Moses Sanders and his brothers, Aaron, Isaac, and Francis left many descendants who, from their original home in the Randolph/Montgomery county area of North Carolina, followed the path of western expansion as American pioneers moved West. They were in the forefront of settlement in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas. Some family members moved north to Illinois or Indiana; others moved west to Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and California. Sanders were with the Mormon pioneers as they trekked to Utah, and there were Sanders cowboys who drove cattle on the great trail drives. Most were subsistence farmers, but some became citizens of considerable wealth and influence. There were Sanders who owned slaves and even more who fought and died for the Union; there were Sanders who were Baptists and Methodists and those who were Mormons. They were farmers and doctors and lawyers and teachers and musicians and businessmen, but usually they were what Thomas Bailey Saunders IV called "just plain folks." In their diversity, they reflected the American experience, especially that of Scotch-Irish pioneers.One of these Sanders descendants was Thomas Bailey Saunders, who left his home in Montgomery County, North Carolina to become one of the most successful ranchers and cattle drivers in Texas in the late nineteenth century. In the 1890s, he wrote a letter to a nephew who had inquired about their shared Saunders family history:
“My grandfather married in Virginia. My grandmother's name was Joan Bailey, of the famous old family of Virginia. My grandfather was killed in a fight with the Tories. His brother, Isaac, which is your great grandfather, was the first man that ever built a house on Cross creek below Fayetteville. And another brother by the name of Moses was a Baptist preacher and they had one sister. I have seen her myself. She married a man by the name of Hamilton. I have seen your great grandfather and his wife, and they were very old then. Your grandfather had two brothers, Ben and Joe, they moved to Alabama and their families are there yet. I saw an old lady in New Orleans a few years ago, she was a Saunders and she told me the same story about the Saunders. I have told you all about the old generation that I know…
Your Uncle, T. B. Saunders”
This letter, incomplete as it is, has been a key document for genealogists studying the descendants of the Reverend Moses Sanders and his brothers. Unfortunately, earlier researchers were not aware that the Moses mentioned in the letter was the same Baptist preacher as the one who died in Georgia. Only in the past ten years and with the emergence of the Internet have researchers pooled their efforts; the result is that we have a much fuller and more reliable documentation of this family. In addition, we now know that many of the previous assumptions about the Reverend Moses Sanders are dubious. For example, we have no proof he was born in England or that he served in the Revolutionary War, as previous researchers had suggested.
One of the most eminent genealogists who have contributed to the re-assessment of the research on the Moses Sanders is Elden Grant Hurst¹ of Salt Lake City. Mr. Hurst is a descendant of Moses' grandson, Moses Martin Sanders, who became one of the early converts to the Mormon Church and eventually moved to Utah. Because of the Mormon emphasis on genealogy, Moses Martin Sanders left documents in which he recorded his family tradition about his ancestors. Unfortunately, however, he knew almost nothing about his grandfather's brothers or other relatives. Later researchers, such as Elden Hurst, have struggled to fill in the gaps.
Elden Hurst's work on the Reverend
was published in October 2000 and was based on a lifetime of research.
It was printed as a spiral bound pamphlet, and copies of this
work have been difficult to obtain for several years.
In the spring of 2008, Mr. Hurst gave permission to copy and distribute
work to make it available to a wider group of researchers. Accordingly,
through the assistance of Chuck Sanders, who
Mr. Hurst for
permission, and Jim Sanders, who provided a copy of the manuscript, we
are now making this important work available in PDF format to other
Sanders researchers. Please remember all the material
these pages is furnished solely for use of individuals
researching their family history. This work remains the intellectual
property of the Elden Hurst estate and copying and distribution
profit or for commercial use, whether in print or through electronic
means, is prohibited by copyright law. Further information
the life and career of the Reverend Moses Sanders is available
in an article at
my Web site.
---Gary B. Sanders, June 2008