Oh man, did this prompt send me down a rabbit hole. I remembered an ancestor who had a colorful name, and I set out to learn more about her. Unfortunately, I was unable to learn too much, so I set off in another direction.

This week I would like to introduce you to my 3x great grandfather George Washington Sanford, who was born in a town with a color in its name: Whiteside, Illinois.


George Washington Sanford
George Washington Sanford.


George was born about 1840 to Reverend Joel Sanford and Jane Osterhout, the second out of ten children.

The Sanford family traveled to Oregon sometime in the 1860’s and settled in the town of Stayton. The next year George married his first wife, Martha Jane Dawes.


Martha Jane Daws Sanford
Martha Jane Dawes

George and Martha had three sons: John (born in 1872), Walter (my 2x great grandfather, born in 1874), and Eugene (born in 1880).

However, according to family lore, Martha asked for a divorce after Eugene’s birth. Her reason? She wanted to marry a man who would give her a daughter. Martha remarried and had her daughter, leaving her three sons with George.

On 27 April 1884, George remarried. Bernetta Urbania “Nettie” Wray was a widower with one son, and George believed she would make a good mother to his three sons.


Bernetta Urbania 'Nettie' Wray
Nettie Wray


The following year, Nettie gave birth to her only son with George, Cecil. It is his memories, recorded before his death, which give this information!

According to Cecil, Nettie fell ill, and the family moved to Waterloo, Oregon. The water there was believed to cure all diseases. However, during their move, Nettie rode a stallion and the use of the whip created a blister on her finger. It developed into an infection, and Cecil believed this led, at least partly, in her death. Nettie died in 1889, just shy of her fifth wedding anniversary.



Cecil Grant Sanford (1907)
Cecil Sanford, 1907.


At the time of Nettie’s death, George was building the family a house, where he lived until his death in 1904.

And you can follow along on Instagram as well: @familyhistoryfood.

Until next time,






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