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Saunders/Sanders Families




Alternate Spellings - Saunders, Sanders, Sander, Sonders - the two spellings of Sanders and Saunders seem to be used interchangeably and for consistency we will use Sanders throughout our narrative (except when quoting a specific source).

Links - Chamberlain, Commons, Brazelton on Woodward Site, Jackson, Davidson, Boruff, Burleigh, Jones, Shields, Crose, Lemon, Ives, Mannon, Sanders Most Wanted Web Site (includes a link to the Sanders Message Board)

Contacts - Rowena Ginther has posted Saunders obituaries on the Mercer County Obituary Board. When the Board comes up make sure Mercer is selected and use the search box and type in "Saunders." We appreciate Rowena's help in sorting out the George W. Saunders family. Connie Siverly Ferguson has helped with John Forrest and Susan Taylor Saunders. Terri Nielson has helped on the Charles Sanders family, George Fuller on the Shields family and Robert Ives on the Mahlon Sanders family. Margaret Fox has helped including providing the obituary of George Jackson.


There were several Sanders/Saunders families in Mercer County, not all related. There were three connected with New Boston and Eliza Township in various ways: John Forrest Sanders; Sarah Sanders, wife of Abel Shields, and Alexander Sanders. When time permits we will also include what information we have on other Sanders/Saunders families to help researchers, including Charles Sanders of Millersburg. This is a difficult, difficult set of families for many reasons, with lots of conflicting information, and we would appreciate comments on the page and help from any quarter!

There are 518 Sanders families found in the 1790 Census, scattered throughout all the twelve states that were censused. It is not difficult to imagine the number of descendants that had been produced by the mid 1800's! There were 60 families alone in Virginia which is the place of origin of two of the Mercer County families. A William Sanders arrived in Virginia as early as 1637 - arriving with one of the Herndon families related to WebMaster Nadine Holder.

Connie Siverly pointed us to the LDS Ancestral File. As most of you know (I hope) nothing in that file can be considered proof for a family, unless reference to primary sources is given, but it is a good starting place for hints about where to look for family connections if you have a particularly difficult name. We have used that file for hints for the John Forrest Sanders family. As mentioned above we have had help from others on some of the families. George Fuller pointed us to North Carolina Quaker records for information on the Hezekiah Sanders Family, ancestral to Sarah Sanders who married Abel Shields and migrated to Mercer County. We have up a Shields page but will include her family here in case there are other Sanders connections that researchers might be interested in.

Otherwise we have taken information from census records, marriage license records, and tombstone listings. Where we have used other sources, we will mention the source so you can evaluate validity. Tombstone records are poor sources, and license and census records can contain inaccuracies, particularly if they have been transcribed from the originals. As with most of our Web pages on this site, our information is only meant to help you with hints on where to carry on your research in primary sources.

One other source we used was Wayne County, Indiana, land records because many Wayne County, Indiana, people had connections to Mercer County. On 10/28/1811 William Sanders purchased the SE1/4 of Section 21 in Township 16 North, Range 13 East of the second principal meridian in the Cincinnati District (future Wayne County) Indiana. The land lay within a mile of the land of Ezekiel Commons, whose descendants came to Mercer County and also married into the Sanders family.

John Forrest Sanders Family

The progenitor of many of the Sanders/Saunders families in Mercer County was John Forrest Sanders, who was born about 10/10/1797 in Virginia and died 10/25/1847 in Mercer County, Illinois. He married Susan Taylor, daughter of Jesse Taylor, in Virginia. Susan was born 1/6/1800 in Virginia, and died 5/25/1862 in Mercer County. Both are buried in the Mannon cemetery and the dates given for them are from tombstone listings. John F. Sanders died 10/25/1847, age 50 yr 15 ds and Susan died 5/25/1862, age 62 yr 4m 19 d.

After the death of John F. Sanders, Susan Taylor Sanders married Valentine Boruff, Sr, on 12/12/1850. The marriage license gives her as Mrs. Susan Sanders. That this is the correct Susan Sanders is indicated by the 1860 census record where she is again a widow: Susan Boroff, age 61, born Virginia; Jesse M. Saunders, 17, laborer, born Il, Household 1904 in New Boston Township. They are living very near Susan's son, Malon Saunders.

More on the Children of John Forrest and Susan Taylor Sanders

There are no Sanders/Saunders families in Mercer County in the 1840 census. In the 1850 census we find John and Malon Sanders, fairly well proven to be sons of John Forest Sanders; and Jesse Sanders with his mother Susan Sanders Boruff. We also find Sarah A. Sanders, widow of Charles Sanders of Millersburg, living with her brother (Lemon). Since Charles Sanders's children were infants in 1850 we feel fairly safe in assuming that all the various Sanders marriage records we find between 1840 and 1850 in Mercer County relate to children of John Forrest Sanders. We could not locate John Sanders for sure in 1840 - there were 9 in Indiana and 22 in Ohio. There was a John F. Sanders in Miami County, Indiana in 1840. The children fit fairly well with the list below but both John and wife were shown ten years older than given here (although they could easily have just been marked in the wrong column.)

The children of John Forrest and Susan Taylor Sanders, as nearly as we can reconstruct them, are:
Mahlon Sanders, born about 1820, Virginia (birthdate from census records)
John Forrest Sanders, Jr., born 1823, Virginia (birthdate from tombstone)
Mary Elizabeth Sanders, born about 1826, Virginia (married John Jackson 2/16/1843 in Mercer County)
George Washington Sanders, born 1/28/1828, in Green County, Ohio (Civil War pension papers)
William A. Sanders, born about 1828 (probably 1829), Virginia (probably Ohio)(date and birthplace from 1850 census record - living with John and Elizabeth Sanders Jackson)
Sarah Jane Sanders, born about 1835, Indiana (married George Jackson 11/22/1849 in Mercer County)
Jesse Sanders, born 1843, Mercer County, Illinois (census records with mother Susan)
Possibly Delila - not proven!: the LDS family record lists a Delila Sanders born 1830 died 1856. We find no record that might prove her but SPECULATE that she may be the Delila, born 1819 in Virginia, and died about 1852 in Mercer County, who was married to Enos Commons, son of Ezekiel Commons. We find no marriage record for them and no tombstone but do have the census record in Mercer County in 1850. Since the William Sanders family probably lived next to the Commons family in Indiana and since Mahlon Sanders married a granddaughter of Ezekiel Commons, we feel there is a POSSIBILITY that Delila was a daughter of John F. Sanders and wife of a son of Ezekiel Commons (note that her dates do not in any way match the LDS record).

Mahlon Sanders Family

The proof that Mahlon Sanders is a son of John and Susan Taylor Sanders lies in the fact that widow Susan Sanders and son Jesse are living with Mahlon Sanders and family in the 1850 census: #356, T14NR5W, Sept 21, 1850; Malon Sanders, 29, farmer, real estate valued $100, born Virginia; Hannah, 28, born Indiana; Martha Jane, 6, born Illinois; Isadora, 3, Illinois; Millard Fillmore, 1, Illinois; Henry Morris, 17, laborer, Pa; Susan Sanders, 51, Va; Jesse Sanders, 7, Ill. The listing of Jesse separately with Susan rather than with Mahlon's children implies he was son of Susan and not of Mahlon. Mahlon and Hannah had another son, Taylor Sanders, born about 1851, according to the 1860 Mercer County census. In 1860 they are still in New Boston Township, about four families away from Susan Sanders Boruff, and son Jesse Sanders.

Mahlon Sanders married Hannah Commons, daughter of Nathan and Martha Beard Commons, on 8/1/1843 in Mercer County. Nearby in 1850, William H. Sanders, age 16, born Ohio, is a laborer with the Enos Commons family. Enos Commons was brother of Hannah Commons and we SPECULATE William H. Sanders was a descendant of William Sanders who lived next to the Commons family in Wayne County, Indiana. He is too young, unless the census errs to be the William Commons listed with John and Elizabeth Sanders in the 1850 census (it would not have been unusual for a fellow to be censused in two different places, but the age is too far apart.)

Mahlon Saunders served in the Civil War in Company G of the 27th Illinois Infantry as a Sergeant. He enlisted at New Boston on August 20, 1861 (same day as brother Jesse), mustered in on August 24, and was discharged February 14, 1862, disabled. An Aledo news article on 5/28/1861, "New Boston Rifle Company Meet," lists the commissioned officers appointing non-coms including second, Sergeant Malon Sanders. Another of the sergeants, Sylvanus Atwater wrote a letter about the sendoff of Company G from New Boston. There is a link to the letter on our Civil War page. The history of the 27th Illinois Infantry does not mention any engagement around the time of Malon's disability so it may have been from disease.

Mahlon was appointed a grand juror for the April term of the circuit court in Mercer County in 1864. He was also named in a real estate law suit on 4/24/1867 per another newspaper article.

We do not find marriages for the children of Mahlon's family in Mercer County, nor do we find them in Mercer County in the 1870 census. They had probably already relocated to Louisa County, Iowa. Mahlon Sanders died there and is buried in the Wapello Cemetery. "Grave Records of Louisa County, Iowa," page 122, lists Kahon Saunders, no dates, Co H 27th Ill, lot 8. We have some indication the death date may have been 1873 but have no proof as yet.

John Forrest Sanders, Jr. family

John Forrest Sanders, Jr. married Elizabeth Jackson, daughter of William and Anna Boruff Jackson on 12/26/1844 in Mercer County. They are found in 1850 in Township 13 N Range 4 West in 1850 (Abington): John Sanders, 26, farmer, born Virginia; Elizabeth, 23, born Tennessee; William A. Sanders, 22, laborer, born Va. They moved sometime after 1855 to Wapello, Louisa County, Iowa: 1860 Wapello, Iowa #1145 John Sanders, 35, teamster, born Va; Elisabeth, 37, Tn; William C., Ill, 13,; John E., 9, Il; Marshall S., 7, Ill; Mary E., 5, Ill.

John died in 1915 in Louisa County, Iowa and is buried in the Wapello Cemetery. Elizabeth died in 1888 and is also buried in Wapello Cemetery.

From the Wapello Republican 20 Dec 1888:
"Mrs. Elizabeth Jackson Sanders, wife of John F. Sanders of this place died last Friday afternoon, aged 63 years and two months. Some two or three years ago she received a stroke paralysis from which she never recovered. She was born in Tennessee, married in Mercer County, Illinois, and was the mother of 7 children, 5 of whom survive her. The funeral services were held in the German ME church Sunday at 1:30, Rev. McKelvey of Morning Sun preached the sermon. There was a large congregation in attendance."

There is also an Albert Jackson buried with them in Wapello, Iowa who was probably the seventh child. Only six children shown above in the census but we are missing the 1870 census.

Sarah Jane Sanders Jackson

Sarah Jane Sanders married George Jackson on November 11, 1849 in Mercer County when she was but 14 years old. She is given in two census records as born Indiana, but given her position in the children the Sanders could have been on a common migratory route west. She is given as Mary Jane in her marriage record and as Sarah Jane in census records. Sarah was often a nickname for a woman who was an exemplary housewife so she may have been called Sarah. There is more on this family on the Jackson Page.

George Washington Sanders

George Washington Sanders married Hannah Amanda Davison, daughter of Moses and Elizabeth Davison, on 7/11/1847 in Miami County, Indiana. They are found in the 1860 census in New Boston Township in Mercer County: #1929 George Saunders, 28, laborer, born Ohio; Hannah, 34, born Pa; Samuel A., 10, born In; Orlando, 8, born In; Mary M., 6, born Il; William, 4, born, Il; Josephine, 2, born Il.

New Boston April 24 (April 30, 1861) Meeting of the Volunteers of Keithsburg and New Boston for the purpose of electing officers: George W. Sanders, New Boston, Co I 17th Infantry. 1st Lieut, George W.Saunders, New Boston enlisted April 23, 1861 New Boston, mustered May 25, 1861 promoted to Captain. Captain George W. Saunders New Boston July 8, 1862, cashiered April 2, 1863.

We have a newspaper story that indicates that George W. Sanders was shot at a dance in New Boston after his return from the war and that he died (see Social Life in the 50's and 60's under wood gathering parties for the story). Rowena Ginther has an article from another paper indicating he survived which is correct as there are pension papers for him that we have obtained. He applied for the pension in 1907 at Red Cloud, Nebraska. His pension papers supplied his birth date and the fact that he lived in New Boston, Ill until 1880. The papers also confirmed that he was cashiered though the reason was not given. He was wounded twice before he left the service. We will gladly share these papers with descendants.

George and Amanda are found in New Boston Township in 1870: #147 George Sanders, 42, laborer, born Ohio; Amanda, 44, Pa; Samuel, 20, Il; Orlando, 18, Il; Malissa, 15, Il; William, 14, Il; Josephine, 11, Il; Ulysses, 5, Il; Nellie, 2, Il.

There are obituaries posted for both George and Hannah on the Obituary Board linked at the top of the page.

Jesse Sanders

Jesse Sanders married Maria A. Jones on 2/7/1865 in Mercer County. As mentioned above he is found with mother Susan in two census records so is definitely a son of John Forrest Sanders. He died in 1907 in Mercer County and is buried in New Boston Cemetery as is his wife.

Jesse Saunders enlisted in Co G, 27th Ill Infantry on the same day as his brother Mahlon. He was wounded and mustered out on September 20, 1864 (date of mustering out, date of wound not known). He is listed in the 1914 Past and Present of Mercer County as receiving an $8 pension in New Boston Township in 1884.

Jesse and Maria are found in New Boston Township in 1870: #75 Jesse Sanders, 36, laborer on railroad, born Il; Maria, 25, born NY; Hattie S., 4, Il; Grace, 1, Il.

From a March 1877 issue of the New Boston Newspaper, Jesse Sanders and M. Gibson were elected constables in New Boston.

William Sanders

William Sanders is identified as a son of John and Susan Taylor Sanders, based on his living with brother John, Jr. in 1850 (above). He married Elizabeth Mannon, daughter of John and Ahenoan Hill Mannon, on 29 Jan 1854 in Mercer County. They are gone from Mercer County in 1860 and the names are too common to identify them elsewhere.

Hezekiah Sanders Family

This family was of Guilford County, North Carolina, but is included here as a granddaughter, Sarah Sanders, married Abel Shields and came to Mercer County (see Shields link above). We have much more precise information from Quaker records on this family than on other Sanders families in Mercer County.

Hezekiah Sanders was born 8/28/1734 and died 5/21/1789 in Guilford County, North Carolina. He married Martha (surname unknown) after 10/8/1757 at White Oak Monthly Meeting in Henrico County, Virginia. She was born 9/15/1738 and died 9/8/1817 in Guilford County, North Carolina. They moved to North Carolina about 1766 as a certificate dated 4/14/1766 was received at Deep River Monthly Meeting in Rowan County, North Carolina (later Guilford County.) Their children are listed at Deep River as John; David; Samuel; Jonathan; Mary; Elizabeth; Martha; Sarah; Rebecah; and Jemima. Son David is listed as born 9/15/1760 (Virginia). He married Sarah Brazelton, daughter of William and Sarah Shepherd Brazelton (see link at top of the page), on 5/23/1783 at Deep River Monthly Meeting. They had a daughter Sarah Sanders, born 1/7/1794 in Guilford County, North Carolina. She married Abel Shields before 4/14/1814 in Guilford County, North Carolina. 4/14/1814 is the date she condemned her marriage out of unity (out of the Quaker faith) and was reinstated with the Quakers. Abel Shields was born 12/28/1778 in Delaware and died 9/11/1862 in Mercer County and is buried in Shields Cemetery (stone missing but data from descendants per Mercer County Cemetery records). Sarah died 11/24/1878 in Mercer County. They are found in Mercer County in 1860: #615 Abel Shields, 80, farmer, born Delaware; Sarah, 65, born NC; Samuel, 36 born In; Jacob, 27, born Ohio. We have more information on this family included on the Shields page. The Shields Cemetery was in New Boston Township so we are including the family on this site though they lived in Abington Township.

Other Sanders in Mercer County

Alexander Sanders of Eliza Township

In 1870 we find the following in Eliza Township: #125 Alexander Sanders, 32, laborer, born NC; Lucy, 24, born Indiana; Beatrice, 4, Il; Otho Martin, 3, Il; Otto, 2, Il; Jereldo, 1, Il. All that we know for sure is that he was not related to any of the Sanders families above.



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