John Sanderson, one of my 3G grandfathers, is one of those interesting characters of whom Gen. Louis Henry Carpenter wrote extensively, and I always assumed his history was correct. That is, until this past Christmas vacation when I was working on DAR applications, and looked to see if he had Revolutionary War antecedents. Not only was that question not answered, but the identity of his parentage was called into question.
I am setting forth this story in instaments in the hopes that someone out there can shed some light on the subject. I do intend to go to Philadelphia this week, and hopefully can get there in time to do some Sanderson research. If I am so lucky, you, fortunate readers, will have the advantage of already knowing the question.
I will start at the beginning, with what Carpenter said in his book:
Ancestry according to Samuel Carpenter book:
"THE SANDERSON FAMILY
"Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, was organized in 1750 from a part of Lancaster County, and it was settled by Scotch and English, who began in 1740-42 to take up lands to which the Indians' title had not been fully extinguished. Among these were ALEXANDER SANDERSON and his family, who located about 1744 near the present town of Carlisle in Middleton Township, Cumberland County.
"The tradition is that they emigrated from Carlisle, County of Cumberland, England, and were connected with an ancient line of the name belonging to Durham. A seal handed down in the family had engraved upon it a coat of arms, and is said to have originally belonged to Robert Sanderson, Bishop of Lincoln, 1587-1663, who was an intimate friend of Charles I. He was descended from Alexander de Bidduc alias Sanderson, of County Durham, England, who lived about 1330, the arms being the same as those displayed on the seal.
"Arms--paly of six, argent and azure, on a bend sable or three armlets. Crest-On a mont vert a talbot sable eared or spotted of the last. Motto: Sans dieu rien.
"The records in Pennsylvania show, under the head of Warrantees of Land, in Lancaster County, Penna., ALEXANDER SANDERSON, 200 acres, date of survey September 19, 1746; GEORGE SANDERSON (son) , 200 acres, date of survey April 30, 1745. In the first list of taxables in Middleton Township, Cumberland County, for 1751 (Pa. Archives, 3rd Series, vol. 24, pp. 527, 529), appear the names of ALEXANDER SANDERSON and GEORGE SANDERSON.
"ALEXANDER SANDERSON had a wife named JEAN and a number of children. He died in 1760. His will was signed February 20, 1760, and proved December 11, 1760.
"In the list of taxables in Middleton Township in 1762 we find the names of George Sanderson, Sr., Robert Sanderson, JEAN SANDERSON (the widow of ALEXANDER, who is taxed for 200 acres), George Sanderson, Jr., Alexander Sanderson, Jr. The letters of Rev. Thomas Barton show that the Indians were very troublesome in this section after 1755, and many atrocities were committed by them on the scattered and practically unprotected settlers.
"GEORGE SANDERSON was the eldest son of ALEXANDER, and his wife was JANE. They had two sons and four daughters. George died in 1797, his will being signed Nov. 11, 1795, proved May 22, 1797. ROBERT, the eldest son, was born in England in 1736, died 1803, will signed Oct. 16, 1802, proved March 10, 1803. His wife was named MARY. They had three sons, George, Alexander and WILLIAM, who was married and had children, and two daughters, Martha McClain, with three children, and Jane Hawling. The Sanderson family must have held considerable property, as nineteen of them are on the list as warrantees of land taken up from 1745 to 1797.
"During the Revolution ROBERT SANDERSON and his son WILLIAM held commissions in the Cumberland County Militia and saw service. They must have been men of good standing and reputation, or they would not have been placed as captains in command of companies raised in the neighborhood. ROBERT SANDERSON was captain of the 8th Company, 3d Battalion, Cumberland County Militia, commissioned July 31, 1777. He was also in active service May 1778, and July, 1778. (Pennsylvania Archives, 2d Series, vol. 14, p. 427; vol. 15, pp. 602, 607, 624). WILLIAM SANDERSON, son of ROBERT SANDERSON, was captain of the 3rd Company, 7th Battalion, Cumberland County Associators, commissioned July 31, 1777, again in May, 1778, and in April, 1779. (Penn. Archives, 2d series, vol. 14, pp. 412, 436, 438, 451, also vol. 15, pp. 578, 624). He was commissioned May 10, 1780, major of the 5th Battalion (vol. 14, p. 461).
"WILLIAM SANDERSON appears in a list for the levying of State taxes in 1799, in Tyrone Township, as having 400 acres of land, 5 horses, 10 cattle and 1 negro. He married AGNES McCLELLAN, whose mother was a Buchanan, and she is said to be descended from the Douglas of Scotland, a very intellectual and well-educated woman. The latter part of her life was spent in Alabama, with an only daughter, Matilda, who married Dr. May, of that section. Her sons were JOHN, James H., and Joseph McClellan. The latter married and had issue, among whom was a son Robert McClellan and a daughter Emma Sanderson. James H. assisted his brother JOHN in writing "The Signers."
"JOHN SANDERSON, through whom our descent comes, was born in 1783, near Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania; died in Philadelphia April 5, 1844; educated by a private tutor; studied law, but devoted himself finally to literature, and became an associate instructor in the Clermont Seminary, the principal being JOHN THOMAS CARRE. JOHN SANDERSON married Carre's daughter SOPHIE CARRE in 1805, and they had 10 children. Sanderson went abroad in 1835 on account of his health, and when he returned was made a professor of Latin and Greek in the Philadelphia High school, where he remained until his death. In 1820 he published the first two volumes of "The Signers of the Declaration of Independence," a work requiring much research, being assisted by his brother James H. Sanderson. Afterwards published in seven volumes by Robert Waln, Jr., it has passed through several editions. In 1833 he published "Sketches in Paris," republished in London under the title "The American in Paris" (1838), and other works. He was considered an authority in classic literature. SANDERSON was brilliant in his conversation, most interesting in his writings, remarkable for his genial manners, and loved by his associates. He is buried in the Presbyterian cemetery in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.
“. . .
“JOHN SANDERSON married SOPHIE CARRE and had ten children. Of these:
“VIRGINIA married Edward York Farquhar, and had George, Sophie, Matilda and Edward.
“MATILDA married Joseph Price, of Delaware, and had John, Sophie, Margaret, James, Joseph, Matilda, Jennie, Camilla, Alfred, Harry, Cornelia, and Marion.
“CORNELIA married James Musgrave; no issue.
“CAMILLA married Dr. James S. Carpenter of Pottsville, Pa.
“FITZALLEN, married Sarah Mills, and had John, James, Sophie, Susan, Mary, Charles, and Virginia.”
Thus the Sanderson family as reported by Carpenter looks like this:
Alexander1 Sanderson (--1760) and Jean ?
George2 Sanderson and Jane ?
Robert3 Sanderson (1738-1803) and Mary ?
William4 Sanderson and Agnes McClelland
John5 Sanderson and Sophie Carre
So far this looks sensible--BUT we have only dealt with secondary sources, i.e. the Carpenter book. No other secondary sources have been perused, and no primary sources consulted. Part II of this Sanderson saga will start to show where the mystery arises.