William "Billy" Sanford, 1809-1916

Over the last couple of days I have told little bits of the stories of some of the relatives whose death certificates I’ve recently received. The death certificate I was most thrilled to receive, however, came today: that of William “Billy” Sanford. He was my great-great-grandfather. His four daughters included Betty Sanford, who married Otis Manson. Their youngest son was Quentin Manson, my dad’s father.

I knew from census records that Billy Sanford had been born in Virginia around 1810. Strong circumstantial evidence suggests that he was born into the household of James Sanford, 1769-1849. James Sanford moved his family to Rutherford County, Tennessee. Eventually, they ended up in Nolensville, Williamson County, Tennessee. Apparently, the slave Billy Sanford went with them. In 1854, the widow of James’s oldest son Reuben, Mary Wood Sanford, moved with her children to Milam County, Texas. Again, Billy apparently went with them as did several other slaves.

In about 1860, Billy married a woman from North Carolina. Census records list her name as “Emely” or “Emily.” The death certificate of their daughter Betty Sanford states her name as Elizabeth Scott. They had four daughters, Catherine, Anna, Betty, and Addie. in August of 1890, Betty married Quentin Manson, and three days later, Addie married a man named Abe White.

Addie White is listed as the informant on Billy Sanford’s death certificate.

The death certificate lists Billy’s date of birth as December 25, 1809. His place of birth is given as West Virginia. all of the available census records, however, state his birthplace as Virginia. Of course, there are a couple of possibilities. First he could have been born in one of the counties of Virginia that remained with the Union as West Virginia. Second, his daughter Addie may not have known exactly where her father had been born.

As to the names of his parents, Addie reported “do not know.” This was one piece of information that I really wanted to know.

Billy Sanford died on November 20, 1916, aged 106 years 10 months and 20 days old. The cause of death is given as “poor circulation and old age and a sufficient [undecipherable].” He is buried in the Rockdale City Cemetery, in the section referred to as “the old colored Cemetery” in Rockdale, Texas. In their book, 150 Years of Cemetery Records in Milam County, Texas, Perry C. Holder and Norrine Holder Holman state that Billy Sanford is the oldest person buried in the Rockdale Cemetery.

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Craig


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