Randolph and Montgomery Counties.(Quotations from the  Web site maintained by Sheri Hoertel.

If Sarah Saunders who married Immer Bean is the daughter of Benjamin and Mary, we may ask what happened to the daughter of Nimrod, the Sarah Saunders who married Moore Graves. It is believed that Moore was a brother to William Graves who married Tabitha, another daughter of Nimrod. Tabitha and William moved to Etowah County, Alabama, and appear on the census records of that county, but I haven't been able to find any further records of Sarah who married Moore Graves. There is a Sarah Sanders, born about 1803 in North Carolina, who lived in Pike County, Alabama, in the middle of the nineteenth century, but nothing seems to connect her to our Sanders family or any other Sanders family for that matter. However, she is the right age to be Nimrod's daughter.
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Benjamin Saunders of Montgomery and Randolph Counties

December 2, 2006

According to family tradition, Benjamin’s surname was originally Saunders but was changed to Sanders when the family moved in the 1830s from North Carolina to Jackson County, Alabama. Though documentary evidence concerning him is meager, we are beginning to develop a much better understanding of Benjamin’s life than was thought possible just a few years ago. What follows is a biographical reconstruction, based on such sources as census records, land deeds, published accounts, and family tradition.

In the family lore passed down among his descendants who moved to Texas, Benjamin was described as an “Irishman” from North Carolina. It is believed he was by occupation a blacksmith or gunsmith, but he must have farmed as well because, at one time, he owned several hundred acres of land. Based on census records from 1800, 1810, 1830 and 1840, Benjamin was probably born between 1766 and 1770. He doesn’t appear on the 1850 Jackson County census, and because of family tradition about his having lived to an advanced old age we may assume he died closer to the year 1850 than to 1840. If he died in 1849 and was born about 1766, he would have been about eighty-three when he died. Because many people in those days lost track of the exact year they were born, it’s very possible Benjamin and his family were genuinely convinced he was at least a decade older than his real age at the time of his death.

Benjamin's first confirmed appearance in a documentary record was was in December 1790 when he bought  land that was between the county line and Walter Hamilton's property. The land was surveyed in 1798 with Joseph Sanders and Isaac Sanders the chain carriers. There was some problem with the warrant and Benjamin's possession was not confirmed until 1805, though he had bought over land in the meantime. This property was about a mile and a half north of the land of Stephen Saunders. Stephen’s mother, Joan Bailey Saunders, also owned property adjacent to Stephen, and she is referred to in land records as late as 1810 as the “widow Sanders.” Her husband, Aaron Saunders (or William Aaron in the family tradition) died in 1782, according to a record of his estate settlement. These relationships are important because they provide a clue to the identity of the father of Benjamin.

In a letter written in the 1890s and now in the possession of Saunders descendants in Fort Worth, Texas, Thomas Bailey Saunders (1816-1902), whose ancestors were from Montgomery County, discussed three brothers who lived in Montgomery County at about the time of the American Revolution: William Aaron (grandfather of TBS), Isaac (great-grandfather of the recipient of the letter), and Moses. From other sources we know that the grandfather of the recipient of the letter was named Jacob, and that therefore Jacob was a son of Isaac.

In the letter, Thomas Bailey said, “I have seen your great grandfather [Isaac] and his wife, and they were very old then. Your grandfather [Jacob] had two brothers, Ben and Joe, they moved to Alabama and their families are there yet.” Because the sentence about Ben and Joe is immediately after the one referring to Isaac, the most obvious interpretation of this statement is that Jacob, Ben, and Joe were brothers. Several previous researchers have assumed, because of cousin marriage that resulted in the recipient of the letter being a grandson of both William Aaron and Isaac, that Ben and Joe must have been sons of William Aaron. The problem with that interpretation is that there is no family tradition that William Aaron had sons named Ben and Joe. There is only a tradition that William Aaron had sons named Stephen, Luke, and Nimrod. In the absence of a tradition that there were other sons of William Aaron, I prefer the more straightforward explanation that Ben and Joe were sons of Isaac.

Documentary evidence for Isaac Saunders is rather sparse, but he does appear on the 1782 tax rolls of Montgomery County. He is referenced as a neighbor to George Sugg in a 1794 deed. Isaac and Joseph Sanders are listed as chain bearers for a November 1798 survey of land that was granted to Benjamin Sanders. In 1800 he appears on the Randolph County census. We can be pretty sure this is the same Isaac as the brother of William Aaron and Moses because he is listed as over 45 years of age and he is the only Isaac in either county. Further, we have documentary evidence that he was connected to a Benjamin Sanders through some family or business relationship. This Benjamin appears to be the same person as the “Ben” of the Thomas Bailey Saunders letter and he is also the same Benjamin who moved to Alabama.

Like Isaac, Benjamin acquired land in Randolph County. In 1802 he received a land grant of fifty acres in Randolph, the property being on Barnes Creek and just over the border. This land most likely was adjacent to the property he already owned in Montgomery. We know he continued to live in Montgomery because in 1806 Isaac Sanders of Randolph County sold one acre of land for one shilling to Benjamin Sanders of Montgomery County. This property, also just over the county line, was on the Bumpass Fork of the Little River in Randolph and it included a mill site and the property “whereupon the said Isaac Sanders now lives.” We don’t know for certain, but Isaac, who must have been well over sixty years old, may have been disposing of property in order to turn his affairs over to Benjamin. We know Isaac didn’t leave the area because two years later, he sold two hundred acres, also on the Bumpass Fork of the Little River, to Benjamin. In this second deed Benjamin is described as now living in Randolph County. The obvious implication from these transactions is that the elderly Isaac was transferring land to his son and that Benjamin moved to Isaac’s old homestead in 1806. Isaac must have lived for many years after this, however, because Thomas Bailey Saunders, who was born in 1816, said that, as a child, he himself had seen Isaac and his wife “and they were very old then.”  If Isaac died in the mid-20s when TBS was about ten years old, Isaac must have been close to ninety years old at his death.

At the time that Isaac transferred the land to Benjamin, Benjamin already had a large family. He must have married his first wife in the late 1780s; at any rate, in 1800 he appears on the 1800 Montgomery County census with one male between 10-15 in the household, one woman born before 1774 (presumably his first wife), and several female children, all under ten years old. The reason we know that Benjamin had two marriages is that Carroll Jackson Brewer of Jackson County, Alabama, testified  before the Southern Claims Commission in the 1870s that he was married to John Sanders' half niece, indicating that  Benjamin, John's father, had been marrried twice. Researchers have been able to identify John’s half-brother, the father of the half-niece, as William Sanders. William Sanders was born in 1789 and died before 1872. Therefore, Benjamin’s first marriage must have occurred before 1789 and William must be the 10-15 year old listed as living with Benjamin at the time of the 1800 Montgomery County census. Benjamin himself and William are the only two individuals in Benjamin’s family in 1800 that we can identify by name, and even the given name of the first wife is unknown.

Benjamin’s second marriage, to the former Mary Sanders, probably occurred about 1803, but could have occurred at any time between 1800 and 1811. In spite of having a maiden name that was the same as her husband’s surname, DNA tests of descendants of Mary’s Sanders line show that she was not related to Benjamin. We do know, however, again from testimony in the 1870s before the Southern Claims Commission, that John’s mother was a daughter of Joseph Sanders, who died in 1803. Another of Joseph’s daughters, Rachel, married Francis Sanders in 1801, and evidence based on tradition and documentation about relationships among her descendants supports the theory that Francis was a brother of Benjamin and also a brother to Jacob Saunders. In fact, the 16-25 year old male listed as living with Isaac at the time of the 1800 census was most likely Francis Sanders.

We are unable to identify all the children of Benjamin and Mary, but through various documentary sources and family tradition, we can make reasonable assumptions that are supported by census and other data.  Benjamin, Jr., who was born in 1804, could have been a child by either Mary or the first wife. Tradition appears to indicate that a daughter born in 1806, Rebecca, was a full-sibling to John Sanders and all subsequently born siblings. In the 1810 census of Benjamin and his family in Randolph County, we can identify the following individuals, even though names and exact ages of individuals are not given in the census record:  Benjamin (about 1766), Mary (about 1782), William (1789), Benjamin, Jr. (1804), Rebecca (1806), Sarah (about 1808). There are also three unidentified females in the household.

Benjamin and Mary are mentioned in the 1811 settlement of her father’s estate, though it appears she did not inherit much property. As Benjamin’s family grew he continued to acquire land in Randolph and Montgomery Counties along Barnes Creek and the Randolph/Montgomery border. The smallest of these transactions was when Isaac sold him the one acre for one shilling in 1806, but some were for substantial acreage. In these deeds Benjamin signed by making his mark, an indication that he was not able to read and write. This helps distinguish the Benjamin of this article from another Benjamin of Randolph County, a slightly younger fellow who lived in the northwest part of the county and who married Jane Clark. This second Benjamin was a Methodist minister who was active in the manumission movement.

The 1820 census of Randolph County is missing, but Benjamin does appear on the 1830 census where once again, even though we don’t have exact ages or names given, we can identify the following adults and children in the household: Benjamin (1766), Mary (1782), George (1812), Phoebe (1813), Isaac (1818), John (1822), Alfred (1827). Also in the household were one unidentified male and one unidentified female.

Alfred Head Mashburn Sanders, born about 1827, was the last child born to Benjamin and Mary. Known all his life as “Uncle Mash”, he outlived all his siblings, dying in Jackson County, Alabama, in 1919. The brief obituary that was published in a Scottsboro newspaper said only that “Mr. Sanders was a highly respected man in his community and had spent the majority of his life in this county.”  Even though direct evidence of parentage is lacking,  relying on various documentary records and family traditions, we can be certain that Mash was a sibling to John, Isaac, Phoebe, and Rebecca. From the Southern Claims Commission proceedings, we know that these five siblings were the children of a daughter of Joseph Sanders, and other evidence leads us to believe that daughter could only be Mary. In the case of Benjamin, Jr., George, and Sarah, there is reliable family tradition that these three were children of Benjamin and/or Mary. 

Although, as mentioned before, there are still children of Benjamin that researchers have not been able to identify, we can construct the following chart based on the evidence currently available. Because we don't know the exact year of the second marriage, Benjamin, Jr., Rebecca, and Sarah may have been children of the first wife rather than children of Mary.

Child of BENJAMIN SANDERS and UNKNOWN is:
    i.    WILLIAM  SANDERS, b. 1789, Montgomery County, North Carolina; d. Bef. 1872, Montgomery County, Arkansas; m. MARTHA T. UNKNOWN; b. 1812, Virginia; d. Aft. 1860, Montgomery County, Arkansas.
    2.    MARTHA SANDERS, b. about 1793, Montgomery County, North Carolina; died between 1834-1838, Jackson County, Alabama.
   
Children of BENJAMIN SANDERS and MARY SANDERS are:
    ii.    BENJAMIN SANDERS, b. April 1804, Montgomery or Randolph County, North Carolina; d. Bef. January 04, 1866, Wright County, Missouri; m. (1) LYNNA LINEY SUGGS, May 19, 1825, Randolph County, North Carolina; b. Abt. 1804, North Carolina (parentage not proven); d. Bet. 1849 - 1850, Jackson County, Alabama; m. (2) INTHA ADALINE FREEMAN, Bet. 1850 - 1853, Jackson County, Alabama; b. February 06, 1821, Tennessee; d. January 02, 1881, Fannin County, Texas.
    iii.    REBECCA SANDERS, b. January 23, 1806, Randolph County, North Carolina; d. August 08, 1893, Jackson County, Alabama; m. WILLIAM BILLY CORNELISON, May 13, 1824, Randolph County, North Carolina; b. May 27, 1800, Rowan, North Carolina; d. October 17, 1888, Jackson County, Alabama.
    iv.    SARAH SANDERS, b. Abt. 1808, Randolph County, North Carolina; d. Aft. 1880, Randolph County, North Carolina; m. IMMER BEAN, Bef. 1825, North Carolina; b. 1801, Montgomery County, North Carolina; d. 1887, Randolph County, North Carolina.
    v.    GEORGE W. SANDERS, b. December 17, 1812, Randolph County, North Carolina; d. Bet. 1856 - 1859, Montgomery County, Arkansas ; m. ANNA JOHNSON, June 25, 1833, Randolph County, North Carolina; b. Abt. 1816, North Carolina; d. Aft. 1870, Scott County, Arkansas?.
    vi.    PHOEBE ELLENDER SANDERS, b. Bet. 1813 - 1820, Randolph County, North Carolina; d. 1902, Jackson County, Alabama; m. (1) HENRY LEE, August 01, 1839, Marshall County, Alabama; b. Abt. 1796, South Carolina; d. 1863, Crawford County, Arkansas; m. (2) UNKNOWN PEEK, Aft. 1858; d. Unknown.
    vii.    ISAAC SANDERS, b. June 20, 1817, Randolph  County, North Carolina; d. Bet. 1880 - 1900, Prentiss County, Mississippi; m. ELIZABETH UNKNOWN, Abt. October 1836, Jackson County,  Alabama; b. Abt. 1817, North Carolina; d. Bet. 1880 - 1900, Booneville, Prentiss County, Mississippi.
    viii.    JOHN SANDERS, b. 1822, Randolph  County, North Carolina; d. August 11, 1896, Jackson County, Alabama; m. (1) CHARLOTTE BRANNON, Bef. 1842, Jackson County,  Alabama; b. Abt. 1820; d. Abt. 1849, Jackson County, Alabama; m. (2) MARY POLLY FREEMAN, Abt. 1851, Jackson County,  Alabama; d. September 1857, Jackson County, Alabama; m. (3) GILLIE ANN YARBROUGH, December 19, 1861, Jackson County,  Alabama; b. May 1835, Alabama; d. December 02, 1910, Jackson County, Alabama.
    ix.    ALFRED HEAD MASHBURN SANDERS, b. April 1827, Randolph County, North Carolina; d. April 06, 1919, Kyles, Jackson County, Alabama; m. (1) CATHERINE KATIE BRIGHT FEARS, Abt. 1847, Jackson County,  Alabama; b. Bet. 1823 - 1826, Tennessee; d. Bet. 1880 - 1900, Jackson County, Alabama; m. (2) MARY ELIZABETH SWEARINGEN, February 23, 1900, Jackson County,  Alabama; b. November 1844, Jackson County, Alabama; d. Bet. 1900 - 1910, Jackson County, Alabama.

If we assume that every child listed on the 1800, 1810, 1830, and 1840 census except Benjamin and his wife belongs to Benjamin’s family, we have seven more children whose names are unknown: four females born between 1790 and 1800, all children of the first wife; one female born between 1800 and 1810, who could be a child of either wife; one female born between1810 and 1820; and two males born between 1820 and 1830. In all likelihood, however, some of the children in the household in the 1820s and 1830s may be grandchildren or other relatives.

By the 1830s, Benjamin was well over sixty years old, but like many other pioneers, he was not hesitant to seek his fortune in new territory. In November 1833 Benjamin sold 300 acres to Henry Wollaver and in the same month he sold  his 227 acres along Barnes Creek and the Fayetteville Road to John Lucas. One of the witnesses to the latter deed was Pleasant C. Saunders, a son of Luke Sanders, and a grandson of William Aaron Saunders. If my reconstruction is correct, Pleasant C. was a first cousin once removed of Benjamin. According to Benjamin's son John (testimony to the Southern Claims Commission in 1876),  Benjamin and his family moved to Jackson County, Alabama, in 1833 but he was just one of many of the Sanders family who were leaving the Randolph/Montgomery area. His son Ben, Jr., also moved  in the 1830s, as did his daughter Rebecca and her husband Billy Cornelison. Benjamin’s brother, Francis, had been living in Jackson County since at least 1830, as had some of the brothers and sisters of Benjamin’s wife Mary. Nor did the Sanders wanderlust stop in Alabama. Though Benjamin remained there until his death, many of his descendants and relatives moved further west, to Mississippi, to Arkansas, to Texas, and some eventually to California.

The last documentary record of Benjamin is the 1840 census of Jackson County, Alabama. Even though actual names other than the head of household are still not listed in 1840, we can identity the following people in the household: Benjamin (70-80 years old), Mary (60-70), John (15-20), Alfred (10-15). Also in the household are one unidentified female, and three unidentified females. Isaac, one of Benjamin’s sons, is listed as living next door. Isaac was my great grandfather. I have been able to obtain much information about Isaac from census and other records, but much of what I have came from family tradition that was passed down from my grandfather to my father. Within a couple of years after the 1840s census, Isaac would move from Jackson County and move west to Mississippi and eventually to Arkansas.

One of the traditions about old Ben’s last days is that he converted from the Roman Catholic to the Protestant faith at a camp meeting in Jackson County when he was ninety-six years old, dying two years later. A 1917 newspaper article in Van Zandt County, Texas, gives information that probably came from the recollections of Benjamin’s grandson: "Levi Lindsey Sanders was born in Jackson Co., Ala....He was a son of Buck Ben Sanders, a gunsmith, and came of Irish Catholic ancestors, his people settling in North Carolina. Uncle Levi’s paternal grandfather, Ben Saunders, as the name was originally spelled, was converted from the Catholic faith at a camp meeting in Jackson County, Ala., at the age of 96 years." This Catholic connection is something of a mystery because a Catholic origin is not mentioned in the tradition of the other Saunders or Sanders of Montgomery or Randolph Counties. My own theory is that  Ben may have had a religious experience at a camp meeting when he was was very old and this was embellished, based on his presumed Irish ancestry (actually, probably Scotch-Irish) into the presumption that he must have been a Catholic before his conversion.

Another bit of lore, from a 1910 memoir of one of Levi’s sons, is that Benjamin was over one hundred years old when he died. In fact, he was probably only in his eighties when he died, but to the ten to twelve year old young Levi Lindsey Sanders, who a few years later would run away from home to pursue his fortune in Texas, his grandfather must have seemed ancient indeed.  In a similar situation, my father, who could remember when Levi used to visit my grandfather in the 1890s, always referred to Levi himself as "old man Levi" even though Levi was only about sixty years old at the time of the visits. The mystery about the year of Benjamin's birth, the year of his death, and his religious convictions are symbolic of the many problems in reconstructing his biography.

Summary of the Documentation

Our search begins with William Sanders, born 1789. Census data  and his his estate settlement in 1872 provide the information that Lucretia Sanders was his daughter and she was married to Carroll Jackson Brewer. John Sanders, in a deposition before the Southern Claims commission in 1870 stated that Carroll Jackson Brewer was married to John’s half niece. This proves that William was John’s half brother.

Carroll Jackson Brewer stated in his testimony to the Southern Claims Commission that Joseph Sanders, Jr., was John’s uncle. Because DNA tests rule out Joseph being a brother of John’s father, John’s mother had to be a Sanders. The only two Sanders sisters of Joseph who could be John’s mother are Rachel and Mary Sanders.  Rachel is ruled out because we know she married Francis Sanders in 1801, and Francis was too young to have been the father of John’s half brother William who was born in 1789.  Hence, Mary has to be John’s mother.

We know from the estate settlement of Mary’s father in 1811 that Mary married Benjamin Sanders. Benjamin, according to census records, was born in the mid-1760s and was therefore old enough to be the father of both William and his half brother John by two different wives.

Therefore, we have established that William was the child of Benjamin by the first wife, and John was a child by Mary Sanders, the second wife. 

John Sanders stated in the Southern Claims commission file in 1869 that Isaac Sanders of Montgomery County, Arkansas, was his brother.
 
John’s application for a federal pension in the 1890s provides the information that Alfred Head Mash Sanders was John’s brother.

A letter written by Louie Davis of Texas in the 1970s provides information about a family tradition that Alfred Head Mash was a brother to Rebecca Sanders and Phoebe Sanders, who was the ancestor of Louie Davis. The letter provides other information about Phoebe and Rebecca and mentions that John was the justice of the peace who performed the marriage ceremony of Phoebe’s daughter, Deborah.

Confirmation that Rebecca was a child of this family comes from her marriage bond to William Cornelison in 1824.  Benjamin Sanders was the bondsman for their marriage in Randolph County.

Benjamin also was the bondman for the marriage of his son, Benjamin Sanders, Jr., in 1825. There is a strong family tradition passed down among his descendants in Texas that Benjamin, Jr., was the son of Benjamin, Sr., of Randolph County. One of the sons of Isaac and one of the sons of Benjamin, Jr., moved to Texas and lived less than ten miles from each other and were good friends all their lives. There is a family tradition they were cousins.

There is also a strong tradition among the descendants of George Sanders and Anna Johnson in Arkansas that his parents were Benjamin and Mary Sanders of Randolph. County. In the 1850s George was a neighbor in Montgomery County, Arkansas, to his brother Isaac and their half-brother William lived in the same county.

There is also a tradition passed among the descendants of Sarah Sanders and her husband Immer Bean that Sarah’s parents were Benjamin and Mary of Randolph County. The property of Sarah and Immer Bean was adjacent to that of Benjamin Sanders.

Previous researchers have maintained that many of these siblings were the children of Francis and Rachel Sanders instead of Benjamin and Mary, but even aside from the evidence presented above,t he  naming patterns suggest that Benjamin and Mary are the parents. Benjamin, Jr., George, Isaac, John, and Alfred Mash named one of their sons Benjamin. Rebecca named one of her sons Benjamin. Phoebe didn’t name either of her two sons after Benjamin, but none of the siblings named a son Francis. 

The situation is similar with Mary and Rachel, revealing that Mary is the more likely mother. Benjamin, Jr. named a daughter Mary. Rebecca named her first child Mary. George named his first daughter Mary. Phoebe named a daughter Mary. John named his first daughter Mary. Isaac and Alfred did not name a daughter Mary, but none of the five siblings named a daughter Rachel.

While there is no one document that provides a list of the children of Benjamin and Mary, we have what I believe is rather convincing proof for the parentage of these ten children: William, Martha, Benjamin, Rebecca, Sarah, George, Phoebe, Isaac, John, and Alfred. The census record reveals that Benjamin had several other children, and further research may provide clues to their identity as well.
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Isaac Sanders (1817-after 1880)

Isaac Sanders was born on June 20, 1817  in  Randolph County, North Carolina. Circumstantial evidence from a land transaction suggests he was probably a grandson of Isaac Saunders, one of the four brothers who moved to Anson County, North Carolina in the 1770s.The first documentary record of Isaac is a land warrant dated May 9, 1832 by which Joshua Craven sold  seventy-five acres to Immer Bean in Randolph County. The land was located on the Little River, adjoining the county line with Montgomery County. Isaac and William Cornelison were the chain carriers. Immer Bean was married to Sarah Sanders, who appears to have been one of Isaac's sisters. "Uncle Billy Cornelison" was married to another of Isaac's sisters, Rebecca, who was called "Aunt Becky."

In the 1830s, probably about 1833, Isaac's parents, Benjamin and Mary Sanders, moved to Jackson County, Alabama. On September 18, 1836 Isaac married Elizabeth King (born May 22, 1817). Her parents are not known but she may have been a brother to Isham King who married Annie Sanders about 1832 in Randolph County. Isham was the bondsman when George W. Sanders, a brother of Isaac, married Anna Johnson in 1833 in Randolph County. Annie Sanders may have been a sister to George and Isaac.

On July 24, 1837 the first son of Isaac and Elizabeth was born and named Aaron. On Octoer 26, 1837, Isaac volunteered for the Seminole Indian War, as did many young men from Jackson County. For the most part, they saw little fighting. Isaac was honorably discharged at Fort Mitchell April 9, 1838. In the 1840 Jackson County census Isaac Sanders is listed with an  age range of 20-30, one female in the household age 20-30 (his wife Elizabeth), and one male child, age 0-5 (his son Aaron, born 1837).  Isaac appears to be living next door or near his father, Benjamin Sanders, age 70-80.  Benjamin was the grandfather of Levi Lindsey Sanders who moved to Van Zandt County, Texas before the Civil War. Isaac’s son Jesse, born in 1845, moved to adjoining Henderson County, Texas, about 1870. The two cousins often visited each other until Jesse's death in 1903.

Isaac Sanders moved his family to Old Tishomingo  County, Mississippi about 1841 and he is listed on the 1844/45 Mississippi state census forTishomingo County which shows four males in the household and one female. It appears, therefore, that from 1842 until 1850, Isaac and his family were living in Tishomingo County where four more children were born to this family:  Isaac, Jr.,  (1841) Benjamin, (1843), Jesse (June 30, 1845), and Calvin (1849). The last three chilldren, all girls, would be born after the family moved to Montgomery County, Arkansas: Amanda (1851), Sarah (1855), and Rebecca (1857).

On April 1, 1851 Isaac Sanders applied for federal bounty land warrant in Montgomery County, Arkansas, based on his service in the Seminole Indian War. The move to Arkansas may explain why Isaac and his family have not been found on the 1850 census in any state. In 1855 Isaac filed for another bounty land warrant in Montgomery County. The 1860 Montgomery County, Arkansas census shows Isaac Sanders living near Mt. Ida in the Sulphur Springs Township. Three children were born after the move to Arkansas: Amanda (1851), Sarah, (1855), and Rebecca A., (1857). Isaac's brother George W. Sanders was living nearby, having moved to Montgomery in the 1840s.

During the Civil War, Sanders from Montgomery County served in the "Montgomery County Hunters," a unit of the Confederate Army that was merged with Company F of the 4th Arkansas infantry. They were mustered in at Mt. Ida on July 17, 1861, though formal enlisted didn't occur until October. The roll included Isaac and three of  his sons: Aaron Sanders, Benjamin Sanders, and  Isaac Sanders, Jr., who died from illness or injury.   

John Sanders (1822, North Carolina-August 11, 1896, Jackson County, Alabama) stated on the Southern Claims Record in 1876 that his brother Isaac who lived in Montgomery County, Arkansas, had fought for the South during the Civil War, though John had remained loyal to the union. John recounted  "I have a brother said to be in the Confederate army. I did not see him [join?] Isaac Sanders, forty-four or five years of age on entering the Confederate army in Montgomery County, Arkansas. I have no influence on him, he lived in Arkansas when he joined the army. [He or I?] contributed nothing to his outfit. [?] [He] would not of have been living here. [Meaning, possibly, that he would not have joined the Confederates if he had still been living in Jackson County.]

There is even an interesting bit of family lore that comes down through the Davis family of Texas about how two Sanders brothers from Jackson County, Alabama, fought in the same battle but stopped fighting when they recognized each other. This probably refers to John and Isaac, but it's unlikely that the two brothers were in the same battle because Isaac's service in the war was brief. He was on furlough for much of the winter of 1861-62 and returned to duty with penumonia.  In April, 1862, he was released from duty.  His discharge paper states that " the within named Isaac Sanders, a private of Captain John M. Simpson’s company of the 4th Arkansas Regiment of Arkansas Volunteers, born in Randolph County in the state of North Carolina, age 44 years, five feet nine inches high, fair complexion, blue eyes, sandy hair, and by profession a farmer, was enlisted by Major G. W. Clark at Fort Smith, Ark. On the 21st day of October 1861 to serve one year and is now entitled to a discharge by reason of chronic pneumonia."  

By June 4, 1863 Isaac, Sr., was back in Montgomery County where he signed up for Earnest’s local defense company, which was established to defend the home front. Apparently, this was the only unit of its kind in the state.  Isaac’s son Aaron was a first sergeant in the same company and Isaac’s seventeen year old son Jesse appears for the first time in the war records as a private if the “J. Sanders” who appears in the company roll is the same person as Jesse.

In the fall and winter  of 1863-64  most of the Sanders family in the Montgomery County area appeared to have switched sides from the Confederacy to the Union forces.  Isaac's cousin William Patrick Sanders and two of William's sons joined  4th U.S. cavalry in November of 1863. They were accompanied by some of the  related Biddy and Lamb families.  Isaac's son Jesse joined the 4th cavalry in February 1864  Isaac himself enlisted at Dardanelle in Yell County in March, 1864. 

According to the Edward G. Gerdes Civil War in Arkansas  page, quoting from a contemporary account of the 4th cavalry,  Isaac's unit was involved in the skirmish at Dardanelle on May 17, 1864:

"At that date Dardanelle was attacked by Shelby in the night with 2,000 men and four pieces of artillery. The commanding officer of the post had ordered the camp equipage across the river and at the time of attack, it was slowly crossing in a single flat boat. Capt. Wood, Co G, in charge. The town was held until it was completely surrounded and for nearly two hours after it had beena bandoned by the post commander. All records of the company were lost, except for copies of muster-in rolls found in the Adjutant General's Office. Some of the men escaped by swimming the river and some by cutting their way through enemy's lines. Many of the men reported missing in action are in the woods near Dardanelle, unable to rejoin the regiment on account of guerillas."

The official military record of Isaac's service indicates that he was listed as "missing in action" during the skirmish. What happened to him immediately afterwards is not clear, though we know that he survived the battle and lived for at least another sixteen years. Maybe he escaped from the woods and joined some other unit to continue the fighting in another unit; or maybe he, like many other farmer-soldiers of the time, decided he was finished with fighting and went back home to take care of his family's needs. This record of the battle of Dardanelle is the last record I can find of Isaac in Arkansas, though his son Jesse continued serving in the U.S. army until October of 1864 when he went A.W.O.L., possibly to join Isaac and the rest of the family. There is no record that he ever returned to his unit but he did make an unsuccessful application for a military pension on January 23, 1899 while he was living in Henderson County, Texas.

Sometime between 1865 and 1870 Isaac and his family moved back to Mississippi, for they appear on the 1870 and 1880 Booneville, Prentiss County, Mississippi, census. Prentiss was formed in 1870 from a part of the old Tishomingo County. The 1880 census is the last documentation I have been able to find for Isaac and Elizabeth. The census taker recorded that Elizabeth was bedridden with "dyspepsia," or what we would call an upset stomach today.

The children of Isaac and Elizabeth:

1. The oldest son, Aaron Benjamin Sanders, married Deborah Ann Swaim April 7, 1859 in Montgomery County, Arkansas.  They had a son, William Isaac Sanders,  who died in the spring of 1860. Deborarh, who was Aaron's second cousin, died on May 3, 1860.  Aaron is enumerated both in Isaac's household in the 1860 census and as a single person living alone. After the Civil War, when the Sanders  family returned to Mississippi, Aaron married Hester Ann Chamption on December 2, 1872 in Prentiss County, Mississippi. Aaron died in Prentiss County on November 28, 1902, and Hester later applied for a Confederate widow's pension. In her application she provided the information that he served in  Co. F, Hardiman's Regiment and was  discharged Aug. 9, 1865, at Marshall, Texas.  I have more information on Aaron and have exchanged correspondence with several of his descendants. He appears to have kept some contact with his cousin Levi Lindsey Sanders of Texas, who also served as a blacksmith in the Confederate army, for Aaron named one of his sons after Levi Lindsey Sanders.

2.  Mary Sanders was born October 15, 1839 in Jackson County, Alabama, and died in March 1840.

3. Isaac Sanders, Jr.,  was born  December 8, 1840 and died January 10, 1862 from illness or injury during the Civil War. It does not appear that he ever married or had children.

4.  Benjamin Sanders was born February 20, 1842 in Tishomingo County, Mississippi.  He  enlisted with the rest of the Sanders sons at Fort Smith in October of 1861 and served at least until 1863, including some time in the Tennessee theater. After the war, in 1874, he married Sarah Sallie Lamb, whose brother had fought in the same unit as Benjamin.  Benjamin and Sallie lived in  Sebastian County, Arkansas where many of the descendants of his cousin William Patrick Sanders lived.  Benjamin's nephew, Jesse Jackson Sanders, who was born in 1885 and died in 1964,  remembered a visit by Benjamin to see his brother Jesse in Murchison, Texas. This visit must have occurred in the late 1890s, perhaps in 1900, just before Benjamin died. Benjamin and Sarah Lamb had two children, but only one survived until adulthood.

5. Jesse Sanders was born June 30, 1845 in Tishomingo County and died December 12, 1903 in Murchison, Henderson County, Texas. He was too young to serve in the early years of the Civil War. It appears he joined Earnest's local defense company in June of 1863, but on February 5, 1864, he joined  Company D of the 4th Arkansas Cavalry, U.S.  This was the same comany in which some of his uncles and cousins were serving. His military record states gives the following description: "age 18, ht 5’ 8”, eyes blue, hair lt, complx fair, farmer, born in Tishamingo Co, MS."  His whereabouts after he left the army until 1871 are  unknown.  Family tradition is that he came to Texas in 1870 from Booneville, Mississippi,  so he must have accompanied his parents and the rest of the family when they moved from Montgomery County back to Mississippi. He doesn't appear at all on the 1870 census, and he may have been traveling to Texas in June of 1870 when the census was taken.  He settled in Henderson County, Texas,  about ten miles from the residence of his cousin Levi Lindsey Sanders. In 1871 he married Mary Amanda Pickering, daughter of  Andrew Jackson Pickering who was born in 1829 in Covington County, Mississippi. Jesse and Amanda had seven children.  Amanda died in 1898 and Jesse died in 1903. They and many of their descendants are buried in the Red Hill Cemetery in Henderson County. Jesse's son, Jesse Jackson Sanders, who lived from 1885 until 1964, was the source of much of my information about Isaac and his children.

6. Calvin Sanders was born July 21, 1847 in old Tishomingo County. He married about 1868 and  died June 6, 1877 in Prentiss County, Mississippi. According to his descendants, his wife's name was Mary Clark, and she may have married a second time, to a man named Butler, after Calvin's death.  She is also said to have been of Indian ancestry and to have moved to the Chickasaw Nation in the Indian Territory, where she died on August 6, 1899. Calvin and Mary had four children, but descendants are known for only three of them: Sarah Caldona Sanders who married Robert Benjamin Ellis,  Isaac Sanders who married Alice Spears, and Rebecca Sanders who married Benjamin Franklin Butler. 

7. William Sanders was born May 18, 1849 in Tishomingo County. He died January 20, 1850.

8. Amanda Sanders was born November 21, 1850 in Montgomery County, Arkansas. She died in September of 1867.

9.  Elizabeth was born January 10, 1853 and died  August 26, 1855.

10. There was an unnamed son who was born  on January 5, 1855 and died four days later.

11. Sarah Sanders was born December 24, 1855. She was still living with her parents in Prentiss County, Mississippi, in 1880. I have no information about any marriage or descendants.

12. Rebecca Sanders was born in 1857 in Montgomery County. She was also still living with her parents in  Prentiss County, Mississippi, in 1880. I have been unable to trace her after that date.

There was a Calvin Sanders who married Mary McDowell November 30, 1888. This Calvin and his wife do not seem to appear on any census and are probably not related to Isaac's family.

In January of 2013 additional information about Isaac's family was given to me by Cathy Eshmont, a descendant of Calvin Newton Sanders (1874-1957), a son of Aaron Sanders, and grandson of Isaac. She  had access to a  book  that was compiled in the 1980s by a relative, Barbara Radcliffe Rogers, who apparently had access to old family documents that provided the exact dates of birth of Isaac and Elizabeth's children and other previously genealogical material about this family.

Revised January 17, 2013

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Francis and Rachel Sanders of Jackson County, Alabama

January 15, 2007

Francis Sanders, or Saunders as the name is spelled in some documents, was born in the year 1782 in North Carolina. Most likely, based on the residence of related family members, he was born in the northeastern part of Montgomery County close to the border with Randolph County. His year of birth is well attested by the 1850 census and by documents he signed when applying for federal bounty land. His marriage to Rachel Sanders, who, according to DNA testing, was not related to him, occurred on August 21, 1801 in Randolph County, North Carolina.

One of Francis’ granddaughters married a grandson of Benjamin Saunders of Randolph County, and there is a strong tradition among the descendants of this granddaughter that she and her husband were double cousins. We know from an estate settlement in Randolph County in 1811 that Francis’ wife Rachel and Benjamin’s wife Mary were sisters. Therefore, the grandchildren of Benjamin and Francis would be double cousins if Benjamin and Francis were also brothers, and this is the most likely explanation. The brotherhood of Francis and Benjamin appears to be confirmed by a statement in a Texas newspaper in 1898 by a grandson of Francis, William Redman Sanders, that a grandson of Benjamin, Levi Lindsey Sanders, was his cousin.

There is some documentary evidence, discussed elsewhere at this Web site, that Benjamin’s father was Isaac Saunders of Randolph County, North Carolina. If so, Francis was also probably a son of Benjamin. In 1800, Benjamin was married and living in a household of his own, but there is a 16-25 year old male living in Isaac’s household that appears to be his son Francis who would have been 18 years old in 1800. In addition, the children of Benjamin and the children of Francis maintained close contact even after they moved from North Carolina to Jackson County and Marshall County in Alabama and later to Pike and Montgomery counties in Arkansas. Therefore, the thesis presented here is that Isaac was the father of both Benjamin and Francis.

Francis and his family appear on the 1810 Randolph County census living near his brother Benjamin Sanders and near members of the Steed family who were apparently related to the Sanders in some way presently unknown to researchers. Francis and his brother Benjamin appear on the 1815 tax list of RandolphCounty. The 1820 census for Randolph is missing, but there is a Francis Sanders living in Rowan County who may or may not be the same Francis. Francis next appears on the 1830 Jackson County, Alabama, census. In the 1830s there was a large migration of the Sanders and associated families to Jackson County after the area was opened to white settlement. Apparently, the family of Francis moved first and Benjamin moved several years later. Some of the brothers and sisters of Francis and Benjamin’s wives and descendants of Jacob Sanders, another brother of Francis and Benjamin, were also part of this migration.

While in Jackson County, Francis, along with several other Sanders men, signed up as a volunteer in the Seminole Indian War. He served  from 26 October 1837 to 9 April 1838 under Capt. William S. Coffee of the North Alabama Mounted Volunteer Regiment commanded by Colonel Benjamin Snodgrass. 

All of the children of Francis and Rachel are not definitely known, and for many years, researchers assumed that five well-known siblings in Jackson County were the children of Francis and Rachel, though more recent evidence indicates that Francis’ brother Benjamin was the father of these children. These five were Rebecca (1806), Phoebe (1813-1820), Isaac (1818), John (1822), and Alfred (1827).  Further information about these siblings is given in other articles at this Web site. One of them, Isaac, was my great-grandfather.

There are, however, five children of Francis and Rachel for whom we have a reasonable amount of documentation. These are Elijah (1804), John Francis (1805), Elisha (1814), William Patrick (1819), and Mary Jane (1823).  All appear to have been born in Randolph County, North Carolina.

The child of Francis and Rachel for whom we have the most convincing evidence is Elijah Sanders. There is a solid family tradition passed down among his descendants that his father was Francis Sanders. Elijah married Mary Jane Isbell about the time of the move to North Carolina in 1829 and they moved to Jackson County, where they raised a large family of ten children. Elijah died in Jackson County in 1858.

The administrator for the estate of Elijah was named Francis Sanders, and this appears to be not the elder Francis but his son John Francis who is listed in census records as Francis or “Frank” Sanders. We may infer from his responsibility for the estate that he was the oldest surviving member of the family still in the Jackson County area at the time of the death of Elijah in 1858. Therefore, he appears to be a son of the Francis Sanders who was born in 1782. The senior Francis may have been still alive in 1858, but, if so, he was living in Arkansas and not available to act as an administrator for his son’s estate back in Alabama. Hence, John Francis was probably the oldest living brother of Elijah and was chosen as the administrator for this reason. John Francis later moved to Calhoun County, Arkansas, in 1871 and died there in 1875.

Another likely son of Francis and Rachel is Elisha Sanders, who died in Marshall County, Alabama, in 1840. The elder Francis was one of the administrators for his estate. Elisha appears to have been a relatively young man, probably under thirty years old, because he left a young widow and two male children,  both under six years old.  The presence of the younger of these children in the household of Francis and Rachel in 1850 in DeKalb County, Alabama, also lends credence to the possibility that Francis was the grandparent of the two.

While Francis and Rachel were living in DeKalb County, Alabama, Francis applied for federal bounty land on January 1, 1851, based on his service in the Seminole Indian War. He stated on the application that he was sixty-eight years old at the time and that he was the same person who served in Jackson County in the fall of 1837 and spring of 1838 under Captain William S. Coffee’s North Alabama Mounted Volunteer Regiment. We know from subsequent events that his intention was to go to Arkansas and secure land there.

At nearly seventy years of age, he and Rachel didn’t travel alone. In a court case in the Indian Territory in 1903, one of their grandchildren, Sarah Ann Biddy Kinsey, stated that the Sanders migration to Arkansas involved at least five wagons and two buggies and she provided very crucial information about who made the trip in the following exchange: Q.   How many people came with you? A.  One of my uncles on my mother's side, and my grandfather and my grandmother on my mother's side.  Sarah Ann was the daughter of James Jones Biddy and Mary Jane Sanders,  one of six children of this couple. In addition, there were at least five children of William Patrick Sanders, the uncle to whom she referred as making the trip with the group. Therefore, counting the eight in the Biddy family and the seven in the William Patrick Sanders family, plus Francis and Rachel, the grandparents, there must have been at least seventeen people making the journey. According to another grandchild, the trip took five or six weeks. The route apparently went from Marshall County, Alabama, through Corinth, Mississippi, to Memphis, then through Des Arc in Prairie County, Arkansas, and finally to Hempstead County.

Mary Jane Sanders Biddy died in 1852 somewhere in central Arkansas, possibly near Des Arc in Prairie County. Her brother, William Patrick Sanders, moved to Pike County, Arkansas, and later served in the Union Army during the Civil War. His year of death is uncertain, but military records show he was alive in November 1863. One of his sons married in 1865 in Montgomery County, Arkansas, a granddaughter of Francis’ brother Benjamin. According to family tradition, after this couple married, they found out that they were not only cousins, but double cousins, having only six great grandparents instead of eight.

Francis Sanders’ bound land warrant request that he had initiated in 1851 in Marshall County, Alabama, was executed in August 1855 in Hempstead County, Arkansas, and the two witnesses were James J. Biddie and William Sanders. These appear to be his son-in-law, James Jones Biddy and his son William Patrick Sanders. The application states that Francis was then a resident of Hempstead County. Francis seems to have received the right to eighty acres in Pike County and then to have signed his rights to the land in October 1856 to Henry Merrill, an agent for the Arkansas Manufacturing Company. This is the last record we have of Francis Sanders. Neither he nor Rachel are referenced on the 1860 Arkansas census, and it’s probably a safe assumption that Francis died between 1857 and 1860 in Hempstead, or possibly in Pike County. The last knowledge we have of Rachel is that she survived the trip to Arkansas in 1851, but nothing is known of her afterwards.

Census records indicate that Francis and Rachel probably had other children, but we have little evidence for their identity. One possibility is the Frances Sanders who married William Stewart on February 13, 1839 in Marshall County. Another possibility is even more elusive. A Mary Sanders who appears with her children on the 1850 and 1860 Jackson County census may have been a daughter-in-law of Francis. At any rate, her children were neighbors to some of Francis’ descendants in Jackson County. She had a son named Francis Kimbro Sanders who was born in 1838, and he was the administrator of her estate upon her death in 1868. According to one researcher, Mary’s husband, who must have died before 1840, was named Isaac, but I have never been able to find a record of this Isaac.

As with his brother Ben, documentation is sparse for Francis, but it is not lacking altogether and through the efforts of many researchers, we have a much better understanding of his life and children that we had a few years ago. It is to be hoped that further research will provide further documentation for the lives of Francis and Rachel.

The John Francis Sanders/Cinthia Harris Mystery

As previously mentioned, one of the sons of Francis was John Francis Sanders, mentioned in most records as Francis or Frank Sanders. According to a tradition passed down among his descendants, his wife’s name was Cinthia or Cynthia Harris. Research indicates that there is a marriage record of a John Francis Sanders and a Cinthia Harris in 1821 in Guilford County, North Carolina. This county is just north of Randolph County.

However, there is a problem in reconciling the date of this marriage with what is known of Cinthia’s birth year and with family tradition about her children.  On the 1830 census she is listed as 15-20 years old, yielding a birth year of 1810-1815, and there is one child in the household, indicating that the couple was newly married. Francis is listed as 20-30 years old which is consistent with his birth year of 1805.  On the 1840 census, Cinthia is listed as 20-30 years old (born between 1810 and 1820) and Francis is listed as  30-40 years old (born between 1800-1810). The 1840 census lists the following children: 1 male under five (William James, born 1836); one male 5-10 (Hiram Almon, born 1832); one male 10-15 (Isaac, born 1829); one female under 5 (Martha, born 1839); one female 5-10 (name unknown). On the 1850 Jackson County census, Cinthia is listed as 41 years old, yielding a birth year of 1809. The 1860 census has her born in 1812. The 1870 census has her born in 1811.

When all this data is combined, it is evident something appears wrong with the 1821 marriage date. It’s very unlikely Francis and Cinthia would have been married eight years before their first child was born. It’s even more unlikely that she was between eight and twelve years old at the time of her marriage which is what all the census data seems to indicate. However, a copy of the marriage bond sent to me by the North Carolina Archives shows that Jesse Franklin was the governor of North Carolina at that time, and he held that office only in the year 1821. 

A further difficult is that young children still appear in the household in 1860 and 1870. One of these children, Thomas Jefferson Sanders, was born in 1861 and family tradition is that he was regarded as a son of Francis and Cinthia. There were at least two of their grandchildren that Francis and Cinthia adopted and raised as their own in the 1860s, but Thomas was not mentioned as adopted in family tradition. Yet it seems almost impossible for him to have been the natural child of Francis and Cinthia. If so, the birth occurred forty years after the marriage of the parents.

I’m not sure how to reconcile these problems, but here is my guess:  Cinthia and John Francis were actually married in 1821, and she was 13 years old at that time, born about 1808. Yet unless they had children who died in infancy, no children were born between 1821 and 1829. It also appears that some of the children living with this couple in 1860 were probably grandchildren.  George Washington Sanders who was born in 1852 when Cinthia was about 44 was probably her last child. The two younger children, Cinthia (1854) and William (1858) are probably grandchildren. Cinthia (1854) may be the daughter of Elijah, John Francis' brother, who died in 1848. At any rate,  Thomas Jefferson Sanders, born in 1861, and living with Francis and Cinthia in 1861 has to be a  grandchild or other relative who was taken in by Francis and Cinthia after the death of his parents. As Sherlock Holmes once said, to solve any mystery, we first have to eliminate the impossible and it is virtually impossible for Francis and Cinthia to have married in 1821 and to have had a child in 1861.

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                 Peter Sanders and the Sanders/Moody Families of Wright County, Missouri

May, 2006

This article is an attempt to evaluate what is known and not known about the genealogy of the Sanders of Wright County, Missouri, and in particular the descendants of Peter Sanders who was born about 1779 in North Carolina. Unfortunately, much previous research about this family is based on conclusions about kinship relationships between Peter Sanders and other Sanders in Wright County that are not supported by the available evidence. I will cite specific examples below.

Peter died between 1860 and 1870 in Wright County. Many family trees posted on the Internet give his parents as Daniel Sanders and Jane Lyon, both originally from North Carolina, but I have been unable to find any documentation for Daniel Sanders as his father. I believe this assumption of Daniel’s parentage is mere guesswork and is not based on any credible evidence. There was a Daniel Sanders who lived in Montgomery County, North Carolina, in the 1770s, but his whereabouts after that are unknown. On the other hand, Jane Lyon Sanders left a will in 1813 in Maury County, Tennessee in which she named two sons, Peter and William. Since Peter of Wright County is known to have had a son, John Archie, born in Maury County about 1812, it seemed  a logical inference that Jane Lyon Sanders may have been the mother of Peter of Wright County (actually, as we will see, this may not be the case).

The identity of the son named William has never been established, but I think I can say with certainty who is not William, brother of Peter. He is not, as some researchers have alleged, the William Sanders who was born in 1789 in North Carolina and who later lived and died in Montgomery County, Arkansas. That William was the father of Lucretia Sanders who married Carroll Jackson Brewer, who testified before the Southern Claims Commission in the 1873 that  Lucretia was the half-niece of John Sanders of Jackson County, Alabama. It follows from this statement that William Sanders, father of Lucretia,  was John’s half-brother. John had other siblings, known through solid documentation: Rebecca, Phoebe, Isaac, and Alfred.  Isaac in fact lived near William in Montgomery County. Unless these are also siblings of Peter, and they are not, it is impossible for William of Montgomery County, Arkansas, to be a brother of Peter.  

Therefore, we know nothing about William, son of Jane Lyon Sanders, where he lived, or what happened to him. All we can tell is that he was alive when his mother’s will was written about 1813. He could have died shortly thereafter for all we know.

Nor, in spite of numerous postings to the contrary do we have a very clear picture of exactly how many children Peter and his wife, Michelle (or Marchial) Tarbutton, had. It appears certain from long established tradition that John Archie Sanders was a son of Peter:

"In 1935, MATTHEW [James Mattison] SANDERS of Wright Co., Mo., oldest living desc. of PETER SANDERS, told me that his grandfather PETER SANDERS came from N.C. to Tenn. and was living in Maury Co. Tenn. when his father JOHN ARCH. SANDERS was born in 1812. Their home was on Duck River in Maury Co.PETER and his brother went to Williamson Co. Ill. for a few years, then to Greene Co. Ark, then to Wright Co. Mo. where they took up land about 1840-45.” Peter and Marchial: http://www.familytreemaker.com/users/b/o/u/Dawna-L-Bouchard/GENE4-0007.html
http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~lsimmons/sit/FG02/FG02_066.htm Linda Simmons genfreak@jps.net quoted by Wilene Smith: http://worldconnect.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=sanderswilene&id=I007

The existence of another son, Andrew Jackson Sanders, can be inferred from the fact that John Archie was the administrator for Andrew Jackson’s will. I have been unable to ascertain how the other children (up to sixteen according to some) were attributed to Peter and Michelle/Marchial.  My feeling is that many of the researchers of this family simply picked Sanders who lived in Wright County and labeled them children of Peter without checking to see whether any documentation existed.  Since I have done little research on most of these children, I can’t evaluate with certainty whether most of these children actually belong in this family or not. In several cases, however, there is sufficient evidence to show that something is seriously remiss in documentation.

For example, by checking the family trees posted at RootsWeb World Connect, one can find a Benjamin Sanders, born in 1804 in North Carolina, listed as a son of Peter. It’s possible that Peter did have a son named Benjamin, but, if so, nothing is known about him except his name. He is certainly not the Benjamin Sanders, born in 1804 in North Carolina, who was living in Jackson County, Alabama in 1850 and in Wright County in 1860. It’s true that this Benjamin is enumerated near Peter Sanders in 1860, but it is impossible for him to have been the son of Benjamin.

There are many reasons why I know this, but let us begin with the 1917 obituary of Levi Lindsey Sanders, a blacksmith and merchant in Van Zandt County, Texas. According to information provided by Levi and included by his family in the obituary, Levi was born in 1837 in Jackson County, Alabama, and he was the son of Benjamin Sanders, Jr., and the grandson of Benjamin Sanders, Sr.:

“Levi Lindsey Sanders was born in Jackson Co., Al, February 21, 1837, his age being 79 years, 10 mos. and 17 days. He was a son of Buck Ben Sanders, a gunsmith and came of Irish Catholic ancestry, his people setting in North Carolina. Uncle Levi's paternal Grandfather was Ben Saunders, as the name was originally spelled.”
 
If we go back to the 1850 census we find Benjamin Sanders living there with his children, including his 13 year old son Levi. This Benjamin was born in 1804 in North Carolina. If we go back three years earlier in Jackson County, there is a deed by which Benjamin and his  wife, Liney (or Lynna), sold land. According to family tradition in Texas, Benjamin came from Randolph County, North Carolina. If we go back even further to 1825, there is a marriage record in Randolph County of Benjamin Sanders, Jr., and Liney Suggs. Benjamin, Sr., was the witness for the marriage bond. Everything checks out with the family tradition which holds that Benjamin, Sr., a blacksmith, moved from Randolph County and died in Jackson County, Alabama at an advanced age. In the 1840 census of Jackson County, a 70-80 year old Benjamin is listed. This is evidently the father of Benjamin, Jr.  Levi Lindsey, the grandson of Benjamin, Sr., ran away from home in the later 1850s, lived in Arkansas for a while and was living in Texas in 1860. This is why he was not living with his father and stepmother in Wright County in 1860.

In addition to the obituary of Levi Lindsey that dates to 1917, there is an even earlier published biography of one of Levi’s son that states that Levi was the son of Benjamin Sanders and that Benjamin’s father was “an Irishman from North Carolina who died in Jackson County, Alabama.” That also rules out Peter as the father of Benjamin.

All of the preceding should be sufficient proof by itself, but Justin Sanders, a descendant of Levi Lindsey Sanders, has provided even more. After Benjamin, Jr., married a woman named Intha Adeline (previously married to a man named Gifford), he had several more children and about 1858 he moved to Wright County. One of these children, Alabama Sanders (married name of Vassar) was enumerated on the 1860 census of Wright County, but she later moved to Fannin County, Texas, where she died about 1930. Among the heirs listed in her probate records were her half-nieces and nephews who were the children of Levi Lindsey Sanders of Van Zandt County.

It is evident from this that Benjamin, born 1804, living in Jackson County in 1850 and in Wright County in 1860, had no documented relation to Peter Sanders and that it is impossible for him to have been Peter’s son. It is, of course, possible that he was a cousin or a more distant relative.

Complicating matters even more is the assertion by some of the Peter Sanders researchers that Benjamin (born 1804) married Polly Moody. As we have seen, the Benjamin who was born in 1804 married Lynna Suggs, not Polly Moody, but there is a record of a Benjamin Sanders who married a Polly Moody in 1834 in Lawrence County, Tennessee. According to tradition passed down among the descendants of Polly’s sister, Edna, this Benjamin and Polly moved to Jackson County, Alabama, and all their children were born there. If we look at the 1840 census of Jackson County, there is a Benjamin Sanders living near Polly’s sister and her husband. This Benjamin was born between 1810 and 1820, and he appears to be the same person as the Benjamin Sanders, born in 1813, who is living in Jackson County in 1850 with his wife Mary and his children. Interestingly, one of the children is named Lydia, which was the name of Polly’s mother.

So, is this the Benjamin who married Polly Moody?  There is not sufficient evidence to make a final determination, but he certainly fits the description. The name “Polly” was often used as a nickname forMary in those days, so the fact that his wife was named Mary in 1850 rather than Polly may not be a serious difficulty. An alternative theory, suggested by Cal Reinecke, to whom I am indebted for much of this information, is that this Benjamin married Polly, who then died in the mid 1840s and then Benjamin married Mary.  

Apparently, Mary (or Mary Polly) died about 1851 because in 1852, this same Benjamin married  Nancy Jane Lovelady and a few years later, he and his second family, like the Benjamin born in 1804, moved to Wright County, Missouri. Descendants of this second family in Wright County confirm that Nancy Jane Lovelady was Benjamin’s wife when he lived in Wright County. Was he, then, the elusive son of Peter Sanders?

This is where things get even more complicated because it appears that he is not a son of Peter, either. According to tradition passed down among the descendants of George and Phoebe Sanders of Randolph County, North Carolina, this Benjamin  was a son of George and Phoebe, and as with the other children of this couple, they even have an exact birth date for him of June 2, 1813. This theory is augmented by the fact that George and Phoebe lived near Benjamin and his wife in 1840. In addition, if he is the son of George and Phoebe, he would be a first cousin to the Benjamin born in 1804. This would explain why he appears to be living next door to that Benjamin in 1850 and why the two of them moved to Wright County at virtually the same time. Recently, Justin Sanders has discovered that Benjamin and his second wife Nancy Jane sold land to James Bean in 1856, land that had originally been patented by George Saunders, thus adding support to the tradition that George was the father of Benjamin.

So where does this lead us with the Benjamin who was reported to be the son of Peter? Not very far in the direction of identifying him because we have no evidence for him at all. If anyone has proof for his existence, it would be helpful if they came forward with the evidence.

Justin Sanders, a descendant of Levi Lindsey visited the Wright County courthouse in 2005 and examined the probate records of his ancestor, the Benjamin born in 1804. Here are some of Justin’s comments, provided in an e-mail in April 2006:

Now my g-g-grandfather, Levi Lindsey Sanders, was born 21 Feb 1837 in Jackson Co, AL and his father's name was Benjamin and he (Benjamin) was born in Randolph Co, NC-- this comes from the bible of Levi's son Morgan G., Levi's obituary, and a biography of another of Levi's sons which was written while Levi still lived-- also, according to Levi's son, Levi's grandfather (i.e. Benjamin's father) was also named Benjamin.  So the second Benjamin (House 607) is Benjamin Jr., son of Benjamin Sr., and father of Levi L.  Matilda in the household is a daughter who married Carter Miller in 1856.  At age 20, she would have been born about 1830-- she's actually the 2nd born-- the first born is Sarah Sanders, who married Brantley N. Sanders.  Sarah Sanders was born c 1826 in NC.  Benjamin (607) would have been about 23 at the time of Sarah's birth.

NC Marriage Bonds: Benjamin Sanders Jr. to Liney Sugg, 19 May 1825, Randolph Co;      bondsman: Benjamin Sanders Senr.; wit. Thos. Hancock [Note: on the original bond at the NC Archives, Benjamin Sanders Sr. signed by mark "S"]

Liney was alive as late as 1847, since there is a deed bearing their names in Jackson Co, AL: Annie Coleman Proctor Memorial Collection (Scottsboro Public Lib), v7, pp 77 and 83 Jackson Co, Deed Bk Q p569, Benjamin Sanders & wife Linney Sanders to Moses Higginbotham, 15 Feb 1847, W1/2 of NW 1/4 of S7 T3 R6E

The two Benjamins moved to Wright Co, MO.  The younger one (47, NC, household 423) has a new wife-- Nancy J.(34, AL).  Benjamin Sanders m. Nancy J. Lovelady, 15 Apr 1852, Jackson Co, AL marriage records. The children in 1860 match the ones in 1850.  Namely Joseph (8 in 1850) is J.B.L. (18 in 1860); William (7 in 1850) is Wm. N. (17 in 1860); Rebecca (3 in 1850) is Rebecca E. (12 in 1860).  Note also that there is a son Sevier L. Sanders (age 7 in 1860) who will be important later.

This probate record confirms that the elder Benjamin (household 607 in 1850 Jackson and 440 in 1860 Wright) are one in the same and that he is the father of my Levi L. Sanders (I learned of this probate case because the attorneys for the estate sent Levi's portion to one of Levi's grandsons to be apportioned among his descendants.  I have a copy of the letter transmitting the money).

Now, what became of the two Benjamins?  The probate records of both of them are in Wright Co, MO, but they are combined in one file-- fortunately they can be separated by the name of the administrator.  The elder Benjamin (607 and 440)  died by 4 Jan 1866 when his estate was inventoried.  His administrator was William Palmer and his widow is Intha A. Sanders and the husband of his step daughter J.S. Farmer purchased the land of his estate.  Final settlement of the estate was 11 May 1870.  Unfortunately, I didn't take extensive or even careful notes of the estate of the other Benjamin (606 and 423), but his estate was probated in the early-to-mid-1870's, and his administrator was his son Sevier L. Sanders and his widow was Nancy.
--Justin Sanders

In addition to the problem with Benjamin Sanders, there is another example in which an accepted tie between Peter and another Sanders family whose descendants moved to Wright County is problematic. If we look at the data provided by most of the Peter Sanders researchers, Jesse Sanders, who was born May 17, 1780, in North Carolina and who moved to Lawrence County, Tennessee, may have been Peter’s brother. They don’t actually have evidence for this, but they assume the connection because some of Jesse’s children married into the Moody family, as did the children of Peter. But, here again, this may only mean that the two Sanders families and the Moody family were all traveling in the same pattern of migration and marriages tend to occur when families are in close proximity.

In fact, there is some evidence of a family tradition that Phoebe Sanders, the wife of Jesse Sanders, was the daughter of Joseph Sanders who died in 1805 in Randolph County, North Carolina. Phoebe is mentioned as one of the daughters in the will of Joseph Sanders and it appears she was married to a Jesse Sanders, who is also mentioned in the estate settlement. The parentage of this Jesse is not certain, but his father appears to have been Jacob Sanders who died about 1830 in nearby Montgomery County; Jesse is mentioned as an heir of Jacob in a legal document. Further confirmation that this may be the same Jesse is the names of the children of Jesse and Phoebe: Joseph (named after Phoebe’s father),  Sarah (after Phoebe’s sister), Jacob (named for Jesse’s father), George (named for Phoebe’s brother), Rebecca (named for Phoebe’s mother), Mary (named for Jesse’s mother), and Jesse (after Jesse himself). In addition, with this reconstruction, Jesse was a first cousin to Benjamin Sanders, Jr., who died in Wright County in 1866. Everything makes sense without any connection to Peter Sanders at all.  

Because the evidence regarding Jesse is more ambiguous, I can’t be as certain that he has no connection to Peter as I can with the two Benjamins, but there does not seem to be any compelling reason to think he was Peter’s relative. To clear up these ambiguities, we really need a reexamination of the evidence regarding Peter’s genealogy, his parents, his children, and his descendants. Too often, researchers have simply accepted previous research or have made easy assumptions that all Sanders in Wright County must have a connection to Peter.  I hope that someone reading this article will provide information that may help reduce the confusion that exists regarding the Sanders families of Wright County.

Additional material added on May 12, 2007:

For several years, I have thought that  Peter Sanders who appears on the 1860 Wright County, Missouri,  census must be related to  Benjamin Sanders, Jr., who is living only a couple of households away from  Peter. I now believe there is intriguing, though not conclusive, evidence that they were indeed cousins.

Jim Sanders recently sent me a copy of the 1813 will of Jane Sanders of Maury County, Tennessee. Like everyone else, I have been assuming she was the mother of Peter of Wright County. She does mention a son named Peter, and Peter is known to have lived in Maury County in 1812.  But notice a sentence in the will:

"My wish that my son William Sanders and my son Peter Sanders dies before they have heirs of their own body my wish that all my property be equally divided between my two sisters."

It seems to me the implication of this is that her sons William and Peter were young men, either unmarried or married but without any children at the time of the will. It would be an odd statement to make about Peter Sanders of Wright County. We have very good documentation that he had at least one male child in 1813 and most likely two, and there may have been female children whose names are unknown. Why would his mother doubt whether he would have "heirs of his body?"

So, in spite of her living in the same county as Peter, maybe Jane was not the mother of Peter of Wright County. And if she is not the mother of Peter, there is another possibility for his parentage.

In the 1880s Moses Martin Sanders, the grandson of the Reverend Moses Sanders, did various "ordinances" by which he baptized deceased relatives for the Mormon church. Among the relatives he mentioned were two children of his great uncle Francis Sanders. They were named Silas and Peter.

Jim Sanders has done a great deal of research on Silas Sanders who lived in Smith and Maury County, Tennessee in the 1820s. Silas later moved to Illinois and died there about 1836. Documentary evidence appears to suggest (though it's not certain) that this Silas is the same person as Silas Sanders  who lived in Franklin County, Georgia, about 1800 and who is mentioned in the minutes of the church ministered by Silas' uncle, the Reverend Moses Sanders.

Further, the Silas in Tennessee, lived from 1824-1830 in the Duck River area of Maury County, the same county where Peter of Wright County lived. Later Silas was in Jefferson County, Illinois in the 1830s, and Peter Sanders of Wright County moved to Illinois in the 1830s also. Silas seems to be related, probably a brother, to the Moses Sanders who appears on the 1840 Greene County, Arkansas census.  Moses is mentioned in a document relating to the disposal of Silas' estate in 1836. Jim Sanders believes Moses is most likely another son of Francis, and Moses was born in Georgia at a time that Francis, the brother of the Reverend Moses Sanders, was believed to be living in the state.

Peter Sanders of Wright County is known to have had a son born in 1812 in Maury County, Tennessee, in the Duck River area.  Silas had land in the Duck River area in the 1820s. Peter was living next door to Moses Sanders of Greene County in 1840. Two of Peter's sons, John Archibald and Andrew Jackson were also living in Greene County in 1840.

Further, in 1860, Peter of Wright County is living a couple of houses away from Benjamin Sanders, Jr. If Peter of Wright is really the same person as Peter, son of Francis, and if the Silas in Tennessee is the same person as the Silas living in Georgia in 1800, then Benjamin and Peter were first cousins, once removed, assuming our theories about the ancestry of Benjamin are correct, of course.
 
Peter Sanders of Wright County married Marchial, or Michelle, Tarbutton. Her family owned property in Richmond County, North Carolina, along the border with Montgomery County. So, to continue with the possibility that Peter of Wright was son of Francis, the brother of the Reverend Moses, how did Peter and Michelle meet? Peter is believed to have been born in Montgomery County, and the census appears to establish that he was born around 1780 or 1781.  Michelle was born in 1785, according to the 1850 census in North Carolina.,
 
According to an article by C. M. Wright on the Tarbutton's of North Carolina, Joseph Tarbutton II, the father of Michelle, served in a Georgia unit during the Revolutionary War and it appears his Georgia connections eventually led him to move from Richmond County, North Carolina, where he owned land near the Montgomery border, to Hall County, Georgia, just after 1812.  Hall County, of course, borders on Banks County (or Franklin from which Banks was created). Franklin is the county where the Reverend Moses Sanders lived, and several of the Reverend Moses Sanders descendants lived in Hall County.
 
I don’t consider the identification of Silas of Tennessee with Silas of Georgia the only possibility, but the paper trail certainly provides evidence for that assumption. It is to be hoped further evidence will confirm this assumption.

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Jesse Sanders of Moore County, North Carolina

The first documented record that indisputably refers to Jesse is the 1810 Moore County, North Carolina, census in which he is listed as age 26-44. Also in the household are one male child and one adult female. Through records left by his son, we know these other members of the household to be Jesse’s wife, Sally Lewis, and his son, Hardy Sanders, who was born April 16, 1807.

Researchers of this family have documented that Jesse was a Methodist circuit rider. By 1815, he owed about 260 acres of land in three tracts in Moore County. In 1819 he was postmaster for the town of Carthage, and in 1826 he was a justice of the peace. He died in 1848.

Hardy Sanders is the only known and proven child of Jesse. As mentioned previously, a male child matching the age range of Hardy appears on the 1810 census, but no child at all is listed on the 1820 census in Jesse’s household, creating something of a mystery because Hardy’s own marriage certificate states that his parents were Jesse Sanders and Sally Lewis. Perhaps Hardy was temporarily in the custody of relatives in 1820. After Sally’s death in the early 1840s, Jesse married Christian McNeil December 28, 1843, but there were no children from this union. Christian McNeil Sanders was born in 1802 and died after 1860. Like his father, Hardy became a minister, but he was also a blacksmith and at one period in his life worked as a gunsmith.

Descendants of Jesse Sanders have no authentic family tradition about their Sanders family origin. A letter written in 1953 by John Sanders (4th great grandson of Jesse) states that Jesse came from south of Raleigh, in Wake County. This statement may be based on the assumption that Jesse and his son Hardy were related to the two well known Hardy Sanders who lived in Wake around 1800.

A publication of the Moore County Historical Association states, without giving any documentation, that Hardy and his brother John came from Randolph County. This explanation is confusing, since Jesse, the father of Hardy, was already living in Moore when Hardy was born, and so far as we know, Hardy did not have a brother named John.

A log cabin built on Hardy Sanders’ homestead in Moore County and which still exists today is considered a prime example of Scottish pioneer architecture, suggesting that the family, like many others in the area, was Scots-Irish. Further, the occupations of blacksmith and gunsmith were especially common among the Scotch-Irish Saunders of nearby Randolph and Montgomery counties.

Traditionally, researchers of the Jesse Sanders line have identified his father as William Sanders of Chatham County. The most extensive research done on the William Sanders line was by the late R.S. Sanders in his book, Ancestors and Descendants of Henry Simeon Sanders (1983). It should be noted, however, that R.S. Sanders himself did not identify Jesse's father as William of Moore County.

William Sanders was born about 1740 and died in July 1790 in Chatham County, North Carolina. Wills and other documents show that he had a son named Jesse. A 1796 court record refers to a guardian being appointed for this Jesse; therefore we know he could not have been born before 1776. A Jesse Sanders appears on the 1800 census of Chatham as age 16 to 26. Because he was head of a household, he was most likely between 21 and 26 in 1800, but because he could not have been born before 1776 (if so he would have been over 21 in 1796), he was probably born between 1776 and 1779. In 1804, Jesse appears to have sold all the land he inherited, and he then disappeared from Chatham County records. Some William Sanders researchers think he may have moved to Oglethorpe County, Georgia, as did some of his brothers.

Jesse of Moore County is listed on the 1810 census as age 26-44 (born 1766-1784) , on the 1820 census as over 45 (born before 1775), and on the 1830 and 1840 census as born between 1770-1780. Therefore we know he as born between 1770 and 1775, and it appears unlikely he can be the same fellow as the orphan  son of William mentioned in the 1796 record in Chatham County. An orphan has to be under 21. In fact, even if he was nineteen or twenty years old in 1796, it appears unlikely Jesse of Chatham would have needed a guardian. William Brewer, a descendant of Jesse Sanders of Moore County, recognized this problem in his notes on his ancestor: "Some of the research that has been done points to the 1796 guardianship hearing that indicates Jesse was no more than sixteen (the legal age not needing a guardian to be appointed) as the basis for establishing his birth date as no earlier than 1780." The obvious conclusion from the census data and the court data seems to be that Jesse of Moore was born between 1770 and 1775 and Jesse of Chathham was born between 1776 and 1779, or perhaps even later if he was under sixteen in 1796.


Because Jesse of Chatham County leaves no records after 1804 and Jesse of neighboring Moore County appears in the 1810 census and because they were both about the same age, many researchers have concluded they were the same person.There is no documentation or valid family tradition supporting this conclusion, but it did seem to be a valid possibility until a DNA test in 2008 provided contrary data.

The individual who participated in the DNA test is a direct Sanders descendant of Jesse of Moore County through his son Hardy and through Hardy’s son Brittian.The documentation for this descent is solid. Surprisingly, the result is not a match with the descendants of William Sanders of Chatham (who have also participated in the test) but with the Saunders family of neighboring Randolph and Montgomery counties. Therefore, unless there is some unfathomable problem with the DNA test itself, the evidence is conclusive that Jesse of Chatham County cannot be the same person as Jesse of Moore. We have to look to Randolph and Montgomery counties to find the father of Jesse of Moore County.

Establishing likely candidates for the parentage of Jesse of Moore is not easy, although there are several individuals who can be tentatively identified as possibilities. Below, I will briefly discuss each one of them. In compiling this list, it was necessary to choose only those individuals from the Randolph and Montgomery Sanders line who were old enough to be the father of Jesse and who were known to be living in Anson County in the 1770s when Jesse was born. Anson is the county from which Randolph and Montgomery were formed. Of course, there is also the possibility that Jesse was the son of a member of the Randolph/Montgomery line who, for one reason or another, never appeared in any land or legal record in Anson County. We know there were Sanders from this line living in Fairfax and Loudoun in Virginia and in South Carolina during this period, and Jesse could have been from those states.

Nevertheless, below are the Sanders living in Anson in the 1770s who are of the right age to be the father of Jesse. The dates of birth and death given below are, in most cases, estimates. All these Sanders, except Daniel,George, David, and Thomas, are proven through DNA testing to have been related to each other.

William Aaron Saunders (1735-1782).  Four children are documented (Stephen, Luke, Sally, Nimrod), and it is unlikely that he had additional sons or daughters.

Moses Sanders (1742-1817). His children are listed in his will, so Jesse can be ruled out as his son.

Francis Sanders (1755-1820). The number of his children is not known, but two of them are documented as Peter and Silas. He probably had other children named Sarah, Moses, and Francis. We can’t rule out the possibility that Jesse is his son, but Francis appears to have moved to Georgia by 1798, at a time when Jesse may have been a minor. In 1790 he was in Wilkes County instead of Randolph or Montgomery.

Isaac Saunders (1737-1825). Isaac was the brother of William Aaron, Moses, and Francis. He was probably living in Cumberland (he bought property there in 1780) in the 1770s but was in Montgomery in 1782, when he appears on a tax list. He is also mentioned as an adjacent landowner in a 1794 Montgomery County deed to George Sugg. He is mentioned as a chain bearer for a survey in November 1798 of land purchased in Montgomery County by Benjamin Sanders, and he appears on the 1800 census of Randolph County. My research (Isaac was my third great grandfather-gs) indicates that Jacob (1760), Benjamin (1766), and Francis (1782) were his sons. He may also have been the father of Isaac (1763-1845), Mary Katherine (1765-1809), and a son named Joseph (dates unknown). A letter written in the 1890s mentions only three sons, though the letter doesn’t state these were the only sons in the family.

George Sanders (1750?).  George may or may not have been a brother of William Aaron, Moses, Francis, and Isaac. He appears to have been of the same generation, but he does not appear in any records after the 1783, when his land boundary is used as a reference for a grant to Reuben Sanders. This Reuben may have been the son of George. Joshua and James Sanders were listed as chain bearers on this grant, and they may also be sons of George. George would be old enough to be the father of Jesse, but the other three were probably too young to have children born in the 1770s.

Nathaniel Sanders (1740?). Nathaniel acquired a tract in 1766 on Buffalo Creek near Little River. He seems to have some connection to William Sanders who first acquired land in 1757 in Anson County.

James Sanders (1740-1810). James seems to have been the son of William Sanders of Anson County. The assumed children of James (James, Jr., Jeffrey, and William Moses) were born in the late 1760 or the 1770s. James died in Spartanburg, South Carolina,  but his whereabouts in the 1780s and 1790s are somewhat obscure, although his son James, Jr., is listed on the 1790 Montgomery County census.

Patrick Sanders (1735-1805). Patrick was probably the brother of James and a son of William of Anson. His reputed sons (Patrick, Elias, and William A.) were all born in the 1770s. By 1782, Patrick was in Rutherford County, North Carolina. Like his brother James, Patrick was in Spartanburg, South Carolina by 1800.

Daniel Sanders (1738-1780). Daniel is a mystery. A Daniel Sanders appears on the 1759 Rowan County tax list and on the 1779 Montgomery County tax list. These may actually be different individuals. However, the Daniel Sanders on the 1779 list was certainly old enough in the 1770s to have sons.  He may be the same person who signed the Regulators Petition of 1768. There was also a Captain Daniel Sanders who was living in Wake County, North Carolina, about 1780.

Thomas Elick Sanders. He signed the 1768 Regulators Petition of Alamance. Although Hardy Sanders and Lucy Utley of Wake County had a son named Elick, their son appears too young to be the same person as the one who signed the petition.

William Sanders. The William who signed the 1768 Regulators Petition could be either William who married Susan or the William who died in Chatham County in 1790.  Either way, we can probably rule him out as Jesse's father.

In reviewing this list, we can eliminate William Aaron and Moses , William, and probably Francis as possible fathers of Jesse, but all the others are still candidates. If George or Daniel  were the father of Jesse, then he was probably an orphan and was raised by someone other than his father because these Sanders men don’t appear in any records during the years of Jesse’s childhood. That leaves Isaac, Patrick, James, and Thomas as possibilities, though one or more objections could be raised to any one of these as the father of Jesse.

Of the Sanders or Saunders we have examined, the one who seems the most likely father of Jesse is Isaac of Randolph. We can rule out most of the others because we already know who their sons were or their parenthood seems unlikely because they don’t appear to be in the vicinity when Jesse was a child.

In assessing parenthood issues in genealogy, naming patterns are sometimes helpful. Unfortunately, Jesse had only one son, Hardy, and the name Hardy is not common among the Sanders of Randolph and Montgomery. According to various sources I consulted, Hardy had the following sons: Jesse, Benjamin (died in infancy), Brittian, Isham, Simon, and John.  Of these names, Jesse, Benjamin and John are common among the Randolph and Montgomery Sanders group and Isham was not unknown. My father and grandfather were both named Jesse, for example. The name Brittian brings up a connection that may or may not be relevant.

Britton L. Sanders was born in 1809, presumably in Montgomery County. According to tradition among his descendants, he had a brother named Bryan. His parents are unknown, but he did have business dealings with Aaron H. Sanders, son of Luke Sanders and grandson of William Aaron Saunders. He named one of his children Aaron. Britton was most likely a cousin to Aaron H. Sanders, but the exact relationship is unknown. Possibly, he was a son of Stephen Saunders, Luke’s brother. In the 1810 census, however, no son under ten is listed in Stephen's household. Possibly, the infant was temporarily living with another family member. There is a male in the 1810 household who could be the other brother, Bryan. In 1832, Britton married Lydia Yow of Moore County, North Carolina.

Like Hardy Sanders of Moore County, Britton was a gunsmith. His rifles were highly prized for their skilled craftsmanship. Of course, blacksmiths were as common in those days as automobile mechanics are today, but, nevertheless, occupations were often passed down from father to son or to other male relatives. Benjamin Sanders, son of the the Isaac Saunders living in Randolph in 1800, was a blacksmith and/or gunsmith, as were two of his sons, William, and Benjamin, Jr.

Isaac was a brother to William Aaron, Moses, and Francis. Although he was living in Montgomery County in 1782, we don’t have any  records for him between 1782 and 1794 when he is referenced in a deed to George Sugg as one of Sugg's neighbors. By 1800 he was living in Randolph County where he listed in the census as over forty-five years old. In 1806  Isaac Saunders of Randolph County transferred  a one acre tract, including a mill site, to Benjamin Sanders of Montgomery County. This mill may be of more significance than it appears. In article titled, “A slice of history,” issued by the Moore County Historical Association, May 2007, p. 7, I found the following written by William D. Brewer, a descendant of Jesse: “First, you will find Sanders and Saunders used interchangeably, often in the same generation (the Saunders usually drove newer cars). The first Saunders of record in Moore County was Isaac who bought land and a mill on upper Tillis (now Mill) Creek near present day Rt. 211 west of Eagle Springs. He disappears by the time of the 1790 census.” 


The mill site that Isaac owned in Moore County is  described in more detail at  Carol Vidales' Web site: "On 4 Feb 1765 Richard Tullos of Anson Co. NC bought 200 acres of land nd a mill in Cumberland County, NC from John Smith, Sandhill. Rassie E. Wicker, in his book MISCELLANEOUS ANCIENT RECORDS OF MOORE COUNTY, NC (1971), page 357, wrote this about Richard Tullos (or Tillis): "The late Neill Dowd who, until his death a few years ago, lived on this land, told the writer that it was said that Tillis attempted to improve his mill by the construction of a flume or ditch along the rocky bank of the creek, to a point downstream where a great head could be secured. The work progressed until a particularly refractory ledge of rock was encountered. In a bull-headed attempt to remove this obstruction, Tillis spent all his means and finally committed suicide. The writer has seen the traces of this flume, and the obstruction which defeated Tillis' efforts. On February 10th, 1780, Elizabeth, Temple and Willoby Tillis conveyed this land and mill to Isaac Saunders." (I don't know if Richard Tullos really committed suicide. Elizabeth Tullos appears on the 1782 tax list for Anson County, and on the 1783 census for Duplin Co. NC. Temple and Willoughby Tullos are also heads of household in the 1783 Duplin Co. census.)" 


Moore County was formed from Cumberland County in 1784. According to a letter written in the 1890s to one of Isaac's descendants, the Isaac Saunders who later lived in Randolph County was the “first man to build a house at Cross Creek.” Cross Creek is at the site of present day Fayetteville in Cumberland County. Isaac seems to have been living in Cumberland County from about 1760 until after he acquired  the land  in 1780 on Tillis Creek in the part of Cumberland that later would become Moore County. In 1782 he was listed  as owning land in Montgomery County. Like the other Saunders of Montgomery County, his land was near the Randolph border.

We don't really know the history of land transactions concerning the land Isaac bought in 1780. William Brewer, in his notes on Jesse Sanders, points out that many of the land records of Moore were lost in an 1889 fire, but the 1815 tax list survives and shows that Jesse owned several portion of land. He seems to have acquired other tracts over the years. Shortly before his death in 1848, Jesse sold a tract of 200 acres to Joseph Deaton. After a digression concerning the birth years of Jesse and his wife, William Brewer continues: "This probably has no relevance, but on page 357 of Wicker's book: on February 10, 1780, the Tillis family conveyed this land and mill (on upper Mill Creeek near Highway 211) to Isaac Saunders. Saunders supposedly later sold it to a Sowell." The mill that Isaac owned was several miles from the area where Jesse lived.
 
We have no documentary evidence that the Isaac who owed a mill in Moore County is the same Isaac Saunders who owed a mill in Randolph, but this conclusion is the most logical one to be drawn from the available records.The evidence that Isaac is the father of Jesse is stronger than the evidence that anyone else is the father of Jesse. We know there was an Isaac Saunders owning land in Cumberland (Moore) County during Jesse’s childhood and we know of no other Sanders who lived in the area at that time. We know there was an Isaac Sanders in Randolph who once lived in Cumberland County. We know the descendants of Isaac of Randolph share the same Y-DNA as the descendants of Jesse. Further, Isaac’s oldest son Jacob named his first son Jesse, which would fit with the theory that Jacob was the brother of Jesse Sanders of Moore County.

Jim Sanders, in his booklet The Sanders Families of Montgomery County, North Carolina, mentions that a Jesse Sanders was a chain carrier for a survey for Little Berry Hicks on Spencer Creek on February 18, 1787. Spencer Creek flows into the Uwharrie river south of the mouth of Barnes Creek. Most of the Saunders of Montgomery lived near Barnes Creek, and the Hicks survey was about five miles south of the Saunders property. When I first read this description a few years ago, my first thought was that this Jesse was the same person as Jesse, son of Jacob, and grandson of Isaac Saunders. Jesse, the son of Jacob, was born May 17, 1780 and is one of the few Saunders of that time for whom we have an exact birth date.

There is a problem, however, with this identification: Jesse, the son of Jacob, was six years old in February of 1787, and carrying a thirty-three to sixty-six foot chain was not a task usually entrusted to a six year old child. Yet, because, I didn't know of any other related Jesse Saunders who would  have been old enough to be a chain carrier in 1787, I put my reservations aside until recently when I began to research Jesse of Moore County. The solution is easy if Jesse, the chain carrier in Montgomery County, was the same person who later moved to Moore County. In 1787,  he would have been twelve to seventeen years old.  It was not at all unusual during that period for teenagers to be chain carriers for surveys on the land of relatives. Therefore, I think it likely that the chain bearer on the 1787 survey is Jesse Sanders, who later moved to Moore County.


In summary, we can establish that there are no major objections to identifying Isaac as the father of Jesse of Moore County. We can establish that there were occupations shared by the Jesse Sanders line and by the Randolph/Montgomery line, and we can identify some similarities in given names. We  recognize the DNA evidence that shows these two lines to be related. What we cannot do, at the present time, is identify with certainty the father of Jesse Sanders of Moore County. Nevertheless, I believe there is enough documentation to assign tentative status to Isaac Saunders of Randolph as that father.

--Gary Sanders
December 8, 2008

In researching this article, I have relied heavily on these sources:
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                              Elijah Greenville Sanders

The case of the three wives of Elijah Greenville Sanders of Jackson County, Alabama, may not have the high drama of the story of the six wives of Henry VIII but it has been a perplexing riddle to me for many years. There is conflicting family tradition about the wives and children of Elijah and I believe the solution is that there was not one but several Elijah G. Sanders who lived in Jackson County in the latter part of the nineteenth century and all of them may have been named Elijah Greenville Sanders. (Elijah's father was also named Elijah G. Sanders (1804-1858), but is not discussed here. He was the son of Francis and Rachel Sanders).
 
The first Elijah (born 1830) appears on the Jackson County census of 1860 with wife Martha J (born 1828) and with children Martha 11, Elizabeth 9, Rosannah 7, William 5, and Margaret 1. This Elijah apparently served in the Union Army during the Civil War in Company A, first Alabama Cavalry, the same unit as the second Elijah G. Sanders.  This first Elijah died after 1862 because his widow, Martha, appears on the 1870 Jackson County census with her children William 14, Margaret 10, and Lemuel 8. Martha is listed as a widow in 1880, also, and living with her are her children William 22, Margaret 19, and Lemuel 16.
 
The second Elijah, usually called Elijah Greenville Sanders, was, according to family tradition that appears solid, the grandson of Francis and Rachel Sanders. He first appears in Jackson County in 1853 when he marries Ann Sanders. For a long time,it was believed he was not enumerated on the 1860 census, but he is there after all, but under the surname of "Sandro," apparently an error on the part of the census taker.We don't have unquestionable evidence for the parentage of Ann but I think her parents were probably William and Martha Sanders who moved from Jackson County to Montgomery County, Arkansas in the 1850s.
 
If Ann is the daughter of William and Martha, she had a brother named Elijah and I think that brother is probably the Elijah who appears on the 1860 Jackson County census with his wife M. J. Subsequent census records reveal that her first name was Martha. William's son Elijah was reported as dead by the time of an 1871 estate settlement and this matches what we know of the Elijah who married Martha before 1860 because we have a documentary record that he died on October 17, 1864.  Further, Ann who married Elijah is the same Ann as the  daughter of William and Martha, she  also had a nephew named Elijah G. Sanders, born in 1856, and I think this nephew is the Elijah G. Sanders who married Elizabeth Berry on March 12, 1875. Therefore there were three Elijah G. Sanders, and the middle name of all of them may have been Greenville.
 
Going back to Elijah Greenville Sanders, the one who married Ann in 1853, I recently received a copy of his Civil War pension file and from this record, it's possible to reconstruct a biography of his life.
 
This is what the pension file reveals about Elijah Greenville Sanders:
 
Born April 8, 1833 in Jackson County, Alabama.
Died  August 18, 1925, last residence Hazel Green, Madison County, Alabama.
Enlisted August 28, 1863, discharged June 16, 1864.
Served in Co. A.1 Ala. Vidette Vol. Cavalry rank of Sergeant.
First applied for a pension in 1888.
Moved to Lincoln County, Tennessee, from Jackson County on January 4, 1901.
Lived at Trenton in Jackson County at the time of his enlistment
 
Married three times:
 
1. to Annie B. Sanders March 29, 1853, Scotsboro, Jackson County, Alabama, married by Isaac Tenney. Annie died February 28, 1875
2. to  Lizzie Gibson. She died April 4, 1880. [The pension file doesn't give the date of marriage, only her name, but I believe she appears in the marriage records as Frances Elizabeth Gibson and the marriage occurred on July 15, 1875]
3. to Martha Jane Scott. on October 4, 1884. She was married previously on June 4, 1875 to Henry Berry who died April 11, 1878.
 
Children of Elijah Greenville, living and dead, from affidavit from 1915:
A. E. J. Sanders,  Sept. 26th 1854
L. P. (C?) Sanders,  February 9, 1856
J. W. Sanders,  August 12, 1859
H. M. Sanders,  April  9, 1862
M. C.,  Jan. 4,  1866
F. M. Sanders,  Nov. 13, 1870
B. O. Sanders,  Dec 30, 1872
James A. (H?) Sanders,  September 6, 1876
 
I believe some of these birth dates conflict with the census data and here are the dates I think more likely:
 
Children of ELIJAH SANDERS and ANN SANDERS are:
            i.          AILSEY ALICE E. J. SANDERS, b. September 26, 1854, Jackson County, Alabama; d. Bef. 1898, Jackson County, Alabama (probably).
            ii.          LUCRESA SANDERS, b. February 09, 1856, Jackson County, Alabama; d. Bef. 1898, Jackson County, Alabama (probably).
            iii.         JOHN W SANDERS, b. August 12, 1859, Jackson County, Alabama; d. January 12, 1913, Jackson County, Alabama;
            iv.         H. M. SANDERS, b. April 09, 1862, Jackson County, Alabama; d. Bef. 1870, Jackson County, Alabama.
            v.         MARY CALEDONIA SANDERS, b. January 04, 1864, Jackson County, Alabama; d. Bef. 1909, Jackson County, Alabama
            vi.         FRANCIS MARION FRANK SANDERS, b. January 1868, Jackson County, Alabama; d. January 20, 1954, Jackson County, Alabama
            vii.        BENJAMIN OLIVER SANDERS, b. December 30, 1872, Jackson  County, Alabama; d. February 12, 1935, Jackson County, Alabama.
 
Further, I no longer regard Rachel Addy Catherine Sanders, born 1880, as a child of  Elijah.  She married William A. Mashburn in 1896, and according to Web accounts, the marriage took place at her father's house. It now appears her father was the Elijah G. Sanders who married Elizabeth Berry.
 
Children of Elijah Greenville Sanders listed as living in an affidavit from 1898:
 
John W. Sanders born August 12, 1859,
Mary C. Kimbrough born January 4, 1866
Frank M. Sanders born Nov. 13, 1870
Ben O. Sanders born December 30th 1872
James A. Sanders born Sept. 6th 1876
 
Personal description at time of enlistment in 1863:
5 feet 10 inches dark complexion, blue eyes, black hair, occupation of farmer.
 
Elijah could not read or write and signed with an "x' mark on his affidavits.
 
An affidavit in support of Elijah's claim was signed by Carroll Jackson Brewer who said he had known Elijah since 1850, that he lived within two miles of Elijah and that he had conversed with Elijah 2-5 times per week except when Elijah was in the Army. This probably indicates that Elijah was in Jackson County by 1850. Other affidavits were signed by Benjamin R. Brewer and Richmond Fowler and by his personal physician, James O. Robertson. There are a couple of attached affidavits by his son Francis M. Sanders. 
 
When I ordered this military pension file, I thought I was getting the file of the widow's pension application of Martha Sanders, widow of the first Elijah, but what I got was the pension application of Elijah Greenville. I'm continuing to research the other Elijahs of  Jackson County, and I welcome any comments, corrections, or suggestions.

As mentioned previously, I believe the Elijah Sanders with wife M.J. on the 1860 Jackson County census is the son of William and Martha  Sanders who were in Jackson County in 1850 and in Montgomery County, Arkansas in 1860. William was by occupation a blacksmith and he appears to be the half-brother of my great-grandfather Isaac who was also living in Montgomery County in 1860. Here is some of the information I have about this family:

WILLIAM SANDERS (BENJAMIN3, ISAAC2 SAUNDERS, JOHN1) was born 1789 in Montgomery County, North Carolina, and died before 1872 in Montgomery County, Arkansas. He married MARTHA T. UNKNOWN. She was born 1812 in Virginia, and died after 1860 in Montgomery County, Arkansas.

Children of WILLIAM SANDERS and MARTHA UNKNOWN are:

ELIJAH SANDERS,  who may have been the oldest son, born about 1830. Elijah is mentioned as a son in the 1871 settlement of  William's estate. The document also states that Elijah was deceased.  I think he is the same Elijah who appears on the 1860 census of Jackson County with a wife named M.J. We know that this Elijah died October 17, 1864  because, as a Union veteran, a tombstone was purchased  after the Civil War by the federal government for his grave. His wiidow Martha appears on the 1870 and 1880 census, where she is listed as a widow. According to descendants of this Elijah, his middle name was  also Greenville.

JOSEPH SANDERS, b. 1832, Jackson County, Alabama; d. Bef. October 1872, Montgomery County, Arkansas; m. LUCINDA UNKNOWN; b. Abt. 1836, Alabama; d. Aft. 1873. Joseph was also dead by the time of the estate settlement but his son Elijah G. Sanders, born 1856, moved back to Jackson County and married Elizabeth Berry in 1875. Joseph served in the Montgomery County Hunters unit during the Civil War with the sons of my great grandfather Isaac Sanders.

MARY LUCRECIA SANDERS, b. Abt. 1833, Jackson County, Alabama; d. Bet. 1872 - 1875, Jackson County, Alabama; m. CARROLL JACKSON BREWER, Abt. 1851, Jackson County, Alabama?; b. February 20, 1834, Alabama; d. Aft. 1880, Jackson County, Alabama. John Sanders, of course, stated that Lucrecia was his half-niece, which indicates that William, her father, was John's half-brother.

HIRAM SANDERS, b. 1836, Jackson County, Alabama. Hiram must have died before 1872 without issue because he is not mentioned in the estate settlement.

JOHN B. SANDERS, b. 1837, Jackson County, Alabama. 

 ANN SANDERS, b. 1839, Jackson County, Alabama. She is mentioned in the estate settlement  of 1872 as being married to an Elijah Sanders. I think her husband is the same person as Elijah Greenville Sanders and that she is the same person as the "Fannie" who appears on the census of 1870 as Elijah's wife. There is also a Jackson County marriage record that Elijah Greenville Sanders married  Ann Sanders  in 1853 and the pension file states that Elijah's first wife was named Ann Sanders. The birth years for William's daughter and for Elijah's wife are both 1838-1839. For these reason I feel that Ann, daughter of William, is the same person as Ann, wife of Elijah Greenville. Further, Carroll Jackson Brewer married William's daughter Lucretia and C.J. Brewer also signed an affidavit for the pension file of Elijah Greenville. I think C.J. Brewer was married to Ann's sister Lucrecia and he was therefore Elijah Greenville's brother-in-law.

 MARTHA JANE SANDERS, b. 1841, Jackson County, Alabama; d. Bef. 1872, Montgomery County, Arkansas?; m. JOHN MAYBERRY, March 25, 1860, Montgomery County, Arkansas. She was dead by the time of her father's estate settlement but it was her surviving husband, John Mayberry, who made the petition on behalf of their children, as heirs of William to sell  William's estate at auction.  According to Shirley Manning of Mena, Arkansas, the site of the property is now under Lake Ouachita.

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 Recent DNA Test Results  

For a more technical perspective on DNA testings, see the article "Welcome to Genetic Testing" at GeneticsAnd.US. Below I will summarize the results of the Sanders DNA project. Our tests have producted significant changes in our perspectives on the Sanders of Randolph and Montgomery counties.

Early research indicated that that a descendant of Francis Sanders (born about 1755), brother of the  Reverend Moses Sanders, appeared to have a DNA match with descendants of Benjamin Sanders and Isaac Sanders of Jackson County, Alabama. This match occurred with what is called the twelve marker test. In the spring of 2006, an upgrade was done to the thirty-seven marker test, and the participant did not match the descendants of Benjamin and Isaac. In March 2008, the DNA lab re-analyzed the test and concluded that there was a match after all. There appears to be a pretty solid paper trail from Francis, brother of the Reverend Moses, to the participant, and therfore the March 2008 results are gratifying. Further information about the paper trail can be found in an article written by Jim Sanders for a series of Jefferson County, Illinois family histories. Based on this example, Justin Sanders, administrator of the Sanders DNA project, suggests caution in accepting DNA tests that run counter to solid paper trails.

A test that was completed in July 2006 established that  Benjamin Saunders/Sanders who lived in Montgomery and  Randolph counties in North Carolina and later in Jackson County, Alabama, is from the same Sanders line as a descendant of William Aaron Saunders of Montgomery County. This result offers further evidence that Benjamin is the same person as the "Ben Saunders" mentioned in the letter written by Thomas Bailey Saunders in the 1890s. This letter is described in more detail elsewhere at this Web site. Justin Sanders has provided further analysis of this  DNA test in a posting in the Sanders DNA-L forum.

A further test in August 2006 established that Francis Sanders(1782-about 1860) of Randolph County, North Carolina, and Jackson County, Alabama, is also from the same Sanders line as Benjamin and William Aaron. The suggestion presented in this Web page is that Francis and Benjamin were probably brothers, and though DNA testing cannot prove their fraternity, the results so far are fully compatible with the possibility.  

A test in November 2006 shows that James Sanders (about 1740-about 1810) belongs to the same line.  According to family tradition passed down among his descendants, James was of Scottish ancestry. James appears to have had a brother named Patrick and a sister named Sarah, and  these siblings may have been the children of William and Susannah Sanders who first appear in the tax list of 1764 in Anson County, North Carolina.  Many of James' relatives moved to Spartanburg, South Carolina and later to Rutherford County, North Carolina.

Tests completed between October 2007 and February 2008  provide evidence that  descendants of John and David Sanders, sons of the Reverend Moses Sanders, match the descendants of William Aaron and Isaac. A test completed in the spring of 2008 reveals that Jesse Sanders (1775-1848) of Moore County, North Carolina is related to the Sanders of Randolph and Montgomery. A test done in 2010 shows that descendants of John W. Sanders (1812-1869) match the others. A test done in 2012 shows a DNA match with descendants of William Sanders(about 1797-1870, Cumberland County, Illinois. This participant was a descendant of William's son Avis Sanders (1820-after 1880).  A test in April 2012 revealed a match with George W. Sanders of Mississippi. A test done in December 2013 shows that  Henry Sanders of Texas matches. So far as I can tell, our Sanders family has probably had more participants in Y-DNA testing than any other Sanders family.

Summary of DNA Testing on branches of the Randolph/Mongomery line 

Moses Sanders  (1742-1817).  Tests have been done on decendants of two of his sons: John Sanders (1787,NC-1848, Tishomingo County, Mississippi) and David Sanders (1775,NC-1815, New Orleans). The participant from John's line was a descendant of John's son, Josiah Hardin Sanders (1829-1863). There have been at least two tests on descendants of David Sanders, one on descendants of David's son William Hamilton Sanders (1805-1836), and one on a descendans of David's son Moses Martin Sanders (1803-1878). 

Francis Sanders (about 1755-about 1820). Tests have been done of descendants of his son Silas Sanders (1785,NC-1836,Jefferson County, Illinois). One test was on a descendant of Francis' son Silas through Silas' son Theophilus (1814, Tennessee-1894, Colorado). Another test was on a descendant of Silas' son Thomas G. Sanders (1813, Tennessee-1889, Illinois).

William Aaron Saunders (1735, NC-1783). A test has been done on a descendant of his son Nimrod (1780, NC-1860, Alabama).

Isaac Saunders (1737-1825). Three tests have been done on two descendants of Isaac's son Benjamin (1766, NC-1849, Alabama) and these are especially close matches. Two were of descendants of Benjamin's son, Benjamin, Jr.(1804-1866) and one was on a descendant of Benjamin's son Isaac (1817-after 1880). Two tests have been done on descendants of the older Isaac's son Francis (1782-about 1860). One was on a descendant of Francis' son John Francis Sanders (1805-1875) and one was on a descendant of Francis' son William Patrick Sanders (1819-about 1865). A test was done in September 2010 on a descendant of Sampson Saunders, son of Jacob, son of Isaac(1737-1825). In January 2014 a test was completed on another son of Jacob, Jesse Sanders(1780-1839), who moved to Lawrence County, Tennessee.

Jesse Sanders (1775,NC-1848, Moore County, North Carolina). Isaac Saunders may be his father, as Issac is known to have lived in the area that became Moore County at about the same time Jesse was born. (1 test)

Lewis Sanders (about 1690-about 1760, Fairfax, Virginia). There has been one test on a descendant of Lewis and Lewis may very well be the grandfather of the four brothers of Anson. The participant was a descendant of Lewis' son Benjamin (about 1724-about 1793).

James Sanders (1740-1810, Spartanburg, South Carolina). James appears to be a son of William Sanders (about 1705-about 1769) and William may be a brother of Lewis of Fairfax, Virginia. (1 test)

James Sanders (about 1770-about 1820, Madison County, Kentucky). This James may be a son of the James who died in Spartanburg, South Carolina). (1 test)

Robert Sanders (1801, NC-1882, Izzard County, Arkansas). Robert was born in North Carolina, possibly in Randolph County. He married Mary Haney about 1849 and the first record of him is the 1850 census. He and his family moved to Izard County, Arkansas, in the late 1850s, and he died there in 1882. We have no information on his parents. (1 test)

John W. Sanders (1812-1869). John W. lived in Polk County, Tennessee and in Gilmer and Fannin County, Georgia. The test was on a descendant of John's son, Jesse Berry Sanders (1850-1930).There is no paper trail from John W. back to any of the four brothers or to Lewis Sanders. (1 test)

William Sanders(about 1797 NC-1870. Cumberland County, Illinois). This participant was a descendant of William's son Avis Sanders (1820-after 1880). We have no paper trail back to the four brothers or to Lewis Sanders on this connection. 

George W. Sanders (1785, Virginia--1852, Winston County, Mississippi). George may have been a son of Isaac Sanders of Leake County, Mississippi. (1 test)

Henry Lafayette Sanders (born about 1854, death date unknown but after 1893). Henry Lafayette Sanders is first documented in his 1878 marriage to Mollie Melvina Slaughter in Burnet County, Texas in 1878. One possibility is that he may be the same person as Henry Sanders, the son of Thomas Jefferson Sanders of Winston  County, Mississippi. In addition to the Y-DNA test, an autosomal DNA test has confirmed a close cousin relationship between a Sanders descendant of Thomas Jefferson and a Sanders descendant of Henry Lafayette, but no paper trail has been established. (1 Y-DNA test, 1 autosomal test)

Jesse Holloway (1808, KY-1883, Lawrence County, Tennesee). This is a somewhat anomalous situation is that a presumed descendant of Jesse Holloway is a match to the Sanders of Randolph and Montgomery. We don't have enough documentation at the current time to tell whether the line of descent goes back to Jesse Holloway and if he was a biological Sanders or if one of his presumed descendants was actually fathered by a Sanders. These Holloways were close associates of the descendants of Jesse Sanders (1780, NC-1839, Lawrence County, Tennessee). Jesse was the son of Jacob Saunders and a grandson of Isaac, brother of the Reverend Moses Sanders. A Holloway descendant matches on 67 out of 67 markers with a descendant of Jesse Sanders and Jesse may very well have been the ancestor of the Holloway who took the test. 

Another anomalous match is with a descendant of William Davis and Elizabeth Bishop who were living in Utah in the 1850s not far from Moses Martin Sanders, grandson of the Reverend Moses Sanders. There is no paper trail, and It is possible that the geographical proximity is a coincidence and the common ancestor may actually have lived centuries ago, even before surnames were adopted.

Summary of DNA Testing of the Randolph/Chatham line

DNA testing has shown that all the following  men have a common Sanders ancestor:

Joseph Sanders                         1755, NC--1803, Randolph County, NC

William Sanders                        1740, NC--1790, Chatham County, NC (Chatham County borders on Randolph)

With this group we have no paper trail that would indicate the common ancestor of the group. We do know, however, that descendants of Joseph Sanders intermarried into the Sanders line of the four brothers (Aaron, Moses, Isaac, and Francis) even though these were two separate Sanders lines and not derived from a common male Sanders ancestor. Descendants of this second group matched each other more closely than the descendants of the first group matched. This may indicate that the the other line was more susceptible to mutations. It is possible that Joseph and William were brothers given the geographical proximity and the age range. 

(article revised, February 3, 2014)

FamilyTreeDNA  is the sponsor of the Sanders DNA project. 

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James Sanders (1740-1810) of Montgomery County
--Research Problems   


DNA tests confirm that James Sanders, Sr., was from the same Sanders line as the four brothers of Randolph and Montgomery. James was probably born before 1740 because he bought land in Anson County, North Carolina in 1761, and he must have been of age in the year he purchased the land.  Like the Reverend Moses Sanders, James and his sons and his brother appear to have been more peripatetic than other members of the Montgomery County Sanders because they appear on the land records of several counties, and it’s likely they owned land in more than one county at a time. It’s often difficult to determine exactly where they were living at a particular time, but it appears that James moved, possibly temporarily, to Rutherford County, North Carolina about 1783, and that he died in Spartanburg, South Carolina, about 1810.

Other than the DNA evidence, the only documentation that connects James of Montgomery to the four brothers group is that a James Sanders (possibly, James, Jr., son of James, Sr.) owned land on Barnes Creek near the other Sanders in the 1790s. There is no direct proof, but James’ parents may have been William and Susan Sanders who first appear on the 1764 Anson County records as exempt from taxes due to age and infirmity. There is also an interesting confirmed DNA connection between James of Montgomery and a James who was the father of David Sanders, born September 23, 1803 in York County, South Carolina. York County, which is near Spartanburg where James of Montgomery died, was also the home to Mary Katherine Saunders and her husband, George Suggs. Before the move to York County, George Suggs owed land adjacent to Isaac Saunders in Randolph County, North Carolina, and Isaac may have been the father of Mary Katherine. Isaac, of course, was the brother of William Aaron and the Reverend Moses Sanders. How James Sanders of York was related to James Sanders of Montgomery and to the four brothers group is unknown, but the DNA results are conclusive that they share a common Sanders ancestor.

According to an old family tradition passed down through the descendants of James’ son and grandson, William Moses Sanders and Greenberry Sanders, James of Montgomery was from Scotland, although one variant of the tradition states that he came to this country from England. These traditions are not mutually exclusive because most Scottish emigrants probably embarked from English ports. In 1905 Greenberry Sanders wrote a brief note about his ancestry for the benefit of his children. Jo Sparks, who has done extensive research on the descendants of James, has posted a copy of this note at RootsWeb.

The Scottish ancestry is not surprising because much of the Hillsborough/Anson/Rowan area of North Carolina was settled by pioneers from Scotland and Northern Ireland in the 1750s. Descendants of Joseph Sanders of Randolph, whose children married into the four brothers group, also have a tradition of Scottish ancestry. The Suggs family, closes related to the Sanders, was from Scotland and Ireland. Two other families, the Beans and Hamiltons, closely associated with the Sanders, have Scottish surnames. The MacBeans, in fact, are a well-known Scottish clan. The tradition among the descendants of Patrick Sanders, believed to be James’ brother, is that the family was from Ireland. Descendants of Benjamin Sanders, Sr., of Randolph County, have a tradition that their Sanders were from Ireland. Tradition among the descendants of Silas Sanders, grandson of the Reverend Moses Sanders, is that the family was of Scottish origin. Tradition among the descendants of William Aaron Saunders is that two brothers came to America from England, but this may only mean that the brothers departed from an English port. Most of the evidence and tradition points to a Scottish or northern Irish origin for the ancestors of the Sanders of Randolph and Montgomery Counties, North Carolina, though there is also a tradition that Joan Bailey, wife of William Aaron Saunders, was from Virginia and that William Aaron’s father, John Saunders, lived in Virginia at one time. It may also be of significance that the Steed and Hamilton families, who were closely associated with the Sanders, had lived in Virginia before they moved to North Carolina.

The extensive land dealings of James and his relatives make for a confusing situation, and I have tried to arrange the ones of which I am aware in chronological order in the chart below. Some of the family relationships are not yet firmly established, but I think we can summarize them tentatively as follows:

William and Susan may be the parents of Patrick (circa 1735), James, Sr. (circa 1740), and Sallie Sarah (circa 1745). Regardless of who their father was, it’s likely that Patrick and James were brothers.

Patrick married Mary Unknown and their children were Patrick, Jr. (circa1766); Elias (circ 1770); and William A. Sanders (circa 1775). William A. married Naomi Ferguson and they moved to Prairie County, Arkansas, where he died in 1864.

James married a Mary Unknown and their children were Jeffrey (circa 1765); James, Jr. (circa 1766), and William Moses (circa 1775). William Moses married Priscilla Coker and eventually moved to Rutherford County, North Carolina, where he died about 1835.

Sallie married  (1) Unknown Jordan and (2) David Poer.

The William Sanders/James Sanders line has been documented in Halifax County, Virginia; Anson and Rutherford and other North Carolina counties; and in Spartanburg and York counties in South Carolina.  James Sanders(1777-about 1823) of York County, South Carolina(married Ellen McClerkin) may be a grandson of William because his descendants have a DNA match.

Documentary Chart for the William Sanders/James Sanders line 

1753

Halifax County. William Sanders enters enters 400 acres on Chestnut Creek described as "beginning on Thomas Hall's upper line thence up said Creek on both sides."

1754 Halifax County, Virginia. On August 20th 1754 William Sanders, by reasons presented in the Court of Halifax, is exempted from paying County levies.( From Jim Sanders)

 1755

Halifax County, Virginia. On the 17th day of December 1755 William Sanders receives a Deed from Thomas Hall. On the same day James Sanders Sr. witnesses a Deed from Thomas Mitchell to Talbott.  Plea Book 2 Page 84. On page 85, James Sanders  is paid for traveling 60 miles coming and returning as a witness to a Deed given by John Ward. (Information from Jim Sanders)

 1756

Halifax County, Virginia. June 1756 William Hill to Patrick Sanders, proven by the oath of William Sanders.Plea Book 2 Page 150. June, 1856 (probably Patrick, son of William)  Deed from William Hill to Patrick Sanders was proved by the  oaths of John Kerby and Francis Kerby. Plea Book 2 Page 125.  A deed from William Hill to Lewis Morgan was proved by the oaths of John Kerby and William Sanders. Plea Book 2 Page 150.  In 1756 William Hill deeds to Patrick Sanders 90 acres on the Waters of Chestnut Creek, Halifax County, William Sanders and Frances and John Kirby are witnesses to the transaction.  The property is described as 90 acres lying on two creeks; the South bank of Chestnut Creek and mouth of Sawpit Branch. (Creek). Deed Book 1 Page 194.
Patrick sells the 90-acre parcel to Lewis Morgan on August 20th, 1757.  In the document he is said to be a blacksmith, and his wife is named as Mary...." (from Jim Sanders)  

1757

November. Morgan Brown, surveyor in Anson County, pays William Sanders, carpenter, 5 shillings. No further information about whether this is “old William” who appears later in the land records of Anson.

  1757

Halifax County, Virginia.  Patrick Sanders sells his 90 acre parcel of  property to Lewis  Morgan. Plea book 2 Page 239. Patrick sells the 90-acre parcel to Lewis Morgan on August 20th, 1757.  In the document he is said to be a blacksmith, and his wife is named as Mary(From Jim Sanders). This deed proves he is the Patrick who later lived in North Carolina and in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

1758

November. Patrick Sanders buys 300 acres in Anson County, north side of  Pee Dee River and south fork of Mountain Creek.

  1759

On July 26 1759, Patrick sells 100 acres of this land in Anson  to John 
Littlebird Shepherd. Film #0018145 page 224. This is now in Richmond  County.

1761

James Sanders buys land from Henry Touchstone on the east side of Mountain Creek in Anson County.

1763

Patrick and James Sanders appear on the list of people paying taxes in Anson County.

1763

March. Patrick Sanders witnesses deed for land sold by Richard Odam to Charles Hill for land on Finches branch of north fork of Mountain Creek in Anson County.

1764

William and Susan exempt from paying taxes in Anson County due to age and infirmity

 1764

 William Sanders of Anson County, Province of North Carolina sells 100 acres in Halifax County to John Heard. Recorded May 1765,  but executed in 1764,  Deed Book 5, p. 385.

1767

James and Patrick Sanders sign Regulators Petition.  Appears to be James, Sr. Assuming he was at least 21 years old, he couldn’t have been born before 1746. Most likely, he was born at least several years earlier.

1767

February.  William and Susan sell 100 acres land in Anson County on Rocky Fork.

1767

February. William and Susan Sanders sell 200 acres in Anson to Jared Gross.

 1768

  See "Early Settlers of Alabama." p. 465. William is exempt from taxes.

1772

January. Patrick Sanders serves on a jury in Anson County. James is appointed constable in Mountain Creek district. In April Patrick is mentioned in a road levy for a road from Stubbs Ford to Mountain Creek.

1773

April. Patrick Sanders sold 100 acres on the north side of the Pee Dee river and the south fork of Mountain Creek in Anson County.

1773

May. Walter Gibson sells to William Sanders 100 acres in Anson County on Indian Camp Br.  Is this William Aaron or William who married Susan?

1774

James Sanders witnesses deed of John Cockerham to Thomas Mason for land on  Mountain Creek in Anson County

1775

April.  James Sanders and James Cotton witness deed of James Mode to Moses Bland for 150 acres in Anson on the north side of the Pee Dee River and west side of  Little River.

1775

March. Patrick Sanders granted 300 acres in Anson County by King George III.

Ca. 1776

James Sanders was appointed Constable in Anson County. Probably James, Sr., the same person who signed the Regulators Petition.

1779

January. Richard Powell enters 50 enters in Anson County on Mountain Creek, bordered by James Saunders, John Jenkin, and Patrick Saunders.

1779

April 12. Patrick and wife Mary deed 112 acres on south side of north fork of Mountain Creek of Pee Dee River in Anson County to James Bolton.  The borders on the land of William Terry. Patrick is selling the land he was granted in 1775 by King George Patrick, son of William

1779

April 13. Patrick and Mary  sell to  Richard Powell “lower end” of 100 acres on Broonas Br. In Anson County. The sale has a reference to “beginning corner pine of James Sanders’ survey,” indicating that Patrick’s brother James owned land adjacent to Patrick.

1780

March.  Edward Young granted 150 acres on  both sides of Barnes Creek,including Daniel Sanders’ improvements. Parentage of Daniel  unknown, but probably related to our Sanders

After 1783

James buys land in Rutherford County, North Carolina   This is James, Sr.

1787

James  and Jeffrey listed in the Montgomery County tax list  in District 2(per Jim Sanders on Rocky Fork of Little River). James, Sr.?

1789

William receives several land grants in Montgomery County on Rocky Creek. Who is this William?  It’s doubtful it is the same William who was considered old in 1764. (Information about William’s land grants from Jim Sanders).

1780s

Patrick, Sr. in Rutherford County, North Carolina, then moves to Spartanburg, South Carolina

1790

Two James Sanders appear on the Montgomery County census

One household has two males under 16, three over 16, and two females.

The other household has four males under 16, 1 male over 16, and two females.

One of these could be James, Sr., but which one? I assume one is also James, Jr.

Comments from Jim Sanders:

Benjamin Randle received a Grant on I July 1790. The property was on Barnes Creek and James Sanders property was referenced as a starting point in the description of the grant. We would expect this James to be the “Chain Carrier James”, noted on Rueben Sanders survey for property on Barnes Creek.  Two James Sanders are listed in the 1790 Census of Montgomery.  One of them is our subject and shows; I believe, an extended family, three men over 16 years of age; two boys under 16 and two females. The other James lists one male over 16 with four boys under sixteen and two females. In the 1800 census one of the James is not listed in Montgomery County. We believe that the “extended” family, James, is related to the reverend Moses and William Aaron and may have a son names Moses. He is still in Montgomery (1790) with four sons born between 1785/90, one son born 1790/1800 and a wife. The 1800 census of Montgomery, James is shown as  being born between 1756 and 1774. The other James is listed in District 2 of the Montgomery county tax list of 1787.  This is the same district as Jeffery Sanders. This district, we believe, is on the Rocky Fork of Little River. This would tie Jeffery and this James, into the William Sanders Family. Preliminary research on this family shows them migrating to South Carolina.  We don’t have any family tie into them.  However, one might consider this: Elias Butler, who owned several pieces of property in Montgomery County, used “Jefery Sanders” as a Chain Carrier on a survey for a Grant on the Rocky Creek in 1785. Elias Butler had several pieces of property in the Barnes Creek area as well.Jim wrote this before the DNA tests were completed.

1790

March James Sanders’ west line is referenced in a grant of 100 acres to Benjamin Randle on Barnes Creek in Montgomery County. James, Jr. or Sr.?

1790

James Sanders acquires land in Rutherford CountyProbably James, Sr.

1790s

James, Sr.  moves to Spartanburg, South Carolina

1794

January. Jeffrey Sanders granted 50 acres on Clark Creek in Montgomery County, bordering William Morgan and Martin Ussery. Jeffrey, son of James. 

1794

August. James Sanders’ property line is referenced in a deed of Benjamin Randle to Brantly Harris  for 100 acres on the east side of the Uwharrie River on Barnes Creek in Montgomery County. James, Jr? 

1796

January.  James Sanders ordered to get a license to sell spirituous liquor in Spartanburg.Also, James and Isaac Young agreed to indemnify the county for support of an illegitimate child, “the state against Elizabeth Saunders.”  James, Sr.

1798

James, Sr., sold 13 acres to Lawrence Bankston. William (William Moses) and James Sanders were witnesses in Spartanburg.  Who is this James? James, Jr. was still in Montgomery.

1799

James Sanders receives land grant in RutherfordCould this be James, Jr., who was living in Montgomery or James, Sr. in Spartanburg?

1799

February. James and William Sanders witness a deed in Spartanburg. This must be James, Sr., and his son William Moses.

1800

James Sanders, York County, South Carolina. Two James Sanders appear on the census.

One James is 26-44 (born 1756-1774) and living with a female of the same age.

The other James is also 26-44 and lives in a household with two males under ten, two females under 10. There may be other females but the rest of the line is illegible.

One of these is the father of David Sanders, born 1803, whose descendants match the DNA of Sanders of Randolph and Montgomery group. Tentatively, I assume this James is the first one listed. Also living in York County was Mary Katherine Sanders and her husband George Suggs. Since George owned land next door to Isaac Saunders in Randolph County, it’s possible that Mary Katherine was a daughter of Isaac.

1800

James Sanders appears on the Montgomery County census. He is age 26-44 (born between 1756-1774), with two male children under 10, two female children under 10, and one female 26-44 (presumably his wife). I assume this is James, Jr., son of James, Sr.  If so, he is probably the same person as one of the James previously listed in 1790 in Montgomery County.

1800

James Sanders appears on the Spartanburg census as over 45 years of age (born before 1765). In the household is a female of the same age, one male under 10, two males 10-15, one male 26-44, and one female 16-25.  This must be James, Sr.

1800

Patrick Sanders,  Spartanburg County, South Carolina. Two Patrick Sanders appear on the census.

One Patrick is age 16-25 (born between 1775-1786) with a female of the same age in the household, two males under 10, and one female under 10.

The other Patrick is over 45 (born before 1765) with a female of the same age in the household, two males under 10, two females under 10 and one male age 26-44.These must be Patrick, Sr., and Jr.

1801 Feb.

James and Mary Sanders sold 13 acres in Spartanburg to James Turner. William Sanders (presumably William Moses) was a witness.

1801

James Sanders sold 50 acres in Spartanburg to Lawrence Bankston.

1807 July

James Sanders sold  264 acres in Spartanburg to Casper Webber. This is James, Sr.

1810

Billy Saunders (presumably William Moses) appears on the Spartanburg census, age 26-44 (born between 1766-1784), with one male child 10-15, and one female 16-25(presumably his wife). If this is William Moses, where are the two sons and two or three daughters that should be listed with the family?

1810

Patrick Saunders appears on the 1810 Spartanburg census. He is age 26-44 (born between 1766-1784), with two male children under 10, three females under ten, one female 10-15, and one female 26-44 (presumably his wife).This is Patrick, Jr., son of Patrick, Sr., grandson of  old William.

1810

William Saunders appears on the 1810 Spartanburg census, living near Patrick. He is 16-25 years old (born between 1785-1794, with one male child under 10 and one female age 16-25 (presumably his wife). Also in the household is a female over 45 (his widowed mother or an aunt, perhaps?). Who is this William? It can’t be William A. Sanders who died in Prairie County, Arkansas, because that William had 7 or 8 children born before 1810.

Between 1800-1810

James Sanders, Sr., dies in Spartanburg, South  Carolina.

1814

July, a reference in a deed to the border of James Sanders’ line in Spartanburg. Not sure whether this indicates James, Sr. was still alive.

1815

William Moses Sanders moves to Rutherford County, North Carolina from Spartanburg

1820

William Moses Sanders listed on U.S. census in Rutherford County, North CArolina (listed as Moses Sanderd). Listed as over 45 years old (born before 1775) with three males in household under 10, two between 10 and 16; three females under 10, two between 10 and 16, one 16 to 290, and one 26-45 (presumably his wife).

1830

William Moses Sanders listed on U.S. census in Rutherford County. Listed as Moses Sanders, age 50-60 (born between 1770-1780), one male under 5, one 5-10, one female under 5, one 5-10, three age 10-15, one female 40-50 (presumably his wife). Living nearby is his son Jeffrey Sanders, age 20-30, two males under 2, one female 30-40 (presumably his wife)

1830s

William Moses Sanders owes money to William A. Sanders (the one who married Naomi Ferguson)

about 1834

William Moses Sanders dies in Rutherford County, North Carolina


 November 23, 2006.
Many thanks to Josephine Sparks and Jim Sanders  for sharing their research and providing much of the above information regarding the land transactions of James Sanders.   
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The Reverend Moses Sanders & the Revolution


The following article was written by Jim Sanders of Ojai, California and sent to me by e-mail in September 2005.  Jim has written several other articles about the land records of Montgomery County, North Carolina, and he has granted permission to post this article here in the hope that other researchers will provide further documentation regarding the birth place of the  Reverend Moses Sanders.

Researchers for years have relied on undocumented stories that the Reverend Moses Sanders, (Grove Level Church in Franklin County, Georgia, 1798-1817) was a Revolutionary War hero. Several websites and other written accounts state that he was at the battle of the Cowpens, which is in Northwestern South Carolina.  Others state he was the bearer of many bayonet scars and that the enemy who inflicted the wounds paid with his life. The DAR has him listed as a veteran of the Revolution. One website has him as being a private in the Iredell Militia in 1782. (Iredell was not created until 1788).

With these recordings in mind we noticed several instances, whereby an imaginative author embellished history. If we find no documentary evidence that Moses fought in the War, from where did the “rumor” emanate?

We look to two embellishments of history, which may shed light on passed ahead misinformation.  The first is:

The Battles of the Cowpens and Kings Mountain

The earliest recordation of the name Saunders connected with the Cowpens or Kings Mountain is described in detail on page 125-128 by Edwin C. Bearss, in a 238 page National Parks Service booklet, written in 1974. In it he describes a well-documented, historical account of the battle of Cowpens. Mr. Bearss states,

“In 1881, Lyman C. Draper wrote a well-documented history of the battle of Kings Mountain.  He had collected materials for his book since 1839, using manuscript narratives of David Vance, Joseph McDowell, and Silas McBee (participants in the battle).  Draper wrote,

On October 6th, 1780, there was a stirring bivouac at the Cowpens.  A wealthy English Tory, named Saunders, resided there, who reared large numbers of cattle and having many pens in which to herd his stock—hence the derivation of Cowpens. Saunders was, at the time, in bed- perhaps not very well, or feigning sickness; from which he was unceremoniously pulled out and treated pretty roughly. When commanded to tell at what time Ferguson had passed that place, he declared that the British Colonel and army had not passed that way at all…Search was accordingly made and no evidence of a passing army was found…… Several of the old Tory’s cattle were quickly shot down and slaughtered for the supply of the hungry soldiers…

Draper used most of the information found in this account from the reminiscences of David Vance in 1799.  Vance in his account states in part that they proceeded to the Cowpens and mentions a Tory’s house, but does not name the Tory. Mr. Bearss states and we agree that Draper ‘flavored’ the story a bit with a few additions to the historical accounts of the participants at the Cowpens, and his accounts were embellished even further by subsequent historians including the writings of Judge Schenk in 1889, which also names Saunders a wealthy Tory, who herded large numbers of Cattle at the Cowpens.”

Mr. Bearss also provides this information, “A review of the South Carolina Grant and plat books and search of the records of Spartanburg and Tryon County and review of the claims filed by Loyalist, show no evidence of a Saunders at the location of the Cowpens Battle”.  It is unfortunate but it seems that many later historians and researchers used Drapers’ account as their basis for the account of the “Camp at the Cowpens."

The above information may provide us with a clue and help us understand how Moses Saunders was attributed as being at the Cowpens in any capacity. It is not much of a leap for a writer to build off the original works of another and further glorify the account by adding events or names.  Later researchers may have further embellished the stories and made Saunders a participant in the ensuing battle. As stated, Draper wrote his embellished account in 1889. Subsequent writers used his account as an original work and perpetuated the name Saunders, when, as stated, there is no evidence that a Saunders was at the Cowpens.

Christopher Columbus Sanders, a great grandson of Moses Sanders is another possible source of the embellished history of Moses Sanders. In 1902 C. C. Sanders donated the headstone and grave markers for Moses and his wife, (which he named “Sallie”). On the marker he called Moses “A soldier of the Revolution”. Researchers may have interpreted this inscription as a matter of fact and that he was in an organized fighting unit, though no evidence has been found. Remember that the marker was inscribed nearly 125 years after the Revolution and oral family histories are often just plain wrong! Incidentally, Moses’ wife was not “Sallie”; her name was Mary (Hamilton). (Proven by deeds and Ordinance works). Sallie was his daughter. (She married Obadiah Hooper).

In 1908, for a book called Men of Mark in Georgia, C.C. Sanders again was interviewed.  In the account therein he states, “Moses migrated from England (Many researcher have it that Moses was from Downton[a parish in Wiltshire County, England]) in 1765 and had two younger brothers, David and John”. (David and John were his sons) The article also states that they took part in the battle of the Cowpens and Kings Mountain and other major battles of the revolution.  Once again the story is embellished from verbal accounts of C. C. Sanders. (Thanks to Elden Hurst who visited Downton Parish, England and through correspondence with the local minister, found no Moses Sanders in the records).

With these above stated accounts we can see the pattern of how history has emerged from misstated verbal accounts and just plain embellishments by supposedly well meaning “story tellers.”

One more bit of information has been located in a letter to the War Department, which in 1932 was the keeper of the Revolutionary War Records.  This letter and its response from the Department will show that no record has been found concerning Moses in the archives.  The letter is included below:

Ellen Sanders Cardon’s letter of February 13th 1932, seeking information on Moses Sanders. 

This letter was sent to the Veterans Bureau, Washington, and D.C.  The Bureau’s response is below the letter.

In 1932 researchers were making the same mistake as to his birth and the name of his wife. This emanates from the misinformation given to the Grove Level Church in 1903 by Christopher Columbus Sanders, a great grandson of Moses. The writer also has Moses confused with Moses Jr. in the 1790 Census of South Carolina. The response from the War Department makes it clear that there is no record of Moses having served in the Revolutionary War.

Mesa, Arizona, Route 2
February 13, 1932
Adjutant General, Veterans Bureau
Washington, D. C.

I desire to obtain genealogical data and war services of a Moses Sanders, who, our family record states, fought under General Washington. He was born in England in 1732 or 1742, came to America in 1765. I do not know where he landed, but he lived in Va. near Chatham, Pittsylvania Co. He married a Sallie Hamilton of Va. He moved from Va. to Laurence Co, S, C. I do not know the date but I think he was living there when the 1790 census was taken. Later, he moved to Ga. And founded a number of Baptist churches there. One at Grove Level in 1802. Also, I would like to obtain similar data of one Henry Sanders, son of Joseph.

Below is the war Department response to Ms. Cardon’s request, dated April 16th, 1832.  Moses is mentioned at the bottom:

April 16, 1932

Mrs. Ellen Sanders Cardon
Mesa, Arizona

Dear Madam:

Reference is made to your letter of February 13th, requesting information in regard to soldiers of the Revolution.

The data furnish herein were obtained from papers on file in the pension claim R. 9178, based upon the Revolutionary War services of Henry Sanders.

He was born October 26, 1751, in Perquimans County, North Carolina, and was the son of Joseph and Mary Sanders.

While living in Fairfield County, South Carolina, he enlisted in 1775 or 1776 and served at various times as private under Captains Lewis, Samuel Boykin and Thomas Starks and Colonel Taylor with the South Carolina troops. He also served about two years as a commissary to said South Carolina troops. He was in several skirmishes and in the battle of Rocky Mount where he was taken prisoner but escaped after a few days.

He was allowed pension on his application executed October 17, 1832, while a resident of Monroe County, Indiana.

He died there February 13, 1834. He was a Baptist minister.

The soldier married October 18, 1779 in Fairfield County, South Carolina, Dica Blake, born May 15, 1761, the daughter of John and Morning Blake.

She died in Monroe County, Indiana, July 5,1841.

Their children were:

Fearibe or Ferriaba, born September 22, 1780.
Joseph, born October 21, 1782, married Anna---, and their son, Samuel, was born February 1, 1809.
Mourning, born January 1, 1785, married Elisha Inman, she died in 1838.
Prosilah, born August 12, 1787, married Thomas Inman, both were dead in 1838.
Henry, born April 28, 1790.
John, born September 3, 1792, married Nancy---, born January 2, 1796, and their son Joseph, was born May 31, 1812.
Wright, born November 7, 1795, married Polly or Poley and their children were: Henry, who was born May 27, 1817; David, Nathan, Finley, Dicy, and Lucinda; said Wright died in 1838 in Monroe County, Indiana.
Dica, born February 9, 1799, married William Maxwell, and both were dead in 1838; their son, Washington, was born April 1, 1820, and there were two children, names not stated.
Benjamin, born March 3, 1802, died when young.

The following are grandchildren, names of parents not stated:

Henry Sanders                 born    March          10      1810
John       ”                                 December    26      1711
Levi        ”                                 November    22      1813
John       ”                                January        18       1820
Henry Inman (or Inmon)            February      17       1804
Elishea Inman                            February       3       1806
Dica        ”                                 March          14      1808
Hannah   ”                                 February      26      1809
John       ”                                 October       11       1810
Willoby   ”                                 April            10       1813
Mary      ”                                  March           3        181-

The Revolutionary War records of this office fail to afford any information in regard to Moses Sanders.

Very truly yours,
A.D. Hiller
Assistant to the Administrator

I’m sure there are other accounts from original Records which one may review in order to prove or disprove that Moses was a participant in the Revolutionary War.  Hopefully this writing will inspire others to dig deeper into recorded accurate history and accurately disseminate the information.

Jim Sanders
September 2005

(Readers who wish to know more about Jim Sanders' research in the land records of Montgomery County may want to consult his  booklet, The Sanders Families of Montgomery County, North Carolina, 1756-1810, available from the author.)

Additional comments added by Gary Sanders on Jim Sanders’ theory about the origin of the tradition that Moses served in the Revolutionary War:


I agree that the tradition that Moses fought at Cowpens may be based on several factors. Cowpens was a significant battle on the border of the two states and therefore easily comes to mind when considering Revolutionary War soldiers in either North Carolina or South Carolina and Moses was known to be involved in both states. There even may have been a Saunders who lived near Cowpens.  He may not have owned any property, and he may have been moved from the area by the time of the Revolution, of course, but his previous residency could explain why the vicinity was sometimes called "Saunders Cowpens." Therefore, as the tradition grew and was embellished, it was an easy transition to having Moses fighting heroically for the Revolution in that battle.  It was not necessary for anyone to knowingly concoct a false story because small increments of embellishment over time were sufficient to fabricate a more grandiose version of events.
 
I can easily image Moses telling his children or grandchildren about how he was falsely accused of being disloyal during the Revolutionary War,[see previous article on Moses’ life and career] and after the story passed through several hands and generations, it could emerge as the story of Moses the valiant and stalwart soldier.

Recently, I asked for a Daughters of the American Revolution search of their records to see if anyone had used Moses' military service to qualify for membership in the DAR.  No one has as of October 2005, but I received a recent e-mail from a Registrar of a DAR chapter in Georgia  who requested that the DAR recognize Moses as a Revolutionary War patriot because of his signing of an Anson County petition in 1777 ( North Carolina Abstracts of Early Records, McBee, pp. 133-134,). Moses Sanders signed as No. 62 on a "Petition of inhabitants of Anson County:  Because of PeeDee River dividing the county, it is very inconvenient to many of the inhabitants, they ask for a division of the county with the river as the dividing line...If you in your Wisdom should judge the division unnecessary then we pray that commission of disinterested persons be appointed to fix Court House in or near the center of the county, as conveniently as it may be. It is now stands in ten or twelve miles of South Carolina and is extremely inconvenient." 

According to this official, "his signing of this petition, while not as satisfactory as fighting, [may be] sufficient to get my prospective DAR member into the NSDAR with Moses Sanders doing Patriotic Service rather than military service. Petition signers are assumed to have been loyal, having sworn an oath before signing. That is satisfactory as long as there is no evidence of subsequent disloyalty." The DAR, however,rejected this request (February 2006) on the grounds that there was not enough supporting evidence to confirm that the Moses Sanders who signed the petition was the same  person as Moses Sanders who died in 1817 in Georgia.

For a long time, I was baffled by the supposed Downton Parish, Wiltshire County,  England, location of Moses’ birth.  Dozens of family trees posted at RootsWeb make this claim, but no one seemed to have any evidence to present in support of this view, and I now think that the theory arose in this way: there was a John Sanders from Wiltshire, who had a son named Moses, born in 1622.  Another son of this John, also named John, migrated to Massachusetts in the Puritan migration of the 1630s. I haven't done any research on this Massachusetts family, but I believe  the similairty in names is the  source of the tradition that our Moses was from Downton. It seems likely that, several generations ago, a researcher tried to find the parents of the Reverend Moses Sanders and came across the Moses who was born in 1622. The fact that this family was in  England and Massachusetts instead of Virginia did not deter the researcher any more than it deters many researchers today who think a John Sanders in one state must be the same person as a John Sanders in another state.  Maybe the researcher assumed the 1622 date must be wrong and that the Moses in question must have lived a hundred years later. Maybe the researcher thought there must have been another Moses in that family who came over a hundred years later. Everyone else has just been copying the careless assumption of the first person who identified  Moses Sanders of Georgia with the earlier Moses from Downton. Now, I may be wrong about how this theory arose, but I have never been able to find anyone who has a shred of evidence that the Reverend Moses Sanders was in any way related to Sanders from Downton Parish, Wiltshire, England.

We do have, nevertheless, a few clues about the location of Moses' birth. Family tradition among the descendants of his brothers is that his father was from Virginia. We know that the Hamilton and Steed familes that married into the Sanders family of Montgomery County, North Carolina, were from Brunswick County, Virginia. Obadiah Hooper, who married Moses' daughter Sally, was from Lunenberg County, Virginia. Lunenberg County was created in 1746 from Brunswick County. In the 1740s, Lunenberg, Brunswick, Isle of Wight, and Nansemond Counties were on the border between Virginia and North Carolina. In Brunswick and nearby Surry and Isle of Wight Counties were numerous Bailey families, some of whom were descendants of Quakers who had arrived in the formative years of the colony. Maybe these were the Baileys of "the famous old family of Virginia" that Thomas Bailey Saunders mentioned in his nineteenth century letter. All our research indications  are that our Sanders were in that area of Virginia prior to the move to North Carolina.
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William Aaron Saunders in the Revolutionary War

According to the Thomas Bailey Saunders letter, described in the section on Jackson County Sanders,  Thomas Bailey's ancestor William Aaron Saunders, brother of Moses and Isaac, was "killed in a fight with the Tories."  According the Thomas J. Sanders Web site,Thomas Bailey Saunders III (1906-1974) corresponded with R.J.L. Backstrom of the International Heraldic Institute in Washington, D.C., and received the following reply on February 03, 1948:  "Our delay in replying to your special delivery letter of the 27th has been due to our efforts to locate the ancestry of your William Aaron Saunders. We have carefully searched our files and those available at The Library of Congress, but without success. We have a William Saunders (Aaron not mentioned) in North Carolina: Ensign 6th North Carolina, 2d April, 1777; transferred to 1st North Carolina 1st June, 1778; Lieutenant, 6th February, 1779; Captain 8th February, 1779; transferred to 4th North Carolina, 6th February, 1782; retired 1st January, 1783. Evidently this Captain was not killed in battle, but he is the only Captain in Revolution from North Carolina, and believe him to be your man. We do not find any further record of him."

Family tradition is that the brother of Moses and Isaac was named William Aaron Saunders, but all the land records of Montgomery County refer to him only as Aaron. It seems a safe assumption that Aaron was the name by which he was usually known. If he did serve in the Revolutionary forces, there is no record of his service because the Captain William Saunders mentioned by R.J.L. Backstrom is a different person.  

I recently ordered a copy of the military record of  Captain  William Saunders from the National Archives, and though the record does not provide much biographical information, it does provide sufficient facts to establish the identify of this William Saunders. This is my transcript of the record:

William Saunders Ensign (Lieutenant)
Appears as shown below on a list under the following heading: Agreeable to a general order of  October last for the purpose of filling vacancies in the different regiments of Colonel Lamb and Lieutenant Colonel Lytle of the Sixth N Carolina Batt. in order to fill the vacancies in said regiment occasioned by the deaths of Captain Pike and Lieut. M Cann .Also the resignations of Lieutenants Demsey Moore, Solomon Walker and William Hancock do recommend to his Excellency the Commander in Chief as follows, viz Ensign William Saunders to be promoted to the rank of second Lieut. in room of Lieut. Green. Field officers have omitted Ensign Nixon whose commission is of prior date to Saunders he not having joined the regiment since his appointment of the 2nd of April,  neither do they know such an officer but by the roster of the regiment. The commission to bear date from the time the vacancy offered. 26 October 1777 William Saunders, Ensn, Donohos Co, 6th North Carolina Regiment appears on a book copied from the rolls of the organization.  Date of enlistment or appointment 2 April 1777   Lieutenant 8 Feb. 1779  Deranged 1 January 1783.

Jim Sanders provided me with information about Donoho's Company and it's officer, William Saunders, and I think there is now no doubt that the William Saunders who left the army in 1783 is a different person from William Aaron Saunders of Montgomery County. Thomas Donoho and William Saunders, who was born in 1759, signed a deed in a land transaction in 1797 in Caswell County. Further, on the 
military record I received from the Archives, there is a statement that William Saunders appears "as shown below in a account stated as follows: Major Robert Fenner agent for the North Carolina line to balance due the following named officers viz subsis. for 1782-1783   Lt. Wm Saunders  15.88 D.  Account settled August 10, 1792." I assume this means William or his agent was paid that amount as a settlement in 1792.

In the book Early Settlers of  Alabama, written in 1899 (p. 467), Elizabeth Blair Stubbs states that Captain William Saunders moved from Caswell County to Summer County, Tennessee, where he died in 1803.  His sister, Keziah, was married to  Major Thomas Donoho of Caswell County. Based on this information, there is no doubt that Captain William Saunders is not a brother of Moses and Isaac of Montgomery County. According to Mrs. Stubbs, Captain William Saunders was the father of Romulus Mitchell Saunders, who later became United States Minister to Spain.

According to Jim Sanders, there may be some doubt about the loyalty of the Saunders family of Montgomery County during the Revolution. Moses Sanders was accused of disloyalty in a court case described in more detail in the section of this Web page devoted to Moses'  biography. Jim Sanders also has discovered that Francis, presumably the brother of Moses, is listed in 1778 and in 1779 in Rowan County as among those who did not take the oath of allegiance to the Revolutionary cause. As with many other areas of the Saunders family history, a great deal more research is needed before we can be certain about the military activities of the Sanders brothers during the Revolution.
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Sylvie Escat Saunders

"This is some family, you will see."
--Sylvie Saunders in a letter to Aunt Nancy, December 10, 1916

Sylvie Escat was born in New Orleans in 1883 and married George Allen Saunders, a grandson of Thomas Bailey Saunders, in 1903. After joining the family she became interested in her husband's genealogy, and she determingly pursued her research into the origins of her husband's Saunders family by writing letters to relatives thoughout the the country. Sylvie was able to accumulate a great deal of information on some branches of the descendants of the three brothers--Isaac, Aaron, and Moses--who lived in Anson County, North Carolina, at the time of the American Revolution. One relative, for example, had access to a Bible that had been passed down in the family of Nimrod Saunders (1780-after 1860), the son of Aaron, and the great grandfather of Sylvie's husband. Therefore, Sylvie's information was often rather detailed on the children of Nimrod his related families, but she was never able to find any information that traced the family back to the period before the brothers appeared in Anson County. Her lack of modern means of communication and research severely limited her ability to connect many branches of the family.

One of her letters was written to Phoebe Sanders Kingery (1842-1931) on June 28, 1918. Phoebe was the daughter of Joseph Sanders, Jr. (1793-1863) and Deborah Saunders (1803-1856). Deborah was a daughter of Jacob Saunders and a grandson of Isaac, the brother of Aaron and Moses. In this letter, Sylvie mentions several other Sanders, some of whom are obvious and other who are yet unidentified. For example, she mentions that she wrote a letter to Uncle Mash Sanders of Jackson County, Alabama. This is a reference to Alfred Head Mashburn Sanders (1837- 1919), a brother of my great grandfather Isaac Sanders (1818-after 1880). Mash stated on an affidavit in 1897 that he was virtually illiterate, and my guess is that any reply received by Sylvie must have been dictated by Mash to another family member. Another person mentioned in the letter was  Nathaniel Powell Sanders, a great grandson of Deborah who married Joseph. She also mentions a Levi Sanders in the letter, and though I'm not sure, this may be a reference to Levi Lindsey Sanders(1837-1917), a first cousin of my grandfather. She also mentions Wade Saunders, the son of Elkanah Shuford Saunders, the nephew to whom Thomas Bailey Saunders wrote his letter about twenty years earlier. One of the interesting characteristics of Sylvie Escat's letters is that she uses punctuation at her whim and strings her sentences together so that her meaning is sometimes obscured.

Below is the text of the letter, sent to Alhambra, Illinois, where Phebe was living at the time. In the 1990s, a copy of the letter was sent to Don Schaefer, editor of Sanders Siftings, by Elva Hoge Dixon of Virginia, a granddaughter of Phebe Sanders King Kingery.

New Orleans, La.
6-28-1918

Dear Mrs. Kingery

I sure was glad to hear from you again. Now I will try to explain to you
But O dear my English is terrible. Now dear I think you are honest in
returning here is a letter from Mash Sanders nicknamed But I see he said
his name was Alfred Mash Head Sanders now you read it and see if you dont
think it your father people I hardly think I am mistaking Margret Bean is
still living at Eagles Mill N.C. now dear I never like others to read
letters sent to me But sure you are the dear women of our family Be sure
you return it it help me out when we get a mix up.

Nathaniel Powell Sanders I must tell him the record he sent me he had it
all mix up Now don't do like Uncle Mash misunderstand I mean nothing but
good Many times my English bad makes a person think different Now you don't
let me worry you to much Uncle Mash was born in N.C. and is 90 years I
sure have written some in Jackson Co, Ala All Levi Sanders family in sure
nice men

I sure wish you see all my little chickens I canned a little made a success
with my second batch of corn but the first batch did not self seal we have
a few fig trees. I put some Jellie and preserve up O my the trouble with
sugar O dear don't think I am recking we have a nice little place and it
keeps me going I want to send you some Rosa Montana a nice vine makes
pretty pink flowers it to late now But you will have the seed not this
letter Your brother John address is Hollis Okla But guess he is busy.
Thomas Bailey father was Nimrod he was kown in Montgomery Co, N.C. as
Honest rod, was so honest at his mill did you know of a Joseph called
smiling Joe I am sure all these were the same if not my four years hard
work is sure mix now this Joseph may have been Moses son but I hardly think
I am almost sure I am on the right track. Well I owe you Nimrod record I
think not this time Old E.S. is a fine old man writes the grandest letters
and if you care to write him You sure will receive a nice letter his
present post office is Keller, Ga. Grandma Jacob Saunders lived with him
her Nephew is the present Locky Simmons Senator I have a nice letter from
him through Wade Saunders E.S. son at Fayetteville N.C. the grandest letter
we ever read and several good writers said the same of his letters he, too
married twice I am expecting a letter from the Historical Dept W.D.C. soon
if good news I will quit this to much trouble when letters return well I
must close for this time Love to you all.

Sylvie Saunders
excuse this

Another of Sylvie's letters was sent to a descendant of Benjamin Davis and Mary Edmiston, who was a great granddaughter of Nimrod Saunders. Don Schaefer, editor of Sanders Siftings,  sent me a photocopy of the original, which gives us an interesting comparison between the excellent penmanship of Sylvie and her rather confusing lack of punctuation:

letter of Sylvie Saunders to Davis family descendant, February 2, 1918

Some of Sylvie Saunders' letters can be found at the Sanders-Cook homepage, now available only through the Wayback Machine:

letter of Sylvie Saunders to John Duff Sanders, September 29, 1916

letter of Sylvie Saunders to Aunt Nancy, December 10, 1916

letter of Sylvie Saunders to Phebe Lottie Kingery, June 28, 1918
This is a PDF version of the letter transcribed above.

(Sylvie Sanders article revised August 2009)

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                          My Other Family Lines
 
The absence of information about my other family lines on this Web page is due more to practical considerations than to lack of interest, for I remainly keenly interested in tracing my non-Sanders lines.  For the most part, though, the Sanders line has been most in need of attention, and I have devoted the bulk of my research interests to it. Nevertheless, I welcome all exchanges of information regarding my non-Sanders lines. Over the past decade, my knowledge of my non-Sanders lines has been greatly increased through sharing of information with other researchers.

I know the names of all my ancestors through my great-great grandparents with two exceptions:  the maiden name of my great-grandmother Elizabeth who married Isaac Sanders in Jackson County, Alabama, about 1838; and the given and maiden name of my  great-great grandmother, who was the mother of Andrew Jackson Pickering of Covington County, Mississippi.   Considering the lack of resources available, I'm not optimistic that I will ever solve these two genealogical mysteries.  

On the other hand, all my ancestors, so far as I can tell, appear to have been in America before 1800,  and therefore I don't have to deal with trying to trace ancestors who lived in another country. So far as I can tell all my ancestors came from Europe to the southern United States during the colonial period; I haven't found any ancestor who ever lived in the northern colonies.  On my mother's side of the family, previous researchers have already done extensive work, and I have several lines where we can trace the family back to the immigrant ancestor in the 1600s (for example, Bush, Bomar,Guyton, Prestridge, and Deberry). Of course, as always in dealing with genealogical research, there are still many gaps in the record and there are errors that need to be corrected.

Here are a few of the many lines I am researching:

Burton. Jesse Burton, my great-great-great grandfather, was born about 1790 in Amelia County, Virginia. The Burtons were closely associated with the Bomar family of Virginia and Tennessee and the Bomars were associated with the Bush family. My earliest Burton ancestor was Thomas Burton of Cobbs plantation in Henrico County, Virginia. He was born about 1630 in either England or Virginia.

Pickering. John Pickering and Sarah Phoebe Hargrove of Covington County, Mississippi, are believed to be my third great grandparents. John Pickering is believed to be related to the Pickerings of South Carolina and Marengo County, Alabama. There seems to be some connection to the numerous individuals named  Gabriel Pickering who lived in Jones County, North Carolina. I would be very interested in exchanging information with any descendant of these Pickering  who is interested in DNA testing.

Prestridge. My great-great grandfather was Anderson Prestridge of Itawamba County, Mississippi.  Surnames associated with this line are Ringer, Conwill, Campbell,  and Walters. The Prestridge line goes back to Thomas Prestridge who was born in 1698 in Lancashire, England. He died in Stafford County, Virginia, about the same time my Sanders ancestors were buying land in the area.

Miller. My great-great grandfather was John Miller who died in 1890 in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana.  Surnames associated with this line are Guyton and Warren. Pioneer movement was from South Carolina, to Alabama, to Itawamba County, Mississippi, to Claiborne Parish, Louisiana.

Davis. My great-grandmother was  Elizabeth Davis, who was the daughter of John Davis (born 1783) and Susan Patterson of Oconee County, South Carolina.

Moses.  My great-great grandfather was Joel Moses who was born in 1824 in Whitley County, Kentucky. He was a grandson of Joshua Moses who served in the Revolutionary War. Joshua is believed to be the son of John Moses of South Carolina.  Surnames associated with this line are Deberry, Wilson, Dumas, and Richmond. The Deberry line goes back to Peter Deberry who died in 1679 in Surry County, Virginia.

Warren. My Warren line goes back to S. John Warren of Itawamba County, Mississippi. He was born in 1776 in Kentucky and when he died in 1863, it is said he was buried "a seten up." I have been unable to connect him to the other very numerous Warrens of Kentucky, but  DNA tests suggest this Warren line is related to William de Warenne, who fought for William of Normandy in 1066 at the battle of Hastings.

Guyton. My Guyton line goes back to the Virginian John Guyton who was born in 1697 in Norfolk, England.

Bush.  My Bush line goes back to another Virginian,  John Bush, who was born in Stockshire County, England in 1655.

Over the years, many people have shared  with me the results of their research on these lines. It impossible to mention everyone, but  Linda Stude on the Miller family; Bettie Burton on the Burtons; King  Woolf, Melonie Zenner, and Sunny Pierce on the Pickerings; and Jan Dane on the Warren family are representative of helpful and generous researchers.
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Other Sanders lines

In my "burton-sanders" World Connect file, several Sanders lines from the Southern United States are included.  In addition to my own lines which descend from Isaac Saunders of the four brothers group and from Joseph Sanders of Randolph, I have some material on the following lines. The relationship of these lines to my Sanders line is either not yet documented or has been disproven. There are also some individuals named Sanders in my file whose parentage has not yet been established by anyone, so far as I have been able to tell. Here are some of the lines that may be found in my files:

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Will of Joseph Sanders or Randolph, 1803

The first documentary reference to Joseph Sanders is his military service during the American Revolution. Here is an excerpt  from the Sons of the American Revolution membership application of Thomas E. Jacks, a descendant of Joseph's son, Joseph, Jr.:

Joseph Sanders was listed as a private in Walker's Company, Colonel James Hogan's 7th regiment, North Crolina Continental Line. (p. 95). He is listed in "an account of allowances made officers and soliders of the late Continental line at Hillsboro." (p.193). Joseph Sanders, Continental of Hillsboro district is listed on a list of "vouchers of soldiers in the Continental Army." p. 399. From the Roster of Soldiers from North Carolina in the American Revolution, Daughers of the American Revolution, Genealogical Publishing Company, 1984.

Although we do not have firm documentary evidence that the Joseph Sanders who served in the Revolution is the same Joseph as the Joseph Sanders who later lived in the Hillsborough District of Randolph County, it is a reasonable assumption that these references are to the same individual, as no other Joseph Sanders is known to have lived in the area.  

The next reference to Joseph is a deed by which he was granted land 330 acres of land in Randolph County  by the state in 1787. The land was described as on Abraham's Creek, bordering  "Haskett's line."  This is a reference to Abraham Haskett, who had been granted land as early as 1784.  I believe this land was somewhat northwest of the present city of Asheboro.  Over the years, Joseph acquired other property, most of which seemed to be in the same area, though there are indications he may have had some property to the south, near the Montgomery border.  Here is a 1797 entry:

August 1, 1797 Joseph Sanders enters 250 acres in Randolph Co on waters of Back Creek and Deep River joining his own land on E,W., &S bounded by Peter Rich, Feaquar, Abraham Haskit, Joseph Osburn, and Joseph Close beginning at NE corner of his former survey and running for compliment; June 23, 1796 for grant see file #1180 in Secretary of State's files.)

Joseph next appears on the 1790 census of Randolph as the only Sanders listed in the county, though we know that another Sanders family (Isaac and his wife and children) were living in Randolph by 1794.

Joseph Sanders appears on th 1790 U.S. Census as follows:
white male over 16      1
white males under 16  3
white females              5
Joseph, of course, is the white male over 16.  He had two male children who are known to have been born before 1790.  Rebecca and the four daughters known to have been born before 1790 account for the 5 white females.  That leaves one white male under 16 unaccounted for.

In 1798 Joseph Sanders and Isaac Saunders were chain carriers for a survey of land that had been sold  by Edmund Carns to Isaac's son Benjamin in 1790. This Montgomery County  land is described as being on Barnes  Creek, which is near the Randolph County border. This would seem to indicate that Isaac and Benjamin were neighbors at that time, though all other references I have found to Joseph's land  refer to the area of Back Creek, Abraham's Creek or Deep River, all to the northwest of Asheboro.  Here are typical entries:

August 1, 1797 Joseph Sanders enters 250 acres in Randolph Co on waters of Back Creek and Deep River joining his own land on E,W., &S bounded by Peter Rich, Feaquar, Abraham Haskit, Joseph Osburn, and Joseph Close beginning at NE corner of his former survey and running for compliment; June 23, 1796 for grant see file #1180 in Secretary of State's files.)

March 10, 1798 Jesse Huff enters 100 acres of land in Randolph Co on water of Deep R or E side of Abraham Haskit's land bounded by the lines of Joseph Sanders and  Feauquar and running for compliment;

January 16, 1801, John Davis enters 60 acres of land in Randolph on water of Deep R; beginning at Joseph Sanders' corner running S for compliment.

February 9, 1802 John Davis enters 60 ac. on waters of Abrams Cr; border: begins at Joseph Sanders' corner and runs S to Abraham Haskett's being the plantation where he lives.

Joseph also is enumerated  on the 1800 census. The census appears to give accurate estimates of the ages of the children, based on what we know from subsequent marriage records and census reports:

Males under 10 (1, Joseph, Jr.); males 10-16 (1, John); males 16-26 (1, George); males  over 45 (1, Joseph)

Females under 10 (1, probably, Phebe, though she was born in 1789); females 10-16 (1, Sarah); females 16-26 (2, Rachel and Mary); females over 45 (1, Joseph's wife Rebecca)

Though DNA tests indicate that Joseph was not related to Isaac Saunders of Randolph County, there was extensive marriage between the children of Isaac and those of Joseph:

Joseph's son George married Phoebe, the daughter of Jacob Sanders. Jacob was a grandson of John Saunders.

Joseph's daughter Phoebe married Jesse, son of Jacob.

Joseph's son Joseph, Jr., first married Martha Sanders. We don't know her parents, but she almost certainly is related to Isaac, though probably not his daughter.

Joseph's son Joseph, Jr., married  secondly,Deborah Sanders, the daughter of Jacob.

Joseph's daughter Mary married  Benjamin Sanders, the son of Isaac.

Joseph's daughter Rachel married Francis Sanders.  In my article on Benjamin and Francis, I presented evidence for these two brothers having married two sisters. 

That makes five of Joseph's children who may have married a child or grandchild of Isaac. Many of these couples later moved to Jackson County, Alabama: Benjamin and Mary, George and Phoebe, Franicis and Rachel, and Joseph and  Martha.

Benjamin Sanders moved to Jackson County when he was a very elderly man in the 1830s, probably following the lead of his brother Francis and his son Benjamin, Jr., who was born in 1804. Jacob's grandson, Jesse Elbert Sanders, son of the Sampson Sanders who witnessed Nimrod Saunders' deed to William Strider in 1836, also moved to Jackson County, Alabama. Jesse's brother, Brantley Sanders, married Sarah Sanders, who was the daughter of Benjamin Sanders, Jr.

Because of these extensive connections, until the DNA tests were conducted, I assumed that Joseph, Sr., was the "Joe" of the Thomas Bailey Saunders letter, but the DNA test appear to show he is from a different line. I would be inclined to attribute this result to infidelity or adoption within the family tree except for the fact that the descendant of Joseph who did not match the four brothers line did in fact match other Sanders. 

So--it's still a big mystery to me, and I assume to others who have researched this problem, why these two Sanders lines (that of Joseph and that of Isaac) were so close if they were not related. The obvious explanation, if they were not genetically related, is that they were close because they were neighbors and lived within a few miles of each other in either Randolph County or just across the border in Montgomery County.

Some early researchers suggested that Joseph Sanders was the son of a John Sanders who died in 1772 in Isle of Wight County, Virginia. John's will does show a son named Joseph, but no one has ever provided any evidence that that the Joseph of the will is the same person as Rachel's father who was in Montgomery and Randolph counties in North Carolina at the time of the American Revolution. A glance at a transcription of the will of John Sanders of Isle of Wight indicates that his son Joseph Sanders was scheduled to inherit a couple of hundred acres. It is unlikely Joseph left the colony to move to North Carolina shortly afterwards. Further, the Joseph of the 1772 will appears to have been over 21 years old at the time of his father's death, and he may well have been considerably older, in view of his father having been at least in his sixties when he made his will. In short, there is no documentation whatsover to suggest that the Joseph of the 1772 will in Virginia is the same individual as Joseph who died in North Carolina in 1803. The fact that both men were named Joseph, one in Virginia, and one in North Carolina, does not prove anything..

An extensive search of the Sanders who lived in the  Montgomery/Orange/Guilford/Chatham/Randolph area of North Carolina during the time of Joseph's youth does not  help much in finding his father. In my article on Jesse Sanders of Moore County, I  prepared a list of some of the Sanders who lived in the area but about whom we have no information concerning their children. Possibly, Joseph's father could have been the George Sanders who was a neighbor to the Reverend Moses; or he may have been the Daniel Sanders who appeared briefly in Montgomery County in the 1770s.

Some recent information and/or  DNA testing (based on the research of Jerry Sanders and R.S. Sanders) appears to suggest that Joseph Sanders may be related to William Saunders (1740-1790) of  Chatham County, North Carolina. The DNA match is very close and the two men were of the same generation; they may even have been brothers. Some researchers have suggested that  William may have been a son of James Sanders and Ann Holmes of Johnston County, but so far as I can tell this assumption is based on mere geographical proximity.There is a long-standing family tradition among one branch of Joseph's descendants that he was an immigrant from Scotland, but it appears more likely his parents or grandparents were the original immigrants, whatever country they came from. Another possibility, if Joseph and William are indeed brothers, is that their father, whoever he may have been, was a non-Sanders who was adopted  by a Sanders relative of one of the four brothers of Anson. If this  scenario is correct, Joseph may have grown up regarding himself as a relative of Moses, Aaron, Isaac, and Francis, even though he did not share their DNA.

Joseph Sanders died between March 18, 1803 and November 1805 when the will was proved in court.  Here is a transcription of the will:

Randolph County Will Bk. 3, p. 29
November Term 1806

     I, Joseph Sanders, of the County of Randolph & State of North Carolina, being of sound & perfect mind &memory, calling to mind that is ordained that all men shall die, do make this my last will & testament in manner & form following:  That is to say, my body to be decently buried in a Christian-like manner at the discretion of my Executors, hereafter named, and as to my worldly estate which it hath pleased God to bless me with, I give and bequeath in the following manner:

1st. It is my will and desire that all my just debts and funeral expenses be punctually paid.

2ndly. I lend unto my beloved wife Rebeccah Sanders all my moveable estate during her life or widowhood and in case she married again, I will and bequeath that all my moveable estate be equally divided between my said wife and daughters Rachel, Mary, Sarah, & Phebe, and that the division of said estate shall be made by three freeholders chosen by my Executor, hereafter named, & that the property of onesaid [?] be by then appraised equally divided between the said legatees with out any sale being made. I likewise will to my said wife the use of the plantation whereon I live during her life or widowhood.

3rdly. I will and bequeath to each of my sons, namely, John, George, and Joseph Sanders, an equal dividend of all my lands, to wit, two hundred & fifty acres each to be divided by lines running parallel with each other in such a manner as to give each of them as equal a proportion of the creek as possible. And it is my will that my son John , his heirs & assigns forever shall have & enjoy the middle division of the said land. And that my son George, his heirs & assigns forever, shall have possession & enjoy the uppermost division of said tract adjoining Abrham Haskett & that my son Joseph, his heirs and assigns, shall have, hold, & enjoy the lower division of the said lands, which will include my dwelling house, all which I give to him, his heirs and assigns forever, only reserve to his mother the right of living in the manner house & having her support & maintenance out of the improvements thereunto during her widowhood.

4thly.  I will and desire that if there should be a necessity of putting out any of my children to trades or any other occasion that they should be put with some friend or friends of the Quaker Society to be raised up in that religion. I do further by these presents make, constitute, ordain & appoint my beloved wife Rebeccah Sanders Executrix and my sons John Sanders and George Sanders Executors of this my last will & testament and I do herby revoke, disannul & do away all & every other will & testament by me heretofore made. Ratifying & Confirming this & no other to be my last will & testament in witness whereof I have hereunto set my  (hand) & affixed my seal this 18th day of March Anno Domini
1803                                                                   Joseph Sanders (seal)
signed, sealed, & acknowledged
in presence of Henry Cummings
                        Alexander Gray
November Term 1805
The foregoing last will & testament of Joseph Sander, dec’d, was duly proved in open court by  Alex Gray & admitted to record.
Test J. Harper Clk

(I have not seen the original will. Several people have sent me this transcription, and I am not sure who did the original transcribing. Joseph is my third great grandfather-GS)

The settlement of Joseph's estate occurred in 1811:

Order to settle with executors August Term 1811. Josphua Craven and Benjamin Marmon appointed committee to settle. Test: Jesse Harper, C.C. C. Settlement of estate, 14 November 1811. Executors, Rebekah Sanders & George Sanders. Names: Francis Sanders, Peter Rich, Benjamin Sanders, Jesse Sanders, Rebekah Sanders.

The individuals named here are readily identifiable. Francis Sanders, of course, was the husband of Joseph's daughter Rachel; Jessem Sanders was the husband of Joseph's daughter Phebe; Benjamin Sanders was the husband of Joseph's daughter, Mary; and Peter Rich was the husband of Joseph's daughter, Sarah. George Sanders, Joseph's son, and Rebecca Saunders, Joseph's widow, were the executors.

In his will, Joseph mentioned that  if his children were to be apprenticed out, that they be employed by someone of the Quaker faith.This does not necesarily mean that Joseph himself was a Quaker. He may have admired their honesty, trustworthy qualities, and fairness. We cannot rule out the possibility, however, that he was a former Quaker and, as previously mentioned, there is evidence that he lived near other Quakers and former Quakers. 

In a effort to find Quakers who may have been related to Joseph or his known DNA relative, William Sanders of Chatham County, I have looked through Hinshaw's The Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, volume I, for references to Quakers named Sanders in North Carolina. There were a surprising number of Quakes who had the surname of Sanders, but, unfortunately, I haven't been able to establish a kinship between any of them and the Joseph Sanders line. Many of these Quaker Sanders moved frequently from one Monthly Meeting to another, making identification even more difficult.  Among the Monthly Meetings in the Piedmont area of North Carolina were the Cane Creek Monthly Meeting in Orange (now Alamance), established about 1751; the New Garden Monthly Meeting in Rowan County (now in Guilford), established in 1778; the Deep River Monthly Meeting in Guilford County, establish in 1778; and the Back Creek Monthly Meeting, established in 1792 in Randolph County.
 
One well-known Quaker family was that of John Sanders and Jane Crew of the Deep River Monthly Meeting in Guilford County, just to the north of Randolph County.. The children and descendants of Joel and John are pretty well-established through the Quaker records, but the identity of the ancestors of Joel and John  is still very much in doubt (in spite of various postings on the Internet that purport to give their ancestors).
 
Looking once again at the Sanders in Randolph County in the period from 1790 to 1810, I found that, for the most part, they easily fit into known family groups, but there are a few that seem to spring from nowhere and then disappear just as rapidly.
 
Joseph Sanders is the only Sanders listed on the 1790 census of Randolph, but we know Isaac Saunders was there because there are references to him in the land records in the early 1790s. In 1800 Joseph,Isaac, and Miles are the only Sanders listed.  Miles Sanders and his children are pretty well documented. It appears he moved to Randolph just before 1800 from Pasquotank County, he lived in Randolph about fifteen years, and then he moved elsewhere. He doesn't appear to have any connection to Joseph or Isaac of my Sanders lines.
 
In 1810, we find the following Sanders: 

Benjamin, married Jane Jenny Clark August 31, 1803. He lived near the Back Creek area of northwest Randolph near the Quakers and he was active in the Manumission Society in Rowan County. He disappears from  records about 1825 and we have no records of whether he had children or not). I believe he is probably the same Benjamin Sanders who was living in Rowan County in 1830.  I am unable to determine whether he is related to either of my two Sanders lines; however, James Winningham was the bondman for the marriage of Benjamin and Jenny. Apparently, this is the same James Winningham whose daughter Nancy married a Moses Sanders. in 1818. The bondman fo that wedding was was George Sanders, son of Joseph, Sr. One possibility is that this Benjamin and Moses were the sons of Joshua Sanders who appears on the 1790 Montgomery and the 1810  Randolph census. A Joshua Sanders was a chain carrier for a 1793 land grant to Reubin Sanders, who was a neighbor to George Sanders.  Aaron Sanders, the Reverend Moses Sanders, and George Sanders owned land adjacent to Nathaniel Steed and in 1774, George, Moses, and Aaron were ordered to repair a road in Montgomery County, suggesting they were all neighbors.
 
Benjamin, my g-g grandfather, son of Isaac Saunders. Benjamin married Mary, the daughter of Joseph. He lived near the Montgomery County border.
 
Francis, brother of my g-g grandfather. Francis married Rachel, another daughter of Joseph. He was enumerated near Benjamin on the census, but land records indicate he owned land in the Back Creek area where the Quakers lived.
 
George, a son of Joseph. He married Phebe, a granddaughter of Isaac Saunders. Based on references to him in land and legal records, he had a great deal of association with Quakers or former Quakers.
 
Richard, a Quaker who came to Randolph from Perquimans in 1804. He was expelled in 1813 because his sons joined the army to fight in the war of 1812).  Richard doesn't appear to be related to our group.
 
Josh Sanders (there are two Josh Sanders listed on the census). The Ancestry.com index lists three Josh Sanders and does not list Francis. However, Francis is on the actual image page, so I think the indexer made a mistake here and recorded a third "Josh" instead of Francis.  Also, one of the Josh Sanders may be unmarried (if the female living with him is not his wife). I think his name may not be "Josh" at all, but that he may be John Sanders, the brother of George. John married Rachel Randon on October 23, 1811. Who the other "Josh" is, I have no idea, but they are both listed near Benjamin who married Mary, so I think Josh is related to the Benjamin or Isaac line, even though we don't have documentation. "Josh,"  who was probably a relatively young man in 1810, may be the same person as "Josiah" who appears on the 1815 tax list of Randolph. There were also two Joshua Sanders listed in the 1790 census of Randolph County. Whoever, these individuals are, they are obviously related to the main Sanders line of Randolph/Montgomery.
 
Quaker records have references to other Sanders who do not appear on the census in 1810. For example, in 1807 a Joseph Sanders and his wife, the former Martha Wells, were received into the Back Creek MM in Randolph from Suttons Creek in Perquimans. They remained in Randolph through the birth of several children and then in 1816 moved to Ohio. I can't find any record they are related to Isaac or to the Joseph who died in 1803..

I used to think that  of the property of Joseph who died in 1803 was near the Montgomery County border. This was based on the marriages of his children to Isaac's children and to Joseph and Isaac being  the chain carriers for a 1798 survey "beginning at Benjamin Sanders' corner post oak." This  land was on Barnes Creek, presumably just over the border in Montgomery County. However, after a survey of references in Randolph County deeds, it is apparent that Joseph acquired land in the Back Creek and Deep River area of Randolph which is northwest of Asheboro. In addition, Francis Sanders(Benjamin's brother) and John Sanders (Benjamin's brother-in-law) acquired land in the same area.
 
Here are a few of the many references I found:
 
May 30, 1813, Joseph Rich enters 40 ac. on waters of Back Cr.; border; John Sanders and Peter Rich.
(John Sanders is the son of Joseph Sanders. Peter Wall Rich married John's sister, Sarah, and was expelled by the Quakers for "marrying out.")
 
1816, Joseph Rich acquired 40 acres in Randolph County, on Back Creek, joning John Sanders, and Peter Rich.
 
Francis Sanders purchased 100 acres of land in 1804 from John Stalker. This John Stalker was probably related to the Thomas Stalker who bought land from Aaron Sanders of Loudoun County in 1828. Aaron Saunders of Loudoun belongs to a unrelated Sanders line according to DNA tests.
 
August 14, 1804 Francis Saunders enters 100 ac on waters of Back Cr; border; begins on John Reading’s line and joins Thos Reading’s entry.October 8, 1804 Francis Saunders enters 50 ac. On waters of Back Cr; border; joins his own line and Thos Reading’s entry.
 
1817, Francis Sanders is a chain carriers for a grant of 200 acres to Jonathan Reading in Randolph County, on the water of Back Creek, adjoining Jacob Green and John Richardson.

596 (526). Peter Rich 305 ac.; warrant #181 issued Jul. 30, 1786(Quaker style date) by Sam Milikan to Peter Rich for 305 ac. on Gabrils Cr., joins Jos. Sanders, George Farlow, begins on Sanders' line, rune E to George Farlow's, S, & entered Apr. 29, 1786; 305 ac. surveyed Dec. 6,1 788 by Wm Millikan; Joseph Sanders & George Farlow, chain carriers, grant #563, issued Nov. 24, 1790.   
 
August 1, 1797 Joseph Sanders enters 250 acres in Randolph Co on waters of Back Creek and Deep River joining his own land on E,W., &S bounded by Peter Rich, Feaquar, Abraham Haskit, Joseph Osburn, and Joseph Close beginning at NE corner of his former survey and running for compliment; June 23, 1796 for grant see file #1180 in Secretary of State's files.)
 
Gabriels' Creek, Hasketts Creek, and Back Creek are all north or north west of Asheboro, the county seat. The Deep River seems to flow north west to southeast and without other reference points it is difficult to locate land that is identified only as along the Deep River. Still, I believe the area referenced in the preceding deeds is near the Quaker community of Back Creek.The  Rich family, neighbors to Joseph, were birthright Quakers, or at least some of them were. Peter Rich married Joseph's daughter, Sarah, sister of the Mary who married Benjamin Sanders who lived along the Randolph/Montgomery border.

In 1803 when the the "other" Benjamin Sanders(the one who attended Manumission Society meetings) married Jenny Clark, the bondman was a James Winningham. This James Winningham had a daughter named Nancy. On March 18, 1818, she married a Moses Sanders in Randolph County. One of the witneses for that marriage was George Sanders. Apparently, the only George Sanders in the county at that time was George, the son of Joseph. George married Phebe, the grandaughter of Isaac. The identity of this Moses Sanders who married Nancy Winningham is unknown.

The Benjamin Sanders who married Jenny Clark and the Moses Sanders who married Nancy Winningham were probably born between 1780 and 1800. However, there appears to be no one on the 1790, 1800, or 1810 census of Randolph who could be their obvious father and none of the Quaker records seem to indicate any possible parents. I believe, however, there is enough evidence to indicate they are related to Joseph Sanders, though the nature of that relationship is presently unknown. 
( Revised January 20, 2010)

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Joseph "Uncle Joe" Sanders
of Randolph  County, North Carolina, and Jackson County, Alabama

Joseph Sanders was born in 1793, in Randolph County, North Carolina, the son of Joseph and Rebecca Sanders. The elder Joseph died in 1803. The younger Joseph married Martha Sanders on August 21, 1809 in Randolph County. Martha's parentage is not known with certainty, but recent research indicates she may have been a daughter of Benjamin Sanders of Randolph County and a granddaughter of Isaac Sanders. If so, she was not genetically related to her husband even though she had the same surname.

In the late 1820s, Joseph and Martha, their large family of children, and many of their relatives moved to Jackson County, Alabama. As the Cherokee and other Indian groups were pushed further west, the northeast Alabama region along the Tennessee River became a prime destination for white settlement. Joseph bought land in the area and farmed there the rest of his life.

During the late 1830s, Martha died, and Joseph began seeking a new wife. He re-married about 1838 to Deborah Saunders who was from Montgomery County, North Carolina. One of the descendants of Joseph's second marriage, Lottie Kingery Hoge, would later write, "I don't know how she first got acquainted with my Alabama grandfather, Mr. Joseph Sanders, but she went to Alabama and they were married. He was much older than her for he had been married before and had 12 children, most of them grown and married, probably at ages of 14-16. I don't know when they (Joseph and Deborah) were married but probably about 1838 for their oldest son was born about 1840. That was Uncle Henry." [quotation from this letter provided by Don Schaefer, editor of Sanders Siftings.] Deborah was born in 1803 and was therefore about thirty-six years old when she married. Since she lived in North Carolina and Joseph lived in Alabama before their marriage, I have always thought that Joseph's first wife, Martha, was probably a close relative to Deborah; if my theory that Martha was the daughter of Benjamin Sanders, Martha and Deborarh were first cousins.

Joseph and Deborah had three children together before she died about 1854. Joseph married for the third time on November 11, 1860 to Mahala Harper of Jackson County. The 1860 census list Joseph as age 67 with personal property worth $1500 and real estate worth $1500. While he was not a wealthy man, these assets were enough to indicate his farm was prosperous by the standards of the time. Joseph Sanders, by 1860, was the acknowledged patriarch of the Jackson County Sanders. Nearly everyone called him "Uncle Joe," regardless of whether he was actually an uncle, cousin, granduncle, or some other relative.

When the Civil War arrived, the citizens of Jackson County were split. There were few slaves in Jackson County and many residents were subsistence farmers who had little regard for the large plantation owners. In 1850 only one Sanders in the county owned slaves. Nevertheless, there was still substantial support for the Confederacy, and those who refused to accept secession were regarded as traitors by those who supported the Rebel cause. Although too old to serve as a soldier, Joseph remained loyal to the Union, and his sons and some of his nephews joined the Union Army.

The conflicting loyalties in northeast Alabama created a very chaotic and lawless situation in which it is often difficult to determine the motivations of the people involved. Murders, shootings, and acts of violence were commonplace. "Uncle Joe" Sanders was killed in one of these incidents in 1863 while he was working in his field at his farm at Mud Creek.

The following letter by Louie Richard Davis of Texas was written to friends in Scottsboro, Alabama, July 24, 1974, and was published in Sanders Siftings, July 2000, p. 1:

"I know you have some information on the Sanders that was killed by bushwhackers. I have heard a story here in Texas passed down through generations (may have changed some). One of the Sanders, close relation to Phoebe was caught off guard while plowing in a field by bushwhackers. They took him and his horse to the top of a hill and made the Sanders dig a grave. Then the bushwhackers killed both man and horse and buried both in the grave with the legs of the horse sticking up out of the grave. This is some tale and may not be exactly true but is what I have heard."

There are several other variants of this story. Here is a version related by an elderly descendant of Joe Sanders who owns the property where Joe's farm was located and who relates that he got the following story from his grandmother who heard the story from her mother:

"The rebel neighbors hung him on a mulberry tree because they thought he was giving information to the Yankees. There were three of the rebels, one a neighbor by the name of Barbee - after killing him they left with a horse they were using as a pack mule to carry (I suppose) the things that they had taken. That evening, not long after the rebels had left, a group of Yankees came down out of the mountain and went after the rebels. They caught up with them near the foot of the mountain close to the old Moody Brick. The Yankees killed the horse and made the men dig a grave for it. When the grave was dug - they killed the men - put them in the hole and rolled the horse in on top of them."

Robert Dean, a Sanders descendant from Hunstville, Alabama, who sent me this information, offered the following comment:"In thinking about Mr. Dolberry's story - It may be as close to an eye witness information as we can get - even though his information did not come directly from someone that was there. It did come in a direct line from someone that was a witness to the events.  I'm sure that the story is not without flaws, mistakes, and bad memory- but may be as close to the truth as we'll ever get."

Although the preceding story is that Joseph was hanged, the Huntsville newspaper in 1863 stated that "an old man named Saunders" was shot in Jackson County because of his pro-Union actions. Joseph's descendant stated that Joe was not buried near the mulberry tree where he was hanged. Instead, he was buried some distance away near where an infant child of Joseph and Deborah had been buried earlier. There may very well be other family members who are buried nearby, but no other markers are present today.

Originally four cedar posts were erected to mark his grave. Later, in the early 1990s, someone erected a modern marker for Uncle Joe's grave. Unfortunately, the dates on the new tombstone are incorrect and his name is listed as Joseph B. Sanders, although there are no records that give him a middle name or initial. His real birth and death dates are 1793 and March 10, 1863--these are based on the testimony of Carrol Jackson Brewer to the Southern Claims Commission that Joe was seventy in the year of his death.

The grave is located under a tree at the end of County Road 111 in Jackson County. Local people call this site "Dolberry Hollow." My sister and I visited the resting place of our ancestor in 2008. Today, one sees only a pastoral view of thriving fields of corn and mountain scenery. It's difficult to imagine the strife that engulfed the area at the time Uncle Joe Sanders died.

Also located across the road is the "Blowing Cave," which is something of a local tourist attraction. A strong breeze blows from the cave, hence the name by which it has been known since before the Civil War.

In her book Sanders and Bean Families: Past and Present  Virginia Retan has the following about the Blowing Cave:

"Mother Nature provided an air conditioner during the terribly hot season of summer, known as the Blowing Cave. The cave was named Blowing Cave because of the cool breeze that forever flowed from the entrance in the summer and the warm breeze which flowed in the cooler months. This cave was, and is today, quite an attraction.

"Inside the cave, there are many rooms. People have used the Blowing Cave many times for shelter from tornadoes and other storms. Unfortunately, many of the rooms have been washed away by great gushes of water which are known to come unexpectedly from the cave.Some people say that the end of the cave comes out in Winchester, Tennessee. Some have said that they have traveled all through the cave and it took them three or four days to reach the other side.

"Now (1986), many groups enjoy exploring the cave, with experienced guides, of course. Scouts enjoy staying overnight there, checking out the remaining rooms of the cave. The cave is now posted and people enter at their own risk. Young couples used to take walks there on Sunday afternoons; even now in 1986, it is said there is evidence of courtships of days long ago, in the names carved on trees or scraped in the rocks at the entrance of the cave."

Although the cave is no longer open to the public (as of 2008),one can still stand about several yards away and get a good view of the cave opening, and sometimes even feel the cool breeze from the cave, just as Uncle Joe Sanders and his family and friends probably used to do on hot summer days before the Civil War.

Joseph had  thirteen children by his two wives:

Children of JOSEPH SANDERS and MARTHA SANDERS are:
    i.    WILLIAM WALTER SANDERS, b. December 1815, Fayetteville, Cumberland County, North Carolina; d. Bet. 1867 - 1874, Arkansas or Missouri
    ii.    NANCY SANDERS, b. 1818, Randolph County, North Carolina.
    iii.    ELIZABETH SANDERS, b. Abt. 1821, Randolph County, North Carolina;
    iv.    BENJAMIN SANDERS, b. 1823, Randolph County, North Carolina; d. Aft. 1850, Jackson County, Alabama
    v.    RACHEL SANDERS, b. 1825, Randolph County, North Carolina.
    vi.    GEORGE SANDERS, b. 1826, Randolph County, North Carolina; d. 1859, Jackson County, Alabama;
    vii.    AILSEY SANDERS, b. 1829, Randolph County, North Carolina, or Jackson County, Alabama
    viii.    MARTHA J. MATTIE SANDERS, b. 1830, Jackson County, Alabama; d. 1884, Jackson County, Alabama.
    ix.    MARY ANN SANDERS, b. Abt. 1833, Jackson County, Alabama; d. Abt. 1861, Alabama?
    x.    JOSEPH B. SANDERS, b. 1834, Jackson County, Alabama; d. February 12, 1863, Murfreesboro, Tennessee. (Joseph died while serving in the Union Army during the Civil War).
   
Children of JOSEPH SANDERS and DEBORAH SAUNDERS are:

    xi.    HENRY A. SANDERS, b. February 12, 1840, Mud Creek, Jackson County, Alabama; d. July 13, 1904, Jackson County, Alabama. In an e-mail message in 2005, Sherry Sanders said one of her cousins referred to Henry as a "red headed Irishman."  Henry joined the Union Army in July 1862. Don Schaefer had this to say about him in an October, 2007 e-mail: "Henry A. was the son of Joseph Sanders, Jr. by his second wife, Deborah Sanders. He had quite a history. Served as private in Company B, 18th Regiment of Ohio Volunteers from 5 Jul 1862 to 14 Jun 1865.  He was wounded at the Battle of Nashville. Gunshot wound, right shoulder, same as that of his brother John G. Sanders in the same battle. When Henry Sanders returned from the War and saw that Mary had a baby, he said it wasn't his and thereafter had nothing to do with her or the baby. He must have forgotten that he was still married to Mary, because he married Frances Hankins 9 June 1867. He divorced Mary E. Shelton, his first wife,16 June, 1871 -- four years after he married his second wife, Frances J. Hankins.Information on children and marriages taken from Civil War pension records, except for marriage date with Frances Hankins, which was recorded in Jackson County, Ala. "

    xii.    PHEBE EMALINE SANDERS, b. May 20, 1842, Mud Creek, Jackson County, Alabama; d. April 12, 1931, Alhambra, Madison County, Illinois. Phebe was the grandmother of Elva Hoge Dixon.  

From Shannon Doermann: Obituary: Mrs. Phebe Kingrey, daughter of Joseph and Deborah Sanders, was born at Mud Creek, Alabama, May 20, 1842 where her childhood days were spent. At the age of 17, she was converted and united with the Baptist Church, and has always lived a consistent Christian life.

On Aug. 31, 1860, she was united in marriage with Isham King. Near the close of the Civil War in 1864, she with her husband came to Ill. and settled on a farm 3 miles south of Alhambra where she spent the remainder of her life. To this union were born 5 children two of whom survive, Mrs. Anna Crabtree of Girard Ill. and Mrs. Lizzie Ryder of Syracuse, Kans. her husband, I.K. departed this life April 24, 1876.

On Oct. 14, 1880, she was again united in marriage with Charles W. Kingery who preceded her in death Jan 27, 1930. To this union was born one son who died in infancy and two daughters, Mrs. Laura McCain of Marine, Ill. and Mrs. Lottie Hoge of Alhambra, Ill. who survive her.

She enjoyed good health until recent years. About a year ago the infirmities of old age caused her to become bedfast. On Mar. 24, she suffered a paralytic stroke from which she never recovered. She departed this life Apr. 12, 1931 at the age of 88 yrs. 10 mo. and 22 days.

She leaves to mourn her demise beside her children 15 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren and a host of relatives and friends.

Article that appeared in the local paper:
Mrs. Kingery of Alhambra is Dead-Died at Home of Daughter Near Alhambra on Sunday. Mrs. Phebe Kingery, died Sunday afternoon at 3 o'clock at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Willam Hoge, three miles south of Alhambra. Death was caused by old age. She had been bedfast for nearly a year. Mrs. Kingery was born in Alhambra (big x drawn on article by Elva Dixon and word wrong written over it) June 21, 1842. At the time of her death she had attained the age of 88 years, 10 months, and 22 days. Her maiden name was Phebe Sanders. She was the last of the fifteen children of the Sander family to die. She lived her entire life in that vicinity (another x and wrong drawn over last statement). Mrs. Kingery was twice marred. Her first marriage occurred in 1860 to Isham King. He preceded her in death a number of years ago. She was later married to Charles Kingery in 1880. He died in 1930. Four children survive her. They are, Mrs. Anna Crabtree, Girard, Ill., Mrs. Elizabeth Ryder, Syracuse, Kan., Mrs. Laura McCain, Marine and Mrs. Lottie Hoge of Alhambra, fifteen grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren.....Interment will be made in the Mundis Cemetery.....(hand written at the bottom is "Born May 20, 1842 at Mud Creek, Jackson Co. Alabama. Came to Ill. near close of Civil War - 1846 when husband was wounded.")

    xiii.    JOHN G. SANDERS, b. August 30, 1845, Mud Creek, Jackson County, Alabama; d. August 17, 1919, Inola, Rogers County, Oklahoma. (John G. served in the Union Army  during the Civil War).

--Gary Sanders
article written February, 2008
revised January 31, 2010
See also my December 2011  revision of this article for Victoria Bynum's Web site site Renegade South, whcih includes pictures of Uncle Joe's grave. There are also pictures at the Find a Grave Memorial to Uncle Joe Sanders.
Additional note 
The following material is from a January 27, 2004  post on the Sanders Ancestry.com forum  by Don E. Schaefer, editor of Sanders Siftings: Don is a descendant of Benjamin (son of Isaac) and  Mary Sanders, the sister of "Uncle Joe" Sanders.

Here is some information about the Joseph Sanders (1793-1863) often referred to as Joseph, Jr.

Concerning the murder of Joseph Sanders, this is what I have picked up from several sources. From notes in the Scottsboro library: "Joseph Sanders was taken from his home during the Civil War and was shot while on his knees by a rock because his boys were in the Union Army. Everyone called him Uncle Joe. He was shot by Jeff Barbee, Thomps Houston, and John Teeters on his farm near Mud Creek, these men were tories never served on either side during the Civil War."  Ann Barbee Chambless of Scottsboro told me that she has been searching for the real story of what happened. A brother of her great-grandfather was one of the "whippersnappers" and she can find no record of a trial. Her ancestor had a record of an estate settlement about that time. Possibly some vigilante justice or Union troops took care of things, without leaving a record. With the lack of a trial or record, I guess many versions of what happened cropped up, slanted to whatever a person's sympathies were during and after the war. Glenn (Chick) Sanders of Huntsville says that there was no marker for Joe Sanders and he and some other relatives had one put up on his grave. He also said he has been told that two of Joseph Sanders' sons, Henry A. and John G., killed two of the men who murdered their father.

Found in the Huntsville "Confederate," 23 Apr 1863:
"DISLOYAL MEN SHOT.-- We are reliably informed that a man, named Pleas. Hickman, who lived in the Sinks, near the boundary line of Jackson and Madison counties, and was a Union man and a bad character, generally, had been conscribed and taken into the Army of Tennessee, deserted, and, coming home, laid out in the mountains, and turned to robbing soldiers' families, and others, of their scanty provisions- and, on Sunday last, some unknown person shot and killed him, in the Mountain four miles North-East of Maysville. He was found with his abdomen perforated by a ball. On the same day, we learn, an old man, named Saunders, who affiliated with the Abolition Army, when they occupied Jackson county, and went off with them, but returned to depredate on the neighborhood, was shot and killed by some unknown person, on Mud Creek in that county." The latter killing appears to fit the description of the murder of Joseph Sanders, in time and place.

From a July 24, 1974 letter to Leola, Eunice and Hazel Matthews of Scottsboro, Alabama --- from Louie Davis of Weatherford, Texas:
"I know you have some information on the Sanders that was killed by busnwhackers. I have heard a story here in Texas passed down through generations (may have changed some) One of the Sanders, close relation to Phoebe was caught off guard while plowing a field by bushwhackers. They took him and his horse to the top of a hill and made the Sanders dig a grave. Then the Bushwhackers killed both man and his horse and burried both in the grave with the legs of the horse sticking up out of the grave. (This is some tale and may not be exactly true but is what I have heard) I think you may have a more accurate account of the event."

"I keep hoping you will unearth the real story about the murder of Uncle Joe Sanders, even though my greatgrandfather's brother was one of the three culprits. One of the older men in this county has told me the "hanging tree" still stands at the head of Mud Creek where justice was administered. I still do not know if it would be labeled "roadside justice" or as you suggested Federal troop intervention. I do know that a group of Federal troops stationed in this area took over the Barbee home for their winter quarters one year. My great-great uncle was a very young boy at the time. He lived until I was about six or seve years old, so I remember hearing him repeat stories from that time period. Of course, he never told about his brother being hung. His stories were about his father's death just before the Civil War (died in 1860) and how another brother died of measles after enlisting in the CSA. That brother was buried at Corinth, MS. My own greatgrandfather was a CSA Scout and was in the Federal prison at Rock Island. Uncle Lewis told what a difficult winter he, his mother, and his older sisters had the winter they were forced to live in what had been slave quarters. That is one reason I have always been so interested in learning more about the murder of Uncle Joe Sanders and what happened to the culprits. If your Madison County contact provides you with any part of the story, please be sure to share with me."
from Ann Barbee Chambless, the Jackson County (Ala.) Historical Association.
--Don E. Schaefer

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Martha Sanders of Randolph, wife of Joseph

Joseph Sanders, Jr., (1793-1863) was married three times. His first marriage was to Martha Sanders in Randolph County, North Carolina on August 21, 1809. The bondman for the wedding was Joseph’s older brother, George Sanders. Joseph was only sixteen or seventeen years old at the time and his bride was probably just as young. Therefore, she was most likley born about 1792 or 1793.

Joseph and Martha had ten children before she died between 1834 and 1838 in Jackson County, Alabama, where the family had moved in the late 1820s. Joseph then married Deborah Saunders about 1838 and they had three children before her death about 1854. Joseph third marriage was to Mahala Harper Shelton, the widow of Nathaniel Shelton. There were no children by the third wife.

The parentage of the second and third wives is well established, but so far as I can tell, no one has yet attempted to identify the parents of Martha Sanders, the first wife. I now believe that, although we will probably never have firm documentation, we can identify with a reasonable degree of probability the father of Martha Sanders.

The clue to this mystery is the circumstances surrounding the second marriage.  Joseph was living in Jackson County, Alabama at the time of the death of his first wife. He was a prosperous farmer with hundreds of acres of land. No doubt there were plenty of women in the area who would seek his hand in matrimony, but he chose to marry Deborah Saunders who was in her late thirties and who lived five hundred miles away in the Sanders ancestral home of Montgomery County, North Carolina. She had never been to Alabama before her marriage, and, according to Elva Hoge Dixon, one of her descendants, Deborah would never see her North Carolina relatives again.

This suggests to me that Deborah was probably a close relative of Martha, Joseph’s first wife. My first thought was that Deborah and Martha were sisters but the 1800 census proves that theory unlikely. Deborah’s father, Jacob, has four daughters listed on the 1800 Montgomery County, North Carolina, census, but the names of all four are known though subsequent documentation. Nor is a daughter named Martha mentioned in an 1830 deed that refers to the heirs of Jacob.

Another problem with the theory that the two wives of Joseph were sisters is that the first marriage occurred not in Montgomery County, where Jacob, the father of Deborah, lived, but in neighboring Randolph County. It was the usual custom and law in those days for the marriage bond to be issued in the county where the bride lived.

Therefore, we should probably confine our search for Martha’s father to the Sanders who were living in Randolph County at the time of her marriage in 1809 or in the years immediately before the marriage. Only three Sanders, Joseph, Isaac, and Miles are listed on the 1800 Randolph census.
Miles, born about 1778, was a recent immigrant from Pasquotank County who apparently was unrelated to the other Sanders in Randolph, and he moved to Burke County by 1815. Joseph was the father of Joseph, Jr., who married Martha. Isaac is ruled out as the father of Martha because he had no female children living in his household in 1800.

However, Isaac’s presumed son, Benjamin Sanders, moved to Randolph from Montgomery just after 1800. In 1806 Isaac granted land in Randolph County to Benjamin and Benjamin may have moved his family across the border even before the land transfer. Although he was enumerated in Montgomery in 1800, in 1810 Benjamin appears on the Randolph census. He lived there until he moved to Jackson County, Alabama, in the 1830s.

Could Benjamin be the father of Martha? He seems to fit every criterion. In 1800 he had several female children in his household, all born between 1790 and 1800, the decade in which Martha was born.  Marriages usually were bonded in the county where the bride’s family lived, and Benjamin was in Randolph in 1809 when the marriage of Joseph and Martha occurred.  In the 1810 census, Benjamin is one of two Sanders head of households in the county who could have been the father of the bride. Josh Sanders is the other one. We can rule out everyone but Benjamin and Josh because the others were either brothers of the groom or because they were too young in 1810 to have a daughter born about 1793 or because their children are already documented (for example, Richard Sanders who moved to Randolph from Pasquotank County).

Here is a chart of the Sanders head of households enumerated on the 1810 census of Randolph County:

Name on 1810 census of Randolph County, N.C.

M under 10

M 10-15

M 16-25

M 16-44

M over 45

F under 10

F     10-   15 

F      16-    25

F    26-  44

F  over 45

Josh (born before 1765)

1

2

1

 

1

1

3

 

1

 

Josh (born 1785-1794)

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

Benjamin (son of Isaac, born about 1766)

1

 

1

1

 

3

2

 

1

 

Francis (another son of Isaac, born 1782)

3

 

 

1

 

3

 

 

1

 

Richard (recent arrival in 1810 from Pasquotank, born 1755)

3

 

 

 

1

1

 

 

1

 

George (brother of Joseph, Jr., born 1785)

 

 1

1

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

Benjamin  (born 1780, no known relationship to the other Benjamin

2

 

 

1

 

2

 

 

1

 


There are two individuals named Josh Sanders on the 1810 census, but one is too young to be the father of Martha. The older Josh was probably born in the 1760s. He may be the same as one of the Joshua Sanders listed in the 1790 Montgomery County census. A Joshua Sanders is referenced as a chain carrier in a 1773 land record for land granted to Reubin Sanders adjoining the land of George Sanders, who is referenced in other records as a neighbor of the Moses Sanders. These records suggest that Josh of Montgomery was from the same Sanders line as Isaac and Benjamin, but we do not know the exact relationship. Nor do we really know that the Josh in Randolph in 1810 is the same fellow who lived in Montgomery in 1790. There is a Josiah Sanders listed on the 1815 tax list of Randolph who may be the same person as Josh on the 1810 census. We do know enough, though, that if Josh was the father of Martha, the kinship between Martha and Deborah was probably at least that of second cousin or more distant. This is one reason I favor the theory that Benjamin, rather than Josh, was the father of Martha. Another reason is that we have evidence of the association of Benjamin’s father, Isaac, with the father of Joseph, Joseph, Sr.. Some of the children of the senior Joseph and of Isaac intermarried (Frances and Rachel, Benjamin and Mary). There is also a grant of land to Benjamin in Montgomery County in 1798 with Isaac and Joseph, Sr., as chain carriers. We have no evidence that Josh or Josiah was ever associated with either Joseph or Benjamin.

It is, of course, possible to theorize that there could have been another male with the surname of Sanders, living in Randolph county in 1800 or 1810 but residing in the household of a non-Sanders male and that this hypothetical man named Sanders could have been the father of Martha. I cannot discount this possibility entirely, but why bother to advance an alternative scenario when a more obvious conclusion is available? I think we can narrow the possibilities to Benjamin and Josh, with Benjamin the more likely father of Martha.

If Benjamin is the father of Martha Sanders, how is Martha related to Deborah, Joseph’s second wife? She is then the first cousin of Deborah because Benjamin (father of Martha) and Jacob (father of Deborah) were brothers. We know from DNA tests that neither cousin was related to Joseph, the man they married, as he belonged to a different Sanders line. The first cousinhood of Deborah and Martha would explain why the two were acquainted with and eventually married Joseph even though Deborah had to travel hundreds of miles to do so.

Benjamin was married twice and the second marriage occurred just after 1800. I have discussed the evidence for Benjamin’s two marriages elsewhere at my Web site. If my suggestion is correct about her parentage, Martha would have been a child of Benjamin and the first wife; the children born in the 1790s were half-siblings to those born after 1800. This is where the really convoluted nature of intermarriages between these two Sanders lines becomes obvious. Benjamin’s second wife was Mary, the sister of Joseph who married Martha and Deborah.

Therefore, we have the following relationships confusing relationships:

Benjamin was Joseph’s brother-in-law because Benjamin married Joseph’s sister.

Benjamin was Joseph’s father-in-law because Joseph married Martha, Benjamin’s daughter.

Benjamin’s wife Mary was the stepmother of Joseph’s wife Martha.

Benjamin’s children by Mary were the half aunts and uncles of the children of Joseph and Martha.

Benjamin's children by Mary were also the nieces and nephews of  Joseph.

Benjamin was the grandfather of Joseph’s children by Martha.

This is enough to give one a head ache! In fact, situations like this were not uncommon a couple of hundred years ago  in  rural areas where the supply of available men and women was low and people tended to marry within the local community. Readers of this Web site may remember the situation among the Sanders of Leake County, Mississippi in which a man married his step grandmother-in-law. Some may be reminded of the old Lonzo and Oscar novelty song "I'm my own grandpa." I suspect that after a generation or so, the Sanders family gave up trying to figure out how they were related to other family members. Maybe that is why Joseph Sanders was just called “Uncle Joe” by everyone.

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John Sanders of Nansemond, Bacon's Rebellion, and the 1681 land grant, how much do we know?

(The Sanders family discussed in the following article is not related to the Sanders of Randolph and Montgomery.)

Since John Bennett Boddie in Volume VI of his Historical Southern Families, pages 237-239, advanced a tentative thesis about the identify of John Sanders, who received a land grant in 1681 along the border of Nansemond and Isle of Wight counties in Virginia,  many Sanders researchers have taken  Boddie's ambiguous conclusions and erected elaborate genealogies that are offered as products of sound and solid evidence. I am deeply skeptical of all such lineages. I can't find any firm evidence that my own Sanders family descends from John of Nansemond, and it's pretty hard to find any evidence that any other Southern Sanders family has adequate evidence to prove descent from him, with the exception of those Sanders who are descended from John's son Richard. Recent DNA tests appear to suggest that one of my ancestors, Joseph Sanders, may be related to a line that appears to descend from the Sanders of Nansemond, but as with the paper trail, there are so many variables that are unknown, we must hope that researchers will provide us with more solid evidence.

So, what do we know about John of Nansemond?  First, we know there was a man named John Sanders who received a land grant from Virginia in 1681. It was a rather large grant for the time, about 1650 acres, and therefore John must have been a rather influential person to have received it.  Further, we know, from later deeds that refer to the disposition of this property, that John had sons named John, Richard, and Wiliam.  We know that he had a wife named Phoebe, and we may assume, though we can't be certain, that this Phoebe was the mother of the sons.

A 1744 deed suggests that John may have had more sons, but we don't know for certain. Since Francis was a common  name among these Sanders and a Francis Sanders owned land near John, many have assumed that John had a son named Francis, in addiiton to the other three sons.  We also know that Richard's heirs moved to North Carolina and it's possible to trace them in a pretty coherent manner down to the present.  We know, furthermore, that John, Jr., married a Sarah Davis.  I think it is likely, for reasons exlained elsewhere on this Web site (see John Sanders, A Notorious Actor), that  the descendants of John, Jr., are John Sanders who died in Chowan County in 1751 and  Francis Sanders who died in 1783 in Gates County. I have been unable to trace that line after Francis of Gates died.

What do we know of John before he received the 1681 land grant? Basically, almost nothing.

Of course, one can find statements all over the Internet that give us the life history of John, but all of these appear to be based on speculation and assumptions that any reference to a John Sanders living in the late seventeenth century in Nansemond, Isle of Wight, James City, or Surry County must refer to the same individual. Boddie  proposed that the John of the 1681 land grand was the same person as the John Sanders who was punished for participating in Bacon's Rebellion of 1676.  I tentatively accepted that conclusion in my article because it seemed logical that, if the colony gave John a large grant in 1681, he must have been influential previous to that.  It makes sense that the land grant John Sanders is the same person as the Bacon's Rebellion John Sanders.  But we don't have any proof that they are references to the same person. In fact, the brief record of the trial doesn't even say where in Virginia the rebellious John Sanders lived. He may not have lived in Nansemond or Isle of Wight at all.

Both John and Sanders are common names, especially in the American South.  We have several records of a a person named John Sanders in the southern Virginia counties of Nansemond and Isle of Wight, but we have no way of knowing how many of them refer to the same person, and it's unlikely they all refer to just one person. Two John Sanders appear on the 1704 tax rolls of Nansemond, for example.

Boddie speculated that the John Sanders of the 1681 grant may have been the same John Sanders who is mentioned in a land patent of 1669 as being married to Susannah Ravenett. This John lived in Warwick and possibly, later, in  neighboring Isle of Wight County.  Boddie realized his proposal was just a suggestion, but others have taken it as accepted fact.  We have no deeds, wills, or other records that connect John Sanders of the 1681 land grant to any other John Sanders mentioned in documents prior to 1681, and  Boddie seems to have been unaware of the records that mention Phoebe as the wife of John Sanders of the 1681 land grant. Further, though we have a record that John of the 1681 land grant had children named John, Richard, and William, we have no record of any children born to the John who married Susannah Ravenett (unless, of course, he is the same person as the John of the 1681 land grant).

Boddie also suggested that William, the son of John Sanders of the 1681 land grant, may have been the same person as the William Sanders who married Mary Hall in 1682 in a Quaker ceremony.  Like many others, I have accepted this as a tentative porposition, but we don't have any documents that confirm this belief.  It's certainly within the realm of possibility that these two Williams are different people.  Nor do we have any records that William Sanders and Mary Hall, who married in 1682, ever had any children whose names are known to us.  If anyone has proof for the names of their children, it would be helpful if that person would  share the documentation.

Compounding our problems in devising a biography of John of Nansemond is the fact that the records in Nansemond were burned on a least two occasions, and though Isle of Wight has somewhat better records, much of what we have is ambiguous.  There is a great deal of room for honest differences of opinion. It's to the advantage of everyone who researches this problem to admit the uncertainly that pervades the genealogy of the Sanders of Nansemond. One researcher sent me his own elaborate interpretation of John Sanders, complete with his birth, life, marriages, and death. When I asked questions regarding how he knew that these references to a John Sanders in different counties all refer to the same person,  his reply was that I was "in error," and so were John Bennett Boddie,  Frances Cullom Harper, and everyone else when they disagreed with him. I think every Sanders researcher in the South would like to prove descent from John Sanders of Nansemond or from his even more illustrious contemporary, Edward Saunders, the surgeon of Northumberland County, Virginia, but proof has to be more than mere identity of names or dogmatic assertions of belief.
(written February 2005).

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“A Notorious Actor”—John Sanders of Virginia—and His Descendants
by Gary Sanders

(The Sanders family discussed in the following article is not related to the Sanders of Randolph and Montgomery. This article first appeared in Sanders Siftings, Number 29, April 2002, pp. 1-4. Number 30, July 2002, pp. 1-4. For footnotes and supporting documentation, please see the original article.  I first became interested in the story of John Sanders of Nansemond because I wanted to see if there was any documentation for the claim that Francis Sanders, who died in 1783 in Gates County, North Carolina, was a descendant of John. The thesis of the following article is that there does appear to be evidence that Francis was descended from John, but not through the same individuals that previous researchers had suggested.  Further, my research indicates that Francis Sanders who married Rachel Sanders in 1801 in Randolph County, North Carolina, is not the same person as the young son named Francis mentioned in the will of Francis Sanders of Gates County  in 1783.)

The Sanders family in America, writes Barbara Clark Smith, “started out among the ranks of the discontent.”   John Sanders, the progenitor of the Nansemond County line, ran afoul of the Virginia authorities during Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676, and the following sentence was pronounced at his trial:

“John Sanders being a notorious actor in the late rebellion, and by the govfrnour's proclamation of pardon being exempted, butt upon his humble petition and submission to the governour, he was pleased to grant him the benefit of his proclamation of pardon; but for that the said Sanders hath been very active in the late rebellion, the court have thought fitt and doe order that he be fined two thousand pounds of tobacco and caske to the countrie, to go towards the satisfaction of the souldiers, to be paid next yeare.”
After the pardon and an apparent restoration of his standing with the government, he was granted, along with Richard Thomas and Jonathan Robinson, a tract of l650 acres of land near Queen Grave Swamp along the county borders of Nansemond and Isle of Wight. The children of John Sanders are not firmly established, but a 1744 land deed in Isle of Wight County clearly states that he had at least four sons. Another deed, filed long after John’s death, names Richard Sanders and William Sanders as two of the sons:
 
“VAIOW-DE2 p. 39, Robert Sanders of Onslow Precinct on the New River in New York (North Carolina?), to THOMAS SANDERS of Nansemond County, 300 acres in both Isle of Wight and Nansemond Counties adjoining Swamp, adjoining the late ROBERT SANDERS, son of THOMAS SANDERS SR, and the present THOMAS SANDERS (being part of 1600 acres of land of JONATHAN ROBBINSON, RICHARD THOMAS, and JOHN SANDERS patented on 23 Apr 1681. The said SANDERS will 200 acres of the land to his sons WILLIAM AND RICHARD SANDERS and the said WILLIAM granted part of the land to his brother RICHARD SANDERS, who are now party to this deed. At some time, PHOEBE CURLE, wife of WILLIAM CURLE, Gent. late of Nansemond County and formerly the wife of JOHN SANDERS first named, did grant to JOHN SANDERS, son of the aforesaid RICHARD SANDERS and brother of RICHARD SANDERS 100 acres being the other part of the land mentioned in the aforesaid patent) dated 30 Apr 1733, W: LAWRENCE WOLFERSTON, HENRY COPELAND, and DORCAS (X) COPELAND.”


In addition to the identity of two of the sons, this deed provides us with the name of John’s wife, Phoebe, and states that she later married William Curle.  Though Phoebe’s maiden name is unknown, there is speculation it may have been Thomas. Phoebe was still living in 1706 because she transferred land in that year to one of her grandchildren.   The noted genealogist John Bennett Boddie provides the identity of another son of John Sanders of Nansemond:
 

" John Sanders II, who patented land on Oct. 20, 1689, as before stated, definitely seems to be the son of John Sanders I, for his children inherited the Queen Grave land.  On April 20, 1694, John Sanders and Robert Roberts of Nansemond patented 7 1/2 in right of their wives Sarah and Mary upon eastward side of King's Creek. (G.B. 8-380).
       John Sanders' wife, Sarah, was a daughter of Major Thomas Davis, for in the patent granted to Richard and John Sanders on August 20, 1687, for 360 acres, it was stated that 300 acres were formerly granted Thomas Davis the 10th of August 1644, and for 50 for the transportation of one person (G.B. 8-p.10). (17thC, 447, 449) (c.P.156). A further connection with Thomas Davis will be mentioned later.
       John Sanders II died between 1704 and 1712 when his son Robert was deeded some of the Queen Grave land. John Sanders may have died before Oct. 27, 1712, when his son Robert Sanders was deeded part of the Queen Grave land."


Boddie was somewhat hampered in his investigation of John Sanders of Nansemond because most of the Nansemond records were destroyed in fires and the fragmentary nature of the surviving evidence is exceedingly ambiguous. Boddie suggested that the John Sanders of the 1681 land grant may have been the same person as the John Sanders who was married to Susannah Ravenett and who owned land in Warwick County in 1669, but Boddie was probably unaware of the 1733 deed that names John’s wife as Phoebe.  No one knows what happened to the descendants, if any, of the John Sanders who married Susannah Ravenett, and Boddie says only that he “died in Warwick or Nansemond where records were destroyed and his children are not definitely known.”  It is certainly possible, though probably unlikely, that John Sanders of Waswick and John Sanders of Nansemond are the same individual and that he married Susannah first, then Phoebe, but this would mean that John Sanders II was probably a half brother to Richard and William. This scenario appears unlikely because of the disposition of the 1681 land grant after the death of John Sanders I.

Of the three known sons of John Sanders I of Nansemond, Richard’s descendants have the most extensive and reliable documentation in land and probate records of North Carolina.   Boddie identified William, the son of John of Nansemond, with the William Sanders who married Mary Hall in a Quaker ceremony in Nansemond September 4, 1682.  Boddie was probably right about this identification,  but the names of the children of William and Mary are not revealed in any contemporary document, though it appears very possible that Abraham Sanders who built the Newbold-White house in Perquimans County, North Carolina and Joel Sanders who died in Georgia in 1782 were his descendants.   Many of the Nansemond Sanders were Quakers.  James Davis, the brother of Sarah Davis, wife of   John Sanders II, married Margaret Jordan, and the Jordans were one of the most prominent Quaker families in the county.    Though there is a wealth of genealogical material association with the other Sanders lines, this article deals mainly with the descendants of John Sanders II.

As previously mentioned, John Sanders II died by 1712 and his son Robert Sanders ended up with much of the Queen Grave land.  Robert made a will in 1731 in Isle of Wight and because he died unmarried, he divided the estate among his brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews.  In the will, he refers to nieces and nephews as cousins, but “cousin,” of course, meant close kinsman in those days.

According to Boddie, the will establishes the following four children of John Sanders II and Sarah:

 
1. Francis, who had sons named Francis and John.
2. Thomas, who had died by 1731 but who had children named Thomas, Robert, Elizabeth, and Richard.
3. A daughter who married John Winborne with a granddaughter named Phoebe.
4. Robert Sanders.


One of the witnesses to the will of Robert Sanders was a John Thomas.  Researcher Frances Cullom Harper remarked in an e-mail to me that Robert Sanders seemed to be particularly close to the Thomas family, and I have already noted that there is some speculation that Robert’s grandmother may have been a Thomas. John Sanders I acquired the original land grant in 1681 with Richard Thomas, who may have been a relative. Boddie mentions a John Thomas who deeded land in 1719 to Thomas Day in Isle of Wight County and then moved to North Carolina.  The following deed suggests that the original land grant of 1681 was a family affair involving the Sanders and Thomas families rather than a business arrangement: "On October 12, 1712 Elizabeth Thomas of Isle of Wight sold to Robert Sanders of the U.P. of Nansemond for 1800 lbs. tbco. 137 acres given to said Elizabeth by will of her deceased father Richard Thomas, dated April 8, 1687, part of a dividend of 550 acres divided between her brothers and sisters, from a patent of 1650 acres granted to Jonathan Robinson, Richard Thomas and John Sanders April 3, 1681."  The Thomas-Sanders relationship is important for establishing the connection between the Sanders of Nansemond and those of Chowan County, North Carolina.

Here is the excerpt that Boddie gives from the will of Robert Sanders:
 

“To cousin  Robert Sanders, Son of Thomas Saunders, dec., [actually, Robert was his nephew, not his cousin, but I believe this usage was common then] the dwelling plantation where I live north side of Queen Grave Swamp and for want of heirs to cousin Francis Saunders, son of Francis Saunders; to cousin Eliz. Saunders, dau. of Thomas Sanders decd. rem. of land, if she died, to her brother Thomas Saunders; to cousin Richard Saunders, ton of Thomas Saunders, 170 acres adj. where I live, if he died without heirs to John Saunders, son to Francis Saunders; to cousin Thomas Saunders son to Thomas Saunders 208 acres. To cousin Francis Saunders, oval table; to cousin Robert Saunders, son of Thomas Saunders, decd., all rem. est John Winborn and Robert Saunders exrs. (signed, Sanders ) POro.27 Dec 1731 Richard Thomas, Jno. Thomas, Lawn Wolferston. (W. &D. -431”


From Roberts Sanders’ will and Boddie’s research we know that the Sanders family and in particular the descendants of John Sanders II and Sarah Davis were close to the Thomas family.  We know that that John Sanders II and Sarah Davis had a son named Francis and that Francis had sons named Francis and John. We know that a John Thomas was one of the witnesses and Boddie provides the information that a John Thomas who lived in the first decades of the 18th century moved from Isle of Wight to North Carolina.

Some researchers have suggested that Francis, the son of John Sanders II, had a middle name of Abraham and that he was the same person as the Abraham Sanders who died in 1751 in Perquimans County, North Carolina, but the 1731 will mentions only the given name of Francis, and the Abraham Sanders who lived in Perquimans was already in the county by 1716 because he was married in a Quaker ceremony in that year. The Francis of the will may be the Francis Sanders who was listed in the Virginia Quit Rent Rolls of 1704 for Isle of Wight.  If this is Francis, the son of John II, then he was probably at least  twenty-one years old at that time.   On the other hand, the Francis listed on the rent rolls of 1704 could have been the same person as the Francis Sanders who is listed as owning land in 1665, but the Francis of the 1665 land record is more likely either another son or a brother of John Sanders I. The year 1676 has been given by several researchers as the year of birth of Francis, son of John II, but I am not sure how they arrived at that figure.  If this date is true, Francis would have been in his early fifties by the time of Robert Sanders’ will.

The will was written in 1731 in Isle of Wight.  The Sanders properties were on the border of Nansemond and Isle of Wight, and some of the land was close to the border line with North Carolina which was not settled until 1729, therefore some members of the family were probably living in North Carolina at the time the border was settled, though the land was originally deeded in Virginia.

If we look at Chowan County, North Carolina in the 1730s, we see two Sanders brothers named John and Francis engaging in land transactions.  Though these land transactions were in Chowan County, the land described is in modern day Gates County, near the Virginia Border and close to the Great Dismal Swamp where John Sanders I held his  land patents.   We know the two were brothers because a Mary Stringer states in her 1744 Chowan will that John and Francis Sanders are her sons.  I think this Mary Stringer was probably the widow of Francis Sanders, Sr., married after Francis’ death to a Mr. Stringer. One of the land transactions was witnessed by a John Thomas.  It is a reasonable assumption that this is the same individual as the John Thomas who witnessed the 1731 will of Robert Sanders of Isle of Wight in which a bequest was made to the two brothers, John and Francis Sanders. Here are examples of the Chowan documents referring to the Sanders brothers in the 1730s and 1740s:
 

John Sanders to William Little on 20 Jan 1730--on Occaneche Neck betwixt William Boon and James Gee, on East side of Roanoke River, surveyed to Barnabe Mackinne. Wit: Robert Forster, J. Pratt, Thomas Bryant.  (This area was apparently very near the Virginia border according to Frances Harper in an e-maill).

Richard Taylor witnessed with Jno Thomas and Francis (F) Sanders in Feb 1738 when Martha Jones and her son Thomas Tickett sold to Jno Sanders of Chowan, 100 Acres on Cypress Swamp 13 Feb 1738, Chowan County.  "This Indenture Between Martha Joanes & Ths Tickett her son both of bartie pct & Jno Sanders of Chowan pct for (140) pounds current provine (sic) bill money of NoCarolina Soald Land in Chowan whereupon one Robt Hooks lately lived all the Land lying between the lines Minshaw & Jno Hooks Beginning at a markd read oak standing in the Cyprus Swamp being a corner tree of Jno Hooks land corner Pine of Jno Minshows more or lefs (100) Acres Martha (M mark) Joanes (Seal) Thos (+mark) Tickett."  Wit:  Jno Thomas, Francs (F mark) Sanders, Richd Taylor.  Proved 15 July 1739.  Wm Smith CJ.

Mary Stringer  Chowan County 27 Apr 1744 10 May 1748   Will Sons: John and Francis Sanders (Executors). Daughters: Mary Dawson, Martha Sumner. Granddaughters: Frusan Morris, Elizabeth Cotting and Mary Gardner. Witnesses: Edward Hare, Henry Clayton, Edward Hare, Jr. Proven before Gab. Johnston.


The two brothers, John and Francis Sanders, were witnesses to the will of Francis Speight of Chowan: Francis Speight , Chowan County 16 Oct 1749 - Jan 1749. Will Sons: Moses (plantation at Contenteny and four negroes), John and Joseph (land on wolfpit valley). Brother: William Speight. Wife and Executrix: Kathern. Witnesses: John Sanders, Francis Sanders, Daniel Carch. Clerk of the Court: Will. Mearns.

Francis Speight of Chuckatuck Parish in Nansemond County, Va. was named as an heir in the 1729 will of James Howard. John Sanders and Francis Sanders were probably relatives of Francis Speight, who may have been a Sanders descendant. The descendants of Richard Sanders, one of the sons of John Sanders I, seem to have been particularly close to the Howard family.

Francis Sanders of Chowan County, North Carolina  is listed as one of the King’s Company in 1754: A List of Men Commanded by Capt. Charles King taken Nov 23rd 1754. Abstracted from the Original at the North Carolina Archives by Joel S. Russell.  This record can be found on the Web at http://www.mindspring.com/~jsruss/colonial/King1754.htm. Since Francis and John Sanders are apparently adults at the time of the 1731 will of Robert Sanders and are mentioned in Chowan land deeds in the 1730s, it is likely that they were born before 1710 or even before 1700. John Sanders was the first of the two brothers to die, and he made his will in Chowan in 1751.  His will was witnessed by  John Loe (or Lowe), Jr., and Sr., and by Jacob Routh.  The Loes and the Rouths were Quaker families from Chester  County, Pennsylvania (per e-mail from Sherry Stancliff).  The Loes and Rouths appear on the 1779 tax roll of Randolph County, North Carolina. If the Loes were old family friends, it is possible they persuaded the Sanders family to follow them to Randolph County because many Sanders families were living in the Randolph  County area by 1800. Nothing in the will indicates, however, that John Sanders himself was a Quaker.  I was recently able to obtain a photocopy of the will from the North Carolina Archives and here is a transcription:
 

Will of John Sanders of Chowan County, August 18, 1751

In the name of God, amen.  August, the 18th day, 1751.  I, John Sanders, of Chowan County in the province of North Carolina being at this time sick and weak of body but thanks be to Almighty God of a sound and perfect sense and memory calling to mind the uncertainty of this transitory life and that all life must submit to death when pleases God to call.  I therefore think meet to make this my last will and testament in manner and form following.

First and principally, I give and bequeath my love into the hands of Almighty God, hoping in through the precious death and passion of my blessed living Jesus Christ to have full and free pardon of all my sins and to inherit everlasting life in the world to come; and my body to be entombed, buried at the directions of my executors hereafter named, and as touching all such worldly estate it hath pleased  Almighty God to bestow upon and give and dispose thereof in manner and form following:  first my will is that all my just debts and --- charges be paid and discharged.

Item    I give and bequeath to my son Francis Sanders the plantation whereon I now live and land belonging to it only that his mother to have privilege her life in what form has occasion and also the plantation that my brother Francis Sanders lives on and all the land belonging to it and also a piece of land I have in the fork of the swamp called the Cypress Swamp.  I give the land, plantations, and land ---- to my son Francis Sanders to him and his heirs forever only excepting his mother's privilege during her natural life.

Item. I give and bequeath to my son John Sanders a plantation I have on the Cypress Swamp that Thomas Ritter [or Rutter-GS] now lives on and all the land belonging to it.  I say [lay? -GS] I give to my son John, to him and his heirs forever.

Item.  I give and bequeath to my son Francis Sanders my Negro man named Sam, to him and his heirs forever and also I give to my son Francis Sanders a Negro girl called Mother, only I give the work of the said wench to my loving wife Mary Sanders during her natural life or widowhood and then to my son Francis Sanders, to him and his heirs forever.

Item.  I give and bequeath to my son John Sanders a Negro girl called Gode (?), to my son John Sanders, to him and his heirs forever.

Item.  I give and bequeath to my son Robert Sanders my Negro wench called Cato (?). I say I give to my son Robert Sanders, to him and his heirs forever.

Item.  I give and bequeath to my son Jesse my Negro man called Tom and a Negro woman named  Lone (?)  I say I give to my son Jesse Sanders, to him and his heirs forever.

Item.  I give to my daughter Martha a Negro boy called Mingo, to my Martha Sanders, to her and her heirs forever.

Item.  I give to my son Thomas Sanders a Negro girl called Libb. I say to my son Thomas Sanders, to him and his heirs forever.

Item.  I give to my son Francis Sanders all the pewter that belongs to my brother Francis Sanders and also seventeen head of cattle and two feather beds and two good (?) hats and two chests and oval table and also my riding hood (habit?), bridle, and saddle to my son Francis Sanders, to him and his heirs forever.

Item.  I give and bequeath to my son Francis Sanders and my son John Sanders my whipsaw.  I say to my two sons Francis and John for both their use.

Item.  I give and bequeath to my son John Sanders a chest with a drawing on it and oval table and also six cows and  (illegible phrase). And also the first colt that my bay mare shall bring and also a good pot of six gallons.

Item.  I give and bequeath to my son Thomas Sanders thirty pounds in gold and silver coin.

Item.  I give to my son Robert Sanders thirty pounds in gold and silver coin.

Item. I give and bequeath to my daughter Mille Sanders five pounds in gold and silver coin.

Item.  I give to my daughter Feribe Sanders five pounds in gold and silver coin.

Item. I give and bequeath to my daughter Elizabeth Sanders a feather bed and furniture belonging to it that she lies upon and also 9 head of cattle.

Item. I give and bequeath to my son John Sanders a feather bed and furniture.

Item.  I give to my son Robert Sanders a gold (?) pot of seven gallons.

Item.  I give to my son Jesse a gold (good?) pot of five gallons.

Item. I give to my son Thomas Sanders a gold (?) pot of five gallons.

Item.  I lend the use of all the remainder part of my --- good chattels and all others of whatsoever, of whatsoever --- and kind it be, to my loving wife, Mary Sanders during her natural life or widowhood and then to be divided among five of my children, Robert Sanders, Thomas Sanders, Jesse Sanders, Mille Sanders, Feribe Sanders.
And lastly, I nominate and appoint my loving wife Mary Sanders and my son Francis Sanders to be solo and sole (?) executors of this my last will and testament --- revoking all other will or wills that hath been made by me heretofore.  In testimony whereof, I the said John Sanders have hereunto set my hand and  ---- my ---- the day and year --- above written.

Signed, sealed, ---, and pronounced by the said John Sanders as his last will and testament in the presence of -------.
John Sanders,
His mark
John Lowe
His mark
John Lowe, Jr.
His mark
Jacob Ruth (Ricks?Routh?)
His mark

October Chowan County Court 1751 (1759?)
Then was the within will proved in open court by the oath of John Lowe, Sr. And John Lowe, Jr.    Two of the  ---evidences thereto in the form of law and at the personally ---Mary Sanders, executrix, and Francis Sanders, Executor, to the will and was duly qualified by taking the oath of law appointed to be taken by executors and read that thereon. --- --- Secretary of said Province --- --- that letters testamentary issue thereon as the law provides (pertains?).

This will provides us with quite a bit of information about John’s family and possessions.  He appears to have been an unusually wealthy man, owning many slaves and at least four separate plantations or parcels of land.  Though his brother Francis is mentioned as living on a plantation that John owned, apparently Francis lived there only on John’s generosity, not through any right of his own, because John gave the plantation and  “all the pewter that belongs to my brother Francis Sanders” to John’s own son, also named Francis.  Mention is also made of a plantation on Cypress Swamp “where Thomas Rutter lives,” which was to go to John, another son. Further, we learn from the will that John’s son Francis was old enough to be co-executor of the will with his mother, thereby establishing that the younger Francis must have been born before 1730.  It seems likely that Francis was the eldest son since he got three parcels of land: the plantation where his father lived, the plantation where his uncle lived, and another parcel in the fork of the Cypress Swamp.  It is possible that many of the other children and especially the daughters were still underage since none of the daughters appear to have been married at the time of the will.

Almost nothing is known about what happened to other members of the family after their father died, but John’s son Francis lived until 1783 when he made his will in Gates County.  Though the county where the will was proved is different, the will describes the same land and family.  Gates was created in 1779 from parts of Chowan, Hertford, and Perquimans counties. Here is a transcription:
 

Will of Francis Saunders of Gates County, August 6, 1783

Gates County, Original Wills, 11763-1904
CR 041.801.10

In the name of God, Amen.  I, Francis Saunders, of Gates County in the State of  North Carolina, being sick and weak of body but of sound and perfect mind and memory, blessed by God for the same and calling to mind the vast uncertainty of this mortal life do make and ordain this to be my last will and testament.  I give and recommend my soul into the hand of God that gave it and my body I commit unto the earth to be buried in a Christian-like manner and form, and for what worldly goods it has pleased God to bestow upon me, I give and bequeath the same as in manner and form following, viz:

Item.  I give unto my wife Charity Saunders one Negro called Ned, to her and her heirs and assigns forever.

Item. I give and bequeath unto my daughter Mary Parker one Negro girl named Doll and one feather bed.  And furniture and two pewter dishes and nine pewter plates and three head of cattle, all which she now has already got in her possession.  I  lay [leave? say? -GS] to her and her heirs forever

Item.  I give and bequeath unto my daughter Zilpha Knox one Negro boy named Sam, and one Negro girl named Poll; and one feather bed and furniture, and one cow and calf, one pewter dish and two pewter plates. I say to her, her heirs and assigns forever.

Item.  I give and bequeath unto my son Abraham Saunders one Negro man named Luke and the plantation on the south side of the Cypress Swamp whereon Thomas Ritter formerly lived, only reserving the use of it unto my wife Charity Saunders during her natural life; and two cows and calves.  I say to him, my son Abraham Saunders, his heirs and assigns forever

Item. I give and bequeath unto my son Francis Saunders one oval table and one desk to him and his heirs.

Item.  I lend unto my wife Charity Saunders all the land and plantation whereon I now live and one Negro woman named  --- and one Negro girl named Esther until my son Francis Saunders comes to the age of twenty one years, and then I give all the land and plantation whereon I now live and the said Negro woman named --- and the said Negro girl named Esther I say unto my son Francis Saunders, his heirs and assigns forever.

Item.  I give unto my daughter Jemima Saunders the first living child which the above mentioned  ---, which I have lent unto my wife, doth bear after the date of this will; and one cow and calf, and one ewe and lamb.

Item.   I lend unto my wife Charity Saunders the land and plantation whereon my uncle Francis Saunders formerly lived, now mine, and it joins to the white oak  ---, and one Negro man named Ben until my son William Saunders comes to the age of twenty one years.  And then I give the said land and plantation whereon my uncle Francis Saunders formerly lived joining the white oak --- and the said Negro man named Ben.   Also one whip --- and all my cooper's tools I lay to my son William Saunders, to his heirs and assigns forever.

Item.  I lend unto my wife Charity Saunders one Negro boy named Andrew until my daughter Anne Saunders comes to the age of 18 years, then I give the said Negro boy Andrew unto my said daughter Anne Saunders and one small --- table.  I say to her heirs and assigns forever.

Item. I lend unto my wife Charity Saunders the remainder part of my estate, be it of what kind or nature soever, for and during the time of her natural life in widowhood and after her decease or marriage, which shall first happen, then all the said remainder to be equally divided among my seven children Mary Parker, Zilpha Knox, Jemima Saunders, Abraham Saunders, William Saunders, Francis Saunders, and Ann Saunders

And, lastly, I constitute, nominate, and appoint my wife Charity Saunders and my son in law John Parker executors of this my last will and testament.   In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and fixed my seal this sixth day of august in the year or our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three.  Signed, sealed, embellished, pronounced and declared by the said Francis Saunders to be his last will and testament in the presence of the subscribing witnesses.

Francis Saunders
His mark

William Odom
Uriah Odom
Kedam (?) Parker

State of North Carolina, Gates County, May Inferior Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions 1785. The within will was exhibited into court by Charity Saunders, Executrix, and John Parker, Executor, therein appointed, and was proved by the oath of William Odom and Uriah Odom, two of the subscribing witnesses thereto. Then the said will was ordered to be recorded at the same time the said Executrix and Executor came into court and qualified themselves for that office and prayed an order for letters testamentary thereon which was accordingly granted.  And is recorded in Book A, Folio 51.52G53.


The 1783 will allows us to speculate on some events in this family between 1751 and 1783.  Thomas Rutter, who lived on the plantation on Cypress Swamp in 1751, no longer lives there in 1783, but he must have lived on the land for a long time because over thirty years after his father’s will, Francis still refers to the parcel as “the land where Thomas Rutter lived.”  Francis now owns the Rutter land, so we may assume that his brother John, who was given the land in the 1751 will, either died or sold the land.   Francis mentions the land where his uncle Francis lived, but since he uses the past tense, it is probably a safe assumption that the uncle died between 1751 and 1783.

In the will, Francis reveals that two of his daughters are married.  Mary is married to John Parker and Zilpha is the wife of a man named Knox, but the age of the two unmarried daughters, Ann and Jemima, is not apparent.  One son, Abraham, is definitely old enough to inherit, but Francis and William are obviously under twenty-one. Many researchers have identified the son Francis of the 1783 will with the Francis Sanders who married Rachel Sanders in 1801 in Randolph County, North Carolina, but census data casts some doubt on this assumption, though it is still a possibility.  The problem is that it is relatively certain that Francis of Randolph County was born in 1782, and the young Francis of the 1783 will may have been born several years earlier.

Charity Sanders (or Saunders) appears on the 1786 North Carolina State census for Gates County. She is listed as head of a household with one male between the ages of 21 and 60, two males either under 21 or above 60, two white females of all ages, and seven black persons.  Francis and William are probably the two white males.  If so, they could not have been born before 1765.  Charity also appears on the 1790 federal census for Gates County with a greatly reduced household: two males over 16, 2 white females, and 4 blacks.  If the two white males are William and Francis, they could not have been born after 1774.  Further, on June 1, 1795 a Francis Saunders married Ann Vann (Bondsman: John Vann, Witness: Law Baker) in Gates County.  The most obvious interpretation is that the young Francis of the 1783 will was born between 1765 and 1774 and that he is the person who married Ann Vann in 1795.  I have not been able to find anyone who is researching the descendants, if any, of the Francis Sanders who married Ann Vann, but there are many investigating the descendants of the Francis who married Rachel. Hopefully, further research will help resolve many of these unanswered issues with the line of John of Nansemond. 

Note: Evidence discovered after the article was written pretty well rules out any possibility of the young Francis of  Gates being the same person as Francis of Randolph County.

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Will of John Sanders of Isle of Wight County, Virginia, 1772

Note: The Sanders family discussed in the following article is not related to the Sanders of Randolph and Montgomery.

This John Sanders (1711-1772)  was the son of Henry Sanders (about 1664-1733) and Margaret Sellaway (about 1677-after 1711).  His relationship, if any, to any other Sanders line is somewhat problematic, though Margaret Clark Smith in her book Before the Revolution  regarded Henry as a relative of John Sanders(about 1625-before 1706) of Bacon's Rebellion fame (for details see my article on John).

The Joseph Sanders mentioned as a son in this will is sometimes said to have been the same person as Joseph Sanders who died in 1803 in Randolph County, North Carolina.  So far as I can tell, no one has ever presented any evidence in support of this theory. The fact that both men were named Joseph Sanders is rather unpersuasive documentation for their being the same person.-Gary Sanders

Isle of Wight Will Bk  8 p. 136

John Saunders.  Son Thomas. son Joseph.  Son Jacob.  Son Henry. Son John. Dau Sarah Dunston. Extrs wife Elizabeth & sons John Sanders (note spelling change).  D 2/3/1772.
R 5/7/1772. Wit Jethro Gale, Robert Sanders, Ann Sanders.

The last name is spelled Sanders instead of Saunders throughout the will.  For the most part, the writing is rather clear and legible.  For words whose transliteration is doubtful, I used a question mark within parentheses, and where there are words I couldn’t decipher at all, I used a series of dashes followed by a question mark in parentheses--Gary Sanders

In the name of God, Amen, I, John Sanders of Isle of Wight County and parish of Newport in the twelfth of his majesty’s reign and in the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy two, being weak in body but, thanks be to God, of sound sense and perfect memory, do make this my last will and testament in manner and form as followeth—

Item
I give and bequeath unto my son Thomas Sanders one hundred and twenty-five acres of land, more or less, bounded as followeth, beginning at the foot of the Dam Branch, so up the said branch to the ridge path, up the said path to a Tarhill (?)  bed that Robert burnt (?), from thence a straight line to my head line, so continuing all the land between there and the line called John Sellaway’s, so down to the first station—during his natural life and after his death, my will and desire is that the said land should return to my son Joseph Sanders

Item
I give and bequeath unto my son Jacob Sanders a parcel of land, to him and his heirs forever, beginning at the foot of the Dam branch, and running up the said branch as Thomas Sanders’ line goes to the head line, and so along my line to a crooked pine, a corner tree joining on Godwin’s line, and so along Godwin’s line to the run of the Swamp and down the said Swamp as the run goes to the foot of the home branch and up the said branch to the first station, concluding all the land that contains within the said bounds, being the plantation whereon I now live.

Item
I give and bequeath unto my son Joseph Sanders all my new patented land that is called Alens (?), to him and his heirs forever, being one hundred acres more or less.

Item
I give and bequeath unto my son Henry Sanders and his heirs forever a parcel of land lying on the south side of Swamp, beginning at the forked branch and running up the said branch to the head, that is to say the middle prong of it, and from thence a straight course to Godwin’s corner, and so concluding all my land between thence and Richard Sellaway’s old plantation he last lived on.

Item
I give and bequeath unto my son John Sanders and his heirs forever all the remainder of my land which I have not already given, lying on the south side of the Swamp between Henry Sanders and the land called Godwin’s.

Item
I give and bequeath unto my daughter Sarah Dunston a gold ring.

Item
I give and bequeath unto my son John Sanders one feather bed and furniture and my hunting gun.

Item
I give and bequeath to my son Joseph Sanders one feather bed and furniture and one gun called his own.

Item
I give and bequeath unto my son Jacob one feather bed and furniture and one pair of hard mill stones.

Item
I give and bequeath unto my loving wife Elizabeth Sanders one feather and furniture, her choice of two iron pots, one brass kettle, three pewter dishes, the best six pewter plates, one spinning wheel and two pairs of cards, two mares and two saddles, and all my hogs, called the ridge hogs, that is nine pigs and two sows, three cattle known by the name of the Old Red Cow and the Bell Cow, and the heifer that belongs to the Bell Cow, four head of sheep of her choice, one seal skin trunk, three pewter basins, and all my corn that is in the crib and my bacon and other meat that is salted up, six flag chairs, the best I have, also I give my wife one small mottle-faced steer, one meat heifer, also I give her one large table and gilt trunk, and after my wife is deceased my will and desire is that my son Joseph Sanders should have the table and trunk and one box iron and heat iron, one large looking glass, thirteen geese, and my jungle fowls, and all my hoes and axes.

Item
I give unto my son John one young calf, one slate, one stone pitcher, one small iron pot.

Item
I give unto my son Joseph Sanders one pair of Neelyard (?) and all my hogs that ---- (?) at the Sipos (?) Swamp.

Item
I give unto my son Jacob Sanders one iron gun rod and all my hogs that  ----(?) at the Hickory and all my cider casks.

Item
I give unto my son Thomas Sanders five shillings.

Item
I give unto my son Henry Sanders five shillings.

Item
I give unto my three sons John Sanders, Joseph Sanders, and Jacob Sanders the remainder part of my estate that I have not already mentioned to be equally divided between the three.  I also appoint my loving wife Elizabeth and my son John Sanders to be my whole and sole ----(?) of this my last will and testament.  In witness I have hereunto set my hand and fixed my seal this third day of February, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-two.

Witnesses
Jethro Gale
Robert Sanders
Anne Sanders

John Sanders
his mark
 

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Land Grant to William Aaron Saunders, 1772, and Deed by Nimrod Sanders, 1836

Jim Sanders of California was the first to notice that the description of the land sold in 1836 by Nimrod Sanders matches the description of the property that was granted to Aaron Sanders in Anson County in 1772.  This discovery provides irrefutable evidence that the Aaron who appears in land transactions, often along with Moses Sanders, in Anson County in the 1770s is the same person as William Aaron Saunders of family tradition.  Moses Sanders and Isaac Sanders owned land in the same vicinity, on Barnes Creek in what is present day Montgomery County.

William Aaron is described in family tradition as someone who lived in the Anson/Montgomery County area who had children named Stephen, Nimrod, and Luke and a wife named Joan.  His son Nimrod, father of Thomas Bailey Saunders, sold land in the mid-1830s in preparation for a move to Alabama. The legal description of the land that Nimrod sold matches exactly the legal description of the land that Aaron was granted in the 1770s. Further,  after Aaron's death in 1782, the land was referenced in land transactions as belonging to the "widow Sanders"  or Joanah Sanders. The chain bearers on one of these surveys were Nimrod and Stephen, thus confirming family tradition that these were the names of the sons of Joan and Aaron. Joanah or Joan appears to be the older woman living with her son Nimrod on the 1800 and 1810 census.   

Jim Sanders has done extensive research in the land records of Montgomery County.  Here is part of his analysis from his booklet, "The Sanders family of Montgomery County, North Carolina."

p. 6
"Joanah Sanders.  On November 29th, 1803, grant #1023 was issued to Joanah Sanders. It was for 50 acres described as 'beginning at a hickory on Barnes Creek.' The survey was adjacent to Jacob Sanders and Stephen Sanders. Luke and Nimrod Sanders, her sons, were the chain carriers. Entered August 20, 1803. Entry 5760. Bk 100 pg. 416. Card #1449. At first glance, we assumed we had found a new Sanders. However, after reading the warrant for the survey, closely, we discovered 'Joanah' is noted as a her. The warrant also stated the survey was to include her improvements. This would indicate that this property would be part of the original grant to Aaron in 1773 as her home was located there. She lived there with Nimrod her youngest son, until her death. Her sons, Luke, Nimrod, Stephen and possibly Jacob, if he were a son, lived contiguous to her."  [Most researchers, including myself, regard Jacob as a son of Isaac, not as a son of Nimrod.-gs].

Jim continues: "We realize that Aaron's wife was Joanah Bailey Sanders. Joanah remained on her husband's land grant after his death in 1781. Her youngest son, Nimrod, stayed on the land grant also and he was enumerated there in the 1800 census of Montgomery County. Nimrod Sanders is the only male in the house.  He is listed as aged between 26 and 25. The only female listed is aged over 45, born before 1755. I submit that this is Joanah or the 'widow Sanders.' They are living on the property on the Reedy Fork of Barnes Creek. In 1810 Nimrod's family has grown. He has a wife and 2 sons under 10 and 2 daughters also under 10. His mother is still with him and she is shown as being born before 1765. In 1836 Nimrod sold the land grant to William Strider."

Jim shows that Jacob Saunders's land was adjacent to Joan Bailey Saunders' land. Benjamin Saunders owned property about 1.5 miles north of  the "widow Sanders," separated only by Stephen's land. Luke Saunders' land was nearby. Also nearby were properties that belonged to Nathaniel Steed and to members of the Hamilton family.  Apparently, all up and down the waters of Barnes Creek there were farms that belonged to member of the Saunders and related families. This area was only a few miles from the Randolph border, and apparently, at some time before 1800 Isaac Saunders moved across the border, but Benjamin remained in Montgomery for several more years until he, too, moved just over the county line. Also Randolph County was Joseph Sanders, who died in 1803 and whose sons and daughers married into the Saunders line of the Randolph/Montgomery group. The 1811 estate settlement of  Joseph's estate reveals that one of his daughters, Mary, was married to Benjamin Sanders. this Benjamin later moved to Jackson County, Alabama.

Unfortunately, though we know that William Aaron died in 1782 or earlier, we know very nothing about how or why he died. All we have regarding William Aaron's estate is this:

Montgomery Co., NC Records
Letters of Admr on estate of Aaron Sanders, deceased.
Granted William Miller, Sec(?) Mark Allen, Esq. & John Hopkins, for 100
pounds
Recorded 12 Nov 1782 Book A, Folio 19  - George Davidson, Clerk
SS 884 Dept of Archives & History, Raleigh, NC
Leg. papers   House of Commons    Nov 3-15, 1788   L.P. 80
Leg. papers  L.P 46

Letters of administration for his estate were granted in November 1782, but William Aaron may have died a year of more before that date. Did he die in a skirmish with the Tories, as tradition would have it, or in bed?  My guess is that he was a middle aged man or younger when he died. Since his wife lived at least another twenty years after his death, I don't think he could have been much older than about 45 at the time of his death. We know his brothers were probably born in the 1740s.  Moses is traditionally said to have been born in 1742, which appears about right. Isaac and Tabitha are said to have been living when Thomas Bailey Sanders was a child in the 1820s. Therefore, I think most of the children in this family were probably born around 1740 or later, leaving them in their 80s in the 1820s. William Aaron, rather than Isaac, may hve been the oldest child.

Though there is a record of the letters of administration of William Aaron's estate, there is no record of the estate settlement or of the will itself. I assume these once existed but were lost in the fires and other losses at the Montgomery County courthouse. We have to rely on land records, such as those below, to establish that this is the same family.

Aaron Sanders' grant in  in 1772:

"Beginning at a hickory standing on the Reedy Fork of Barnes Creek and runs thence No 52 W 127 poles to a stake among 1 Hickory, 1 White Oak and 1 Pine pointers. Then So. 38 W 127 poles, then So 52 E 127 poles, then No. 38 E 127 poles to the beginning.  Containing 100 acres. Surveyed for Aaron Sanders June 27th, 1772 by James Cotton , Surveyor.  Chain carries Aaron and Arthur Henry.[From Jim Sanders' notes]. 

Nimrod Sanders deed of the land  in 1836:

Register of Deeds, Montgomery County, North Carolina, Bk. 14
transcribed by Gary Sanders

This indenture made the 24 day of November in the year of our Lord 1836 by and between Nimrod Sanders of the County of Montgomery and State of North Carolina of the one hand, and William Strider of the County and State aforesaid of the other part, witneseth, that for and in consideration of the sum of one hundred dollars to him the said Nimrod Sanders in hand paid by the said William Strider, before the selling and delivery of the presents and the said Nimrod Sanders bargain, sell and  (?) seal over and by force of these presents have bargained sold and conferred, conveyed unto the said William Strider, his heirs and assigns, a certain tract or parcel of land lying in the county and state aforesaid on the water of Barnes Creek, beginning at a hickory standing on Reedy fork of Barnes Creek and running thence north 52, west 127 poles to a stake among one hickory, one white oak and one pine pointers thru south 38 W 127 poles, thence south 50 ex 120 poles, then north 38 ex 127 poles to the beginning, containing one hundred acres of land, be the same more or less, to have and to hold said premises to the said William Strider his heirs, assigns, clear and free of any incumbrances whatever, and will forever warrant and defend the rights, titles of aforesaid premises to said William Strider, his heirs and assigns, against myself, my heirs and assigns, or any other person, forever clear and free from all manner of claims so far as he is able under and by virtue of a grant from the state of North Carolina no further. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and date above written, signed sealed and delivered.

Nimrod Sanders
Robert Hudson
[Assumed to be witness-gs]

Montgomery County Court, April 1839. Then this deed was proven in open court by the oath of Sampson [looks like Solomon but should be Sampson] Sanders and ordered to be registered.

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Deed of Isaac Sanders of Randolph County, North Carolina, to Benjamin Sanders of Montgomery County, North Carolina, 1806 and 1808

The original of the following document is very hard to read; therefore some of my interpretation may be incorrect.   In my transcription, I have added commas and periods as punctuation. This deed, combined with the statement in the Thomas Bailey Saunders letter that  Isaac Saunders had a son named "Ben," is the main documentation we have for the parentage of Benjamin. DNA tests also show that Benjamin's descendants belong in the same Sanders line as Isaac's descendants.
—Gary Sanders

Register of Deeds
Bk. 11, pg. 98.
Asheboro, North Carolina

This indenture made the 2nd day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred & six between Isaac Sanders of Randolph County & State of North Carolina of the one part and Benjamin Sanders of Montgomery County and state aforesaid of the other witnesseth that the said Isaac Sanders, for and in consideration of the sum of one shilling, good & lawful money of North Carolina to him in hand paid, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged by the said Isaac Sanders, hath granted, bargained, and sold and by these presents doth bargain and sell unto the said Benjamin Sanders his heirs and assigns a tract of land containing one acre  being and lying in Randolph County and state of North Carolina on Sanders Bumpass fork of Little River, beginning at a red oak standing on the south side of said river and turning North,  crossing  with the river ten poles to a stake,  thence west sixteen poles to a stake, then south ten poles to a stake,  then last sixteen poles to the first joining.

Including a mill site, it being part of the land whereon the said Isaac Sanders now lives, together with all woods, ways, water, mines, minerals heretofore in appurtenances. To the said land belonging or appertaining with the river flow; and reversions, remainders, and  remainder rents, specie and profits thereof; also all the estate rights and title interest property claims and domains whatsoever of  him.

The said Isaac Sanders, his heirs, executors, administrators of, in, and to the said hereby granted land and premises, with all and singular, the appurtenances unto the said Benjamin Sanders, his heirs and assigns for ever, and the said Isaac Sanders himself, his heirs, executors, administrators, the said tract of land and premises and every part thereof against him his heirs and against all and every other person and persons whatsoever to the said Benjamin Sanders, his heirs and assigns, shall and will warrant and ever defend by these presents, in which whereof the said Isaac Sanders hath hereunto set his hand and seal the year and day above written.

State of North Carolina
Randolph County
November 10, 1806

The executor of the written deed was duly proven in open court by John Graves and ordered to be registered.
Test.
J. Harper ,  Clerk

Justin Sanders provided valuable assistance in helping me with some of the difficult to read words in the following deed:

This Indenture Made the 26 Day of January in the year or Lord 1808 Between Isaac Sanders of the one part of the County of Randolph and State of No. Carolina & Benjamin Sanders of the County & State afs'd, of the other part Witnesseth that for & in consideration of the Sum of two Hundred pounds in hand paid hath Given Granted Bargained & Sold unto the Said Benjamin Sanders all that tract or parcel of land Lying & B[e]ing in' Randolph County on Bumpas fork of Little River & bounded as f[ollows]

Beginning a Hickory thence East 20 po. to a hickory thence South 120 po. to a Black Oak, thence E't 240 po. to a White Oak, Being a Cond[it]ional Corner, thence No. 130 po. to a Stake, in the old line thence West 260 po. to a Stake, thence South to the Beginning Containing two Hundred acres be the Same more or less, To have & to hold the afs'd 200 acres of land with all Privileges & Improvements to the Same Belonging to him the s'd Benj'n  Sanders his Heirs, Ex'rs, Adm'rs, or Assigns forever, & he the s'd Isaac Sanders Doath hereby Covenant & agree to & with the s'd Benj'n Sanders Shall & May forever, hereafter peaceably & Quietely have hold Occupy possess & Enjoy the above Mentioned Land & premises Without the Least Molestation of any person Whatsoever Claiming by from or under him.  In Witness Whereof I have hereto Set my hand & affixed My Seal the Day & year above Written

State of No. Carolina }
Randolph County       } May Term 1808
The Execution of the Within Deed was Duly Given in open
Court by Jesse Sanders & ordered to be Registered
    A .Copy. Test         Jesse Harper CC

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Deed of Benjamin Sanders to John Lucas, 1833, Randolph County, North Carolina

Benjamin Sanders sold several parcels of land in the early 1830s as he and his family were making preparation for the move to Jackson County, Alabama. Among the transactions was a sale to John Lucas whose grandson was married to Benjamin's grandaughter:

Benjamin Sanders to John Lucas, Bk 29, p. 220, Randolph County, 1833

This indenture made and entered into this sixteenth day of November, one thousand eight hundred and thirty three between Benjamin Sanders of the county, state of North Carolina and County of Randolph, of the one part and John Lucas of the said state and county aforesaid of the one part  witness that for and in consideration of the sum of one hundred and fifty dollars to him in hand paid, hath bargained and sold and delivered into the said John Lucas a certain tract or parcel of land lying and being in the county of Randolph on the waters of Barnes Creek, beginning at a red oak marked H running thence south forty chains crossing a branch to a hickory, thence east crossing? said creek seventy five chains to a post oak and black jack near the Fayetteville road, thence north crossing said road forty chains to a post oak, thence  crossing? said road and creek back to the beginning, containing three hundred acres of land in this tract.  I the said Benjamin Sanders do bind myself my heirs and executors unto the said John Lucas for two hundred and twenty seven acres of land in and ? to have and to hold to occupy and possess and enjoy by the said Lucas and his heirs forever and the said Benjamin Sanders do bind myself my heirs and assigns unto the said John Lucas and his heirs and assigns from all other person having any liens? or claim or title to the above mentioned boundary of land in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the said? date above written in the presence of us.

Joel Lucas
P. C. Sanders

Benjamin Sanders
His mark

According to Justin Sanders, this land was not the same land that Benjamin acquired from Isaac in 1806, but Benjamin sold that land, too, in 1833: "The deed of Benjamin to Henry Woolever, 7 Nov 1833, (Randolph Deed Bk 19, p395) is the one where Benjamin conveys the land that Isaac deeded him in 1808. The calls are exactly the same, except that he includes a 130 ac tract to the north of Isaac's.  And Isaac's has an odd little neck 10 poles wide and 20 poles long sticking off to the west at the NW corner that isn't included in the Woolever deed.  I suspect that the additional 130 ac on the north is Benjamin's land entry of 1830 which amounted to 130 ac.I have not found any deed or land grant so far (but I don't have the calls for most of the grants) that has any calls like the Lucas deed."

I have attempted a map of the general lay of the land described in the deed to John Lucas in 1833. The most obvious point is that it was on the Fayetteville road, but it could not have been very far from the border with Montgomery County. While emphasizing the caveat that I hope no one assumes my map is based on anything other than my own speculation about what the deed describes, here is a link to the map:

Benjamin Sanders to John Lucas, 1833

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Deed of Israel Sanders, ex al, to Mary Sanders, 1830, 
Montgomery County, North Carolina

This was a deed by which the children of Jacob Sanders, son of Isaac Saunders, sold their interest in the land inherited from their father to their mother, Mary Sanders, and to their brother, Henry Sanders.

Book 29, p. 33
Transcribed by Gary Sanders
(Many words are illegible, but, fortunately, not the names of the individuals; transcription should be checked against the original. My understanding of the will is that it is a conveyance of land from the children of Jacob to their mother Mary Sanders and to Henry Sanders. The first sentence seems to say that  Mary is a widow of Henry, but the subsequent sentences have the "&" instead of the word "of." The material in brackets is commentary or corrections added by Joe Thompson who has done extensive surveying in the Montgomery County area. )

Israel Sanders ex al to Mary Sanders, Deed

This indenture made the sixteenth [date illegible-gs] day of August one thousand eight hundred and thirty between Mary Sanders, widow, of (and?) Henry Sanders of the State of North Carolina and County of Montgomery, we Israel Sanders, Deborah Sanders, Mary Sanders, Anna Sanders, Pheba Sanders, Jesse Sanders, and Rebbecah Adams of the state and county aforesaid of the other part,  witnesseth that the said legatees of Jacob Sanders, dec’d, we Israel Sanders, Peggy Hardister, Jacob Sanders, Sampson Sanders, Deborah Sanders, Mary Sanders, Anna Sanders, Pheba Sanders, Jesse Sanders, Rebecca Adams of the state aforesaid, for and in consideration of the sum of two hundred dollars to them in hand paid, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged before the signing of these presents, doth hereby grant, bargain and sell unto the said Mary Sanders, widow, and Henry Sanders, and their heirs forever a certain tract or parcel of land lying in the county and state aforesaid as follows: lying on the waters of Barnes Creek,  beginning on a post oak opposite Reed branch fork, Barnes Creek, and runs thence south forty four west one hundred and twenty seven poles to a black oak, thence south forty six east one hundred and twenty seven poles, thence north forty four east one hundred twenty seven poles, thence north forty-six west one hundred and twenty seven poles to the beginning, containing one hundred acres more or less.  Also one other tract adjoining the other, beginning at a hickory his [meaning Jacob Sanders] old corner in James Neal’s line and runs with the said  line south fifty (?)[South 50 E 56 poles] and fifty-five poles to a red oak by a  hickory, Jesse Sanders’ line, thence east fifty six poles, thence north forty four degrees East 100 poles, [this corner is on the side of Weisner Mountain. It is a corner of a Henry Saunders Land Grant dated September 25, 1846], thence north  16 west one hundred and three poles [also a corner of the Henry Saunders land grant], thence south forty-four west forty-three poles, James Neals’ line, thence with his line north forty six west one hundred twenty-seven poles, thence north [an error-grant calls for south] forty four west sixteen poles to Jacob Sanders’ old line, thence with his line south 46 east one hundred twenty seven, thence south forty-four west one hundred and twenty seven poles to the beginning, containing one hundred acres, be the same more or less, adding the two together makes two hundred acres more or less.

To have and to hold the aforesaid premises with all and singular the rights, privileges and appurtenances, thereto belonging to them, the said Mary Saunders, widow, and Henry Sanders, their heirs and assigns for ever clear and free from we the said Jacob Sanders, Peggy Hardister, Jacob Saunders, Sampson Sanders, Deoborah Sanders, Mary Sanders, Anna Sanders, Pheba Sanders, Jesse Sanders, Rebecca Adams.  Do by themselves and their heirs ------- ----warrant and defend the aforesaid premises unto the said Mary Sanders, & Henry and their heirs forever from any claim of Israel Sanders and all the above legatees named their heirs and assigns forever, in witness we hereunto set our marks and seals the day and date above written in the presents of the witnesses.

[Witnesses names are illegible.]

Signed:
Israel Sanders    seal
Peggy  Sanders  seal
Jacob L. Sanders   seal
Sampson Sanders   seal
Deborah Sanders   seal
Mary (his mark) Sanders   seal
Anna Sanders   seal
George Sanders for Pheba Sanders

North Carolina
Before Montgomery County C. C. Wade
On this 10 day of December 1885 personally appeared before me, Henry Sanders, the owner who being duly sworn, says that the grantor, bargainer, or maker of the annexed deed and the witness thereto are dead and cannot be found and that he cannot make proof of their handwritings.
Sworn and subscribed before me and is therefore ordered that said deed by other Henry (his mark) Sanders with this affidavit be registered
CC Wade
Clerk, Superior Court
Montgomery County.

Six years later, in 1837, Mary  Sanders, who was in her late seventies at that time, sold her land to her son Henry:

Montgomery County Deeds, Book 29, p. 41.

Mary Sanders to Henry Sanders Deed

This indenture made on the twenty-fifth day of February in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and thirty seven between Mary Sanders of the County of Montgomery and State of North Carolina of the one part and Henry Sanders of the County and State aforesaid of the other part, witnesseth that for and in consideration of the sum of two hundred dollars in hand paid, the receipt and payment whereof is hereby acknowledged by the said Mary Sanders to the said Henry Sanders, hath bargained and sold and by these presents doth bargain sell, ? [illegible-gs] and confirm unto the said Henry Sanders two certain tracts or parcels of land, situated, lying, and being in the County and State aforesaid on the waters of Barnes Creek.

The first x begins and runs as follows: beginning at a fork x oak opposite Reed Creek, fork Barnes Creek and runs thence South 44 west x one hundred and twenty seven poles to a black oak, thence  ch (?) 46 East x one hundred and twenty seven poles, thence North 44 east x one hundred and twenty seven poles, thence North  46 west x one hundred twenty seven poles to the beginning containing one hundred acres more or less. Also one other tract adjoining the above.

Beginning at a hickory ? ? ? [three illegible words-gs] in James Neal’s line and runs with the said line  ?[illegible word-gs] 50 east x fifty five poles to a red oak by a hickory  [on] Jesse Sanders line, thence east fifty-six poles, thence No. 54 east one hundred poles, thence N [NW?] 16 west x one hundred and three poles, thence So. 44 west x  forty three poles to James Neal’s line; thence with his line  N.E. 46 west x one hundred and twenty seven poles, thence N [?] 44 sixteen poles to Jacob sanders old line, then South his line SE 46 East x one hundred and twenty seven poles; thence NE [?] 44 West one hundred and twenty seven poles to the beginning, containing one hundred acres, more or less, make in all two hundred acres, together with all woods, ways, waters, and water courses mines, minerals, here  ? [illegible-gs]  and appurtenances belonging in any way, appertaining to the said lands and premises and that the said Mary Sanders does for herself, her heirs, executors, and administrators or assigns covenant and bargain and sell and convey the said lands and premises to Henry Sanders, his heirs and assigns.

To have and to hold forever and their only proper use and benefit and that said Mary Sanders does bind herself her heirs and assigns to warrant and forever defend against the lawful claims of any person or person whatsoever.

Whereby the said lands and premises might or may be affected or encumbered contrary to the true intent and meaning of these presents, in testimony whereof, I, the said Mary Sanders, have hereunto set my hand an affixed my seal the day and date first above written.

Mary Sanders
seal
Wm Crook
Jacob L. Sanders

North Carolina
Before Montgomery County CC Wade, CSC

On this 10th day of December 1880, personally appears before me Henry Sanders, owner, who being duly sworn, says: that the grantor, bargainer or maker of the annexed deed and the witness there to are dead or cannot be found and that he cannot make proof of their handwriting.
Sworn and subscribed before the same and is therefore ordered that said Deed together with this affidavit be registered.

his
Henry x Sanders
mark

C. C. Wade, Clerk Superior Court
Montgomery County 

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Obituary of Levi Lindsey Sanders of Van Zandt County, Texas, 1917

This obituary is from the Canton, Texas Herald, January 12, 1917. Levi Lindsey Sanders was the son of Benjamin Sanders, Jr. (1804-1863), and the grandson of Benjamin Saunders, Sr., who moved from Randolph County, North Carolina to Jackson County, Alabama in the 1830s. According to this account, Benjamin Saunders was ninety-eight when he died; according to an account by Levi's son, Benjamin was over one hundred. The truth may be that he was only in his eighties, but Levi left home when he was teenager and his grandfather must have seemed very ancient to the young man. According to census and other records, Benjamin was probably born between 1766 and 1770 and probably died between 1840 and 1850. The statement that Ben was an Irish Catholic is also something of a puzzle because none of the other Sanders associated with Benjamin and his family seemed to have any tradition about an Irish Catholic origin for the family. 

Mr. L. L. Sanders, one of the oldest and most highly respected citizens of Van Zandt County, died at his late home at Ben Wheeler, Thursday, Jan. 4, at 3:30 p.m. Levi Lindsey Sanders was born in Jackson County, Ala., February 21, 1837, his age being 79 years, 10 months and 17 days. He was a son of Buck Ben Sanders, a gunsmith, and came of Irish Catholic ancestry, his people setting in NorthCarolina. Uncle Levi's paternal grandfather, Ben Saunders, as the name was orginally spelled, was converted from the Catholic faith at a camp meeting in Jackson County, Ala., at the age of 96 years, dying two years later. Uncle Levi was one of nine children and left home at the age of 16, working on a steamboat on the Mississippi for some time. Later, he setttled in Arkansas, following his trade of blacksmith. He came to Texas in 1857 and married Miss Susan Collins in 1858, the marriage occurring in Dallas when that city was a mere village.

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Biography of D. Leon Sanders of Willis Point in Van Zandt County, Texas

(Dwelly Leonidas Sanders was the son of Levi Lindsey Sanders, the grandson of Benjamin Sanders, Jr., and the great-grandson of Benjamin Saunders, Sr., who is probably the same person as the "Ben" mentioned in the Thomas Bailey Saunders letter which is discussed elsewhere at this site. D. L. Sanders was the half-brother of Morgan Gurley Sanders, who served in Congress from 1921 until 1939. Apparently, Dr. Sanders was not fond of his  full first name or his middle name; in most documents, he appears as "D. Leon Sanders." His first name is listed as "Dwelly" on his military service record for World War I and he is listed as "Dwelly Leonidas" in a directory of the Texas Medical Association during the 1950s.)

From:  A History of Texas and Texans
Johnson, Francis White
Chicago:  American Historical Society, 1914
5 vols., p. 1746

     D. LEON SANDERS, M.D., of Wills Point, where he has been engaged in practice since 1906, is the representative of one of the oldest families in the south, members of the family having been identified with affairs in Alabama, North Carolina and Texas for several generations past.

     Born in Ben Wheeler, Texas, on October 2, 1871, Dr. Sanders is the son of Levi L. Sanders, a retired merchant and farmer of Ben Wheeler, himself the son of Benjamin Sanders, a Blacksmith of Jackson county, Alabama.  The latter was killed by the Federals during the war of the sixties. He was born in North Carolina, and was the son of an Irishman of that state, who died in Alabama when he was more than one hundred years of age. He had two sons and six daughters, and one of his sons was Levi L., the father of Dr. Sanders of this review.

     Levi L. Sanders was born in Jackson county, Alabama, in 1837, and he learned something of blacksmithing from his father while in his youth. He became dissatisfied with his home while yet a mere boy and ran away, thinking to better his conditions and for a time he was employed on a Mississippi River Steamboat.  When he reached Texas in 1848, he found a home with Rev. Nels King, of Rowlett, Dallas county, and he stayed there until he took unto himself a wife, Miss Susan Collins, who was a daughter of William and Minerva Collins.  Our subject's mother had three brothers, Leon, Van and Tom, who were Texas Rangers and who were stationed at Ft. Worth with Gen. Worth, who was in command of the fort, Ft. Worth being named in honor of him.  And it was through the three brothers' influence that the Collins family came to Texas in the pioneer days, and Collin county was named in honor of some of the Collins boys.  Levi Sanders was a settler to Texas from Alabama.  In Oak Cliff, Dallas county, he established his home.  The town was then in embryo, and he opened a shop, engaged in blacksmithing, and continued there for a few years. He moved then to Brownsboro, in Henderson county, going there prior to the war, and after four years of residence there he joined the Confederate army as a mechanic in the company of Captain Bridges, Company O, Sixth Texas Infantry Regiment in General Ross's Brigade, and he was made brigade blacksmith by General Ross.  He served throughout the war without accident or untoward happening, and when peace was restored he returned to his place at the anvil, moving his shop to Ben Wheeler, in Van Zandt county, continuing there in his trade until about 1870, when he established himself in the merchandise business in Ben Wheeler, continuing in that enterprise until 1905.  During the passing years he prospered, in whatever line of business he was engaged in, and he acquired considerable farm lands thereabout and developed a number of fine farms, at the same time engaging to a greater or less extent in the business of stock riasing. He was well in the advance of his community in the introduction of blooded horses and cattle and in the breeding of fine mules, as well, and the influence he had thus spread abroad over a considerable portion of the country.  He has ever been an active man in the Methodist church, and is a Maste Mason.  He is a Democrat, and as a veteran of the Civil war is an enthusiastic member of the Confederate Veterans of the South.

    The first wife of Levi L. Sanders died in 1877, and she left children as follows:  Lorenzo Dow Sanders, who died in Smith county, Texas, in 1899, leaving a family; Henry W., died in Leon county, this state, also leaving a family; Mrs. H. J. Craft, of Canton, Texas; Mrs. H. E. Wallace, the wife of Dr. Wallace of Ovalo, Texas; B. Franklin, a resident of Ben Wheeler, Texas; Josiah, who died unmarried; Dr. Leon, of the review; Mrs. T. C. Sharp, of Leon county, Texas; Levi S. , died young; and James F., a merchant of Ben Wheeler, Texas. Later in life Mr. Sanders married Fannie Smith, the daughter of Nick Smith, a German resident of Ben Wheeler, and their children are Morgan G., county attorney of Van Zandt county, and Grace, the wife of Henry Cates, a farmer of Van Zandt county.

     Dr. Leon Sanders was born in Ben Wheeler, Texas, on October 2, 1871.  When he had finished the common schools he studied in Alamo Institute, and then took a course in Transylvania University, being graduated therefrom with the degree of B.S. He entered the Kentucky School of Medicine at Louisville and was graduated there in 1894, after which he spent two years in school teaching in the country schools of Van Zandt county. When he was ready for medical practice he located at Edom, and he came to Wills Point in 1906, where he has since continued. Since his graduation, Dr. Sanders has taken four post graduate courses in the New Orleans Polyclinic.  He is a member of the County and State Medical Societies and the North Texas and Southern Medical Associations, and is secretary of the county society.

     Dr. Sanders is a Mason, with affiliation in the junior orders, and he is a Pythian Knight and a member of the Woodmen of the World. The Doctor has been twice married.  He was married first on July 5, 1893, in Van Zandt county, to Miss Alice Gray, whose father was Dr. A. J. Gray. She died 1907, leaving three small daughters--Constance, Blance and Mary Lee.  On June 30, 1909, Dr. Sanders married Miss LaNear Aldridge, a daughter of John Aldridge, of Weatherford, Texas. They have no children.  Dr. Sanders is a member of the Methodist church and has for years been a member of the Texas State Historical Association, and is a member of the National Geographic Society.

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Sanders/Saunders and Biddy/Biddie families of Montgomery County, Arkansas

March 2005
Revised February 2006
Revised July 2009

In October, 2003,  I posted the following inquiry on this Web site and  and in Sanders' Siftings:

I would like to exchange information with anyone who has material about the following three Sanders families who lived in Arkansas in the 1850s and may or may not be related to my great grandfather, Isaac Sanders (1818, North Carolina-after 1880, Prentiss County, Miss.) who lived in Montgomery County, Arkansas from about 1851 until after the Civil War:

1. William Sanders, born about 1789 in North Carolina.  He appears on the 1850 Jackson County, Alabama census (at least, I think it’s the same person) and the 1860 Montgomery County, Arkansas census. He married Martha T. Unknown.  A son of William may have served in the same Confederate unit as a son of my Isaac in 1861 in Montgomery County.  Another researcher has proposed that William is a son of the Daniel Sanders who appeared on the 1779 tax roll of Montgomery County, North Carolina, a suggestion based mainly on the fact that both William and Daniel were blacksmiths. The children of William were Joseph, Lucrecia, Hiram, John B., Ann B., and Martha L. 

 2. George W. Sanders, reportedly born December 17, 1812 in North Carolina, married Anna Unknown 1833 in Randolph County, North Carolina, and appears on the 1850 Montgomery County, Arkansas census with children Mary E., Benjamin F., Isaac Brantley, Martha Ann, Sarah Jane, and Andrew J.  George Sanders apparently owned land near the property of my great grandfather Isaac in Montgomery County, Arkansas.

 3. George’s daughter, Sarah Jane Sanders married Greenville Sanders, August 6, 1865 in Montgomery County, Arkansas.  Greenville was the son of William Patrick Sanders, born about 1819 in North Carolina.   William Patrick Sanders appears on the 1860 Pike County, Arkansas census, occupation blacksmith, with wife Elender (maiden name Southerland according to other researchers), and children Frederick, Greenville, Arminta, Elender, and William J.  

As a result of these postings, I was able to contact other researchers, and eventually I was able to document that William of Montgomery was the half-brother of my great grandfather Isaac Sanders; that George was a brother to my Isaac; and that William Patrick was a son of Francis Sanders and Rachel Sanders. The information about William Patrick came about during an exchange of information with with Cathy Gallen in the spring of 2005. She had been researching  the Biddy family and she provided information about the migration of the family of James Jones Biddy and his wife’s Sanders family in 1851 from Marshall County, Alabama, to Hempstead and Montgomery counties in Arkansas. Her research indicated that the Sanders family involved in this pioneer movement was that of William Patrick Saunders who appears on the Pike County, Arkansas census of 1860. The information she provided and documents previously sent to me by Ralph Jackson and Don Schaefer indicate that William Patrick Saunders was the brother of the Mary Jane Sanders,wife of James Jones Biddie (or Biddy as it is often spelled) and  that the parents of William and Mary Jane were Francis and Rachel Sanders.  

Below, I have summarized the evidence that leads me to this conclusion.  

William Patrick Saunders married Ellender Southerland March 9, 1843 in Marshall County, and their family appears on the 1850 Marshall County, Alabama, census, living near Phoebe Sanders Lee and her husband Henry Lee. Phoebe is believed to be a daughter of Benjamin Sanders, brother of Francis. Enumerated two houses away from William Patrick is the family of James Jones Biddy. James Jones Biddy married Mary Jane Saunders December 1, 1838 in Marshall County. Their first child was named Rachel, their last child was named James Francis, and  at least one grandchild of this union was also named Francis, indicating a close connection to Francis and Rachel Sanders, who appear on the DeKalb County, Alabama census. By 1851 Francis and Rachel were in Marshall County, Alabama. Francis made an application in Marshall County in January 1851 for bounty land based on his service in the Seminole Indian War in Jackson County, Alabama, in 1838.

In 1851, probably in the spring or summer, the Biddy and Sanders families made the move to Arkansas.  James Jones Biddy lived in Hempstead and Montgomery counties through the 1850s and 1860s and moved in 1873 to the Indian Territory, where he applied for Choctaw citizenship.  He was rejected on two occasions but his son James Francis continued the effort until at least 1903.  In the 1903 hearing, the surviving children were asked by the court about their childhood and ancestry. Most of the questions were directed toward whether they had sufficient Choctaw ancestry to qualify as citizens, but the children did make several references to their Sanders relatives.  Some of the testimony is contradictory and vague, but over fifty years had passed since the 1851 migration, and there is no reason to doubt any of the statements as they relate to the Sanders family. According to the testimony in 1903 of Sarah Ann Biddy Kinsey, who was born in 1841 or 1842, the Sanders relatives who moved were one of her mother's brothers and her Sanders grandparents.    Based on subsequent events, these grandparents appear to be Francis and Rachel Sanders, and the brother appears to be William Patrick Saunders. It was the following exchange in the transcript that really convinced me that Sarah Ann was referring to Francis and Rachel: Q.  How many people came with you? A.  One of my uncles on my mother's side, and my grandfather and my grandmother on my mother's side.  Francis was sixty-nine in 1851 and Rachel was seventy-one. It's doubtful they traveled to Arkansas alone, regardless of the year they came, and documentary evidence from Arkansas records of the 1850s appears to indicate that Sarah Ann was referring to Francis and Rachel.

Sarah Ann stated the Sanders and Biddys traveled in a wagon and a carriage.  Her sister Elizabeth said they had five wagons and two buggies.  There must have been at least twenty people in the group if all the children of each family are included with the parents and the two Sanders grandparents.

Isaac Sanders, who is usually regarded as a nephew of Francis, had been living in Tishomingo County, Mississippi, but moved to Arkansas in 1850 or 1851. This is known because he had a child who was born in 1849 in Mississippi and one born in 1851 in Arkansas. In 1855 and 1857 he acquired land in Montgomery County, Arkansas. Since he appears to have moved to Arkansas in the same year as the Biddys and moved to the same area they did, it's possible his move was co-ordinated with theirs or that there was a plan to meet them along the way. One of the judges asked Sarah Ann if the group traveled through Corinth, Mississippi, which would have been the usual route to Memphis and on to Arkansas. If they did indeed travel that route, they were probably not very far from where Isaac Sanders lived.

After arrival in Arkansas, the family lived near the White River for about a year.  The exact location is not clear, but Ralph Jackson has suggested they may have resided near Des Arc in Prairie County. Other pioneers are known to have made that area a  temporary residence on the way West. After the move to Arkansas, probably in late 1851 or 1852, Mary Jane Sanders Biddy died and William Jones Biddy remarried in 1853 to Mary Polly Burnam, but the family seemed to split up, and at the time of the 1860 census, some members are living in Hempstead County and some are living in Montgomery County. The Biddy family and the William Patrick Sanders family appear to have been neighbors in Hempstead just as they were in Marshall County, Alabama.

Francis Sanders' bounty land warrant request that he had initiated in 1851 in Marshall County was executed in August 1855 in Hempstead County, Arkansas, and one of the witnesses was James J. Biddie. This is believed to be the same person as James Jones Biddy. The application states that Francis was a resident of Hempstead County at that time. Francis seems to have received the right to eighty acres in Pike County and then signed his rights to the land in October 1856 to Henry Merrill, an agent for the Arkansas Manufacturing Company. This is the last record we have of Francis Sanders.  A William Sanders was the second witness on Francis’ 1855 application, and and this is probably the same person as William Patrick Saunders. William Patrick acquired land in Hempstead County in 1856, but he also bought land in Pike County and was living there at the time of the 1860 census.

In 1860, James Jones Biddy is still living in Hempstead County with his son James Francis and, curiously, there is a woman living next door living next door in a separate household whose marital relationship to James Jones is mysterious.  She appears to be the Mary Burnam whom he married in 1853 and who still appears as his legal wife on a legal document issued in 1861. Only one of the Biddy children seems to have even a slight recollection of this marriage. It is possible the marriage was in name only and was related to an effort to acquire or retain land, but the circumstances surrounding it are extremely confusing.  After the Civil War,Biddy would later marry a fourth and last time.

Two of Biddy's children, Lucy and Wilson, are enumerated in Montgomery County, Arkansas in 1860 near Aaron Sanders, the son of Isaac Sanders. Other of the children are scattered around the county, living with families whose relationship to the Sanders or the Biddys is not always clear.

The testimony of most of the children in the 1903 attempt by James Francis Biddy to acquire Choctaw citizenship is that James Biddy lived in Montgomery County, Arkansas during the Civil War and moved to the Indian Territory in 1873. Some of the Biddy sons served in he same unit of Montgomery County Confederate volunteers as the sons of Isaac Sanders. Isaac also moved from Montgomery County after the Civil War, but he went to Mississippi rather than to the Indian Territory.

The following excerpts from the testimony of Sarah Ann Biddy Kinsey and her sister Elizabeth Biddy Deaton were provided by Cathy Gallen.

IN THE CHOCTAW AND CHICKASAW CITIZENSHIP COURT, SITTING AT SOUTH McALESTER, INDIAN TERRITORY, JAMES F. BIDDIE, et al,---vs---  THE CHOCTAW AND CHICKASAW NATIONS. May 13, 1903:

Judge FOSTER:

Q. What is your name?
A.        Sarah Ann KINSEY.

Q.        What is your post office?
A.        Cameron.

Q.        Are you an Indian, Negro or white person?
A.        Well, I have been taught all my life that I was a Choctaw.

Q.        Who was your father?
A.        James Jones BIDDIE.

Q.        How old are you Mrs. KINSEY?
A.        I will be 61 the 3rd day of August. I was born in 1842.

Q.        How long have you lived in the Choctaw Nation?
A.        About thirty years.

Q.        Where did you come from to the Choctaw Nation?
A.        From Montgomery County, Arkansas.

Q.        How long did you live in Montgomery County?
A.        Several years, I don't know how long.

Q.        Where did you come from to that county?
A.        Come from Alabama.

Q.        When did you arrive in Arkansas from Alabama?
A.        Well, I reckon I must have been ten years old.

Q.        You remember living in Alabama?
A.        Just can recollect it and that is about all.

Q.        That was on the Tennessee River, wasn't it?
A.        Yes sir.

Q.        Close to what town?
A.        None around, close to no town.

Q.        What was the closest town?
A.        GUNTHER's Landing was closest town.

Q.        You say you were born in Alabama?
A.         Yes sir.

Q.        On the Tennessee River?
A.         Yes sir.

Q.        In Marshall County?
A.         Yes sir.

Q.        Or were you born in Limestone or Madison County?
A.        I was born in Marshall County

Q..        You are sure you were born in Marshall County?
A.         I think that is what my father said.

 Q.        You were born there; when you left there how did you come to Arkansas?
A.         We traveled in a wagon.

Q.        How many people came with you?
A.         One of my uncles on my mother's side, and my grandfather and my
grandmother on my mother's side.

Q.        They were white people?
A.         Yes sir.

Q.        You traveled in a wagon with a lot of white people?
A.         Yes sir.

Q.        Were there any full blood Indians with you, coming to this
country?
A.         No sir.

 Q.        You traveled in a wagon; did you have any buggies too?
A.         We had a hack, it was not called a hack in those days; it was a
carriage.

Q.        You all traveled like white folks together?
A.         Yes sir.

Q.        No Cherokee Indians living around GUNTHER's Landing?
A.         I don't know, but there were some there.

Q.        Well, you came to Arkansas with a lot of white settlers; where did
they go?
A.         They stopped before we did; we came on to White River.

Q.        You did not, any of you, come to the Indian Territory; you all
scattered in Arkansas, whites and alleged Indians?
A.         Yes.
******************

Testimony of Elizabeth Biddy Deaton, p. 68:

Q. Where were you born in Alabama?
A. Marshall County.

Q. In what part of the County?
A. Near GUNTER’S landing.

Q. Where did you go to when you left Alabama?
A. Came to Arkansas; we started for the Nation but did not make it here.

Q. That would have been about 1851; about ten years before the War?
A. Yes sir.

Q. You left Alabama when you were seven or eight years old and came to Montgomery County, Arkansas, is it true?
A. We came to some place; I have forgotten the name.

Q. How long did you live at that place on White river where you first stopped?
A. One year.

Q. Did you make a crop there?
A. No sir, my father sold goods at a store.

Q.  Then where did you go in Arkansas?
A. Hempstead County.

Q. How long did you stay in that County? Several years?
A. Two or three years.

Q. What did your father do there?
A. Farmed.

Q. Where did he go from there?
A. Montgomery County.

Q. You lived in Arkansas on the White River, in Hempstead and Montgomery Counties and around in there from about 1851 until 1873 or 74?
A. Yes sir.

Q. What did your father do during these years; was he farming?
A. Yes sir, farming.

Q. What was the name of your father’s first wife?
A. I cannot tell you.

Q. Your mother was named Mary SANDERS?
A. Yes sir.

Q. Was your father married before that?
A. He had three children by his first wife.

Q. What was the name of his first wife?
A. I cannot tell you.

Q. When did your mother die?
A. She died while we was on White River.

Q. In Arkansas?
A. Yes sir.

Q. Did your father marry after that?
A. Yes sir.

Q. Who did he marry after that?
A. Elizabeth KINZEY.

Q. Where did he marry her?
A. I believe in Montgomery County.

Q. What was the name of the oldest child of your father?
A. By his first wife?

Q. Any wife.
A. Lucy (BIDDIE); he had one named Wilson (BIDDIE), but he died in the time of the War; but Lucy was the oldest one.

Q. Then it is not a fact that Rachael LANKFORD was the oldest child?
A. She was the oldest child by his second wife.

Q. Then she is not the oldest one?
A. No sir, he had older ones.
 

Q. Do you remember whether you came through Corinth, Mississippi after leaving Decatur?
A. I remember going through swamps, but I don’t know the towns.

Q. How long did it take you to go through from GUNTER’S Landing to Arkansas?
A. I cannot tell you; five or six weeks, or may be eight.

Q. How did you travel?
A. In wagons and in a buggy.

Q. About how many of you were there?
A. Five wagons and two buggies.

Q. Who were along with you?
A. Some of my mother’s family, the SANDERS.

Q. They were white people?
A. Yes sir.

Q. You all traveled in wagons and buggies when you came to the Mississippi River?

A. Yes sir.
Q. Where did you cross the Mississippi River?

A. At Memphis.
 Q. The other people did not claim to be Indians?

A. No sir.
Q. They were white people?

A. Yes sir.
Q. Did they say they were coming to the Choctaw Nation?

A. No sir, they were coming to Arkansas.
Q. When he left Alabama and came west, did your father have any well-defined idea of coming to the Choctaw Nation on that trip?

A. That was his talk.
Q. What did the other people say as to where they were going?

A. They wanted to come to Arkansas or Texas.
Q. Why did you not come to the Nation?

A. My mother did not want to come to the Nation to have her children raised with the Indians.

Q. Your father agreed with her and did not come?
A. Not until after her death.

Q. In what year did she die?
A. I cannot tell you.

Q. How long after your father came to Arkansas?
A. About a year.

Q. You landed in Arkansas about 1851, that is true is it not?
A. Yes sir.

Q. Your mother died then, about a year after that time?
A. Yes sir. She died when we first came there.

Q. Your statement is that your mother would not come?
A. Yes sir.

Q. It is a fact that your father did not move to the Choctaw Nation until 1873?
A. Yes sir.

Q. And then lived on White river in Hempstead County, in Montgomery County and made crops in Arkansas for more than twenty years?
A. It might have been.
End of transcript excerpts 

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The Civil War and the Sanders  Family

The Civil War was a tragedy for individual families in addition to being a tragedy for the nation. I don’t know how typical my Sanders family was of Southern families generally, but the Civil War literally set brother against brother and father against son within the Sanders clan descended from the original settlers of Randolph and Montgomery counties, North Carolina.  As if emblematic of the conflicting loyalties generated by the war, my grandfather, Jesse Sanders, appears to have served in both the Confederate Army and the Union Army before he was nineteen years old.

When the war began my great grandfather Isaac Sanders was living in Mount Ida in Montgomery County, Arkansas.  He had three sons already of military age, and one, Jesse, my grandfather, who would become old enough to serve during the war itself.  Numerous other related Sanders families lived in other counties in Arkansas, in Texas, in Mississippi, and back in Alabama and North Carolina, the points of origin for the westward Sanders migration.

The sentiment within Mount Ida was overwhelmingly in favor of secession, and those who had doubts were too intimidated to protest. On July 17, 1861, a unit called the “Montgomery County Hunters” was organized.  It would later be designated as Co. F of the 4th Arkansas infantry.  The small rural community celebrated the occasion with a home made drum and fife show using improvised instruments and joints of sugar cane stalks. Their collected baggage consisted of bed quilts, pots, skillets, coffee pots and other household items, all drawn by yokes of oxen.  Their weapons of war against the Yankee invaders were old squirrel rifles and double barreled shotguns.

The leader of this group, Captain John Lavender, would later write a book about his war experiences, The War Memoirs of Captain John W. Lavender, C.S.A. (W.M. Hackett and D. R. Perdue Publishers, the Southern Press, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, 1956). He wrote, ”we was in high spirits and no one complained fearing he would be accused of being a coward or playing the baby act.” The company was mustered in Missouri and participated in the battles of Elkhorn, Richmond, Perryville, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Georgia campaign of 1864, Franklin, and Nashville.  There were some changes in the organization of the company during the war, and it is difficult to tell how many of the original men who joined in July of 1861 survived the war, but Lavender later estimated that of the one hundred or so who crossed the Mississippi and fought in the battles in other states only about a dozen survived the war.

The nature of Isaac’s combat experience is not clear, though it is known he was a member of the Montgomery County Hunters and Company F.   We do have a record that Isaac enlisted on October 21, 1861 at Fort Smith Arkansas, and that he was furloughed from December 17, 1861 to March 1, 1862.  His discharge papers state that he was suffering from pneumonia.  His son Aaron enlisted on November 21, 1861 at Forth Smith and was present on December 31, 1861; his son Benjamin enlisted on October 21 1861 at Fort Smith and was with Humphries' batallion at Shelbyville, Tennessee on April 29, 1863.  His son Isaac, Jr., enlisted on October 21, 1861 at Forth Smith and died on January 10, 1862 from illness or an injury.

By June 4, 1863 Isaac, Sr., was back in Montgomery County because he signed up for Earnest’s local defense company, which was established to defend the home front. Apparently, this was the only unit of its kind in the state.  Isaac’s son Aaron was a first sergeant in the same company and Isaac’s seventeen year old son Jesse appears for the first time in the war records as a private if the “J. Sanders” who appears in the company roll is the same person as Jesse.

In the fall and winter  of 1963-64  most of the Sanders family in the Montgomery County area appeared to have switched sides from the Confederacy to the Union forces.  Isaac's cousin William Patrick Sanders and two of his sons joined  4th U.S. cavalry in November of 1863.  They were accompanied by some of the  related Biddy and Lamb families.  Isaac's son Jesse joined the 4th cavalry in February 1864 Isaac himself enlisted at Dardanelle in Yell County in March, 1864. 

According to the Edward G. Gerdes Civil War in Arkansas page, quoting from a contemporary account of the 4th cavalry, Isaac's unit was involved in the skirmish at Dardanelle on May 17, 1864:

"At that date Dardanelle was attacked by Shelby in the night with 2,000 men and four pieces of artillery. The commanding officer of the post had ordered the camp equipage across the river and at the time of attack, it was slowly crossing in a single flat boat. Capt. Wood, Co G, in charge. The town was held until it was completely surrounded and for nearly two hours after it had beena bandoned by the post commander. All records of the company were lost, except for copies of muster-in rolls found in the Adjutant General's Office. Some of the men escaped by swimming the river and some by cutting their way through enemy's lines. Many of the men reported missing in action are in the woods near Dardanelle, unable to rejoin the regiment on account of guerillas."

The official military record of Isaac's service indicates that he was listed as "missing in action" during the skirmish.   What happened to him immediately afterwards is not clear, though we know that he survived the battle and lived for at least another sixteen years. Maybe he escaped from the woods and joined some other unit to continue fighting the war; or maybe he, like many other solider-farmers of the time, went back home to take care of his family's needs.

Isaac’s brother, John, who lived in Jackson County, Alabama, stated in his Southern Claims record in 1875 that Isaac lived in Montgomery County, Arkansas and that Isaac fought for the Confederacy.  Unlike Isaac, John remained loyal to the Union  throughout the War and served in an Ohio Regiment, stationed mainly in the Tennessee theatre.  A letter written by Louie Richard David of Weatherford, Texas, on July 24, 1974 to friends in Jackson County, Alabama and later printed in the July 2000 issue of Sanders’ Siftings suggests that Isaac and John may have fought in the same battle:

        "There is another story told about two of the Sanders. The story goes that the two brothers were fighting during the War Between the States.  One had enlisted with the Union Army and the other was serving with the Confederates.  They were mounted and fighting and charging with sword and saber.  It was night and dark and they did not recognize each other, or who they were fighting against.  One of them said 'Get Ert Aunt Becky,' and the other said 'Is that you, John?' and they then recognized each other as being brothers and stopped fighting. They had an aunt called Aunt Becky who had a 'By-Word' of Get Ert.  I have a note of a John Sanders serving with Co. B. 3rd Ohio Regiment (Union Army).  I don't remember where I got it but wonder if they might be the one in the story."

Regardless of whether this is a true story, it does coincide with the facts that John and Isaac, two Sanders brothers, fought on opposing sides during the war. The county where John lived, Jackson County, Alabama, was in the Alabama hill county, a region with few slaves and many poor whites who had no use for the planter aristocracy.  Further, most of the Sanders families in Jackson County had emigrated from Randolph and Montgomery County, North Carolina.  Many of the earliest settlers of these two North Carolina counties had been Methodists or Quakers, people with a strong social conscience, and, in some case, an aversion to slavery.

John Sanders was by no means alone in his service to the union cause. Two of his sons fought in the same Ohio Regiment in which he served. His elderly uncle on his mother’s side, Joseph Sanders, called “Uncle Joe” by nearly everyone, was a staunch Union supporter whose sons joined the Union army. Unfortunately, Uncle Joe’s public support for the Union led to his death on April 10, 1863. Here is one version of the story, again quoting from the same letter:

 "I know you have some information on the Sanders that was killed by bushwhackers. I have heard a story here in Texas passed down through generations. One of the Sanders was caught off guard while plowing a field by bushwhackers. They took him and his horse to the top of a hill and made the Sanders dig a grave. Then the bushwhackers killed both man and his horse and buried both in the grave with the legs of the horse sticking up out of the grave. (This is some tale and may not be exactly true but is what I have heard.)”

There are other versions of this story, such as that Uncle Joe was taken from his home and killed. A  Huntsville newspaper of the time was decidedly unsympathetic: "On the same day, we learn, an old man, named Saunders, who affiliated with the Abolition Army, when they occupied Jackson county, and went off with them, but returned to depredate on the neighborhood, was shot and killed by some unknown person, on Mud Creek in that county."  The latter is from a posting on the Sanders-L list on January 27, 2004 by Don Schaefer who thinks there was probably some vigilante justice after the murder and at least one of the murderers may have been lynched, though the details of subsequent events are rather murky.* (see note at end of article)

The situation in Arkansas was similar to that in northeast Alabama.   Pro-unionists, who had remained silent during the heyday of the Confederacy, began to surface whenever the federal troops were able to assert control.   I have no family tradition about  any competing loyalties within my great grandfather’s family in  Montgomery County, but events suggest that, in spite of losing a son for the Southern cause,  his family was not composed of  wholehearted Confederate sympathizers.  For example, his seventeen year old son Jesse, having signed up for the Montgomery County  local defense troop unit in  June of 1863, switched sides and  joined  the 4th Arkansas Cavalry, USA in February 1864.  He served in the same unit as his uncle William Patrick Sanders and two of William Patrick’s sons.  Also in the same unit was James H. Biddie who was related by marriage to the Sanders family, his father having married Isaac’s sister.  Biddie had also previously served in the Confederate forces, as had two other 4th cavalry soldiers, Reuben Lamb and George Swaim, who also were related to Jesse by marriage.

Another example is that of Francis Marion Sanders, who may be a second cousin of Isaac. Born in Jefferson County, Illinois in 1838, it is believed his ancestors were from Montgomery County, North Carolina. He served in the 34th Arkansas Infantry, CSA, with two of his brothers, one of whom was killed in action.  His wife later claimed that he served in the Confederate Army under duress.  In the spring of 1863 he deserted and in the fall of 1863 he joined the Union Army. In December of 1864, while he was visiting his family in Clarksville, Arkansas, he was killed by bushwhackers while his horrified wife and children watched.  Later, the family fled back to Illinois to the safety of his wife’s family.

Still another example is that of Stephen C. Sanders in Washington County in the northwest part of Arkansas. Stephen was the son of Nimrod Sanders of Montgomery County, North Carolina, and most likely a second cousin of Isaac in Montgomery County.  Two of Stephen’s sons fought for the Confederacy, but according to his descendant Sam Sanders, Stephen said after the war, “I remained a Union man. I never got rebellish at all.” This was in spite of the fact that two Confederate sympathizers once threatened to kill him, and soldiers from both sides raided his farm for supplies.

Farther South, in Van Zandt County, Texas, lived another cousin of Isaac, Levi Lindsey Sanders who had moved to Texas from Jackson County, Alabama in the 1850s.  Of Levi’s convictions, there was no equivocation, for he was firmly on the Confederate side. When the war began, he joined the 6th Texas Regiment, Ross’ brigade, Army of Tennessee, served as a brigade blacksmith throughout most of the war, and returned to his family in Texas in 1865.  Later, in 1870, Isaac’s son, Jesse, who had served briefly in the Union army, would move to neighboring Henderson County, and Isaac and Jesse would remain good friends for the rest of their lives.

I have, of course, a mentioned only a few of the members of my Sanders line who served either side during the Civil War.  No doubt there are many other interesting stories to be uncovered, some buried in archives and official documents, others existing only as fragments of nearly lost family tradition.

The following Web site gives further information about Arkansas in the Civil War:  http://www.couchgenweb.com/civilwar/

                                                                    ************************************
*[Note, June 2007] Here is another version of how Uncle Joe Sanders was killed. This one comes from Bob Dean, a descendant of Rebecca Sanders and William Cornelison. He sent me an email in 2007 with information he received from an elderly Sanders descendant who lives on the property where Joseph Sanders was murdered in 1863. I have altered the sentence structure somewhat to summarize the story:
 
“Mud Creek is located north of Scottsboro, and there is a cave there, the one that we have always known as Blowing Cave. Joseph Sanders patented 80 acres of land in 1831 that contained this cave. I will tell you the story told [to] me as close as I can remember it.  It is not exactly like the story that we have heard before but close.”

Bob’s informant 
talked about listening to his grandmother talk about the murder many times when he was a child. She was the daughter of John Sanders, Joseph's nephew. He pointed to the cove behind the house and said they hanged Joseph “back in the cove at the foot of the mountain on a big mulberry tree.It had a big limb that ran out and then turned up. His grandmother said that was the limb that they hung Joseph on. He was hanged by southerners who thought he was giving help to the Yankees. There were three of the rebels, one a neighbor by the name of Barbee. After killing him they left with a horse they were using as a pack mule to carry, I suppose, the things that they had taken. After they killed Joseph, they left, leading their horse. That evening, not long after the rebels left, a group of Yankees came down out of the mountain and went after the rebels. They caught up with them near the foot of the mountain close to the old Moody Brick. The Yankees killed the horse and made the men dig a grave for it. When the grave was dug, they killed the men, put them in the hole and rolled the horse in on top of them. This could be the story of putting Joseph in the grave with the horse on top of him and the horse with its legs sticking up.”

“They [Joseph’s family] buried Uncle Joe and there were four cedar posts put at the corners of his grave. These were moved after somebody in Texas had the marker put in. [This grave marker was erected in the 1990s.-gs]. The mulberry tree was there for a long time; it had a limb that stuck out and turned up.That was the limb upon which they hanged Uncle Joe.”

The informant said that “his [great] grandmother sat over there with the body until someone came to help get him to the house.  So, apparently he was not killed where he was buried. But the fact that he was buried there would seem to indicate that he lived there.”

Bob concludes “It may be as close to eyewitness information as we can get even though his information did not come directly from someone that was there. It did come in a direct line from someone that was a witness to the events.  I'm sure that the story is not without flaws, mistakes, and bad memory but may be as close to the truth as we'll ever get.” (For further information on Uncle Joe's life, see the article on his life at this Web page)

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Sanders and Slaves

Reprinted from Sanders Siftings, No. 50, July 2007, p. 5.

An e-mail message from another researcher prompted me to take another look at the 1850 slave schedules for the counties in North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi where my ancestors lived. Although I have spent quite a lot of time researching my Sanders family, I haven’t really given much thought to the opinions of my ancestors regarding this central question in American history. My grandfather and great grandfather, neither of whom owned slaves, first served in the Confederate forces in Arkansas during the Civil War, and then, when the Federals invaded the state, switched sides and joined the Union cavalry. I have almost no information or tradition about their reasons for this change of loyalty.

Others in the Sanders family were less ambivalent about the outcome. My great uncle Aaron fought for the Confederacy throughout the war. Back in Jackson County, Alabama, where many of my relatives lived, there was strong opposition to secession and my great granduncle John fled the state and fought for the Union in an Ohio Regiment throughout the war. His uncle, Joseph Sanders, was murdered in 1863 while he was working on his farm, apparently as revenge because Joseph's sons were in the Union Army.
 
The 1850 slave schedules reveal a lot about the economic status of the Sanders family, if not about their convictions regarding slavery. In Randolph County, North Carolina, where my great grandfather was born, not a single Sanders owned slaves. Randolph County had a sizable contingent of Quakers who may have contributed to a less favorable attitude toward slavery. In neighboring Montgomery County, North Carolina, Aaron H. Sanders (second cousin of my great grandfather), owed sixteen slaves and Pleasant C. Sanders (Aaron's brother) owned three.
 
In Franklin County, Georgia, Aaron Sanders, the son of the Reverend Moses Sanders and first cousin to my g-g grandfather, owed 18 slaves, and Minyard Sanders, a grandson of the Reverend Moses, owned 14 slaves in 1850. The Reverend Moses himself owned slaves; this is known because they are mentioned in his will in 1817.
 
In Jackson County, Alabama, in 1850, only one Sanders owned slaves: George Sanders, the brother of my g-g grandmother, Mary. His three slaves were a forty year old man, a thirty year old woman, and a four year old child. Even though only one of the numerous Sanders in the county owned slaves, there were still over 2200 slaves living in Jackson County in 1850 out of a total population of around 11,000.
 
In Tishomingo County, Mississippi, where my great grandfather Isaac Sanders and his first cousin once removed, John Sanders, lived in 1850, no Sanders owned slaves. Nor did they own any in 1860. John Sanders himself owned only real estate worth $600, which would rank him as a prosperous farmer, but certainly not a man of great wealth. He probably thought of himself, however, as of somewhat higher social status than his neighbors because his father (the Reverend Moses Sanders) had been a wealthy planter and a slave owner and a minister.
 
To get some idea of what it meant to own slaves in those days, a slave would bring one to two thousand dollars in the marketplace. Although strong young male field hands were the first choice when slaves were sold for their labor, good looking young women often fetched the highest price, especially in cities like News Orleans-- sometimes up to several thousand dollars. Slaves were not a cheap investment. A dollar a day was considered good wages for a free worker, and a middle-class, modest frame house could be constructed for around $500.

Of all the Sanders in my line, Aaron Sanders of Georgia, is the one who comes close to being a major planter, but he had fewer than 20 slaves, which  would be the minimum needed to be considered among the elite of society. If the Sanders in my line didn't own many slaves, however, it was probably because they were not, on the whole, a wealthy bunch. Certain individuals within the family might acquire lands and wealth and even keep it for several generations, but they always had plenty of "poor relations." I’m not sure any moral objection to the institution had much to do with the situation.

Undoubtedly, however, there were white Southerners named Sanders who were major planters. It’s interesting to note that among the around three hundred and fifty thousand slave owners in the American South in 1850, there were about 7,000 whose surname was Sanders. It’s been estimated that a quarter of all the white families in the South owned at least one slave, though ownership varied greatly from area to area and state to state.

The recent movie “Amazing Grace” makes the point that moral choices are difficult to establish in the presence of countervailing economic and cultural influences. Although I find slavery abhorrent, I understand how my ancestors may have viewed matters through the constraints of their own culture and time. Fortunately, we live in a society that recognizes that slavery was wrong, but, sadly, the institution itself has a history far older than America and still persists in some cultures today. It is well to remember that if we go far enough back in time with our genealogy, we all have both slaves and masters among our ancestors.  

(article written spring 2007)    

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Isaac Sanders of Leake County, Mississippi,
or the story of how a ninety-five year old Revolutionary War veteran married a twenty-five year old

During the middle of the winter of 1843-1844, readers of the Jefferson Democrat of Macon, Mississippi, were probably startled to read the following wedding announcement:

"Married in Leake Co. by S.S. Pender, Esq.; Dec. 29, 1843; Isaac Sanders, Revolutionary soldier, aged 95, to Miss Mary Eerson, aged 23 years.”

News of the event reached the state capital as well, and the The Southron , a periodical published in the city of Jackson, provided a similar account of the event: "Married in Leake Co. on the 29th of December last by S.S. Pender, esq.: Mr. Isaac Sanders to Miss Nancy Ellison, the former a Revolutionary soldier, 95 years old, the latter 25 years old, all of Leake Co.”  If people who lived contemporaneously to the event were puzzled, subsequent researchers have had an even more difficult time making sense of the mysterious marriage of Isaac Sanders and Nancy Ellison, who at that time already had a four year old child by her first husband.  Did they really marry? Was Isaac really ninety-five years old?  Were the three Sanders children living with Nancy in 1850 children of an improbable union between a man in his late nineties and a woman in her late twenties?

A few researchers have identified this Isaac with Isaac, brother of Aaron Sanders and the Reverend Moses Sanders. Isaac of Leake is believed to be the father of two twins named Aaron and Moses who were born in Bedford County, Tennessee in 1813, and Obadiah Hooper, the son--in-law of the Reverend Moses Sanders, was in Bedford County at about the same time.  Further, when Isaac was living in Pickens County, Alabama, Obadiah Hooper appears to have been a neighbor.  The main difficulty with this interpretation, however, is that Isaac of Randolph and Montgomery had a son named Jacob who appears to have been born about 1760 and the Isaac of Leake County was born in 1748 according to the newspaper account. Therefore, Isaac of Leake County could not have had a son born in 1760, as he was only twelve years old in that year.

On the other hand, though Isaac of Leake County could not have been born before 1748, he could very well have been born after 1748, and it’s possible the newspaper account of his age is highly exaggerated.  In a society without birth certificates or other documentary evidence of birth, anyone who reaches the age of eighty is probably going to lose track of his exact year of birth.  Just as young adults often shave years off their age, very old adults often add years.

According to information I have received from another researcher, the 1840 Leake County census gives Isaac’s as 70-80, and he is listed on the 1830 census as 60-70. That would make his birth year between 1760 and 1770. If he was born in 1760, he would have been 83 in 1843, and though it’s unusual for an eighty-three year old man to father a child, it’s not quite as improbable as a ninety-five year old man doing so. Of course, he may have been as young as 73 in 1843, but he was probably in his late seventies or early eighties but most likely not ninety-five years old. If he was born in 1762 or 1763, it’s still possible for him to have served in the Revolutionary War.

Though Isaac of Leake County may not be the same person as the brother of the Reverend Moses Sanders, he does appear to have some connection to this family. If he was born between 1760 and 1770, rather than in an earlier decade, it’s possible that he is a son of the elder Isaac and therefore a nephew of the Reverend Moses Sanders.  This is just a possibility, of course, and we have no real evidence to confirm or refute it at the present time.

If we accept the proposition that the marriage in Leake County in 1843 really took place and was not a marriage of convenience arranged for reasons that are lost in obscurity, we encounter a further difficult in determining whether Isaac was the father of the three Sanders children who were born in 1844, 1846, and 1848.  By the time of the 1850 census, Nancy has moved to Jackson Parish, Louisiana, and she appears in the household of David Stapleton.  Most researchers think that David was most likely a brother or uncle rather than her husband.

In the household are the following children:  Mary Jane Ellison, age 11, presumed to be the child of Nancy and her first husband, the unknown Mr. Ellison; Ellender Sanders, age 6; Shorlotter Sanders, age 4; and Greenbury Sanders, age 2.  According to researcher Joyce Hervey, only Mary Jane Ellison and Ellender Sanders are remembered by their descendants as having been children of Nancy.

Nancy was still living at the time of the 1900 Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, census and it states that she was the mother of eight children, of whom two have died.  Nancy is believed to have had six children by a relationship that began in 1853 with John M. Crowell who was already married to another woman, also named Nancy. John M. Crowell was the son of Peter Crowell and Sarah Sanders, who was a daughter of Isaac, the Revolutionary War veteran.  (Therefore, Nancy Ellison was his step-grandmother!)  If we add those six children of Nancy and John Crowell to the three Sanders children living with Nancy at the time of the 1850 census and then add Mary Jane, the child by the unknown Mr. Ellison, we have ten children in all, not eight.

I’m not sure how to reconcile this difficulty, but one possibility is that Shorlotter and Greenbury Sanders, who are living with Nancy and David Stapleton in 1850, are not Nancy’s children but perhaps Sanders relatives who are living in the household. They may be children of Aaron Sanders, Nancy’s stepson and the son of Isaac. Greenbury is living with Aaron, not Nancy, at the time of the 1860 census.  If Shorlotter and Greenbury are not Nancy’s children, they we are left with Ellender as the only child of the May-December  match between the Revolutionary War veteran and the twenty-five year old. Some evidence, but not all, indicates that Ellender was born in August 1844, almost exactly nine months after the wedding.

Several researchers have provided information that contributed to this article.  Joyce Hervey’s well-researched book Just Folk: the Crowell Family  is  available at her Web site and Ed Tatum has sent me much welcome information by e-mail. Gretta Saunders was one of the first to suggest a connection between the Randolph and Montgomery line and the Isaac Sanders of Leake County. 

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Isaac Sanders of Leake County, Mississippi--Revisited

In the five years since my first article on Isaac Sanders of Leake County, Mississippi, I encountered virtually no new information through e-mail contacts with other researchers or through independent research until a Y-DNA test in the spring of 2012 compelled me to take a fresh look at the evidence regarding Isaac and his children. This DNA test revealed that the male descendants of George W. Sanders (1785-1853) of nearby Winston County are a match to my Sanders line of Randolph and Montgomery. This opens a promising clue because some researchers have speculated that Isaac was the father of George, and I had mentioned in my earlier article the possibility that Isaac himself may have been connected to my own line. 

Therefore, I believe it will be useful to summarize my current information on Isaac’s biography and the possible identity of his children. Much of my initial information comes from the research of Ed Tatum. 

According to the census records of 1830 and 1840, Isaac was born between 1760 and 1770. The 1880 census record of his son Aaron Sanders (1813-1881), suggests that Isaac was born in Virginia. According to an 1843 newspaper article regarding Isaac’s marriage to the 25 year old Nancy Stapleton Ellison, Isaac was a Revolutionary War veteran. If so, Isaac must have been born in the early 1760s, perhaps about 1763 (making him about twenty years old at the end of the war in 1783). The newspaper article gives his age as 95, which would yield a birth year 1748, but the two census records are probably a better guide to his age. He was certainly old in 1843 but probably not ninety-five years old. 

If the children attributed to him are actually his, we know from their state of birth that Isaac appears to have lived in Virginia in his youth. He may have been a resident of North Carolina for a while, but was in South Carolina in the 1790s; in Georgia, in the first decade of the 1800s; in Tennessee (probably Bedford County), about 1813; in Clarke County, Alabama about 1818-1820; and in Pickens County, Alabama, by 1824. In Pickens, he appears to have been a neighbor to Obadiah Hooper who married Sarah Sanders, daughter of the Reverend Moses Sanders. He bought land in 1824, 1828, and 1834 in Pickens County.  In the late 1830s, Isaac moved to Leake County, Mississippi, where he appears on the 1840 census. 

Isaac Sanders of Leake County may be the same person as the Isaac Sanders who appears on the 1803 poll tax list of Franklin County, Georgia, with Francis Sanders, Moses Sanders, Sr., Moses Sanders, Jr., Aaron Sanders, and David Sanders. These are all members of the Sanders line of Randolph/Montgomery. He does not appear in subsequent Franklin County records and he may have left Georgia for Tennessee at about the same time that David Sanders, son of the Reverend Moses Sanders, moved to Bedford County, Tennessee about 1810. 

Isaac Sanders died between 1844 and 1850. If he is really the father of the children living with his widowed wife in 1850 (their names were Ellender, Sharlotter, and Greenbury), then he survived at least until 1848 when Greenbury was born. 

The children of Isaac are not referenced as such in any known document, but I agree with Ed Tatum that we can compile a list of  his possible or probable children, based on “based on the land records, census proximity, and the fact that they all went to the same general part of Mississippi and Alabama.”  Since these people were all born over a thirty year period, they may have been born to different mothers, and some of them may have been cousins or other relatives rather than relatives of Isaac.
 

Possible children of Isaac Sanders (about 1763-about 1848) of Leake County, Mississippi

1. George Washington Sanders is one of four additions I have made to Ed Tatum’s list.  According to the 1850 census, George W. Sanders was born in 1785 in Virginia. If he is really the son of Isaac, it is more likely he was born in North or South Carolina than Virginia, as Isaac was probably in one of those states by the year of George’s birth. G.W. Sanders lived in Pickens County, Alabama, in the 1830s and bought land there in 1834 and 1839. In February 1841, he and Sylvester Pearl bought land in Winston County, Mississippi, which adjoins Leake County. Isaac Sanders had moved from Pickens County, Alabama, to Leake County in the late 1830s. A Y-DNA test in the spring of 2012 established that George W. Sanders belongs to the Sanders or Randolph and Montgomery group, but we have no documentation that establishes a paper trail connection between G.W. Sanders and Isaac other than their pattern of migration, and even that is not consistent. It appears George W. was in South Carolina and Georgia until he moved to Pickens County in the 1830s, whereas Isaac was in Alabama much earlier. The evidence is  therefore somewhat dubious on whether George W. Sanders should be regarded as a child of Isaac. 

2. Isham Sanders was born between 1790-1795 in North or South Carolina. He bought land in Pickens County in 1824, 1832, and 1834, and he appears on the 1830 Pickens County census. Living in the household was a woman who was about the same age as Isham (presumably his wife), five girls under twenty years old and three boys under twenty. The 1841 Mississippi state census shows an Isam or Isom Sanders living in Attala County, Mississippi. Federal land records show that Isham Sanders bought land in Neshoba County (near Leake and Winston) in February 1841. 

3. Travis Sanders is the second addition I made to Ed Tatum's list. Travis was born about 1795 in South Carolina. On April 8, 1819, he married Kesiah Gates in Lawrence County, Mississippi. The main reason to include him as one of Isaac's sons is that his pattern of migration was similar to the other sons; in 1850 he was in Jackson Parish, Louisiana. He died in 1875 in Winn Parish, Louisiana. 

4. Peter Sanders is the third addition I have made to Ed Tatum's list. Peter was born about 1796 in North Carolina according to the 1850 and 1860 census. If he was really the son of Isaac, it is more likely he was born in South Carolina or Georgia. Peter bought land in 1835 in Pickens County, Alabama. A Peter Sanders had earlier bought land in 1823 in Tuscaloosa County.  Peter moved to Winston about 1847 or 1848 and he appears on the 1850 and 1860 census. I have been unable to trace him after 1860.  He is believed to be the father of Henderson H. Sanders who remained in Pickens County.  Henderson named one of his sons George W. Sanders, presumably after his uncle. Another son of Peter, James J. Sanders, married Nancy Moody in 1854 in Winston County. It appears this marriage was terminated by 1870 because James does not appear in the household in 1870 with Nancy and their children. In the early 1870s, Nancy married Andrew Jackson Sanders, a son of George W. Sanders of Winston County. Therefore, the evidence seems to indicate that Peter Sanders and George W. Sanders were closely related, but there is no direct evidence that connects Peter or George to Isaac.

5. Isaac Sanders, Jr., was born about 1798 in South Carolina or Georgia. If we assume that Isaac, Sr., followed the residency of the Reverend Moses Sanders, the younger Isaac was probably born in Laurens County, South Carolina, or in Franklin County, Georgia. The younger Isaac married Mary Miles January 14, 1818 in Clarke County, Alabama.  Mary Miles was apparently the widow of a man named Miles and her maiden name is unknown. Ed Tatum believes that Mary was the mother of Osmus Miles: “My Osmus witnessed a couple of deeds for Moses Sanders and Sarah Sanders Crowell for land in Pickens, filed in Leake MS.” Moses and Sarah are believed to have been children of Isaac, Sr. If Ed is correct, Osmus was probably their step-brother. Family tradition records that Osmus died of a tragic accident or possible murder in 1839. The younger Isaac was living in Winston County, Mississippi in 1850 but his wife’s name in that year was Margaret instead of Mary. In 1860 he and Margaret are living in Leake County. It is possible that Mary Miles and Margaret are the same person and that her name was actually Mary Margaret Sanders; however,  until further evidence appears, I assume that Mary died and Isaac married Margaret before 1850. 

6. Sarah Sanders was born about 1800 in South Carolina or Georgia (like her borther Isaac, Jr., probably Laurens or Franklin counties). She married Peter Crowell July 2, 1818 in Clarke County, Alabama. No other record of Peter Crowell has been found, and it is assumed he died in Alabama or Mississippi between 1826 and 1840. Sarah appears on the 1840 census of Leake County, Mississippi enumerated near her father, Isaac. Her three sons are in her household, but there is also a family tradition of a daughter who died at an early age. Sarah died about 1848 in Leake County. One of Sarah’s sons, John M. Crowell, would later move to Jackson Parish, Louisiana, along with other descendants  of Isaac, Sr.  He married a woman named Nancy (probably Nancy Musebeck) and had numerous children by her, but he also had an affair with and had six children by his step-grandmother, Nancy Stapleton Ellison Sanders, the young widow of Isaac, Sr. 

7. Elizabeth Sanders was born between 1800-1810 in South Carolina or Georgia. She married Linville Gibbs, August 16, 1820 in Clarke County, Alabama. Their family appears on the 1830 Pickens County, Alabama, census. Linville bought land in 1834 in Pickens County. In 1840 this family appears on the De Soto County, Mississippi, census, but there is also a record that Linville bought land in 1841 in Winston County. By 1850, the family had also moved to Jackson Parish, Louisiana. 

8. Reuben Marion Sanders was born about 1806 in Georgia (probably in Franklin County). He appears on the 1830 Pickens County, Alabama, census. In 1841 he bought land in Leake and Winston counties in Mississippi. According to family tradition, his wife’s name was Bathsheba Hester. By 1850, they were living in Jackson Parish, Louisiana. Reuben died about 1876 in Winn Parish, Louisiana. 

9. Aaron Sanders was born February 8, 1813 in Tennessee (probably in Bedford County). He married Susan Susan Crossley, March 24,1834 in Lowndes County, Mississippi.  In the 1840 census of Leake County, he is enumerated near his father, Isaac. In 1841 he bought land in both Leake, Winston, Noxubee, and Attala counties in Mississippi. By 1850 he and his family were living in Jackson Parish, Lousiana. He died in 1881 in Winn Parish, Louisiana. 

10. Moses Sanders was Aaron’s twin brother. He and Sarah Crowell signed an affidavit in Pickens County, Alabama in 1834 that they were cultivating a 1/4 section of land and that they were in separate residences on the land. Sarah’s maiden name was listed as Sanders. In 1835 Sarah Crowell and Moses Sanders were issued a land grant for 159 acres. The record states they were from from Pickens, County AL.These records seem to confirm that Moses and Sarah were siblings. According to family tradtion and a tombstone inscription, the wife of Moses was named Priscilla Sanford. Like many of his relatives, Moses was living in Lousiana by 1850. 

11. Andrew Jackson Sanders is another addition to Ed Tatum's list. According to census records, he was born on January 11 in  1812, 1814, or 1815. The year on his tombstone is 1813, but if he is really the son of Isaac, that year could not be his birth year because Aaron and Moses were born in February 1813. Andrew Jackson married Frances Dyer in 1833 in Lowndes County, Mississippi, but by 1850 he was in Jackson Parish, Louisiana. Andrew Jackson Sanders died in Van Zandt County, Texas in 1878. One of Andrew Jackson's descendants, Nancy Broumley, discovered a clue to Andrew Jackson Sanders' parentage in November 2013: "I had already figured that Aaron Sanders, and therefore Reuben and Moses, might be related because his land grant was right next to my Andrew's land grant in Jackson Parish. I have been going through the little newspaper, Palo Pinto Star in Palo Pinto, Texas. Andrew's granddaughter, who he helped raise after her parents died moved to Palo Pinto Co along with Asbury, Andrew's son.  I have been going through the paper and found a lot of stuff on my family. It has been such a help. This weekend I found in the  8 Aug 1919 edition a one sentence statement: 'A. Sanders left yesterday to visit an uncle in Comanche county.'  I back tracked to see who was in Comanche County and found that Greenbury Sanders died in  Comanche county on 5 Aug 1919.  So obviously Asbury wasn't going to visit but was attending a funeral of his uncle, Greenbury Sanders.  So if Greenbury is Asbury's uncle, then Greenbury is a brother or one-half brother to my ggg-grandfather, Andrew Jackson Sanders." The Greenbury Sanders she mentioned is usually assumed to be the son of the elderly Isaac and his young second wife, Nancy Stapleton Ellison Sanders. Although we cannot be certain that Isaac was the father of Andrew Jackson and Greenbury, the probability is strong that these two were brothers, even though they were born abound thirty years apart. 

We do not know the name of the mother of the eleven preceding children, nor do we know if they all had the same mother. I have already discussed in a previous article the marriage in 1843 of the senior Isaac to the twenty-five year old Nancy Stapleton Ellison, and anyone who would like further detail is referred to that article. In the 1850 census of Jackson Parish, Louisiana, there are three young Sanders children living in the household of Nancy Stapleton Ellison Sanders and one daughter, Mary Jane Ellison, age eleven, who is believed to be the daughter of Nancy and her first husband.  Based on the record of Nancy’s marriage to Isaac in 1843, our initial assumption would be that these three Sanders children were fathered by Isaac, but considering Isaac’s extreme age and the fact that Nancy later had children by a man to whom she was not married, the obvious assumption about the parentage of the children may be wrong. Still, the fact that Andrew Jackson Sanders was considered the brother of Greenbury(discussed in the previous paragraph) points to Isaac as the father.

12. Ellen or Ellender Sanders was born August 15, 1844, about eight months after the marriage of Isaac and Nancy. She was apparently raised by Nancy. She appears in the household of John M Crowell  in Jackson Parish, Louisiana, in 1860. The Crowells are living next door to Nancy Stapleton. Ellen later assumed the last name of Crowell and had several children of her own. Her tombstone has the inscription "w/o John," and at least two of her children's death certificates give "John" as the name of their father, but I have been unable to find any record of this John Crowell. The 1880 census lists Ellen as single, and she is enumerated as a widow in 1900. She died in 1930. Her descendants remember Ellender and Mary Jane Ellison as daughters of Nancy Stapleton. They have no family tradition concerning the other two children (Sharlotter and Greenbury Sanders) who were living with Nancy in 1850. Nancy Ellison Sanders Crowell stated on the 1900 census that she was the mother of eight children. If this is correct, then Ellen may have been the only child of Nancy and the elderly Isaac, and Sharlotter and Greenbury may have been Sanders relatives who were living with Nancy in 1850. Still, if Greenbury was Isaac's son, as seems likely from the information we have about Andrew Jackson Sanders, then Charlotte must have been Isaac's daughter, too.

13. Sharlotter(Charlotte?) Sanders was born about 1846. She is living with her mother Nancy in Jackson Parish, Louisiana, in 1850. Her whereabouts after that are uncertain. 

14. Greenbury Sanders was born about 1848 and is the only male child living with Nancy Stapleton in 1850. In 1860, he is living with Aaron Sanders, his presumed uncle,  in Jackson Parish, Louisiana.  Because Greenbury Sanders is listed out of age order with the other children in 1860, it appears unlikely he was Aaron’s child. He moved to Texas and, as previously mentioned, died in Comanche County in 1919.

Because Isaac lived a long time and the census records show numerous people living in his household, it is very possible that he had children other than those in my list, and it is also possible that some of those I listed may not be his children at all. A Y-DNA test on a male Sanders descendant of the twin children Moses and Aaron would be helpful, and conventional paper research may eventually provide confirmation on the paternity of some of the reputed children of Isaac. Until then, the situation is similar to what it was several years ago: we can speculate on reasonable possibilities as children of Isaac, but the answer to whether Isaac belongs to the Sanders of Randolph and Montgomery group or another Sanders line is still elusive.

Written May 15, 2012, revised November 20, 2013.

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Thoughts on Sanders Family Genealogy Problems

Let’s say that you are a descendant of a Sanders family that lived in the southern United States and that you are new to genealogy but enthusiastic about tracing your relatives.  Armed with lore passed along by your dear old aunt Trudy, who, though slightly daft, was nevertheless a veritable storehouse of family scandal and gossip, you set out on your quest for your g-g-g-g-g grandfather Shadrack Sanders who lived in Bumpass County, North Carolina. Surely, you may think, a name as unusual and quaint as “Shadrack” will be easy to trace. Almost immediately, you make an exciting find: an individual named John Sanders, who lived in Plantation County, Virginia, left a will leaving his feather bed, his favorite mule, and two whiffletrees to a son named “Shadrack.”  Aha, you say, this must be my Shadrack.  O.K., so it’s another state, but how many individuals named Shadrack Sanders could there have been at that time?

With the many family tree programs available nowadays, it’s easy to load all your family tree information on your computer and even easier to send it along the way to your friendly family tree company that, for the right price, will sell or give all your information to millions of innocent seekers of long and distinguished lineages. The result is that soon ten or twenty other people have copied your file, with all the documentation about Shadrack Sanders being the son of the aforementioned John Sanders. And soon there will be others, new to genealogy, who see the many references to Shadrack being the son of John, and many of them will assume that there was either extensive documentation or family tradition proving the parentage, whereas in fact there was only a unwarranted assumption that a will made in one state refers to someone who lived in another state.

Let’s assume, also, that a couple of years later, you hear from someone who claims that a Shadrack Sanders who lived and died in Hoboken, New Jersey was the son of John Sanders of Plantation, County, Virginia.  Further, she has evidence from a newspaper obituary confirming the identity of the New Jersey Shadrack.  Your thesis, while somewhat plausible when first suggested, is now revealed as nearly beyond the realm of probability.  What happens next?   By that point, even if you want to correct old Shadrack’s parentage, it’s very difficult to do.  And, unfortunately, many people will have invested so much time and effort into the concept of your Shadrack as the son of John that they are not inclined to abandon the idea and start all over.

So far, we have been dealing with people who inadvertently mislead others. One of the salient facts about genealogy is that there is no monitoring or enforcement procedure capable of correcting bad information. Contrary to popular opinion, the Mormon Church doesn’t check the accuracy of the genealogical information submitted by contributors and found at its Web site, and neither does RootsWeb nor Ancestry.com. The situation is like that of the Israelites described in the Bible during the time of the Book of Judges: everyone does what is right in his own eyes. The only barrier to the acceptance of genealogical information is the gullibility of researchers, and a quick glance at the family trees posted on the Internet shows that people are willing to be very gullible indeed. If you want to claim that you are descended from Montezuma in spite of the fact that your parents and all their ancestors lived in Switzerland before emigrated to the U.S., no one can haul you off to court to answer charges of genealogical misconduct.  Post the theory on the Internet and someone, maybe lots of people, will accept it as true.

In most cases, of course, the misleading information is perpetuated unintentionally, but there are individuals who knowingly manufacture impressive lineages for themselves. They may not always make everything up out of whole cloth, but it is still easy to fudge the facts in convenient ways. Impressive documentation is not always convincing evidence if the documentation does not refer to the individuals being considered. When I first looked at my family tree on the Internet, I was astonished to discover that I was descended from a Sanders family that arrived in Virginia in the 1600s. Then I started to ask questions about the research and supporting documentation, and I was even more disturbed to find situations similar to the one I described above relating to the fictitious Shadrack Sanders. 

For example, I found information on the Internet that one of my ancestors, Joseph Sanders, who died in North Carolina, was the son of John Sanders who died in Isle of Wight, Virginia.  It’s true that a John Sanders of Isle of Wight left a will that mentioned a son Joseph; but no one had any proof whatsoever, so far as I can tell, that Joseph of Isle of Wight left Virginia and moved to another state. John and Joseph, of course, are very common names, and Sanders is a rather common name in the South. I also discovered that another researcher advanced a theory that Francis Sanders, a son of another John Sanders from Virginia, was the same person as Abraham Sanders who died in North Carolina in 1751. To all appearances, though, they were two different people, who lived in different states and even had different given names. This difficulty was resolved by a previous researcher who assumed that Francis was really named Francis Abraham, though there was no documentary evidence, such as a will or deed, that referred to an individual named Francis Abraham Sanders.  

I don’t think my Sanders family is alone in possessing dubious research. Most people who have colonial Southern ancestors will have a great deal of difficulty separating truth from fiction in any genealogical research that deals with the period before American independence. Many courthouse records have been lost, the Southern states were notoriously poor at keeping records, and pioneer families were often illiterate and moved frequently.  Family tradition and the census records may get one back through the nineteenth century, but unless one had well-known ancestors, it’s prudent to be wary of claims about ancestry prior to around 1800.

I would like to clear up a possible misunderstanding about my argument here. Though one should always strive to find the genealogical truth, that truth may be elusive. One may have an absolutely impeccable paper trail back to an ancestor in the 1600s, but one may still not be a descendant of that person.  It’s always possible that infidelity or adoption existed in one given generation, and then one’s paper trail is worthless. There are many other similar constraints that arise when doing research.  Genealogical investigation is not the same as proving something in a court of law, though the procedure may be similar in certain respects.  An excellent explanation of the nature of genealogical proof can be found at:  http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~bbunce77/PrimaryVSecondary.html

As for my own research, I make no claims that it is beyond reproach, nor do I have any unusual expertise in genealogical research.  I am merely an amateur family historian, and my work contains inevitable errors and inaccuracies, like all genealogical research.  I know that I, like many other researchers, have posted material on the Internet that I believed true at the time but that later was proven untenable by subsequent evidence. Everyone who does genealogical research faces the problem that no one has the time, money, or inclination to verify everything we would like to verify. There are thousands of names in my file and much of my information was obtained from the World Wide Web and is based on the research of other researchers. Nevertheless, every individual in my file was entered by hand directly by me; I believe the merging of GEDCOMS tends to make people careless, and  though I have relied on the efforts of others for most of my collateral lines, I have tried, whenever possible, to do my own research on my direct lines.  When I am not sure about lineages or where documentation supports more than one interpretation, I try to offer an honest evaluation of the competing evidence and make a judgment accordingly to the facts as I see them. I always welcome any corrections or updates that are sent to me. A file as large as mine would not be possible without the many people who have generously shared information and have helped me with suggestions and comments. After all, genealogy not shared is worthless.

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Origins of the Sanders Surname

The surname Sanders or Saunders developed from the common given name, Alexander, originally Greek but adopted in some form by most of the languages of Europe. The name means "helper of mankind."  As a surname, Sanders or Saunders can be found, for example, in Germany, Holland, England, Scotland, and Ireland.  Since nearly all surnames often have multiple origins, there may very well have been a small number of occasions in which the name Sanders came from a source other than the given name Alexander, such as from someone living near a sand hill or having sandy hair. Alexander was often abbreviated to xander, zander or sandy and eventually to Sanders or Saunders, which people chose based on their pronunciation or spelling preferences. My ancestors in the nineteenth century South often were enumerated on one census as Sanders and on previous and subsequent census records as Saunders. 

It should also be noted that Sanders and Saunders are variations on the same surname, unlike, for example, Smith and Taylor, which derive from different occupations. How the name is spelled is a matter of personal preference and/or pronunciation. Therefore, it is usually of little consequence to genealogical researchers whether one’s ancestor is listed in a record as Sanders or Saunders.

The given name "Alexander" was  especially popular in Scotland because of a series of able kings of that name in the Middle Ages. Oddly enough, there was never a clan in Scotland named Sanders, equivalent to the Campbells or McDonalds, though some say the Sanders were a sept of the McDonalds. (Alistair is another variation on Alexander.)

Nevertheless, because many lowland Scots (not, however, the Highland Scots) were named Sanders or Saunders, the English in the early 18th century came to use the word "Sandie" or "Sawney" as a contemptuous reference to a Scotsman. This feeling was expressed in Dr. Samuel Johnson's statement that oats are a grain fed to horses in England but eaten in Scotland by people. By the Victorian period, because of changing attitudes toward Scottish culture in England and a new appreciation of Scottish culture, the use of "Sawney" as a pejorative term in England was dying out and is virtually unknown today.

The surname Sanders or Saunders is far more common in the southern United States today than in the North. This probably reflects the Scots-Irish and Celtic heritage of the southern states. The surname Sanders, by itself, does not  give an indication of one's heritage or national origin. Still there seems no doubt that the  great majority of Americans with the surname of Sanders or Saunders probably have ancestors from the British Isles.   

January, 2013  

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Standards For Sound Genealogical Research
Recommended by the National Genealogical Society

Remembering always that they are engaged in a quest for truth, family history researchers consistently—

© 1997, 2002 by National Genealogical Society. Permission is granted to copy or publish this material provided it is reproduced in its entirety, including this notice.
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Copyright and Genealogy

There are many Web sites that provide extensive information about copyright law, but a good place to begin is the information provided by the Association of Professional Genealogists.

There are many myths about copyright and also a great deal of honest confusion. I don’t intend to try to provide an exhaustive study nor do I claim any special expertise in the area, but for what they are worth, these are my comments:

Copyright pertains only to descriptive narration, arrangement, and organization that is an original expression of the author, together with any accompanying graphics, charts, or arrangement of elements.   

It does not apply to facts, dates, titles, ideas, or even to discoveries.

I don’t think this should be especially difficult to understand if we approach it as a matter of honesty and not as a matter of law. The law may be confusing but honesty is not.

If I write several sentences and string them together in a narrative, such as a paragraph, anyone who takes those sentences and uses them as his own work is stealing the work of others. Even aside from the ethical standpoint, stolen research is a dubious proposition.  

Another “researcher” once sent me a large file, filled with notes about his ancestors. On first glance the research seemed impressive, but then I noticed that he had merely copied word-for-word the notes of others. Many of the notes were contradictory and because there was no attribution of the source, there was no way to judge the quality.

In one case, his notes had a sentence that read “my grandfather said” and some words that were quoted after that with the implication was that he was talking about his grandfather, but the words made no sense in reference to his grandfather. Actually, I had written those notes and I knew the words referred to my grandfather. Apparently, this person has forgotten that he had taken the notes from my work.

Copyright law provides for what is called “fair use,” which I think is an apt term. If we use the sentences and paragraphs, charts, or designs of others in our work, we should give credit and not claim these as our own. Either put quotation marks around the material and state your source or arrange your own sentences and narration so that your work will be an expression of your creativity and not that of someone else.

Fair use goes along with common sense. The restrictions that law and ethics place on using the research of others are not very burdensome, and it is not a matter of ethics or law to give credit to the source of where you found every single date, fact, or event. However, it may be advisable to do so because it will help you at a latter point when you may want to remember the source for your information.

Many of us who have spent years working out our ancestral tree feel a proprietary right to the fruits of our labor, but no one “owns” the genealogy of our ancestors or even of our living relatives. Everyone has as much right to investigate, ascribe dates, and write biographies of my relatives as I do. Here again, however, genealogical protocol asks us to be mindful of the interests of others, especially in regard to sensitive or personal information about living relatives.

I have tried to give proper attribution to the source of material on this Web site, but if anyone whom I have used as a source feels that I did not provide sufficient credit, please let me know, and I will add the missing credit.

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Mr. Sanders

Once upon a time, a very long time ago now, about last Friday, Winnie-the-Pooh lived in a forest all by himself under the name of Sanders. "What does 'under the name' mean?" asked Christopher Robin. "It means he had the name over the door in gold letters, and lived under it."
--A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

Who was the mysterious Sanders who lived in the house before Pooh?  Probably one of Pooh's  relatives, but since Pooh was more interested in the contents of honey jars than in genealogical documentation, we may never know for certain.  


 
 End Notes

All the material on these Web pages was written by Gary B. Sanders, except for original documents or quoted material attributed to other authors. If you see any of these original sentences, paragraphs, charts, articles, or narratives posted elsewhere on the Web or in print without credit being given to the author or a link back to this site, that material has been taken in violation of copyright from this site and used without the permission of the author. Dates and locations of birth and death and marriage, or course, are not copyrighted information and may be freely used by anyone, with or without attribution as to source.

Midi files on the site:  "Sweet Afton,"  composed by Alexander Hume; "Bonnie Doon," traditional melody; "Ye Jacobites by Name," traditional melody; lyrics to all three tunes by Robert Burns. "Four Marys," traditional melody; "Tramps and Hawkers," traditional melody.  All midi sequences by Barry Taylor, 1997. Used by permission of the copyright holders. Additional information at: 

www.contemplator.com/tunebook/readme.htm

See Lesley Nelson-Burns' Web site of folk music of the British Isles and America, the music of our pioneer ancestors as they moved West:

contemplator

Celtic tree of life motif at the end of the Web page and other graphics and clip art are freeware from the collection of Cari Buziak:  http://www.aon-celtic.com/cfreeware.html

  Sanders Coat of Arms

Our Sanders of Randolph and Montgomery were a border people, tradition ascribing their origin to  England, Scotland, or Ireland. If any of our Sanders ancestors had a coat of arms, that design should have been reflective of the diverse geographical origins and pioneering spirit of the Sanders family, so click on the link above for my attempt at heraldic design, keeping in mind that all of this is kind of silly, at least for Americans. 


This Web page was last updated  January 26,2014 2012 by Gary  B. Sanders.

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What farms, what spires, are those?
I see it shining plain, the happy highways where I went
--A. E. Housman
 
 
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