Wednesday, March 5, 2014

52 Ancestors- #10 Sanford Edward Clark- At Home on Land and Sea

This week is dedicated to my paternal grandfather, Sanford Edward Clark.  I partially considered him in week two in connection with his marriage to my Grandma Eva, but I don't feel that coverage did justice to his interesting life. Included this week is an example of what a wealth of knowledge is being made available through digitization of records previously unknown or hard to access. Our local newspapers were recently digitized and put online,  and through a search for my grandfather's name, I found several news items that helped to fill out my knowledge of his earlier life.

The Grandpa I Knew

Grandpa was 66 years old when I was born, so my knowledge of him was as an older little man who milked a small herd of cows and smoked a corn-cob pipe. He was known by his friends as "Sandy". He could swear like a sailor (which he was), and was deathly afraid of snakes. He was only 5' 5" tall, and appears to have been the shortest in his family of siblings, boys and girls. He was also noticeably shorter than Grandma, and I grew up with the impression that she was the one who wore the pants in the family. She bossed him around, and he would grumble, often with a twinkle in his eyes. Grandma forbade him from smoking his Peerless tobacco in the house, so he would either fill the enclosed porch with blue smoke, or stand outside an often open window, the smoke curling into the kitchen. In cold weather, Grandma would scold, "Sanford, get in here and get a coat on!". He would come in grumbling, put on his jacket, then sit down and stay inside. I remember him reaching across the dinner table to spear something with his fork, and Grandma asking him, "Don't you have a tongue?". He grinned, "Sure, but it doesn't reach that far." They were a constant source of amusement to me and my cousins, but I always wondered what he was like in his younger life. After all, he had won young Eva's heart.

Early Life

Sanford's parents, William and Amelia (Liebe) Clark, were married at Mosel, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin in 1882. Soon after their marriage they moved up the Lake Michigan shoreline to the town of Ahnapee, Kewaunee County, Wisconsin, where Sanford was born the following year, 20 September 1883, the oldest of eight children. He was named for his paternal grandfather, and was baptized at his mother's family church at Mosel the following June. 

In 1900 Sanford was a farm laborer on the family farm, but by the time of the 1905 Wisconsin State census, 21-year-old Sanford was already experiencing the "lure of the lake". He was listed as a deckhand (employed 7 months during the past year), while his younger brother Charlie, age 19, was a fisherman. 

Brothers- Sanford, Charlie & John Clark

On the 4th of July 1906, Sanford married Edith Celia Tollefson of Sturgeon Bay, Door County. Two daughters, Lucille and Helen, were born to the couple. Edith was expecting their third child in 1912 when she became ill with Bright's disease and required surgery for a "twisted and adhesive bowel". She spent a month in the hospital following surgery, during which time their son was born prematurely. Baby Sanford died within a couple of days, and Edith died about three weeks later. Edith's family helped to raise the girls.
Sanford with his father, William "Dave" and daughter Helen

A Surprising Discovery

Three months after the death of his wife and infant son, Sanford suffered another misfortune.

Sanford was now employed at the Leathem & Smith stone quarry at Sturgeon Bay. In the fall of 1912 the company purchased the "Adriatic", a 23-year-old former three-masted schooner that they repurposed by cutting it down to a stone barge, and fitted as one of the first "self-unloaders". It carried crushed limestone from the quarry to cities on the Great Lakes for use in paving roads. 
Stone barge "Adriatic" being towed by its tug, "John Hunsader"

A few years ago I found an article from the Sheboygan Press, dated 17 April 1913, page 5:

"Word reached here last evening by Mrs. M. J. Clark (Mary Jane) that her grandson, Mr. Sanford Clark, was seriously injured when he fell from a steamer at Sturgeon Bay. Mr. Clark was a former Sheboygan young man and is known in the city. His condition at the present time is alarming as he is not expected to recover. Mrs. M. J. Clark and Miss Grace Clark left for Sturgeon Bay this morning."

(Sanford's grandmother was Mary Jane Dumprope who married Sanford Jeremy Clark. She was an 83 year old widow living in Sheboygan Falls, WI. Grace was the daughter of Mary Jane's brother, Charles Rogers Clark and Anna Brown.)

Another account was recorded in the Sturgeon Bay Advocate, Thursday April 17, 1913:


Meets With Accident Friday While at Work on Tug John Hunsader. Face Crushed By Fall.

"Sandford Clark was seriously injured on Friday while at work on the tug John Hunsader, of the Leathem & Smith fleet, and lies at the hospital in a precarious condition.
Sandford was assisting in the work of putting together some of the machinery on the tug and had carried an iron strap weighing probably forty or fifty pounds into the engine or boiler room, which was to be put in place on the machinery. He put the heavy piece of iron onto a shelf or support above him and was about to climb up himself when in some way he lost his footing and fell backward. Grabbing for something to keep from falling, he pulled the iron strap down. This struck an obstruction and then fell on Clark as he struck the bottom of the boat, hitting him squarely on the nose. This organ was smashed beyond any resemblance of a nose, and the skull above the right eye was fractured. He also suffered other bruises and conditions of a minor nature.

The injured man was hurried to the hospital, where his hurts were attended by Dr. Hilton. For several days afterward it was doubtful whether he would survive as the injury to the skull was a severe one, causing no end of anxiety.

   Mr. Clark last winter lost his wife, and has been exceptionally unfortunate in the way of illness. He will be disfigured for life if he recovers from the injuries, as the bones at the base of his nose are all crushed to a soft substance. The organ is being looked after by Dr. Robb, who makes a specialty of this line of work."

Survive he did, and went on to live a long and full life. Interestingly, none of his children had ever heard about the incident. They just knew that he carried a scar on his nose. 

Sanford (on right atop the snow pile) at work at Leathem & Smith yard

Sanford, Eva & the Adriatic

Three years later, 32-year old Sanford fell in love with 16-year-old Eva Jane Mapes, who had helped to care for his first wife and daughters during her illness. Sanford was by now working as a steam engineer on the "Adriatic",  captained by his cousin Albert Braunsdorf. When the Adriatic left Sturgeon Bay on Thursday, August 3, 1916, Eva was also on board. Later that day when they docked at the port in Manitowoc, they walked to the court house and got married. Albert and his wife Ella, the ship's cook, accompanied them as witnesses. Eva remained on the Adriatic for the rest of that sailing season, and by the next year she was expecting their first child.

Sanford, however, did return to the lake the next season. In the fall he experienced another close call when gale winds washed the Adriatic ashore near the Sturgeon Bay canal. Here is the account as described in the October 12, 1917 issue of the Door County Democrat, page 1:


Adriatic and Glasgow of Leathem & Smith Fleet Ashore Near Lily Bay.


Tow Line Parts When Tug Hunsader Tries To Enter Canal With Tow— Wind and Sea Carries the Two Craft Onto the Beach.

While endeavoring to enter the canal Saturday evening at seven o'clock in a heavy sea and wind from the south, the tow barges Glasgow and Adriatic of the Leathom & Smith stone fleet, broke away from the tug Hunsader and are now on the beach near Lily Bay, about three miles north of the canal.

Capt. Serface of the Hunsader had brought his tow up the lake from Milwaukee and Manitowoc, both stone barges being light. When abreast of the canal and about a mile out in the lake, the tow line between the tug and first barge was shortened up so as to be able to enter the canal in the heavy sea that was running. After the line had been shortened and the tug started to straighten out the tow, the line parted. The wind was blowing a gale, and in the big sea that was running, it was impossible to pick the barges up and Capt. Serface went into the canal with the tug .and reported the loss of his tow to the captain of the Coast Guard.

After parting of the line the Adriatic and Glasgow were at the mercy of the wind and sea before which they drifted toward shore. At one time the sea brought them together, but fortunately they drifted apart with no serious damage. When nearing shore Capt. Olsen of the Adriatic dropped the anchors, but they would not hold in the storm and the two craft drifted into the surf and finally struck bottom. The tow line that held the Glasgow to the Adriatic was cast off and the sea carried the Glasgow in, shore about 76 feet further
than the Adriatic, the former being about 200 feet from the beach.

The coast guard crew took off Chas. Wilmer and L. E. Thorstenson, the two sailors on the Glasgow, at eleven o'clock, it being a difficult and dangerous job in the dark and high running surf. 

The Adriatic being a better boat and not in danger of going to pieces the crew were not taken off until early the next morning. It will be a night, however, long remembered by the six members of the crew, seas sweeping over the craft, making it not only most uncomfortable but dangerous. The members of the crew were Capt. Chris Olsen, Sanford Clark, Tolllf Tollifson, Julius Helsen, Tom Pallistor, and Mrs. Ervine Devoe, the cook. All night long they were exposed to the storm and it was a great relief to them when they were taken off the stranded craft in the morning by the Coast Guards.

The first attempt to release the barges was made Monday afternoon, when the Hunsader got a line to the Adriatic and succeeded in moving her quite a distance, but the sea was running so high that the attempt had to be given up.

It is doubtful if the Glasgow can be saved. She is an old boat and the wrecking job would be quite expensive. The Adriatic is a more valuable craft, being equipped with self-unloading machinery for the purpose of handling crushed stone.

Stranding of the boats is a heavy loss to the company at this time of the year. They have considerable stone to deliver at different ports along the lake, and it means a loss of business, if deliveries cannot be made.

Sanford and son Raymond at work on the farm

Eva and Sanford had seven children.  For a time they owned a farm at Juddville with his brother John and his wife Tressie. In the early 1920's Sanford moved his family to a place along Lake Michigan,  south of Sturgeon Bay. Eva found that it was too isolated a life for a young mother with three little children, so while Sanford was away sailing, she moved the family into town.

In 1929 they purchased property just south of Jacksonport, and moved an old store building to the farm for their house. Sanford farmed for the next thirty years, but throughout the years he also worked at the ship yards and occasionally returned to the lake for seasonal employment. During the Depression, he found work with the WPA, building roads and planting trees in Door County. 

Sanford & daughter Amelia

Sanford with sons Raymond & Frank

Sanford & his favorite horse, Babe

Sanford & daughter Doris haying
Sanford & son Herbie, who died in 1931
of Scarlet Fever, at the age of 18 months


In 1959, 76-year-old Sanford found he could no longer get up and down from his milking stool. He made the difficult decision to sell the farm, and he and Eva moved to Sheboygan to live their last years together. In the city Grandpa loved to work in his vegetable garden and go for long walks. In 1966 they celebrated their 50th anniversary with friends and family. Sanford passed away on 6 July 1970 at the age of 86. He is buried at the Jacksonport Town Cemetery in Door County, just a few miles north of the farm where he and Eva raised their family, and where she would join him eighteen years later.

Sanford's work on the Great Lakes

(For more photos and a discussion of their life on the farm, see week #2 .)