James Marshall Sanders

Date of Birth: May 22, 1868
Date of Death: March 26, 1939

From the files of Legacy Keeper Donna Thompson.

James Marshall Sanders married Emma Springfield (b. 28 December 1866; d. 27 October 1947) on 23 December 1888 at T. W. Springfield’s home. They are both buried in the Sanders Cemetery that James and his father established on family land in Lamar County, AL.

James Marshall “Jim/Jimmy” Sanders was probably born on or near his Grandfather James Jackson Sanders’s place in southwest Fayette County, near the town of Kennedy, AL. When James Marshall was about 12, his family moved to a place about one and one-half miles north of Vernon (on Beaver Creek Road), where his father, George Harrison Sanders, homesteaded a place and built a house. Emma Springfield’s family lived on an adjoining hill (now known as Strawbridge Hill) between the Sanders place and Vernon. Even though they were quite young when they first met, James Marshall decided then and there that he was going to marry Emma someday, and through persistence, eventually did. It has been speculated that Emma’s family was, perhaps, not too pleased with her choice for husband, who was basically an uneducated farm boy. Emma was educated and taught him to read and write a very good hand after they married. He went on to become a businessman, assistant mail carrier, and President of the School Board, while continuing to farm.

As a 15 or 16 year-old boy, James Marshall carried mail on horse-back to the post offices of Musgrove’s Mill, Blowhorn and others twice a week, by contract. His father had the contract. His future father-in-law, Thomas Walker Springfield, was the postmaster at Vernon at the time.

James Marshall was a fine singer and conducted all-day singings throughout the county on Sundays. He started the annual Oak Hill Methodist Church singing, which was held the first Sunday in September for many years. He also sang for many funerals. He was a singing school teacher of some renown, teaching several schools each summer. (He was called away from a singing school at Shiloh Baptist Church to attend the birth of his son, Prentice Sanders, on July 19, 1906.) A talented and dedicated singer, he was instrumental in bringing gospel music to Lamar County.

After marriage, James and Emma moved about a quarter of a mile up the road to an old house on his father’s place and set up housekeeping. (This old house was located where the smokehouse/truck shed at the Prentice Sanders home stood.) All their children were born in this old house. About 1910, the family built a house across the road and moved into it. (Prentice, although only about four years old at the time, remembered “helping move” by pulling his little wagon full of things up the driveway and across the road to the new house.)

A family cemetery had been established not far from the new house in 1887, near an old church that we believe was called Pilgrim’s Rest. Garland Sanders, James’s brother, was the first to be buried there. Sometime around 1929-32, James’s mother, Selina, and three of her granddaughters (Flora Lee Adams, Annie Lee and Belle Cutis Trimm) moved into the old church building, which he had converted into a dwelling. He then built a Tabernacle, called the Sanders Tabernacle, non-denominational, just north of the cemetery. He was an ordained Minister of the Gospel.

James was the father of six children who lived to adulthood. These were Clara, Lessie, Myra, Kent, Kelley, and Prentice.  He also had one child, Reginald, who died young.

See the Sanders Siblings on the Sanders main menu item for the life stories of his children.

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