ROBERT E. SANDERS. - Robert E. Sanders is now living a retired life in Pawnee and his rest is well merited because his has been an active, useful and honorable business career. Few indeed are the residents of the county whose coming antedated his, for he arrived in December, 1829, and is, therefore, numbered among the "snowbirds". His birth occurred in what is now Green County, Kentucky, Mary 26, 1825, and he represents one of the oldest families of that state, his grandfather, Elijah Sanders, having located there when Kentucky was a frontier district. Elisha Sanders, the father, was born in Green county, January 16, 1804, was reared amid the conditions of pioneer life and was married in his native state to Elizabeth Faucett, who was also born in Kentucky. They began their domestic life upon a farm there and thirteen children came to bless the household. In 1829 they removed to Illinois, settling in what is now Pawnee township, Sangamon county, after a residence of about five years in Springfield. Mr. Sanders purchased eighty acres of land on Brush creek, improved it and lived thereon for four or five years, when he sold out and bought a tract near the present village of Pawnee. He also opened up another farm near the Christian county line and had about six hundred acres of well improved land. His last days were spent in Sangamon county and he died in 1893, at the very advanced age of eighty-nine years. His wife passed away in 1865. He afterward married again and his second wife died in 1901.
Robert E. Sanders is one of a family of thirteen children, nine sons and four daughters, born of the father's first marriage. All reached years of maturity and were married and five of the sons and two of the daughters are yet living. Robert E. Sanders continued on the old family homestead until he had attained man's estate and the public schools afforded him his educational privileges. He early learned how to operate the farm in the most capable manner and broke many acres of virgin soil, planted crops and continued the work of cultivation with good result. He was married April 1, 1846, in the twenty-first year of his age, to Eliza Funderburk, a sister of R. Funderburk, and they began their domestic life on a farm near the old homestead. After two or three years there passed Mr. Sanders entered one hundred and sixty acres, which he secured with a government warrant, and although not a furrow had been turned or an improvement made upon the place he at once cleared the land and soon developed a good place, which is still in his possession. In 1873 he erected a substantial residence and he also built commodious barns and outbuildings, planted an orchard and shade trees and has a nice grove upon the place. His land is well tiled and the farm is almost entirely surrounded by a hedge fence. He also bought an adjoining tract of forty acres, so that the place comprises two hundred acres, of which one hundred and twenty acres lies across the boundary line in Christian county. Mr. Sanders continued his farming operations until 1897, when he removed to Pawnee. He then bought seven acres of land and built two houses. He also owns eighty acres of land in Rochester township. He has been very successful as a farmer and stock raiser, and as a financier is well known for his ability and enterprise.
In 1852 Mr. Sanders lost his first wife, who died, leaving two children, Ellen, the wife of George Payne, of Sangamon county, and Elisha, of Pawnee township. There were also two children of that marriage who died in infancy. In 1854 Mr. Sanders was again married, his second union being with Isabel Bridges, who died in 1865. There were six children by that union, of whom five are living: Margaret, the wife of William T. Beam, of Pawnee township; Eliza Jane, the wife of Harvey Beam, of Cotton Hill township; Susan, who died in childhood; John, of Cotton Hill township; Thomas, of Pawnee township; and James W., a practicing physician of Decatur. In 1868, in Sangamon county, Robert E. Sanders was married to Sophia Porter, a native of Belmont county, Ohio, who was reared and educated there and engaged in teaching prior to her marriage. There were seven children by this union, of whom five are living: Sarah, the wife of John Costley, of Louisiana; Robert W., of Rochester township; T. Emerson, a business man of Decatur; Dennis and Ezra, at home. They also lost two children in infancy.
Mr. Sanders and his wife are consistent members of the Predestination Baptist church. He cast his first presidential vote for James K. Polk in 1848 and has since been an earnest Democrat, but the honors and emolument of office have had little attraction for him. On the organization of the township, however, he was elected and served as township collector, later was commissioner of highways and while living on the farm served as a school director. He has been a resident of the county for almost three-fourths of a century, and his memory forms a connecting link between the days of the past and the present time, when progress and prosperity have wrought a wonderful change here. He has killed many deer and wolves on the prairies and has seen his district when almost the entire countryside was wild and unimproved. There were few roads and no towns of any importance, but the work of improvement has been carried steadily forward by such
enterprising men as our subject and central Illinois is now a most populous and prosperous district. During the long years of his residence here Mr. Sanders has become widely known and his friends will receive with interest the record of his career.