14 February 2018

William H. Storum, Jr. and Elias Sanbury

Certificates for Bengt Johnson aka John Benson [i1416] and
Elias Sandberg aka Elias Sanbury. Chautauqua County Court Records,
Naturalizations, Book 4, p 72, 73. Source: LDS/Familysearch.org
The naturalization record for Elias Sanbury [1851.088] includes witness names that I transcribed as William Stomm and William Henry Stomm. Norman Carlson (Fenton History Center) was kind enough not to laugh at my ignorance of early Chautauqua County history – and corrected this to William Storum and his son William Henry Storum. The Storum family are arguably1  as consequential in history as the Prendergasts and yet I did not recall ever learning about this pioneer family of Busti.

My interest is in the relationship between William Henry Storum, Jr (1815-1888) and Elias Sanbury (1812–1888) during their three-and-a-half decades as neighbors.

Elias Sanbury was born Elias Samuelsson 18 February 1812 at Åstugan, Hässleby parish, Jönköpings län and was known in the army (Smålands husarregemente) as Elias Sandberg and later went by a phonetic spelling of this surname – Sanbury. After leaving the military he married Christina Charlotta Carlsdotter Berg – both were from career military families. Elias and his wife emigrated from Vena (Hvena) parish in 1851. They traveled with his wife’s parents from Hässleby parish aboard the Swedish bark Preciosa and during the crossing had their first child, Carl.2   They arrived in New York City on 8 September 1851.

Sanbury and his family spent the winter near Chandlers Valley, Warren County and then purchased/leased a house and farm from William Storum, Sr. in 1852.3  Two more children4  were born to the Sanburys at this farm. Elias Sanbury worked this land the rest of his life and died 15 September 1888, likely at his Busti farm.  His wife Charlotte died in 1897.

Detail from “Busti” in New Topographical Atlas Of  Chautauqua
County, New York. 1867, plate 11. The New York Public Library
Digital Collections image id 1583126.  Lionel Pincus and
Princess Firyal Map Division, New York Public Library.
A review of the Agricultural Schedules of the censuses for 1860, 1870 and 1880 show that the farming activities of Sanbury were similar to the Storum farm. They had good land, good animals and relative prosperity.

William Henry Storum, Jr. was born about 18155  in Oneida County, New York .  His family arrived in Chautauqua County in 1816 and settled on 100 acres of wilderness in Lot 18, Town 1, Range 12 purchased from the Holland Land Company.

After nearly 35 years of raising their family on this farmstead, his parents, William and Sarah Storum, had developed 75 acres and retained a woodlot of 25 acres. In 1850 their farm produced 500 lbs. of maple syrup (about 45 gallons/170 liters), plus 800 lbs. (360 kg) of butter and 100 lbs. (45 kg) of cheese from eight well-valued milk cows. They took 30 tons of hay from their meadows, sold $25 worth of orchard products (likely apples) and grew a mix of wheat, oats, corn and potatoes. The primary work of the farm involved a herd of 400 sheep (possibly Merino) that produced 877 lbs (400 kg) of wool. In addition to the sheep and milk cows they had 4 horses and 20 head of cattle.

Lewis Clarke purchased two tracts of farm land (Lot 10 and 9) adjacent to the Storum farm in 1850 and this was the residence of Charlotte Storum and Lewis G. Clarke as newlyweds in 1850. Charlotte died that year. The farm production listed above does not include the additional yield from this second farm run by son-in-law, Lewis Clarke. That farm was reported to be 35 acres of developed land and 25 acres as undeveloped woodland. The 49 acre tract was sold by Clarke to William Storum in 1852 (Chautauqua County Deeds, Liber 63, page 37) and this was then sold to Elias Sanbury (whose title was registered in 1856). Clarke sold the 8 acre tract to Daniel Larkins (Chautauqua County Deeds, Liber 63, page 62).

It was this farm that hosted Frederick Douglass when he traveled to Sugar Grove in June 1854 for a convention of abolitionists. Like most others, he was impressed by the Storum family.

“...The crowning Convention was held Saturday and Sunday, in a beautiful grove in SUGAR GROVE, Warren County, Pennsylvania, about three miles from Busti. The responsibility of getting up this meeting rested upon the Storum family at Busti - an enterprising family of farmers, well to do on the world and when I tell you that these industrious and well to do farmers are of the color of you and me, you will derive from it the right lesson, and draw from it the right hopes for our whole people. I observed that this family (it is a large one) had so deported itself, that the white people, among whom they moved, appeared to regard and treat them precisely as respectable people ought to be treated. Mr. and Mrs. Storum went from Utica into Chautauqua County, nearly forty years ago, and carried all they then owned on the back of a single ox. There were no roads then as now; they traveled in the woods, by cuts in the trees and reached their present home at the need of three weeks. They have raised a large family and are now surrounded with every needed comfort, and withal, are not too old or worn out to enjoy it. The example thus glanced at, is worthy to be followed. I call upon colored men in cities all over the country to turn their faces to the wilderness, and follow the brave example set them by Mr. and Mrs. Storum..." 
 Frederick Douglass, “Letter from the Editor,” Frederick Douglass’ Paper. June 23, 1854.6 

We don’t know what Frederick Douglass thought about the Swedes.

Tragedy hit the Storum family in the 1850s.  In addition to Charlotte Storum's death as a newlywed in 1850, there were three other losses. Sidney Wills, Sarah's oldest son by her first marriage, who had also lived and worked on the farm, died in 1854 at age 43. Sarah Storum, herself, died from an apparent stroke in 1856 at age 66. The youngest son, Richard Storum, died at age 19 in 1857.

The agricultural census for 1860 noted that the Storum farm no longer raised sheep, but continued with their other livestock and crops. The family's personal losses seem to explain this redirection of the farm, although there had also been a continuing downturn in wool prices. By 1860 William Storum, Sr. was seventy-two years old and the work of the 140 acre farm would have rested on the shoulders of William Henry Storum. William Storum, Sr. died at age 86 in 1874.  Census reports suggest that William Henry carried on with the farm for the rest of his life. William Henry Storum, Jr. died 8 December 18887  in Busti, three months after Elias Sanbury. He had never married and the farm was sold outside the family by the remaining heirs.

The few family anecdotes that I have read suggest a warm relationship developed between the Storum and Sanbury families. Hopefully additional research will turn up relevant and substantial details.

Speculation about the experiences of these two families is attractive.

  • Elias Sanbury was ex-military and likely formidable.8   His son was described in his obituary in 1911 as a giant of a man with incredible strength. Stories in the Storum family likewise indicate that William Henry Storum, Jr. was a big man.9   It is not unreasonable to consider that the Sanburys may have been sold their farm as a means towards added protection for the Storum family during this era of the Fugitive Slave Law and their active role in the underground railroad.
  • These neighbors were physically close, a situation that was unusual in these rural areas.  The second Storum house was likely built for one of their children.  Once the Sanbury family moved in this would have made an unusual social situation. The map above shows the proximity of the two houses.

The contrast and similarities of these two men lacks evidence. A timeline of these two families in the 1850s follows the endnotes.

Towards the larger issue,  I have not yet found enough information on the subject of immigrant Swedes and how they engaged with the African-American community in our area. If you know of anecdotes or references please send them to jamestownswedes@hotmail.com

Other Anecdotes of Scandinavians and African-Americans

L.H. Tideman [i3399]  1834 Rønne parish, Bornholm, Denmark - 19 July 1899 Jamestown

Card of Thanks
   The colored people of Jamestown desire us to return their hearty thanks to their fellow citizens for the aid and sympathy rendered in helping them to take part in the celebration of the ratification of the 15th Amendment, at Corry on the 26th inst.  They desire also to return special acknowledgement to Mr. L.H. Tideman, for the banner he painted for the occasion - the finest one that appeared in the procession.
Source: Jamestown Journal, May 6, 1870, p 8.

Elmer H. Jones [i0545] 24 March 1873 Chandlers Valley - 8 April 1962 North Warren

The blues singer, Lizzie Miles, started her touring career at fifteen working with the Jones Brother Circus and the related minstrel shows and stayed with the Jones circuses for four years.  Her interviews in the late 1950s seem to indicate a fond memory of the Swedish-American show owners.


  1. The Storum family is significant not just in local history, but in our national history:  1) the family arrived in Chautauqua County in 1816 and purchased a tract from the Holland Land Company which they developed into a prosperous farm; 2) the family was instrumental in the anti-slavery movement of Sugar Grove and were virtually the hosts for the Sugar Grove Convention in June 1854; 3) the family’s farm was a real stop on the underground railroad and was the site of the William Harrison abduction in 1851; 4) the Storum daughters married two influential leaders in the anti-slavery movement, Rev. Jermain W. Loguen and Lewis G. Clarke; and 5) the family’s pioneer independence, prosperity and African-American roots served as a referential example of black potential in America to Frederick Douglass who later influenced Abraham Lincoln’s thinking about the post-slavery place of African-Americans in the United States.

  2. Charles Sanbury [1851.090] was born 6 Aug 1851 At Sea and died 28 Mar 1911 Busti, Chautauqua County.  Birth date based on obituary in Vårt Land, 30 March 1911, p 1.

  3. "After a year in Sugar Grove in the Patchen neighborhood [just west of Chandlers Valley], they settled in Busti, in 1852, on Sanbury Road, (named after them) on a farm which they bought from ones who had purchased directly from the Holland Land Company." Lucy Darrow Peake, Biographies of the early families of the town of Busti, Chautauqua County, New York, p 49. 

    Title for this property was registered in Mayville in 1856, See Chautauqua County Deeds, Book 73, p 218.

  4. Mrs. August (Julia) Lindquist (1854-1941) and J. William Sanbury (1858-1944).

  5. His birth date is listed in family trees posted on Ancestry.com as 19 October 1814 in Whitesboro, Oneida County, but I have not corroborated this date.  His age was consistently reported in the U.S. censuses.

  6. This transcription is from a secondary source previously available on the internet, I have not yet compared it to the original. See "Anti-Slavery Sites in Warren, PA" [www.paundergroundrailroad.com/sites.htm accessed 2006.02.22 and captured as  web.archive.org/web/20060222234101/www.paundergroundrailroad.com/sites.htm accessed 2018.02.09]

  7. Death Certificate No. 42660.  I have not yet checked the original.  Referenced in the NY State Death Index, New York Department of Health, Albany, NY; data available in Ancestry.com. New York, Death Index, 1880-1956.

  8. Muster rolls for his regiment are available online and provide brief descriptions of each cavalryman and substantial information about his horse.  These muster rolls have not yet been checked.

    His son's physicality was described as: "I sin ungdom var den aflidne en veritabel jätte och i lyftandet af tyngder kunde få mäta sig med honom." roughly translated as In his youth, the deceased was a veritable giant and unsurpassed in lifting weights. Vårt Land, 30 March 1911, p 1.

  9. A blog by Jane Beecher about the Storum family provides personal details, much based on her research in the Gregoria Fraser Goins Papers at Howard University.  Mrs. Goins was the great-granddaughter of William and Sarah Storum.

  10. See Carver C. Gayton, When Owing a Shilling Costs a Dollar: The Saga of Lewis G. Clarke, Born a "white" Slave. Xlibris, 2014, for biographical details.

  11. Obituary published in The Weslyan (Syracuse), Vol. XIV, No. 141 (September 10, 1856), p 2. 

    SARAH STORUM. —Died in Busti, Chautauque Co., N. Y., July 30, 1856, Sarah, wife of Mr. Wm. Storum, aged 66 years.

    Mrs. Storum was in the enjoyment of usual health, surrounded by a party of kind friends and neighbors, who had come to make her a social visit, and while preparing with her wonted cheerfulness and sociability for their entertainment, was seized with Paralysis, which in a few short hours effected her dissolution, and the immortal "spirit returned to God; who gave it". Thus the scene of social pleasure became very unexpectedly, the scene of unutterable sorrow and lamentation; showing that, "in the midst of life we are in death," -- and....[illegible]... Be ye also ready,man cometh."

    The deceased enjoyed more than an ordinary share of the confidence and esteem of the community in which she had long resided, and also that of an extensive circle of friends and acquaintance, by whom she was frequently visited.— Mrs. Storum was a woman of superior mould both physically and mentally; and though denominated "colored," yet few ladies of any complexion excelled her in gracefulness of person or manners. Possessed of a vigorous constitution, of a mind of superior capacity, and having the heart of a kind and virtuous woman, she was indeed a wife, a mother, and a mistress of a family, of whom her now much bereaved partner, might well feel proud.

    She came to this town 40 years ago, with her husband and three young children. With their ax, a yoke of oxen, and a few household goods, they penetrated the dense forest and became the pioneers of this. country. Locating themselves upon land that they occupied at the time of her death, they, by their industry and the blessings of a kind Providence, caused "the wilderness to bud and blossom as the rose."

    The writer visited for the first time the family of the deceased, about 22 years ago, and found beneath her roof, those evidences of neatness and comfort which few of the surrounding families then exhibited. She was not only the presiding angel of her own domestic circle, but also, the "ministring angel," of the afflicted in the neighborhood where she lived, — her sympathetic nature, her patient industry, and her superior taste and neatness in the management of household affairs, made her a welcome visitant at the bed side of the sick, and in the house of mourning. Indeed, her worth is generally acknowledged throughout this community; and though the "prejudice of color" is not entirely conquered here, yet her good sense, her superior virtue, and her lady-like deportment, were strikingly calculated to silence the ravings of this foul spirit. She was the agree- able companion and associate of the comparitively wealthy and aristocratic, as well as of those in "the humble walk of life."

    But, may I not say, she has a record on high of a nobler charity and a more disinterested benevolence than any we have mentioned! Yes, she ministered to the wants of the "brethren of Jesus Christ" —those crushed ones who"could not recompense her again."

    The panting fugitive, sick, weary, ragged and desponding, has oft found shelter and relief with her and her family, and many such will rise up and "call them blessed." It is this disinterested benevolence to suffering humanity, springing from a principle of faith and love to the divine Redeemer that is special matter of record in Heaven; and this record will be brought forth in the day of final judgment; then the true philanthropist will hear from the lips of the Judge himself, the pleasing and astonishing declaration, "I was hungry and ye gave me meal, I was thirsty and ye gave me drink, I was a stranger and ye took me in, naked and ye clothed me; I was sick and ye visited me, I was in prison and ye came to me; and when with pleasing amazement they shall ask, "Lord when saw we thee hungry and fed thee, or thirst and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger and took thee in or naked and clothed thee? or when saw we thee sick, or in prison and come to thee?" When, pointing to these cr… ones who have "come up out of great tribulation," and whose bitter tears of sorrow have been bottled in Heaven." He will say, "Inasmuch as ye have done it to the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me; ...[?] ye into the joy of your [?].

    Our departed sister had long professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and though not ableto say much in her last moments, of Christ and Heaven, yet her friends have a pleasing hope of a blessed reunion with her in the kingdom of our Heavenly Father.

    Her funeral called out an unusually large congregation, though in the midst of hay-harvest. An appropriate discourse was delivered by the Rev. W. D. Henry, to a very attentive and deeply sympathizing audience.

    Busti, August 22, 1856


2 June 1849                           
Lewis G. Clarke and Catherine Storum are married by Reverend L.P. Judson at the Storum Farm. [not confirmed]
17 Apr 1850 Catherine (Storum) Clarke dies at age 21 in Busti while her newlywed husband Lewis Clarke is away. [not confirmed]
27 Aug 1850 Lewis Clarke lists his part of the farm as 58 acres (35 developed/23 undeveloped) in census
18 Sep 1850 Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 takes effect.
Feb/March 1851 William Harrison, a runaway slave, arrives and begins to work at the Storum farm
8 Sep 1851 The Sanbury family arrives aboard the PRECIOSA in New York City
17-18 Sep 1851 William H. Storum is a delegate at the National Liberty Party Convention in Buffalo. Rev. J.W. Loguen and Gerrit Smith are also delegates. The National Committee includes Frederick Douglass and James Caitlin of Sugar Grove.  Unclear if this was William Storum, Sr. or William Henry Storum, Jr.
Late Sep 1851 The Sanbury family arrives in Warren County, Pennsylvania (typically two weeks transit from NYC)
30 Sep 1851 Harrison Williams is captured at the Storum farm by bounty hunters
8 Dec 1852 Lewis Clarke sells 49.96 acres to William Storum for $1000. Clarke had purchased this land for $800 from John and Joseph Eccles on 25 Feb 1850 (located along the southeast of the William Storum farm)
1852 Elias and Christina Charlotta Sanbury settle on 48 acres leased/sold by William Storum.
Jun 1853 Lewis Clarke moves to East Sandwich, Ontario, near Windsor.10
31 Jan 1854 Julia Sanbury born to parents Elias and Christina Charlotta
Jun 1854 Sugar Grove Anti-Slavery Convention with speaches by Frederick Douglass, J.W. Loguen and Lewis Clarke, all of whom likely visited the Storum family at the farm in Busti.
5 Nov 1854 Sidney Mills (Sarah Storum's son by her first husband, Martin Wills) dies in Busti, buried in Knapp Cemetery
Apr 1856 Lewis Clarke returns to claim other property that he believed he had received in the marriage [not corroborated]
30 Jul 1856 Sarah Storum dies from a stroke (age 6611  )
1856 The Sanbury’s farm deed is recorded in Mayville
13 Feb 1857 Richard Storum dies (age 19) [not confirmed]
28 Mar 1858 J. William Sanbury born to parents Elias and Christina Charlotta
17 Aug 1867 Caroline Storum Loguen dies in Syracuse (age 50)
5 Sep 1874 William Storum, Sr dies at his farm (age 86)
27 Apr 1885 Julia Storum dies (age 60) [not confirmed]
15 Sep 1888 Elias Sanbury dies (likely at farm, age 73)
8 Dec 1888 William Henry Storum, Jr dies (age 74)
28 Dec 1897 Christina Charlotta Sanbury dies at farm (age 75)
4 May 1904 Sarah Marinda Storum dies in Syracuse (age 79)

No comments:

Post a Comment