Harland Sanders :: Not the Colonel…

15Dec09

As is probably obvious by now, I’ve focused majority of my research for the past five or six years on the Kramer side of my family.  It’s the name I carry and it’s a name I cherish — if I ever marry I will not drop my name and when my son was born I insisted on my son having my last name, despite the long line of Native American and Scottish heritage in my son’s father’s family.  In short, my name means a lot to me and it’s not just the name, it’s the things behind that name.

My point is that in all these years of research, I’ve often neglected branches about which I know nothing.  One of those branches that sits not too far from mine is my great-great-grandfather, Harlan Sanders.

My maternal grandfather, Larry Joe Sanders, died just this year, a few months ago and he, like my beloved great-granny, was a wealth of information.  I’ll be honest, there were only a couple occasions on which I went over and sat just to talk about family history, but on those occasions he was full of stories and names.  His family was born and raised not far from here in Hawkeye, Missouri.  Giving Hawkeye it’s own place name makes it seem like it’s actually a place when in reality it’s more like a speck on the side of the road but that speck was an important part of my grandfather’s history.  He’s buried down a long gravel road in Hawkeye, along with his mother and his grandparents.  There are a little more than twenty graves in that beautiful private cemetery and one day, I imagine I’ll rest there too.

My grandpa Joe remembered his father well in the stories he told me but he knew nothing of his grandfather.  Early in the little research I’ve done on my grandfather’s side of the tree, I realized that Papa’s dad, Claude Sanders, was raised for the most part by his own grandmother, Artimisia Pike.  Papa told me of his uncle Harold and he remember Artimisia well.  He knew Claude and Harold’s mom, Myrtle, but he knew nothing of their dad.

I dug and dug and never really found anything pertaining to Claude’s dad.  Papa told me stories of Myrtle’s second husband, Roscoe Forgey, and how he’d been a policeman in Springfield, Missouri, and was once involved in some sort of shoot out (though I could find no newspaper record of that).

Just a couple short months ago, my Papa Joe died and he left instructions that let us know that he wanted no radio notice of his death, no obituary (awful for a genealogist to hear!), and no big funeral.  He didn’t mind the immediate family gathering but he really didn’t mind if no one knew he had passed on.  He had a strong Mormon faith, he felt he was right with God, and he wanted to rest next to his mother in that pretty little Hawkeye cemetery.  My mother had a hard time reconciling what he wanted with what she thought appropriate but in the end, she obeyed his wishes.  Amazingly, just as my parents, siblings, and one aunt and uncle stood next to his graveside, ready to recite a short prayer, cars started piling in.  His classmates, all still remembering him fondly had banded together and made their way down a long out of the way road and to that plot in the woods.  All in all, quite a few of his friends arrived and the farthest came from Oklahoma.

At Papa Joe’s funeral I met many a genealogy buff (that side of the family is Mormon so of course, it’s important to them) and I got acquainted with Papa Joe’s half brother, Russell.  Russell and Papa Joe didn’t share the same mother but by some turn of events, Papa Joe’s mother raised Russell.  He told me that he knew very little but that he knew that his dad’s dad’s name was Harland.  Mystery solved!

I got home and immediately started researching Harland.  Most people in this country have eaten at a local KFC, founded by none other than one Harland Sanders.  But alas, there is no vast chicken fortune in my family tree.

I’m still researching Harland and thus far have found very little in the way of facts.  I remember a story in about the names my Grandpa had picked out for my mom’s brother, his firstborn child, and one of them was Crutchfield.  When I got into this side of the tree, that name stuck out.  It HAD to be a family name — one doesn’t just cherry pick something that odd.  Granted, Papa had a penchant for odd names (one of my aunt’s middle name is Cuffa) but still.  I researched the name “Crutchfield Sanders” and only came up with one, a Tinsley Crutchfield Sanders, and though I couldn’t show a connection that name stayed with me.  When I met Russell and got Harland’s first name, lo and behold, his father is Tinsley Crutchfield!

Harland was born 17 Jul 1869 in Arkansas, which jives with my grandpa telling me that his family had a long history in Arkansas, particularly the Eureka Springs area.  His father, Tinsley, was born 2 Jul 1848 in Prarie County Arkansas and he married Nannie Basham, born 17 Mar 1856.

From that information, I was able to fill in a long sparse side of my tree and trace my grandpa’s roots back to Ireland and Scotland.  Still yet…

I’ve yet to find death information for Harland.    There is some conflicting information out there about Tinsley and the actual birthdate of Harland, but I’m still searching…

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2 Responses to “Harland Sanders :: Not the Colonel…”

  1. 1 Kathy Sanders Smith

    Tinsley Crutchfield Sanders and Nannie Basham are my great grandparents. Their son, Thomas Milton Sanders, was my grandfather. His son, Jacob Crutchfield Sanders, was my father. Thomas Milton Sanders’ mother died when he was young. He had brothers named Harland and Ben. There were more children, but I can’t think of their names right now. After Nannie died, Tinsley married his brother’s widow so they could help each other raise their children. They lived in Harrison, Ark.

  2. Oh wow, thanks for the information Kathy! Hashing out this side of the family has been tough — my grandpa just passed late last year but he was incredibly helpful with his mother’s side. His father he knew little about though. Do you know anything else about Harland? I know that he married my gg-grandmother, Myrtle Pike, in Arkansas but he seems to have lived a nomad’s life as I cannot locate anything about his death.

    Thanks so much for the information!


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