Feb 08

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Samuel F. Sanford and Emma Massey

Samuel F. Sanford

Circa 1903

Circa 1903

The second son born to William B. Sanford and Mary Elmira Crawford was Samuel F. Sanford.  I know very little about Uncle Samuel and he remains one of the biggest mysteries in my family tree…

My first research goal for Uncle Samuel was to locate all of his census records.  I did not have to look for his early records, because I had already researched both of his parents.  I have not located the Sanford family in the 1860 census, so I can not guess what Uncle Samuel’s childhood may have been like.  Both the 1870 and 1880 records list him as a farm laborer living in his father’s household – the only difference in the two entries being that the Sanford family moved from Buncombe County to Haywood County between census years.  Uncle Samuel’s absence in the 1900 Haywood County census records told me he had passed away or moved by that time.

I hoped I would be able to find a marriage record for Uncle Samuel in Haywood County, so I took a trip to the Haywood County Register of Deeds.  When I got there I found the book containing early Haywood County Marriage Records and inside I discovered proof of Uncle Samuel’s marriage.  According to the record, Samuel F. Sanford married Emma Massey on 20 Feb 1881 in Crabtree, Haywood County, North Carolina.  After finding the marriage record I had hoped it would be easier to locate Uncle Samuel in census records, but I still came up empty handed.

Having hit a roadblock in my research on Uncle Samuel I decided to try my luck on some genealogy message boards.  I ran searches for both Uncle Samuel and Aunt Emma.  I was lucky in discovering a post claiming both Samuel and Emma had died in the early 1900s in Spartanburg County, South Carolina.  I fact checked this information and discovered Uncle Samuel and Aunt Emma were, indeed, living in Duncans Town, Spartanburg County, South Carolina during the 1900 census.

Samuel Sanford Family – 1900 Spartanburg County Census

Samuel Sanford Family – 1900 Spartanburg County Census

The information in the 1900 census told me several important facts about the family:  Uncle Samuel was working as a day laborer to support his family.  Aunt Emma had given birth to nine children, but only five were living at the time the census was taken.  The five living children of Samuel and Emma included – Thomas, Ceneth, Grover, Charles, and Crawford.

All information on Uncle Samuel and Aunt Emma completely dries up after 1900 – suggesting that the couple died between 1900 and 1910 in Spartanburg County, South Carolina.

Emma Massey

Circa 1903

Circa 1903

According to the 1870 and 1880 Haywood County Census – Aunt Emma was born in 1862 as one of nine children to Lebo Prentice Massey (who was a farmer) and Harriet Nunley.  I found it interesting to learn that both Lebo and Harriet were from South Carolina, because this may explain why Aunt Emma and Uncle Samuel later moved to Spartanburg County.  I also found it very interesting to find the Lebo Massey family living next door to the William B. Sanford family in the 1880 census, because this is likely how Uncle Samuel and Aunt Emma met one another.

Prentice Massey Family – 1870 Haywood County Census

Prentice Massey Family – 1870 Haywood County Census

Prentice Massey Family – 1880 Haywood County Census

Prentice Massey Family – 1880 Haywood County Census

Unfortunately, the rest of the information that I have on Aunt Emma can be found above in the information about Uncle Samuel.  I have run many searches on the couple in various databases and continue to come up empty handed.  I am certain they both passed away in Spartanburg County, because I have found many posts on the internet discussing what happened to their living children after they passed away in the early 1900s.  I was also lucky enough to find a picture of the couple and their five living children posted to a public tree on Ancestry (I will post the picture in it’s entirety when I write a post about their children).

It seems like the less information I find while doing my research – the more obsessed I become.  Needless to say, Uncle Samuel and Aunt Emma have become two of my biggest obsessions.  I would love to know how they died, where they are buried, why they moved to Spartanburg County, or anything else that may help to satisfy my curiosity.  If anyone has any information about Samuel F. Sanford or Emma Massey that I have not listed above, please contact me.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sanfordfamilymisfit.com/samuel-f-sanford-and-emma-massey/


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  1. Charles massie


    Thanks for showing my cousin which was emma massey. Lebo massiey is my gggrandfather. Also mathis maxville sanford was my gggrandfather. I guess samuel.sanford is cousin or uncle by marriage to emma massey.

    Charles massie

    1. The Misfit

      Sanford research is kind of my bread and butter. The family is full of brick walls and mysteries – they are enough to keep the most seasoned of genealogists busy. I have done a lot of research on Mathias, he is one of my great-great uncles. I would be happy to share my information with you, if you ever decide to research your maternal lines. Emma would be your great-great aunt and Samuel would be your great-great uncle… I believe this makes us distantly related by both blood and marriage. :)
      Cassie Sanford Clark

      1. Tommy sanford

        Hi I’m Tommy sanford and I live in spartanburg sc my grandpa being thomas sanford one of 15 kids belonging to thomas and Nellie sanford which would make Samuel n Emma his mother n father right? Would u have any pics of the fifteen kids? And would Samuel and Emma be my great great grandparents??

        1. The Misfit

          Hello! Samuel and Emma would definitely be your great-great grandparents… Which makes us distant cousins. I do have individual photos, but I don’t think I have a group shot of all the kids. I will check though. If you’ll send me your email address, I’ll try to send some out to you in the upcoming week. You can also check out sanford_misfit on Instagram. I try to post a family photo every day.

          If you’re interested, I can put you in contact with some of Samuel’s descendants. They may have old family photos. I’ve started a group for the descendants of Linas Sanford on Facebook and a few of Samuel’s descendants participate.

          Thank you so much for checking out the website! Please stay in touch. :)


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