A Reader’s Question Leads to the Discovery of a Touching Story of Generosity

I recently received an interesting question in response to a post I wrote about searching for relatives using the hometown as a keyword. Joanne wrote:

“The Sanborn’s in our family married into the Grow and Davis families of Connecticut in early 19th century. I wonder if they are connected to yours. Israel Sanborn was born in New Hampshire and died in Hardwick, Vermont, the next two generations being born also in Vermont but migrated to Colorado.”

To answer her question, I decided to do a little digging to see what I could find out about her ancestor. I started by searching FamilySearch records for an Israel Sanborn who was born in New Hampshire and died in Hardwick, Vermont.

Finding his record wasn’t difficult, as there was only one Israel Sanborn (1773-1836) with those specifications.

A record for Israel Sanborn, from FamilySearch
Source: FamilySearch

Next, I turned to GenealogyBank to see if the Historical Newspaper Archives could give me any details about Israel’s life. I started my search using Israel’s first and last names, and since I wanted to be sure my results were referencing the correct Israel Sanborn, I restricted the search to 1773-1836.

A screenshot of GenealogyBank's search page showing a search for Israel Sanborn plus his birth and death dates
Source: GenealogyBank

This search, however, only returned articles about an Israel Sanborn who was a Shaker in Canterbury, Merrimack County, New Hampshire, who, as far as I could tell, died in Canterbury in 1842. I have Shaker relatives from that community – but this doesn’t seem to be the Israel Sanborn I am looking for.

Next, I removed the year restrictions and searched again for “Israel Sanborn.”

A screenshot of GenealogyBank's search page showing a search for Israel Sanborn
Source: GenealogyBank

This search returned more articles, including some about a Shaker, Israel Sanborn, as well as a few about a politician named Israel Sanborn who lived in Springfield, Sullivan County, New Hampshire. However, that Israel Sanborn was elected a Sullivan County representative 1855, and our Israel Sanborn died in 1836.

With a lot of search results to read through, I decided to refine my search using “Israel Sanborn” and limiting the search results to only Vermont newspapers. There were only three results for this search, and the first one was, in fact, the Israel Sanborn I had been looking for.

The article was an obituary for a man named George Hanmer Paige (1804-1873), who was apparently raised by Israel Sanborn in Hardwick, Caledonia County, Vermont, the same city in which our Israel Sanborn died.

An obituary for George Paige, Watchman newspaper article 30 April 1873
Source: GenealogyBank, Watchman (Montpelier, Vermont), 30 April 1873, page 3

According to this newspaper article, Israel took George in when he was only 8 years old, and George lived with Israel’s family until he was 21 – meaning they very likely thought of each other as family.

The article reports:

“His parents [Paul and Perminah (Hanmer) Paige] moved to Hardwick, Vt., when he was 3 years old. Here the family struggled with the privations incident to pioneer life, enduring many hardships.”

Israel and Sally (Cheever) Sanborn already had three boys and three girls when they welcomed George into their home. In the years ahead they had three more children. Ten children would be a large household today, and it must have been a happy family for it to be so prominently mentioned in George’s obituary.

And, to Joanne who wrote me: Yes, Israel and Sally (Cheever) Sanborn are my cousins… and so is George Paige. It is good to know that they were such kind-hearted people. So, that would make us cousins too.

Genealogy Tip: Use GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives to search for interesting stories about your own ancestors, like this one about Joanne’s relative taking in a young boy and raising him as their own. The stories preserved in newspapers can help make your family tree as comfortable as your ancestors’ own lives were.

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2 thoughts on “A Reader’s Question Leads to the Discovery of a Touching Story of Generosity

  1. Well, I certainly never expected to be a column producer! Thank you, what a great story to add to the family tree.

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