Sanford Bingham was my Great, great, great, great, grandfather if I counted right. I outline the genealogy of my mothers which leads to his wife, Martha Ann Lewis here. He was around during many of the important events in early church history. I was given a brief history of his life a couple of years ago, and would like to provide this review. I hope it is of interest.
Sanford Bingham was the second child of Erastus Bingham and Lucinda Gates and was born on May 3rd, 1821. He related an event that happened in the fall of 1829 while he was herding cows. He prayed to the Lord to forgive his sins, having been taught by his mother that all mankind were sinners, and that God who is merciful would forgive the sins of those who sought him in humble prayer. While he was thus praying a bright light encircled him, extending a few feet around him and his heart was filled with great joy. He was perfectly satisfied that his prayer had been answered. In 1830 his family moved to Concord, Vermont. He was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on November 18, 1833 by Elder Evans.
In 1836 the family sold their farm in Vermont and accompanied Willard Snow and others to Kirtland, Ohio, where they remained until September. From Kirtland they went to Far West arriving there in November. His father rented a farm located on Shoal Creek where he built a log cabin for the family. About this time the extermination order was issued from Governor Boggs. The family left Far West in March of 1839 and arrived in Hancock County Illinois in April. While there he had a successful medical operation for club feet. He was 21 years old, and up to that point had walked on his knees while working side-by-side with his brothers on the farms.
In 1845 his father purchased a farm of 160 acres near Nauvoo. In 1846 they escaped the violence of the mobs and traveled to Winter Quarters in Iowa. Their provisions were so scarce that they moved 150 miles north and wintered with the Piute Indians who supplied them with some corn and grain to sustain their lives.
In 1847 they went back to Winter Quarters and joined Daniel Spencer’s group of 100, with Ira Eldridge as captain of 50, and Erastus Bingham as captain of 10. With this group they crossed the plains. At the Platte River, Sanford married Martha Ann Lewis on July 18, 1847, by Parley P. Pratt. Their wedding dinner was cooked over burning buffalo chips. Sanford and his 14 year old bride spent their honeymoon driving loose cattle on horseback. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on September 9, 1847.
In 1848 he and his brother Thomas took charge of a public cattle herd in Bingham Canyon. In the spring of 1849 a band of Indians came and camped near the Bingham house. One day when Sanford was gone, a couple of Indians carrying guns came into the house and sat down on the bench. Martha had some clean clothes spread on the bench and was in the process of ironing them. She tried to motion them to get off the clothes, but they would not move; so she grabbed them by the hair and yanked them off, and went about her ironing. The Indians cocked their guns and made threats that she did not understand. When they found they could not scare her they went away and never came back again.
While herding the cattle Sanford and his brother discovered ore, but were advised by Brigham Young not to pursue mining, as the lives of the people depended on farming and stock raising. Ironically, Bingham Canyon now has the largest open pit copper mine in the world. In 1862 Sanford bought his own farm in Riverdale where his family spent the rest of their lives.
In 1876 Sanford was called on a mission to the New England States in the company of Alonzo Perry, but was honorably released in the winter of the same year. Upon returning home he was called as the Bishop of the Riverdale Ward, and served in that capacity for 25 years.
In May of 1885 Sanford left his home because of a raid against polygamists. His family was brought before the grand jury, and because of their truthful answers an indictment against Sanford was made. In 1888 he returned home, and deeded his farms to his wives and gave himself up to the court. He was sentenced to four months in the Utah Penitentiary and was released in April of 1889. All this time he was apparently still serving as bishop. After his release as bishop he was ordained as a Patriarch by Apostle John Henry Smith in 1902. He died on November 21, 1910 at the age of 89.