Born in  Albany
Family move

Civil War Service
After the War

Sanford Married

Second Family

A disabling condition

Real property purchased

Father died

First family acknowledged

Plot thickens

1900 Census
Rented house
Years of marriage
Rhoda's age
Rhoda's children

Untimely death

1905 NYS Census

Resident of Hamilton

Eva's death

Christmas 1913
Surviving Relatives

Final resting place




The Biography of

Sanford Henry Winters



Debra Sue Zimmerman

Copyright ©2004
Past Away Historical & Genealogical Adventures
Debra Sue Zimmerman

No part of this document may be reproduced, either in print or electronically, 
without the express written permission of the author. All Rights Reserved.

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The Biography of Sanford Henry Winters 1847-1913

This biography is dedicated to Ruth Charlotte Martin (married surname Miller).  Ruth was Sanford's granddaughter although she never knew him as died a few months before she was born.

The initial efforts to research my family tree began with a conversation I had with my grandmother, Ruth Charlotte Miller (nee Martin) in about 1991. She was able to give me some information about her mother, Lulu Belle Martin (nee Winters), but she knew virtually nothing about Luluís parents, not even their names. After learning Luluís date of birth, I obtained her birth certificate which revealed her parentsí names; Sanford Henry Winters and Emma Jane McIntyre. In subsequent research, I have located various documents relating to their lives. Sometimes these tend to raise more questions than they answer, but thatís what makes genealogy the grand adventure that it is!

And now by way of a brief introduction to the man,

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Born in Albany

Two documents tend to establish that Sanford H. Winters was born on 24 April 1847. The first is his death certificate showing his parents to be Peter H. Winters and Mary Winters,1 both born in New York State. Maryís maiden name is not given. The second is his Declaration for Pension in the Civil War veteranís pension records, which also gives his place of birth as Albany, New York.2

Sanford is enumerated on the 1850 Federal Census as a three year old boy residing in the Town of Bethlehem, County of Albany, New York.3 The head of the household is his father, shown as "Henry Winters" and his mother, Mary, both 26 years of age. In addition to Sanford, there are two other children in the family, a 6 year old female whose name is nearly illegible, but may be "Hevley," and a three month old girl named Mary.

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Family on the move

Five years later, the family appears in Schoharie County in the Town of Richmondville in the census taken by the State of New York. The census shows that the family resided in Richmondville for two months prior to the enumeration of 2 July 1855. Since their 2 year old daughter, Sally Ann, is shown as having been born in Schoharie County, it is likely that they resided somewhere else in Schoharie County before this census was taken. It thus appears that sometime after the 1850 census, but before 1853, they may have relocated to the county. The family is shown as follows:

1) Peter H. Winters, aged 30, brick maker,
2) Mary, his wife, aged 31,
3) Sylvester, his son, aged 11,
4) Sanford H., his son, aged 9,
5) Mary, his daughter, aged 7,
6) Sally Ann, his daughter, aged 2, and
7) Sally Ann Green, his widowed sister-in-law, aged 35.4

Interestingly, the 11 year old son, Sylvester, shown on this census did not appear on the 1850 enumeration. Sylvester, however, would have been 6 years old in 1850 which is the age of the "female" recorded thereon. It is surmised that an error was made on the 1850 census and that "Hevley" may indeed have been Sylvester, and this is made all the more probable because Sylvester shows up on subsequent censuses as well, and Hevley does not.

The appearance of the widowed Sally Ann Green with this family is also of interest. Her relationship to the head of the household, Peter H. Winters, is that of sister-in-law. As such, she was either his wifeís sister or she was the wife of a deceased brother of Peter, although it is not yet known if either Peter or Mary had any siblings.

The 1860 census shows that the family is now residing in the Town of Florence, New York in the County of Oneida.

1) Peter H. Winters, aged 35, farm laborer,
2) Mary, aged 36,
3) Sylvester, aged 16,
4) Sanford, aged 14,
5) Mary, aged 11,
6) Ann, aged 7, and
7) Martha aged 5.5

It is believed that 7 year old Ann is the same person as 2 year old Sally Ann of the 1855 census.

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Civil War Service

As Sanford came of age, the country was engaged in the War Between the States. Authority to create a regiment from upstate New York was given to Colonel Joseph J. Morrison on 19 June 1863.6 Recruited primarily from Albany, Auburn, Little Falls, Rome, Schenectady, Syracuse, Utica and Watertown, the 16th Regiment of the New York Heavy Artillery was formed.7

A regiment consisted of about one thousand (1000) men. Regiments were then divided into companies with each company having roughly 100 men in it. Thus, there were usually ten companies in each regiment.

Sanford enlisted for three years of service at Utica, New York on 1 October 1863 and official records show him as 19 years of age upon his enlistment.8 If, however, he was born in April of 1847, which it is believed he was, he was only 16 years old at his enrollment. Of the approximately four hundred thousand (400,000) individuals furnished by the state of New York for the war effort, there were about 978 who enlisted when only sixteen years of age.9 He went in as a Private in Company C, along with 89 other privates10, under the command of Captain James H. McLaughlin. The regiment left the state of New York by detachments and on 22 October 1863, Company C was on its way to Fortress Monroe in Virginia.11

It appears that Sanford remained with his unit until sometime in September 1864 when he was treated in their Regimental Hospital for "intermittent fever."12 Prior to that time the regiment had engaged in several battles beginning in mid-February of 1864 at Dutch Gap, Virginia.13 On 23 June 1864, they fought at Gloucester Point, Virginia and again at Dutch Gap on 13 August 1864.14 August 15th and 17th found them fighting at Signal Hill, Virginia, and from the end of August through September, they were engaged at Petersburg, Virginia.15

The "intermittent fever" that Sanford was suffering from landed him in the "Base Hospital 10 A.C." on 19 September 1864, and from 28 September until 25 October, he was in "Base Hospital 10 A.C. Jones Landing, VA" with diarrhea.16 He was then returned to duty.

During the time he was hospitalized, his regiment continued to see action at several sites in Virginia. Two days after Sanfordís return to duty, the regiment fought at both Darbytown Road and at Richmond, Virginia, and continued at Richmond on 29 October 1864.17

The next battle in which the 16th Regiment saw action was two and a half months later, in mid-January, 1865, at Fort Fisher, North Carolina.18 Fort Fisher stood on a narrow spit of land between the ocean and the Cape Fear River known as Federal Point. The fort was held by Confederate forces numbering 1,200 men with 122 pieces of regular artillery, 47 pieces of heavy ordnance (artillery), 200 small arms and a full complement of ammunition, as well as a significant number of commissary supplies.19 This particularly hard fought, well executed assault on the fort resulted in its capture along with its stores of food, ordnance and arms. The Confederates also lost heavily in terms of casualties suffered and prisoners taken by the Union, and caused them to purposely destroy and abandon Forts Caswell and Campbell, and the works at Smithville and Reevesí point to prevent their also being taken by the formidable Union forces such as Fort Fisher had seen.20 The victory at Fort Fisher resulted in the fall of Wilmington, North Carolina to the Federal forces and as such is considered a crucial battle in the War Between the States.21

Medals of Honor were awarded by Congress to Brigadier General Curtis, Colonel Pennypacker, First Lieutenant Wainwright and Private Neahr for distinguished bravery demonstrated in the battle for the fort.22 Resolutions were also passed by the Legislature, giving thanks to the 16th Regiment as well as the others that took part in the battle.23

Although it is not known definitively whether Sanford took part in the fighting at Fort Fisher, it is a reasonable probability. He was with his regiment at the time the battle occurred and years later, one of his obituaries mentions that he took part in eight battles during his military service.24 In comparing his regimentís history to Sanfordís active duty time, the Fort Fisher battle would have been either the last or next to last battle in which he actually fought. He may also have seen action when the regiment fought on 22 February 1865 at North East Ferry, North Carolina.25 Shortly thereafter, however, Sanford again became ill.

On 14 March 1865, Sanford was admitted to "Gear House Hospital" in Wilmington, North Carolina with "typho malarial fever."26 He was transferred from Wilmington to Lovell General Hospital in Portsmouth Grove, Rhode Island on the 14th of April, being admitted to Lovell General seven days later.27 We can only surmise that the weekís journey between the two hospitals was anything but pleasant. Sanford remained hospitalized for the next two and a half months until he was mustered out on 7 July 1865.28 He received an honorable discharge and on 13 July 1865, was transported from Portsmouth Grove to New York City.29

The 16th Regiment was honorable discharged and mustered out shortly thereafter on 21 August 1865 at Washington, D. C.30 The regiment lost a total of 328 or 329 men.31 The majority of those deaths were due to disease or other causes (284 enlisted men and 2 officers), with 42 or 43 men being killed in action or succumbing to wounds received in battle. Of the latter, four enlisted men died while in the hands of the enemy.32 Thus, roughly one third of the men in the regiment did not return home alive, and of those that did make it back, many were left with various disabilities resulting from diseases contracted or wounds received during their service.

Sanford was one of the fortunate ones who survived the war, but was left "suffering from piles" (hemorrhoids), severe enough that he was often disabled from working.33 In 1890, the Veterans and Widows Census shows him as having "kidney disease and catarrh of bladder," thus rendering him a "constant invalid."34

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After the war

Five years after the war, in 1870, Sanford is found on the census residing in Oswego County in the town of Constantia. Enumerated as a 22 year old farm worker, he is residing with a 20 or 22 year old farmer, Thomas Edwards. Shown in the same household and listed directly under Sanfordís name is a 19 year old, English-born housekeeper named Ellen. Her surname is represented by ditto marks and thus appears as Winters also.35 The census provides no additional information which would assist in determining what, if any relationship there may have been between them. It seems more than just a mere coincidence however that both Sanford and Ellen are enumerated with the same surname, and it is likely that the two did have some sort of relationship to one another.

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Sanford married

Three years later in 1873, just one month shy of Sanfordís 26th birthday, he married Rhoda L. Gibbs on 10 March 1873 in Forestport, New York.36 Forestport is located in Oneida County and in 1995; I contacted both the Forestport Town Clerk and the Oneida County Clerk in an attempt to locate a marriage record. Both requests came back with a negative response, however, Sanfordís Veteranís Pension papers state that a "certificate" existed as a record of the marriage. The pursuit of documentation should be continued.

Over the next five or so years, Sanford and Rhoda had four children. Charles was born in 1874 on the 8th of February, then Eva on 10 January 1876. Both were born in Forestport.37 Two more daughters followed. Emma Abigail was born on 27 March 1877 and Lilly on 27 September 187838, although at this time it is not known where the family resided at the time of the two latter births.

In 1880, the census enumerates the family in the Town of Brookfield in Madison County, New York as follows:

1) Henry Winters, aged 33,
2) Rhoda Winters, aged 22,
3) Charles Winters, aged 6,
4) Eva M. Winters, aged 4,
5) Emily A. Winters, aged 3, and
6) Lilly Winters, aged 2.39

Although the head of the family is shown as "Henry," there is little doubt that this is Sanford. Firstly, his age, his wifeís name and age, and the names and ages of all of the children correspond to those on other documents, namely Sanfordís veteranís pension papers. Secondly, there are indications that Sanfordís middle name was Henry and that it may have sometimes been used as a first name. For example, there is a Social Security application submitted by one of Sanfordís daughters which shows his name as Henry Sanford Winters,40 and in Charles H. Wintersí obituary, Charlesí father is shown as Sanford Henry Winters.41 It appears that on occasion, his first and middle names were interchanged.

Sometime after the census of 1880, Sanford and Rhoda went their separate ways. Presumably, Rhoda took their four children with her. On 14 July 1885, in Camden, New York in Oneida County, Rhoda married a man named David Morgan.42 It is interesting to note that on their marriage license application that Rhoda claimed it to be her first marriage. David Morgan stated that this marriage was his second. No record has yet been found which would substantiate Sanfordís assertion in his veteranís pension papers that he and Rhoda married in 1873 in Forestport, New York, nor has any divorce record yet been ascertained for Rhoda and Sanford. Thus, whether or not the two were ever officially wed is still not clear. Regardless of their actual status, Rhoda and Sanford did in fact have four children during their approximately seven years together.

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Second Family

The cause of the breakup between Sanford and Rhoda may never be known to us in the present, but at the age of 40, Sanford began a new family with Emma McIntyre. On 18 August 1887, the first of their three daughters, Minnie May Winters, was born in the City of Oneida, in Madison County.43 Although it does not appear that Sanford and Emma were ever married to each other, their three daughters all carried the surname of Winters.

A little over one year later in 1888, Mary Linda Winters was born on the 16th of October in Canastota, Madison County, New York. Sanford is noted to be an out of wedlock father while Emmaís surname is shown as Judd.44 On the line for the "name of the child," Judd is also written with no first name provided for the child. There is another entry on this certificate in different handwriting above the line for the childís name, which shows Mary Linda Winters as the child. The use of the surname Judd is as yet unexplained, and adds another intriguing fact to this family history.

Nearly three years after Maryís birth, Sanford and Emmaís third daughter, Lulu Belle Winters, was born on 23 August 1891 in the Town of Sullivan, Madison County, New York.45 The New York State census taken in 1892 shows this family residing in Sullivan Township.

1) Sanford H. Winters, aged 44, laborer,
2) Emma Winters, aged 41,
3) Minnie M. Winters, aged 6,
4) Mary L. Winters, aged 4, and
5) Lulu B. Winters aged 1.46

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A disabling condition

The Union Veteranís census taken in June of 1890 shows Sanford residing in Perryville, New York in Madison County as "a constant invalid" with a disability of "kidney disease and catarrh of bladder."47 One month later Sanford executed a sworn Declaration for Original Disability Pension, in which he stated that he suffers from a permanent condition of "disease of kidneys and piles."48 Then in 1894, affidavits of four other people were submitted in support of his application for a disability pension. Why it took four years between the application and the supporting affidavits to be submitted is not known.

The first affidavit was signed on 31 May 1894 by Sylvester Sloan of Canastota. The next was signed on 16 June 1894 by Sanfordís father, Peter H. Winters, then of Perryville. Interestingly, on Peter H. Wintersí affidavit, there is no mention of Peter being Sanfordís father, and merely states that Peter is "well acquainted" with Sanford.49 The last two were signed on 9 July 1894 by William A. Maxon and an Edwin T. (illegible name), both of Canastota, New York.50 Each of the four who signed these affidavits attested that Sanford had been "suffering from piles" (hemorrhoids) since returning from the service in 1865, and that he was often unable to work due to this condition. It appears that Sanford was granted a disability pension of $16.50, which is presumed to be paid to him on a monthly basis, and which payments ended with his death.51

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Real property purchased

On 7 January 1895, Sanford purchased a parcel of real property in the Town of Lenox, Madison County, New York. He bought the property for $ 250.00 from Orlando H. and Addie Chapman of Oneida, New York.52 The document was notarized by Paul S. Maine, the same man who notarized Peter H. Wintersí affidavit in support of Sanfordís disability pension in 1894.53

Based on an analysis of the facts, it does not appear that Sanford purchased this property as a residence. At the time of the purchase, Sanford was living in the village of Perryville where he had been residing in 1890 according to Union Veterans census of that year. Since the 1900 Federal census also shows his home as Perryville,54 it is reasonable to assume that he lived in Perryville from at least 1890 through 1900. The 1900 census shows that the residence housing the family is rented.55 If there was a residential structure on the property purchased by Sanford, it would be likely that they would reside in it.

Perryville is located in the town of Sullivan, not in the town of Lenox where the purchased property was located. Additionally, two hundred and fifty dollars in 1895 would be roughly equivalent to $5,325.00 in 2002ís dollars.56 That amount of money would not be sufficient to buy a piece of real estate with a residential structure on it, and there is no structure described on the indenture (deed). It is therefore a reasonable certainty that there was no residence on the property.

The property described in the deed had a basic north-south orientation and was bounded by two other parcels; the one on the east owned and occupied by a Daniel Murphy and the one on the west owned by Mrs. Daniel Murphy.57 The southern property line was the "highway leading past the Episcopal Church at Perryville," and the northern border was a creek. There was a well on the property because the right to use the well was specifically reserved to Daniel Murphy.58

The following year (1896) on the 22nd of January, Sanford borrowed $100.00 for one year from a Nellie Hill Moot and secured this loan with the Lenox property.59 The security document again shows Sanford was residing in Perryville. It is not known to what use he put the money, nor is it known whether the loan was foreclosed on or if Sanford paid it back within the year. The conditional conveyance to Nellie Hill Moot would have become void upon timely repayment of the debt and the property would have remained in his possession. To date, no records have been located indicating what became of the property thereafter.

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Father died

Sanfordís father had been ill for some time and was being cared for by him in Perryville,60 although it is not known if he was residing in Sanfordís household. Peter H. Winters was 72 when he passed away on 15 June 1897.61 He was laid to rest in the North Brookfield Cemetery in Madison County, New York.62 Sanford was 50 years old when his father died.

Peter H. Winters had served as a corporal in the military during the Civil War, in Company I of the 81st New York Regiment.63 He had been receiving $12.00 a month in veteranís pension payments which had been paid up to the month of April preceding his death.64 Thereafter, in conjunction with S. M. Wing, an attorney in Canastota, New York, Sanford applied to receive the remainder of Peterís pension covering April of 1897 until his death in June.65 The amount would have been approximately $36.00, although it is not known if Sanfordís application was granted or not.

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First family acknowledged

This is the point at which things become somewhat confusing in the reconstruction of Sanfordís life. Looking at Sanfordís own veteranís pension documents we find a most interesting series of facts. There is a questionnaire which was sent to Sanford in Perryville in February of 1899 by the Bureau of Pensions which asked a series of questions pertaining to his family. Sanford replied on 14 February 1899.66

In answer to questions about his marital status, he stated that Rhoda L. Winters, whose maiden name was Gibbs, was his wife and that he was "married but once," in Forestport, New York on 10 March 1873.67 When asked, "Have you any living children, and if so, state their names and birthdates," he responded by giving the names and birthdates of Charles, Eva, Emma Abigail and Lilly, the four children of Rhoda. There is no mention of his three daughters, Minnie May, Mary Linda and Lulu Belle.

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The plot thickensÖ.

Then on the federal census taken on 11 June 1900, the fifty-three (53) year-old head of the household, Sanford Winters, is enumerated in the Town of Sullivan, Madison County, New York with:

1) Rhoda, wife, aged 41,
2) Mary, aged 11, and
3) Lulu aged 8.68

Now why would Rhoda suddenly appear again as Sanfordís wife when on the 1892 state census it was Emma and their daughters with whom he was residing? And why wouldnít Emma be residing with her daughters, Mary and Lulu?69

These are questions that have plagued me for years and although there is, to date, no definitive explanation, I am proposing a plausible theory which is supported, at least in part, by the facts.

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That, in fact, Emma is residing in the household with Sanford, Mary and Lulu, and that Rhoda is not residing there.

If this is true, then:

1. Someone lied to the census taker about Rhodaís name and the "real" Rhoda should be found elsewhere.

2. Emma would not be found anywhere else in the 1900 census.

3. There may be differences between the Rhoda enumerated with Sanford and the "real" Rhoda found elsewhere.

4. There may be other facts in support of the theory.

Each of these is addressed in turn below.


Facts in support of theory

1. The most substantial support comes from the 1900 census which reveals a 42 year old Rhoda Morgan residing with her husband, David Morgan, in the city of Utica, Oneida County, New York.70 It was taken on 13 June 1900, two days after the enumeration of "Rhoda" Winters in Madison County. It shows that Rhoda and David Morgan had been married for 18 years which would put the marriage at around 1882 and the marriage certificate of Rhoda and David Morgan confirms that this couple was married on 14 July 1882.71 (after the 1880 census on which Sanford and Rhoda were enumerated with their 4 children).

The Morgan coupleís Utica residence is shown as 71 Water Street. At 71 Ĺ Water Street, 26 year old Charles Winters is listed with his wife and 3 children, so mother and son are living adjacent to each other.72 In a later obituary, Charles Wintersí mother is referred to not only as "Rohida [sic] Eliza Gibbs Winters," but also as "Mrs. David Morgan of Utica."73 In the same obit, Charlesí father is shown as Sanford Henry Winters.

Based upon the foregoing, it can be said with a high degree of surety that Rhoda Morgan of the 1900 census in Utica, is the same Rhoda that had been Sanfordís partner/spouse from 1873 to about 1880.74

2. A fair amount of additional census work has been done in an attempt to locate Emma on the 1900 census, but she has not yet been found elsewhere. Granted, it is difficult to prove a negative (namely that she is not anywhere else on the census, and this fact taken alone does not conclusively prove anything, but it is one piece of a larger picture. If Emma is ever found elsewhere on this 1900 census, it will conclusively disprove the theory proposed here.

3. There is one difference between the Rhoda enumerated with Sanford and Rhoda Morgan of Utica which may carry some significance in this analysis. Rhoda Morgan is shown as being able to read and write whereas Rhoda Winters is illiterate. This tends to indicate that these two were not the same individual, but again, standing alone does not provide conclusive proof in support of the theory. Research is continuing to try to establish the literacy, or lack thereof, of Emma and Rhoda as well.

4. The proposed theory is also supported by the fact that just one year prior to the 1900 census, Sanford acknowledged his marriage to Rhoda and their four children in his reply to the Bureau of Pensions.75 He made no mention whatsoever of either Emma or his three daughters and yet, Sanford, Emma and their three daughters were all enumerated as a family unit on the 1892 New York State census.76 Then in 1900 he is still residing with two of these daughters, Mary and Lulu.77

So, was Rhoda actually residing in two places at the same time? Was she in Utica with her husband of 18 years, David Morgan, with her son Charles in an adjacent household, while also living with Sanford Winters and two of the daughters he fathered with another woman? It seems unlikely. What seems much more probable is that the "Rhoda" was given to the Madison County census taker as being Sanfordís wife when, in fact, Emma was actually the woman residing in the house (although not married to Sanford).

What was the motive for this deception? It is not clear, but perhaps it has to do with Sanfordís application for his veteranís pension. Perhaps he thought it might somehow be in jeopardy if the Bureau of Pensions learned he was no longer with Rhoda. Or was it more of an emotional or a moral concern? We may never know although it is hoped that the ongoing research will eventually turn up facts that may make this part of Sanfordís life less murky and more understandable.


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More from the 1900 census

Rented house

Other information taken from the 1900 census provides additional insights into Sanfordís household. For example, the family did not reside on a farm, and the house in which they lived was rented. This rental situation is interesting in light of the fact that Sanford had previously purchased the town of Lenox property. If we assume for the moment that he still owned it in 1900, which has not yet been proven, it tends to indicate that no residential structure had been constructed on it.


Sanford is show as being a day laborer although the type of labor is not specified. This is in contrast to the 1890 census on which he is listed as "a constant invalid."78

Years of marriage

Sanford and Rhoda are shown as having been married for 30 years. As previously argued, this authorís theory is that Rhoda was not really residing in Sanfordís household at that time, however, 30 years prior to 1900 would be 1870. This is within 3 years of the 1873 marriage date to Rhoda Gibbs given by Sanford in his veteranís pension papers.79

In contrast, the 1900 census taken in Utica shows Rhoda as having been married to David Morgan for 18 years. Thus, their marriage would have been in about 1882. Their marriage certificate has substantiated the fact that they were married in 1885.80 Interestingly, Sanford, Rhoda and their four children are shown as an intact family in 1880 in the Madison County town of Brookfield, but within about five years, Rhoda had remarried to David Morgan.

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Rhodaís age

Rhodaís birth date is given as March of 1859 on the town of Sullivan enumeration and March of 1858 on the Utica enumeration. A subsequent burial record has May of 1858 as her birth date.82 Regardless of which is the more accurate, the dates permit us to extrapolate the fact that Sanfordís 1873 marriage to Rhoda occurred when she was either 14 or 15 of age. Sanford would have been 26 years old at the time of his marriage to Rhoda in 1873.

Rhodaís children

The 1900 census also shows that Rhoda was the mother of four children, all of whom were living at that time. This fact is shown on both the Sullivan and the Utica census.83 As we have seen, the four children were Charles, Eva, Emily (Emma Abigail) and Lilly.84 Unfortunately, two of these four would not be living for very much longer.

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Untimely death

On the afternoon of Friday, 26 May 1905, the body of Charles H. Winters was found floating in the Erie Canal at the John Street bridge in Utica, New York.85 Charles had been reported missing on Saturday, 20 May 1905, by relatives in that city and although Uticaís three newspapers reported the story, the Utica Daily Press gave by far, the most detailed account of the last hours of Charlesí life.86

According to the story, Charles had lived in Utica nearly his whole life, but about four years prior to his death; he went to work on a farm in Canaseraga, New York. It is not known if the Canaseraga referred to is the Canaseraga in Allegany County or a place in Madison County near Canaseraga Creek. It was said that he frequently visited his mother, identified as Mrs. David Morgan of 3 Potter Street in Utica.

Then, on the evening of Friday, 19 May 1905, he went out with some friends. Thereafter, he became intoxicated and at about 9:30PM, after being turned away from a bar because of his condition, he fell into the Erie Canal and drowned. The coroner found no evidence of foul play and declared Charlesí death an accident.87 Charles H. Winters was only 31 years of age when he met his demise.88 He is buried in Forest Hills Cemetery in Utica.89

Charles obituary makes for interesting reading insofar as what it says about Sanford. It begins:

"Charles Henry Winters was the son of the late Sanford Henry and 
Rohida [sic] Eliza Gibbs Winters."

It then goes on to say that Charlesí "father died some years ago."90 Contrary to these assertions, Sanford was 58 years old and residing in Madison County at the time of Charles death.91 It appears that Charles, and likely his three sisters, were estranged from their father.

The obituary also states that when Charles was "two years of age he came to this city (Utica) with his parents and resided here up to four years ago." This statement appears to be inaccurate in light of other evidence. Charles was 2 years of age in 1876 when his sister, Eva, was born and both Charles and Eva were born in Forestport, New York.92 Additionally, the census of 1880 shows Charles, his parents Sanford and Rhoda, and his three sisters residing in the town of Brookfield in Madison County.93 Charles was six years old at the time. Thus, unless the information about the family in the 1880 census was untrue, it appears that Charles did not move to Utica until after 1880 and not at the age of two as the newspaper reported.

Furthermore, although the obituary claims that Charles moved to Utica "with his parents," there is no indication that Sanford ever resided in Utica. Other than enrolling for civil war service in 1863 in Utica, Sanford does not appear to have had any other connection to the city. In fact, in Sanfordís veteranís pension papers, there is one document which required him to list his "several places of residence since leaving the service." Completed in 1912, all of the locations listed are in New York State, namely, Camden, Cleveland, Canastota, Perryville, and Hamilton, but Utica is not among them.94 Thus, the part of the newspaper statement about Charlesí parents relocating to Utica appears to be inaccurate insofar as it applies to Sanford. It is surmised that when Rhoda married David Morgan in 1885, or even prior to that time, the four children relocated to Utica with their mother and her new husband and remained there while growing up. It appears likely that Sanford was not a part of their lives thereafter.

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1905 New York State Census

In the same year that Charles died, the state of New York conducted a census which raises the same question as the federal census of 1900; namely, is it possible that the "Rhoda" enumerated with the Winters family is, in fact Emma? Charlesí obituary clearly places Rhoda, then Mrs. David Morgan, in Utica at the time of his death in late May of 1905.95 The 1905 census, however, taken less than one week later on 1 June, enumerates "Rhoda" in Lincoln township in Madison County.

1) Henry S. Winters, aged 58, farmer,
2) Rhoda, wife, aged 53, and
3) Lulu B. aged 18.96

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Wherefore art thou, Sanford?

In the next federal census, taken in 1910, Sanford has thus far remained elusive. Despite a line-by-line search of the online census images on the online subscription service in the towns in Madison County in which it is likely Sanford would have been, he has not yet been located. The research strategy is to continue the search for him in every one of the enumeration districts in Madison County until the complete county has been covered. The search will then expand to towns in the counties contiguous to Madison County until a reasonably thorough search has been completed.

Evaís death

The year 1910 saw the death of another one of Sanfordís seven children. On 14 August of that year, Eva, whose married name was Schreck, died in Utica of pneumonia and is buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in that city.97 This is the same cemetery in which Charles body was laid to rest five years before, but the two are buried in different sections. It is hoped that an obituary for Eva may eventually be found in order to see what, if any, mention is made of Sanford.

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Resident of Hamilton

An affidavit subscribed to by Sanford in May of 1912 shows him residing in the Madison County town of Hamilton, New York.98 It is not known how long he had resided in Hamilton, but he had not been found there on the 1910 census.

Sanford turned 66 years old in April of 1913 and it is believed that he continued as a resident of Hamilton. His connection to the town appears to have been his daughter, Minnie May, one of the girls he fathered with Emma. Minnie had become Mrs. LeGrand Mosher (Moshier) on 25 September 1906,99 and resided in Hamilton,100 although the 1910 census does not show Sanford residing with them.

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Christmas 1913

On Monday evening, 22 December 1913, Sanford was attending "Christmas exercises at the chapel" in Hamilton. He suffered a "stroke of apoplexy" while there and "did not regain consciousness."101 The newspapers reported that he was taken to Minnie and Legrandís home "on Bonney Hill" and passed away on the 27th of December of 1913.102 He died of "cerebral apoplexy,"103 a blood clot in the brain commonly referred to as a stroke. One can only imagine the dampening effect this must have had on the Mosher household Christmas that year.

Services for Sanford were held at the Mosher home at 1:00pm on the 30th of December. They were conducted by the Reverend S. B. Leary, whose religious affiliation is not yet known. It was reported that the services were "largely attended by his neighbors and relatives" and that "[f]loral offerings by friends were many."104

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Surviving Relatives

Sanford was survived by a "family of five children."105 All of them were daughters, identified in his obituary by their married names, except for Mary who was unmarried at the time of his death.

    1. Mrs. LeGrand Mosher (Minnie) of Hamilton;

    2. Miss Mary Winters of Chittenango;

    3. Mrs. James Martin (Lulu Belle) of Chadwicks;

    4. Mrs. Lerch (Emma Abigail) of Utica; and

    5. Mrs. OíBrien (Lillian) of Deerfield.

Three sisters also survived him.

      1. Mrs. Wilson (Martha) of St. Johnsville:

      2. Mrs. Forbes (Mary) of North Brookfield, and

      3. Mrs. Barton (Anna) of Taberg.106

As previously discussed, his son Charles and daughter, Eva, predeceased him by eight years and three years respectively. His father died in 1897 and his mother had passed sometime before his father.107 No mention is made of his brother, Sylvester, and it is likely that he also died prior to Sanford.

Interestingly, out of the four enumerated choices on the death certificate; namely, single, married, widowed or divorced, Sanfordís marital status is shown as "married."108 There is, however, no mention of a wife in his obituary. Both Rhoda and Emma were living at the time of Sanfordís death, although Emma died in Paris, New York in the month following his death.109 Rhoda did not die until September of 1922 in Utica and she is buried in a plot with her then husband, David Morgan, and son, Charles H. Winters.110 It is unclear to whom the "married" reference may have applied, but the informant for the death certificate was LeGrand Moshier, Sanfordís son-in-law. As such, it may be that LeGrand believed Sanford had been married to Emma or perhaps wished that this piece of information would be preserved on a document such as this certificate.

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Final Resting Place

Sanford H. Winters is buried in Graham Cemetery which is located just off Route 12, over the railroad tracks, in Hubbardsville, New York. Hubbardsville is a small Madison County village just east of Hamilton. The cemetery was incorporated in 1861, although there are stones there dating back to the early 1800ís.111 The property consists of approximately six acres, is generally flat and as of July of 1994 when this author visited the site, it was a well-maintained burial ground.112

A nine grave lot located a short distance from Sanfordís resting place appears to be the grave of Sanfordís sister, Mary. Maryís husband, Myron Forbes, and three other Forbes who may have been their children, are interred there. Sanford is buried in a single plot marked by a headstone identifying him as a Civil War veteran. Each year an American flag is placed on each veteranís grave by the caretaker.113

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There remains a number of unanswered questions with regard to Sanford and his life. Some of the more obvious are:

  • Why did Sanfordís family move around so much (Albany County, Schoharie County, Oneida County, etc.)?

  • Was Ellen Winters, the 19 year old, English-born woman, who shows up on the 1870 census in the same household as Sanford, related to him in any way?

  • Is there an extant marriage record of Sanfordís marriage to Rhoda Gibbs in March of 1873, in Forestport, New York? Also, can a birth record of Charles H. in 1874 and Eva M. Winters in 1876, both purportedly born in Forestport, be found?

  • Is there a divorce record (prior to Rhodaís marriage to David Morgan in about 1882)?

  • When and where did Sanfordís mother, Mary, and brother, Sylvester, die and where are they buried? (It appears that they both died somewhere between 1880 and 1897).

  • What became of the property that Sanford purchased in the town of Lenox in 1895?

  • Can the theory that the Rhoda enumerated on the 1900 and 1905 censuses with Sanford is, in fact, Emma, be definitively proven or disproved? If proven, then why the deception on the census? If disproved, then why is Rhoda enumerated in two places at the same time, AND where is Emma and why is she not residing with her daughter(s)?

  • Why did Sanford acknowledge only his first family (wife Rhoda, children Charles, Eva, Emma Abigail and Lilly) on his veteranís pension papers, making no mention of his three daughters, Minnie, Mary and Lulu Belle?

  • Why did Charlesí obituary state that Charlesí "father died some years ago," when in fact, Sanford was still alive?

  • Where was Sanford in 1910?

  • Did Sanford leave any sort of estate requiring a probate proceeding or was there a will? (Thus far a search of Madison County surrogate court records has turned up nothing.)

The pursuit of answers to these questions presents genealogical challenges that will keep this writer busy for years to come.

Copyright ©2004.  Past Away Historical & Genealogical Adventures. Debra Sue Zimmerman