Monday, February 23, 2009

Day Trip to Sanford, Florida

I visited my family in Sanford yesterday, and my husband and I spent the better part of the day engaged in family and genealogical activities.

First, a bit of living genealogy. We visited two nursing homes. The first visit was with my paternal grandfather, John Laurens Sauls, Sr. He is not doing well at all, and I am afraid that this will be the last time I see him alive. He had a stroke in 2000 and has been in a nursing home ever since then. When I last saw him, he recognized me and my brother. This time, though, he was not cognizant enough to know much of anything that was going on around him.

The second nursing home visit was with my great uncle Sonny, whose real name is Hamel Tolar Haskins. He is my paternal grandmother's younger brother. He had five heart bypasses a while ago, but he is doing much better now. He enjoys having the time to listen to the music of the old crooners and read Oz books.

We visited the house where my paternal grandmother, Clara Haskins Sauls, was born. (She was also our guide for the rest of the day.) The house is a bungalow built in 1922 on what used to be the Old Orlando Highway. The street is now just called Sanford Avenue. My husband especially enjoyed this part of the trip, since he is very interested in architecture.

We went to downtown Sanford and saw the old city. We saw the old Mayfair Hotel, now the home of New Tribes Mission. We saw the old post office where my Granny's father, Harold Clark Haskins, had been postmaster. We saw the old Pico Building, which used to be the railroad hotel. We also saw the old houses built by Sanford's Swedish settlers. Sanford is only one of a handful of cities in the South whose original settlers were Scandinavian. We visited Evergreen Cemetery on 25th Street. Most of my Granny's family is buried there. We ate dinner at Captain D's on 17-92, then we took Granny home. We finished the day with a tour of Granny's house. She lives in a house that was built immediately after World War II for the returning soldiers and their families. My grandparents moved into this house in 1950, when my Dad was 3 years old. The house is on Escambia Drive, and it has a large camphor tree in front of it. I used to climb in that tree when I was a kid.

It was a good day, but it would have been better if I had remembered my camera! I hope to visit there again sometime soon, and I will take lots of pictures.


  1. Hamel Tolar was my maternal grandfather.My mother was Elma Elizabeth Echols (nee Tolar). I remember as a small child visiting the Haskins- Sonny and his mother. My mother and her mother(Iva Malm)were, as I remember it, very good friends with the Haskins. Iva Malm's family was Swedish and , as you mention, was also from Sanford. I have not been able to find out too much about the Tolars;wonder if anyone knows who Hamel's parents were,etc.
    Claude Gary Echols-

  2. Iva Malm was the sister of Helen Haskins, nee Malm. Helen Haskins was my great-grandmother. I don't know much about the Tolar family, but my grandmother probably does. My grandmother is Clara Sauls, and she is still living in Sanford. She could probably tell you who they were.