David Sanger (1782-1852)

David Sanger was born on 17 September 1782 in Framingham, Massachusetts, the son of David Sanger (born 1751) and Rheuhama Nutt (born 1753), who married in 1779. David moved to Littleton, New Hampshire, where he married Mary (Polly) Palmer (1783-1854) on 8 July 1806. After the birth of his older children, the family began a long migration westward following the work of building canals, a task that included felling trees, removing stumps, excavating the channel (often through solid limestone), and building locks and aqueducts. Already living in western New York in 1816, he began in 1817 on the western sections of the Erie Canal with a contract at Rochester, where the aqueduct over the Genesee river was completed in 1823, then at the western terminus on the Niagara River, until the canal was completed in 1825. During these years the older children attended schools in Genesee County (near Rochester) and at Black Rock (near Buffalo), while Polly continued to bear additional children. In the fall of 1826, the family removed to Pittsburgh, where David began heavy construction on the Western Division of the Pennsylvania Canal. This project lasted five years, proceeding from Pittsburgh to Blairsville and on to Johnstown, where canal boats were loaded on the Allegheny Portage Railway for the journey eastward. During these years the family settled in Blairsville, where the oldest children were married, Lorenzo in 1830 and Laura in 1831. On completion of the canal, David and his family continued westward to Ohio and Indiana, where further opportunities opened up in canals and other construction. In 1836 David and his sons were living in St. Joseph, Michigan, engaged in bridge building and general mercantile business. In that year contracts were let for the Illinois and Michigan Canal, connecting the Illinois River at LaSalle with Lake Michigan at Chicago. Sanger and his associates, including his son Lorenzo, began in the rock sections near Lockport and Joliet, continuing westward to LaSalle. Among their main accomplishments were Lock 15 and the 464-foot-long Fox River Aqueduct, carrying the canal over the river at Ottawa. This project, begun in 1838, was the greatest engineering feat on the canal, and the pinnacle of David Sanger's career. Upon its completion in 1842 he and Polly settled in Ottawa, where they spent their remaining years.

David and Polly, along with three of their children, were converts of the Latter-Day Saints: the couple were endowed at Nauvoo on 24 January 1846 and sealed to one another on 29 January. Despite this, they and their family returned to Ottawa, alienated by what they perceived as the wicked and unholy leadership at Nauvoo; Polly's sister, Phoebe Graves, however, with her two daughters, continued on the Mormon migration to the Salt Lake Valley, where both daughters were part of large polygamous families. David Sanger wrote his will on 17 February 1852 and died on 1 May of the same year; he was buried in Ottawa Avenue Cemetery. Polly died in 1854. Their children were:

  1. Laura Sanger was born on 2 September 1807 in Littleton, New Hampshire. On 21 August 1831 she married Benjamin Andrews, editor of The Conemaugh Republican, in Blairsville, Pennsylvania. By April 1832, they were in Cleveland, Ohio, where Andrews edited The Herald and the Daily Commercial Intelligencer and served as postmaster from 1842 to 1845. He was still living in Cleveland in 1860; Laura's later life is unknown: she is not enumerated with Benjamin in the 1850 nor 1860 census.
  2. Lorenzo Palmer Sanger was born on 2 March 1809 in Littleton. Like his father, he was a canal builder, working his way westward from New York to Illinois until 1842, when he engaged in railroad construction and stage lines, as well as mercantile business. He served as state senator from Galena. After completing the construction of the Illinois State Penitentiary in 1860, he settled in Joliet and opened a limestone quarry. He then served as a U. S. Army colonel in the Civil War. He began traveling to California for his health as early as 1869; after his wife's death in 1870, he moved to Chicago, where he was cared for by his cousin Marcia C. Palmer. He died 23 March 1875 in Oakland, California. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Joliet. Lorenzo married Rachel Mary Denniston (1809-1870) of Denniston's Town (New Alexandria), Pennsylvania in on 3 February 1830; their children were: William Denniston Sanger (1832-November 1873); Frances Louise Sanger (1842-1880), married William Alexander Steel; and Henry A. Sanger (1845-1913), quarry operator; married Mary Alice Tonner.
  3. William Alonzo Sanger, born in Littleton 9 August 1810, married Mary Miles (born 1812) of Newburgh, Ohio in 1833 and settled in Lima (now Howe), Indiana. Their children were Charles Miles Sanger (1834-1904), married Mary Jane Patton, Mary Elizabeth Sanger (1836-1917), married Furman G. Crane, and David Franklin Sanger (1840-1841). Dr. William A. Sanger was a physician and farmer. He and Mary were both converted by the Latter-Day Saints, and lived at Nauvoo, Illinois, where they received their temple endowment on 18 December 1845. They did not go to Utah, but returned to Indiana. They later moved to Earlville (by 1860), Joliet (by 1866) and Frankfort, Illinois (by 1869). He died on 11 December 1887 in Florence, Kansas.
  4. Mary Louisa Sanger, born in New Hampshire on 26 March 1813, settled with her parents in Ottawa, Illinois. A woman of a strong will and bright intellect, Louisa Sanger was a convert of the Latter-Day Saints. She received the patriarchal blessing at Nauvoo, Illinois on 17 September 1843 from Hyrum Smith (1800-1844), older brother of Joseph Smith, and was reportedly sealed in plural marriage to Hyrum Smith. She was sealed posthumously to Hyrum on 27 January 1846, as well as "sealed for time" to Reuben Miller (1811-1882), who also acted as Hyrum's proxy. She returned to Ottawa by April 1846, and supported the claims of James Jesse Strang in the Mormon succession crisis, but broke with Strang by 1849. She remained in Ottawa after her parents' death, then moved to Joliet in 1862, and Frankfort in 1868. She died at Frankfort, Illinois on 3 August 1877 and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Joliet.
  5. James Young Sanger, born in Sutton, Vermont on 26 March 1814, was a contractor and businessman in Chicago. He was associated with his brothers in railroad construction (1852-1857) and worked in California railroads in 1859. After completing the Illinois Penitentiary with his brother Lorenzo he expanded the Illnois and Michigan canal in 1866 and 1867. He married Mary Catherine McKibben (1818-1904) in Lockport, Illinois on 5 April 1841. Their children were Harriet Amelia Sanger (1843-1922) who married industrialist George M. Pullman in Chicago on 13 June 1867; James McKibben Sanger (1844-1877), married Alice Eudocia Foster; and Frederick William Sanger (1852-1896), married Minerva Cooper. James Y. Sanger died on 3 July 1867, and is buried in Graceland Cemetery, Chicago.
  6. Lucian Palmer Sanger (sometimes written Lucien), born in Perry, New York on 14 March 1816, came to Illinois with his parents. On 30 June 1843, while engaged in his brother Lorenzo's stagecoach business in Dixon, Illinois, he had occasion to help Mormon leader Joseph Smith avoid abduction by a Missouri sheriff. He is reported to have joined the Latter-Day Saints, receiving his patriarchal blessing on 30 July 1845 from William Smith. He returned to Ottawa where, on 17 September 1851, he married the non-Mormon Elizabeth B. Reynolds (born 1830), daughter of Martin Reynolds and Elizabeth Hitt; they had an adopted daughter Ella (born 1853, married Hugh White) and a son Edward Blackstone Sanger (born 1858). They settled in Ottawa, Joliet and later in Frankfort, Illinois, where he operated an iron foundry making corn shellers and agricultural implements. After 1870 the family moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, where Lucian was involved in the mining business; here Elizabeth was among a group of prominent non-Mormon women who founded the Ladies Library Association in 1872. Eventually the family moved to San Francisco, California, where Lucian died and was buried on 1 August 1881. Elizabeth survived him by many years. In February 1904 she traveled to Mexico City after visiting her niece Hattie Pullman in Pasadena, and she is still listed in a San Francisco city directory for 1917 and in voter rolls for 1920 (age 90).
  7. Harriet Aurelia Sanger, born 1 May 1819, married in 1841 Dr. John A. Henricks (1811-1876) of South Bend, Indiana; she died before 1854. Their son, Edward William Henricks (1849-1924), was associated with George M. Pullman, and served as the first Town Agent of Pullman, Illinois.
  8. Emmaline Sanger was born on 13 April 1821 and died 1 January 1826 at the age of four.

Elmer Baldwin, History of La Salle County, Illinois. Chicago: Rand McNally & Co., 1877, p. 251

David Sanger, from Massachusetts to Ohio, to near Lockport, Illinois, in 1836, and to Ottawa in 1838. He was contractor for building the canal acqueduct [sic] across the Fox river at Ottawa, under the firm of D. Sanger & Sons. He died in 1851; his widow died in 1854. His children were: Lorenzo P.; Dr. W. A.; J. Y.; Lucien P., who has resided at Ottawa and Joliet, is now in Utah; and two daughters: Louisa; Harriet, married Dr. Henriks, of Indiana, both deceased.

Louisa Sanger

Many of the older settlers of Ottawa still cherish pleasant and dear remembrances of Miss Louisa Sanger, whose death at the residence of her brother, Dr. W. A. Sanger, at Frankfort station, Will county, on the 3d inst., is announced. She was the daughter of David Sanger, well remembered by old settlers as the contractor who built the Ottawa aqueduct; and the brother of Lorenzo P., Lucien P., James Y. and Dr. W. A. Sanger, all formerly prominent citizens of Ottawa. She had from early youth been affected with a spinal complaint that made her a permanent invalid, yet having an active and vigorous mind and keen literary tastes, her bodily informities [sic] only seemed to exalt and refine the mental part. Simple, unaffected, and engaging in her manners, her conversation was often an intellectual treat. With the rest, she cherished a taste for poetry, and the columns of the Free Trader, thirty years ago and more, were often enriched with contributions from her pen. The following lines, written but a few days before her death, were found in her portfolio:


Oh ! this wearisome pilgrimage of pain
Through life's valley of grief and tears,
While dragging our ever-lengthening chain,
Through long, dark, sinful years ;
I am weary of sorrow, pain, and stife,
So weary of mortal breath.
Come, open to me the gates of Life,
O ! beautiful Angel of Death.

I have waited long for your beautiful feet,
With earnest desire and prayer ;
O, the sleep of death must be very sweet,
When life is so hard to bear.
No longer the King of Terrors now,
I see by the light of faith,
A crown of glory upon thy brow,
O, beautiful Angel Death.

Though clouds of pain obscure the light,
And his face may seem dark and dim,
I know he is one of God's angels bright,
Sent to carry me home to Him.
It is hard to part with friends we love,
And leave in this world of woe,
But the rapturous meeting with friends above,
Makes me willing and glad to go.

I shall find them all--they are waiting there,
And longing to have me come,
To rest in our Father's mansion fair,
They will welcome the wanderer home.
Farewell to the dear ones, so true and tried,
Who have watched me with loving care,
I shall wait for you on the other side,
And joyfully welcome you there.

The Ottawa Free Trader, Saturday, August 18, 1877

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