General Thomas Sandford

General Thomas Sandford

First Representative from Campbell County

Material researched by Margaret Strubel Hartman and reprinted here with the permission of the Campbell County Historical Society

We are most fortunate that this description of Thomas has been left to us.  "His appearance was that of a distinct gentle man of the old school; he wore the large ruffled shirt bosoms, and a queue; was 6 feet 3 inches high, straight as an arrow, bold, muscular, and powerful, of attractive and commanding person, of fine practical talents, and popular manners,  a native great man."'

Thomas Sandford was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia in 1762, served in the Revolution; moved to Kentucky and settled across from Newport between September 1797 and September 1798.  He first appeared in the court order books on December 11, 1797, when he and Archibald Brown were recommended to the governor of Kentucky "as proper gentlemen to be added to the Commission of the peace for this County."

Prettyman Merry sold 750 acres of his land to Thomas in 1798; the tax list of April 18, 1799 shows Thomas with this land, 1 white male above 21, 11 blacks above 16 (a total of 15 blacks) and 7 horse, mares etc.

The Kentucky Gazette contained the results of elections in Campbell County. 
May 22, 1800-elected Thomas Sandford senator from Campbell, Pendleton and Boone. 
August 13, 1802-elected Thomas Sandford representative for Campbell, Pendleton and Boone. 
August 16, 1803-"The following gentlemen were elected to serve in the next congress for this state: David Walker, John Boyle, Mathew Walton, Thomas Sandford, John Fowler and G M Bedinger."
August 23, 1803-"the returns from all the 4th and 6th Congressional districts, given each Candidate is here stated: Thomas Sandford 2336 votes; Johnston 1226 votes; Henry 1482 votes: Daveiss 238 votes.

The Kentucky Gazette, Thursday, November 14, 1805
Thomas Sandford married Miss Peggy Bell of Woodford County on Sunday evening, November 10, 1805.

On February 3, 1806, James Taylor wrote to James Madison about the marriage.   He asked him if he had "learned of the Marriage of our relative Margarite Bell to Colonel Sandford our member in Congress.  They were married just one week before he set out to Congress.  The Courtship was short and I suppose the Colo. was fearful she might fly the way and not be put off.  He has only two sons, one about 18 (Alfred), the other about 12 (Alexander) both very promising.   He resides within three miles on the Ohio below, has a good tract and about 30 slaves.  I think He has done extremely well for no man can be more interested in his neighborhood."

Children of Thomas Sandford and 1st Wife

1. Alfred Sanford-1788; elected state representative in 1813
2. Alexander Sanford-1794; elected state representative in 1821

Thomas lost in the next election for James Taylor, on October 13, 1806, wrote to James Madison and said, "I am am much mortified at General Sandford loosing his election."

April 3, 1807, James Taylor wrote to James Madison saying "Our old friend Mrs. Bell is now with me.  She is spending some time with Mrs. Sandford and will remain till after an increase of the family which is expected will take place about July. (Cassius Bell Sandford was the son born to Margaret and Thomas).

Children of Thomas Sandford and Margaret Bell

1. Cassius Bell Sandford-July 1807; was a steamboat captain and later became cashier of the Farmer's Bank of Kentucky; mayor of Covington 1866-1871; m-Frances Leathers  died-1871

Children of Cassius Bell Sandford and Frances Leathers

1. John Ludford Sandford-7 Dec 1837; m-Kate M; shot by William Goebel April 11, 1895
2. Thomas Sandord-1839
3. Jemino Bursdal Sandford-1849

A Kentucky Gazette extra, dated February 6, 1808, carried the following story: "Frankfort, Jan. 28. General Thomas Sandford is elected a Senator for the State from the District of Campbell, Pendleton and Boon, in the place of Squire Grant, resigned."

It was on December 10, 1808, that General Sandford drowned in the Ohio River; James Taylor of Newport, in his reminiscences, gave an account of Thomas' death.  He wrote:

"It was on Saturday that General Sandford took a measure of wheat with two of his men servants, went to Cincinnati and offered it for sale, but could not sell at the price he considered worth and he concluded to take it up to a good merchant miller on the Little Miami and have it ground. The day turned to be very stormy and the Ohio was very high for that season of the year, he found great difficulty in stemming the current, the wheat was heavy, only two hands and there was much drift and trees falled in front of the bank and he found he could not get up and return that evening.

He turned about, came to Cincinnati, sent one of his servants to inform the merchant to whom he had offered the wheat in the morning if he would send his drays he should have the wheat at the price he had offered him.  The servant did not find the merchant at his store.  General Sandford waited till near sunset and pushed off with one hand. There was a grove of trees at the landing and on the boat striking the shore the force of the current forced the steering oar against him and forced him from the platform from which he stood up to steer the boat.

It was a cold wet day and he had on a stout big coat with a 1arge cape reaching to the waist. This had fallen over his head, he could not swim and he was drowned. The weather became very cold and froze over and at length fell.  There was a large mass of ice settled on the second bank and covered him six weeks from the day he was drowned,  some of the family was at the landing, and discovered through a crack in the ice something like cloth and on examination the General was found within a few feet of where he fell overboard.  He was laying on his face. 

His residence was about 3 miles below the mouth of the Licking. It is the place  Thomas P Carneal bought from Gen. Sheers, he built a handsome house on it,  sold it to Mr. Bu11ocks, an Irishman.  On Wednesday after the first Monday of November at Frankfort, we received  the tidings of General S's death.  It caused a considerable sensation as he was a man much esteemed as a public man and valuable citizen. 

He was a member of the Convention which revised our Constitution in the year 1799 in which he, was considered a very useful and efficient member."

The news of his death did not reach Frankfort for a few days.  This resolution was approved on December 17, 1808 in the Kentucky House of Representatives:

"RESOLVED, by the Senate and House of Representatives, That as a testimony of respect of Gen. Thomas Sandford, deceased, and late a member of the senate, the members of the general assembly and their officers, will and that the officers of the government generally, be requested to wear black crape on their left arm,, as a badge of mourning for the space of thirty days." 
Acts Passed at the First Session of the Seventeenth General Assembly for the Commonwealth of Kentucky 1809.

General Thomas Sandford was buried in the Highland Cemetery in Fort Mitchell, near Covington, then part of Campbell County.

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