***PLEASE HELP ME SOLVE THIS MYSTERY***
WHO RAISED WILLIAM LAFAYETTE SANDERS (1871-1958)
of Tracy City, TN
I am the great-great granddaughter of Milton Porter SANDERS & Selina Patton COPE of Grundy County Tennessee and descend from their last born child, William Lafayette Sanders.
Milton Porter SANDERS was born 24 JUN 1836 in Pelham, Coffee County, Tennessee. He was widowed twice before he died 11 Dec 1911 in Grundy County, Tennessee.Milton is buried in Clouse Hill Cemetery, Grundy, Tennessee and has a military (CSA) tombstone. He was the son of Thomas SANDERS (1790-1855) and Mary ROBERTS (1795-1866) of Pelham, TN.
Selina Patton COPE was born 8 MAR 1838 in Warren County Tennessee and died 23 JUN 1871 in Grundy County, Tennessee. She was Milton’s first wife and the daughter of Stephen Payne COPE, Sr. (1806-1885) and Comfort BOULDIN (1805-1898).
My great grandfather William Lafayette SANDERS was born 27 FEB 1871 in Grundy county and died 14 JUL 1958 in Jefferson County Alabama. He married Minnie FARMER in 1891.She was born 18 MAR 1875 (AL) and died 22 JUN 1950 in Birmingham, Jefferson, Alabama. Both William L. and Minnie Sanders are laid to rest at the Baptist Church Cemetery in Trafford, Jefferson, Alabama.
When I first began my family history research back in 2003, I could not find any published research online or otherwise that listed William Lafayette as the son of Milton P. Sanders and Selina P. Cope-Sanders. Nor could I find any census records or other documents which connected William as their son.Even so, I feltconfident that I had enough evidence to substantiate my claim. My mother and living related family knew William Lafayette personally and it was their sharing of our family oral history that I obtained the name of Williams' father, Milton Porter Sanders of Tracy City, TN..
Williams mother Selina Patton Cope-Sanders died in Grundy County TN (23 Jun 1871) about 5 months after giving birth to WM L on 27 Feb 1871. I have concluded (from reviewing the census records) that someone else other than his newly widowed father (Milton Porter Sanders) raised Wm. L.
Milton & his wife Selina were living in Grundy County, TN during the taking of the 1860 census but not in 1870 even though Milton was a landowner there. The now widowed Milton reappears in Grundy County Tennessee 1880 Census, but his young son (William Lafayette) was no were to be found. This gap in time and my inability to locate any records on Wm L or any of these family members has made it impossible to prove Williams place of birth in 1871 to be in Grundy County Tennessee.
William is not found with his father in this census (1880) nor any other census for that matter. Further research has shown that Milton fought for the confederacy during the civil war. He received a nearly fatal shot to the head during the battle at Gettysburg on 3 Jul 1863 and never fully recovered. I believe that this could explain his inability to care for his young son and could explain his reasoning for giving William up for someone else to raise. Milton was also getting on in age at this point. I am hoping to one day learn who raised my great grandfather as their own.
Milton later offers sworn testimony in his Confederate Soldier’s Pension Application that he filed in Tracy City, TN on Nov 21, 1906. Milton had been widowed twice by this time and made the statement that he had one daughter and five sons.
All of the published research I have found on the family of Milton and Salina Sanders list them as having only four children as follows:
1. Stephen A. SANDERS b: JUN 1865 in Pelham, Grundy, TN
2. R. H. SANDERS b: 1868 in, Grundy County, TN
3. Timma A. SANDERS b: MAR 1869 in Pelham, Grundy, TN
4. Emery H SANDERS b: 16 SEP 1858 in Grundy County TN
Since William L. does not appear with this family in any of the census records, it is understandable as to how this assumption could have been made. Given my family oral history along with the knowledge that Milton had only one son during his second marriage to Tennessee Childers, I am confident that William Lafayette is in fact the 5th mystery child of Milton and Salina Sanders referred to in his pension application.
I recently received tombstone photos of Williams grave from his grandson Eddie S Sanders of Mason Ohio. According to my Uncle Eddie, William Lafayette Sanders is buried along side of his wife Minnie Farmer in the Baptist Church Cemetery in Trafford, Jefferson, Alabama. The tombstone inscriptions gave his date of birth as 27 Feb 1871, which concurs, with our family oral history of the 1871 birth year.I have also since obtained Williams death certificate which lists him as the son of Milton Porter.
I also found a document online that not only gave the same date of birth for Wm L (27 Feb 1871); it also connects William Lafayette Sanders to Salina Cope, who of course is Milton’s wife. I will copy and paste a portion of the “personal journal” as it appears at the Cope Family History pages. (to see the entire doc, just visit the site linked below)
I would like to thank Mike and Charlene Fromholt for making this information available for online viewing at
News on the Stephen Cope Family
BY MIKE FROMHOLT
The below data was given to me by Betty M Majors on my recent trip to McMinnville. It came from a photocopy of a book that is or was in the possession of a Trudy Coppinger. How she fits in the Cope’s I have yet discovered (or I know and just don’t realize it). On the margin is written “Bought in Warren County on the 1st Thursday in August on Election Day in 1833.”The Females Practical Monitor or Guide to Health” by Thom A. Anderson, M.D., 1832”. This was someone’s journal, as they kept records of the family in it. Who the original owner was is unknown at this time. I have typed it as it was written. Some of it is new stuff. It gives all 16 children of Stephen Cope and Comfort Bouldin, something that most of us did not have. It also gives their exact birth and death dates.
I have made the changes to my records and have updated the descendency chart. So if you would like a copy, it is there. I will hopefully in the next year start researching land records in order to find where Stephen & Comfort exactly made their home (or homes). Would also like to solve the problem of where they are buried.
Saliney Sanders departed this life June 23,1871
Wm Lafayete Sanders son of Salina Sanders was born Feb 27th 1871
Elijah J Sma_____ born Nov 9th _____
_______Sanders was born March 1(?) 1862
A H Sanders was born Mar 14 1865
______ Sanders was born Mar 15 18__
(more,can not make out)
S P Cope county county (?)
George Sanders born Dec 25 1874
(recent) Mrs Lola King, Beersheba,TN
Lavisey Sanders died Aug 31 1916(?)
Comfort Cope died Apr 28 1898
Ernest Sanders was born Apr 12,1889
This is the month of March the 6th day of 1901 my dear freind Ernest Sanders was
born April the 12 1889 and ______ May 16 1910
Page made 16 Oct. 1999 by Mike Fromholt
I believe that this additional piece of evidence also substantiates my statement that William Lafayette Sanders is in fact the child of Milton Porter Sanders and Salina Patton Cope-Sanders.
The earliest census record I have been able to locate on my great grand father Wm L Sanders was in DeKalb County Alabama in 1900. He was a grown man by that time and had a family of his own. I suspect who ever cared for William migrated from the area of Warren/Grundy County TN to Alabama sometime after his birth in 1871 and think it may have been a sibling of either Milton or Salina. (Of course that assumption, though highly probable, could be wrong) Both of them had numerous siblings and I have found the process of elimination to be time consuming to say the least!
I obtained some old court papers on M. P. Sanders and they are the ONLY other lead I have in trying to locate Wm L while he is still a young boy. (**Source: Bob Douglas Curator; Grundy County Tennessee Historical Society; Loose Papers)
There are seven pages of deposition from different people. They all testified M. P. Sanders had gone to Texas to visit his brother “John” (note: I believe the “John” they spoke of to be John Bradford Sanders (not John R) I have been unable to find anything on his brother John Bradford Sanders (i.e.: death residence and so on) I did come across someone else’s work on the web and saw him listed with a wife by the name of “Sarah (though I have been unable to prove this myself at this point) J. K. P. Pearson was a lawyer representing Sanders in absentia. Peter Staub was a landholder and seller that lived most of the time in McMinnville, TN but had large holdings around Grundy County. This case was held in Sept. 1875 in Altamont, Grundy, Tennessee.
So, this info “vaguely” accounts for the whereabouts of Milton P Sanders sometime during the year of 1875. The exact location of his brother John’s residence in TX and duration of that visit are currently unknown.
The bottom line is that I have searched for well over 8 years now to find William Lafayette Sanders when he was still a boy so that I could determine who was raised him.
Even though I have not been able to solve this mystery myself,my time was definetely not wasted. I have learned much about my Sanders family and I am hoping that some one out there can help me account for William Lafayette's early years. (1871-1900)
Thank you so much