I believe that stories of the past should be shared and treasured. I want to create a place that we can share such stories and work together to create a more complete picture of these ancestors, as well as document facts about their lives. Please join me.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cyrus Nathaniel Sanford - by Stella Fullmer Thurmond

Cyrus Nathaniel Sanford 8 Nov 1849 – 19 May 1924

Cyrus Nathaniel Sanford, my mother's father, was born 8 November 1849 in Kanesville, Iowa. His father, Cyrus Sanford, was born 16 December 1813 in Bristol, Vermont, and his mother, Sylvia Elmina Stockwell, was born in De Kalb, New York in 1815. They were married in De Kalb, N.Y. 5 October 1836.

In the spring of 1846 Cyrus and Sylvia Elmina Sanford moved to Winter Quarters where they stayed until the spring of 1847. At that time they moved to Missouri where they stayed one year, then to Council Bluffs, Iowa in 1848. It was while they were in Iowa that Cyrus Nathaniel, their sixth child and only son was born 8 Nov. 1849 in Kanesville.

In June of 1850 the family left for the Rocky Mountains in William Snow's Company of 100 wagons. They arrived in Salt Lake City in October 1850. Cyrus Nathaniel was 11 months old.

After a short stay in Salt Lake City the family moved to Hobblecreek which was later named Springville.

Cyrus Nathaniel received his education in pioneer schools and in the great school of experience that fell to the lot of all the early pioneers. His father helped build the first school house in Springville and was the first school teacher. Cyrus N. grew to sturdy manhood - always the right hand of his father. He learned early to make the best of his time and abilities, to take charge of the big Union Farm which was located where Mapleton is now located. He often had to act as head of the family for his father was very active in the civic and political affairs of their community, being Constable, then Sheriff, and later the Mayor of Springville.

Cyrus Nathaniel was tall and well built, with a shock of red hair and piercing blue eyes that usually had a twinkle in them. He was strong and very athletic, excelling in the broad jump, wrestling and baseball, and relay running. In the spring of 1868 Cyrus N. was playing in a ball game with a group of young men. In the stand watching the game was a young girl, Mary Jane Hunt, 19 years old, who was from Dixie visiting with some relatives. The story was told that a cousin said to Mary Jane, if you could pick one of those ball players, which would you choose? Without hesitating Mary Jane pointed out the tall, red haired Cyrus Nathaniel Sanford. When they were introduced after the game she didn't change her mind. They both insisted, years later, that it was mutual love at first sight.

Mary Jane kept making excuses to her mother to stay on in Springville longer than they had planned. When she finally went home she told her mother she had found the one she was going to marry. The next few months she and her mother were very busy getting her some sort of trousseau together. In November 1868 Mary Jane returned to Springville and she and Cyrus Nathaniel traveled two days to Salt Lake City by horse and buggy to be married in the Endowment House. Cyrus’ Aunt Melissa Messinger accompanied them to act as Witness and chaperone.

For five years the couple lived with Cyrus' parents, sharing and working their big farm on Mapleton. Cyrus was a hard working, excellent and productive farmer in the spring, summer, and fall, then freighting to Nevada in the winter. It was during one of these trips that their son George died, bringing sadness to their hearts. At the end of five years Cyrus N. built a large two room house of adobe to the east of his father’s Mary Jane and Cyrus N. had twelve children, five boys and seven girls.

Cyrus and his father built a summer log home in Hobble Creek Canyon. It took much hard work to clear the land and make it productive. It was a wonderful summer retreat for all of their grandchildren when school was out. Going barefoot, fishing in the creek, playing in the hay loft, horse back riding, all with a minimum of super vision and responsibility, made time spent there a delight. And believe it or not, Grandfather and Grandmother always seemed thrilled to death to have the place over flowing with their progeny. Everyone had their tasks to do and Grandmother and Grandfather were lenient but firm in their demands and discipline.

When Cyrus Nathaniel’s father died in 1899, Cyrus and Mary Jane moved into the family home, which had been a monument to the Sanford family for 75 years. The house still stands on 2nd North and 2nd West where the original fort was built to protect the pioneers from the Indians. It was a wonderful place; a full city block with all kinds of fruit trees, a beautiful garden with vegetables of all kinds, an irrigation stream running through the yard which was so cool and pleasant in the summer. Violet and buttercups lined the banks. Across the road from the house were the barns, chicken coops and corrals. How we loved to climb up into the loft and swing on a long rope to drop into the big hay stack below.

Cyrus N. had a great sense of humor which combined with patience and tranquility made him a delight to all his children and grandchildren. I never remember ever seeing him really angry or cross or in a bad mood. He could always see the funny side to everything. He was always happiest when many of his children and their children were around.

When our family used to go to Springville to visit them we usually went by train from Eureka, a distance of 39 miles. Grandfather always met us in his two seated buggy drawn by two beautiful shiny brown horses which was a great treat for us. It would be early, about 10 o'clock, on Sunday morning. Grandma would have a delicious breakfast waiting for us. A few years later when my father acquired his first automobile, an open, four-cylinder Buick, we went much more often. It was 39 miles and took us two hours to get there. It was such fun to see how thrilled Grandfather was to ride in an automobile, up in front always with my father. Grandmother was always just a little bit nervous until she became used to it after several years. One summer we took them with us to Idaho to visit several of their other children who had settled on farms near the Snake River. My brother, probably 19 or 20 years old, did the driving, with Grandfather in the front seat beside him, and I in the middle. My father quite often reminded my brother to “get the lead out of his foot" but every time a car passed us my Grandfather would say (sort of under his breath) “You aren’t going to let them pass us, are you?" I've never seen anyone enjoy a trip more than my Grandparents did. Each night we'd stop about five O'clock to pitch our tent and cook dinner over the camp fire before dark. Grandfather was in his element. He was a master hand at camping and cooking out. We had a big long box on each running board filled with food and our camping equipment, and Grandfather always saw that every item was in its place ready for the next meal or night. We were two weeks away from home, and for the rest of his life Grandfather and Grandmother talked about that wonderful trip. Every time it rained we’d have to stop and put up the side curtains. And every day or two we would have a flat tire which necessitated changing the tire, patching the inner tube, and blowing up the tube in the tire before we could proceed. I think the enjoyment of our grandparents, and their never failing sense of humor and great adventure greatly enhanced the enjoyment of all of us.

For 35 years Grandmother’s Mother, Granny Hunt, lived with them, and in her later years Grandfather’s Mother, Granny Sanford lived with them several months at a time, until she would visit some of her other children. We always looked forward to seeing Granny Hunt because she could always find us a treat in her mending basket, but we were forbidden to get into it ourselves.

Since Grandmother was her only daughter that was "her home ". Grandfather suffered with a severe stomach ailment the last few years of his life. It would probably be diagnosed as cancer today for he could eat practically nothing except buttermilk. He died at their home on the 16th of May, 1924 at 75 years of age leaving a great void in the lives of his wife and all of his children and grandchildren.

Source: DUP Files, History of Cyrus Nathaniel Sanford, submitted by Stella Fullmer Thurmond.


  1. 1850 US Census Utah territory, Utah, Utah
    1860 US Census Utah territory, Utah, Springville
    1870 US Census Utah territory, Utah, Springville
    1900 US Census Utah, Utah, Springville
    1910 US Census Utah, Utah, Springville (on Heritage Quest)
    Veterans with Federal Service Buried in Utah, Territorial to 1966.
    Civil War Pension Record
    Utah Death Certificates 1904-1956
    All but the one specified above can be accessed at pilot.familysearch.org

  2. I would like to request that you also include at the heading of the piece who gave the information or who is telling us the stories.
    My mind starts freaking out thinking that you have two mothers Sher!
    Fabulous job on these stories. You have definitely added "meat" to the bones.


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