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He was born on the 11th March 1853 at 24, Little Queen Street (now the northern end of Kingsway which joins High Holborn in the north and Aldwych in the south). For some unknown reason his birth was registered as Philip William.
In 1880 he emigrated to America. He sailed on the s.s. ‘Abyssinia’ from Liverpool on about the 18th March 1880 for New York. Whilst on the ship he wrote home to his mother giving graphic details of his voyage.
He met and married Grace RUHLIMAN. They had one son, Charles Francis Saunders, who was born about 1883, most probably in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
Grace unfortunately died fairly soon after her son was born and Charles was said to have been put into the care of a couple in Fall River, Massachusetts, to bring him up while his father practised his profession as an Engraver on Wood wherever he could find work.
William Philip was certainly working as an Engraver at 73 East Main in Rochester, N.Y. and lodging at 52 South St. Paul in about 1886. In 1888/9 he appears to have been in partnership with Edward C. Cooling trading as ‘Cooling & Saunders’ - wood engravers - working in 26 Tallman Block. At this time he was living in the family home at 20 Martin Street until 1890 when he was shown as having moved to Akron, (?Ohio).
He never remarried and spent the final years of his life with his only son, Charles, and wife, Mary, in Albany, N.Y.
He died in Shelton, Connecticut in 1918, aged 65
|Charles Francis Saunders
1883 - 1973
1893 - 1979
1. Donald Saunders - born about January 1915 who died in about December 1915
2. Charles Francis Saunders - born about January 1917 who died in October 1929
3. William Philip Saunders - born 1st February 1921 who died 31st March 1990
4. Robert Kingdom Saunders - born 1st September 1923 who married Franca Agata Busalacchi. They have three daughters.
5. Alfred Crews Saunders - born 30th August 1927 who married Janet Hinds. They have two sons.
6. Ruth Carol Saunders - born 26th December 1932 who married Donald Smith
They delivered a letter from the Governor of Rhode Island to the Governor of each state they passed through. They were reputed to be the first people to walk from the East to West Coast of the United States carrying a full 60 lb. army pack.
Over 50 years later, in 1965, Charles wrote about their exploits from a diary he had kept. It started off as follows;
Three men - two army officers, one lawyer, all young and all demented, in regimentals and the full field equipment of the regular service in the field, for hike beginning at Newport, Rhode Island to San Francisco, thousands of miles, with only the good Lord to protect against calamity.
And now, from the diary;
A bright morning in June 1913. The lumbering ferry from the Battery at the metropolis had chugged through the deep waters of the Sound to St.George, Staten Island, and landed us on the beach. We performed a solemn ceremony of handshakes and wished each other ‘Good Luck’ and, with a last parting look at the Statue of Liberty and salute (which fond gesture the Lady failed to respond,) we turned faces west into the unknown beyond. Across the island to Perth Amboy; boarded the ferry to Trenton (since the contract held no provision for swimming); and struck tent in a pasture. Wakened by a delegation of geese; a tumultuous cackling, honking and circling around, seeming to revolt the intrusion in their domain and, fearful of a frontal attack, we;
‘Folded our tents, like the Arabs, and silently stole away’
When Charles arrived back in Albany the following report appeared in The Albany Journal, Saturday, June 6, 1914;-
Young Albany Lawyer Returned to Albany Today After Walking Across the Continent
Was Accompanied by Two Army Sergeants
Three earned Over $1000 by Giving Entertainments and Then Got Stung in Mexican Gambling House in Juarez
Years later Charles gave talks at local Albany functions describing their adventure and the interesting people that they had met on their way.
After living in Albany the family moved to New Scotland Road, Slingerlands, near Albany, New York. One of the sons, William, known as Bill, was said to have theatre in his blood. When they were children he would put on puppet shows in a little theatre he built in the barn. Children would be lined up to get in and his show even merited a write up in the local paper.
|The Saunders Home,
New Scotland Road, Slingerlands, Near Albany
|Barn at Slingerlands|
Charles died in December 1973 and Mary in June 1979.