Henry Shelton Sanford

Tributes~Henry Shelton Sanford

Henry Shelton Sanford
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Date of Birth: 
January 15 1823
Date of Death: 
May 21 1891

U.S. Diplomat. Founder of Sanford, Florida. Founder of Central Florida citrus industry. Henry Shelton Sanford was born in Woodbury, Connecticut. His parents were Nancy Bateman Shelton and Nehemiah Curtis Sanford. His childhood years were spent in Birmingham, Connecticut where his father and uncle owned the Shelton Tack Company. After traveling extensively for his health, Sanford pursued a career in the diplomatic service. In 1847, he served as Secretary of the American Legation in St. Petersburg. In 1848, he was Acting Secretary of the American Legation in Frankfort. In 1849, he received his law degree form Heidelberg University. That same year he was appointed Secretary of the American Legation in Paris. He arranged the first postal convention between the United States and France. In 1853, he wrote "The Penal Codes of Europe" which was published by Congress. He was appointed Charge d'Affaires at Paris. In 1855, he accepted the Aves Island Case, a protracted lawsuit against Venezuela regarding the rights to a Caribbean guano island. In 1861, he was appointed United States Minister to Belgium by President Lincoln. Sanford organized and oversaw a surveillance network in England and France during the Civil War. In September 1864 he married Gertrude Ellen Dupuy of Philadelphia. He purchased Oakley Plantation in Plaquemine, Louisiana in 1869 as an investment in the sugar industry. In 1870, he purchased 23 square miles of land in central Florida and founded the city of Sanford on the St. Johns River. In 1873, he established his orange grove "Belair" at Sanford and imported 149 varieties of citrus and other sub-tropical plants for experimentation. In 1876, he was a delegate to the conference that created the African International Association which led to the creation of the Belgian Congo under Leopold II. In 1880, he organized the Florida Land and Colonization Company in London. In 1886, h organized and funded the Sanford Exploring Expedition to open trade in the interior of the Congo. In 1890, he was the U.S. envoy at the Brussels Anti-Slavery Conference. He died of kidney disease in 1891.

Information provided by Sanford Museum, Sanford, Florida.

Henry Shelton Sanford, his wife and children are buried at Long Hill Burial Ground, Shelton, Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA.

His daughter Helen Carola Sanford Dow was instrumental in the establishment of the Sanford Museum located in Sanford, Florida show here. The historical marker in front of the museum marks the approximate location of his St. Gertrude groves. Sanford and his family members were Episcopalian, but his daughter Carola became a Catholic and donated two large Italian white marble statues of angels to All Souls Catholic Church in Sanford, Florida. The angels still flank the Tabernacle in the old church on Oak Street between 8th and 9th Avenues.

Media data: 
Place of Birth: 
Woodbury, Connecticut, United States
Place of Death: 
Healing Springs, Virginia, United States
Primary State of Residence: 
Connecticut, United States

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