BENJAMIN FRANKLIN SANDERS
Kansas is the home of self-made men. It is peculiarly the home of men of brain and patriotism who sought broader liberties and opportunities than were theirs in their former environments. It was a fact worthy of note that the agricultural population of Kansas is a peculiarly enlightened and intelligent one. Atchison county has many prominent self-made men among her farmers, and among them no one has a more satisfactory standing in the community than the man whose name heads this biography.
Benjamin Franklin Sanders is a son of George and Elizabeth (Graham) Sanders and was born in Franklin county, Missouri, August 8, 1833. His father, a native of Kentucky, moved to Missouri while yet comparatively young and there settled and married Miss Graham, and died there before the family went to Kansas. His widow died in Atchison county, Kansas. The family of Sanders is of Scotch descent, the paternal grandfather of the subject of this sketch being an early settler in Kentucky. The Grahams, originally Scotch, also located early in Virginia, where members of the family have been prominent in different ways.
The children of George and Elizabeth (Graham) Sanders were as follows: Nancy, who married William McQuillan and after his death William Burns, and lives in Bates county, Missouri; Benjamin Franklin; Robert, who is dead; Oliver, who lives in Jewell county, Kansas; and Lydia, wife of Frederick Wilming, of Atchison county, Kansas. Schools were few and poor where Benjamin Franklin Sanders lived when he was a boy, and he never in his life passed three months within the walls of a school-house. At twelve years of age he was obliged to take up the battle for existence on his own account. His father apprenticed him to James Verden, a carriage and wagon maker at St. Louis, to learn the carriagemaker's trade, where he also attended night school.
Mr. Sanders remained at St. Louis about twelve years. He went to Kansas first in 1856, but after a brief but comprehensive survey of the existing local conditions returned to St. Louis, well pleased with the country and the prospects it held out to him. In the spring of 1857 he proceeded to Kansas by boat, prepared to make his home there. He opened a shop and began working at his trade at Monrovia, Atchison county, Kansas, and was in business there with more or less success for two years. He then gave his attention to farming.
Taking up a claim about ten miles from any settlement, Mr. Sanders got ready to locate there and was about to do so when it occurred to him that the country about his place might never be settled and he determined to relinquish the claim in favor of another, nearer civilization. He found an eighty-acre claim more favorably located and pre-empted it and upon it began his successful career as a farmer. In 186o he bought property, which was the nucleus of his present holdings, that comprise four hundred acres of good farming land.
Mr. Sanders has devoted himself to general farming, the production of grain and the raising of hogs and other stock, and by careful attention to business and the exercise of good judgment has achieved a noteworthy success. He is a life-long abolitionist and has been a Republican since the organization of the party. His public spirit is recognized and his interest in all movements tending to the enhancement of the welfare of the people of his township, county and state has made him a useful citizen. He has served his fellow citizens two terms as trustee of his township and one term as township treasurer.
During the historic period popularly referred to as "border times" Mr. Sanders had a part in some of the stirring events which took place in his part of the state. In the civil war he was a member of Captain Whittaker's company of Colonel McQuigg's regiment of the Kansas state militia. The regiment participated in the battle of Little Blue, east of Kansas City, Missouri, and was effectively in evidence at other times when there was business to be attended to with the bushwhacking enemy. After good and faithful service Mr. Sanders was honorably discharged as fourth sergeant of his company at Fort Leavenworth in 1864.
In 1859 Mr. Sanders married Miss Margaret Ramsey, who came to Atchison county, Kansas, from Putnam county, Ohio. In 1855, with John Ramsey, who became one of the influential men of pioneer days and in the days before and during the war, our subject had a conspicuous part in maintaining law and order and in establishing justice in "bleeding Kansas." Mrs. Sanders died in 1868, having borne her husband children named Ira (of Effingham, Atchison county), Bertha (Mrs. C. G. Moore, now dead), William, and "little Joey" (dead). Mr. Sanders married for his second wife Elizabeth (Ramsey) Keirns, a sister of his deceased wife and the widow of Rufus Keirns. Following are the names of the children by this marriage: Henry R.; Etta, wife of Charles Brown, of Pardee; and Benjamin Franklin, Jr., who died at the age of seventeen years. Mrs. Sanders surviving child by her former marriage is Joseph A. Keirns, a prominent farmer of Center township. The family of Sanders and those with which it has intermarried are all well known and different members of them have been prominent in one way or another. Mr. Sanders, now just past the prime of life but still hale and vigorous, is in a position to take life, easy during his declining years and his numerous friends concur in the opinion that his success is well deserved. His home, as directed by Mrs. Sanders, is one in which good cheer and hospitality reign supreme. Both he and his wife have been members of the Methodist Episcopal church for over thirty years. He has been a class leader and steward and has been superintendent of the Sunday school for more than fifteen years.
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