Biographical Notes for Beverley Chunn(e) Sanders (1807-1883)

bcsand.jpg (43831 bytes)



BORN MAY 14th, 1807---DIED DEC. 25th, 1883


The subject of this sketch was the son of Britton Sanders, Esq., of Virginia, and was born in Prince William County, of that State, May 14, 1807. 

In 1827 he engaged in mercantile business in Washington, D.C. 

  In 1830 he married Charlotte Webster, of Massachusetts, a near relative [actually a niece] of Hon. Daniel Webster, who became warmly attached to Mr. Sanders during the remainder of his life [DW died in 1852]. The only issue of this marriage was Phinias Bradley Sanders, who died July 4th 1854, in the 23rd year of his age, on a return voyage from the Sandwich Islands, (the former name for Hawaii) and was buried at sea.

In 1833 Col. Sanders removed to Baltimore and associated himself in business with Mr. A.B. Davidson, under the firm name of Sanders & Davidson.  In 1843 he married Elizabeth E. Hillen, daughter of Thomas Hillen, of Baltimore county, Md. [Charlotte died in 1835.]

In 1848 he was part owner and agent of the steamship line plying between Baltimore and Charleston, S.C.

In 1849, Col. Sanders, sharing the general interest that was excited by the newly acquired territory of California -- one of the grand fruits of the success of our arms in the war of Mexico -- and himself partaking largely of the widespread spirit of enterprise which the rich discoveries of gold engendered in the breasts of our adventurous people, removed to that inviting esmeralda, as the field of his future energies.  Eminently fitted by his early business education and mercantile life to grapple with the then inchoate conditions of the new territory, whose natives were as yet foreigners in speech and habitudes, gave him advantages of no little value, over not only the average type but even the higher class of emigrants to the new land, and so it came to pass, at the very outset he laid the foundations of a career, at once interesting and remarkable.

It is perhaps right to say, that these advantages were supplemented by a superb and commanding person, a singularly handsome face, unswerving integrity, and the blending in his grand nature of the gentleness of a woman, with the courage of him of the lion heart.   His rare business qualifications brought him to the front as a leading spirit, and he became associated with several of the most important enterprises of magnitude and merit which unfolded at that early day on the Pacific coast, while his personal qualities soon constituted him the central figure in the higher social circle of that historic colony, from the older cis montane States, and so, shortly after his arrival he became associated with the Aspinwalls, and in 1851, founded the banking house of Sanders & Brenham.

In 1852 he was appointed Collector [of Customs] of the Port of San Francisco by President Fillmore, and how well and faithfully he filled this responsible position, the most important at that early stage in the life of the infant Golden State, appears in the appended extracts from the proceedings of the several organizations of San Francisco upon his retirement from that office, which we find in the contemporaneous prints of the day

The first is a testimonial to "Ex-Collector Sanders, tendered by the officers of customs, serving under him, during the incumbency of that office. It is signed by nearly one hundred officials, and is in the following terms: San Francisco, Cal., June 30, 1853.

Beverly C. Sanders, Esq.,

Dear Sir: As the official relations between yourself and the undersigned officers of the customs at this port are about to close, we take great pleasure in informing you that we have, by Atlantic steamer of this day, through a committee appointed for that purpose, ordered the manufacture of a silver tea service, with suitable devices and inscriptions, to be presented to your family, in Baltimore, as a slight testimonial of our regard and esteem for you as a private gentleman, and our appreciation of your kind intercourse with your subordinates during you official career With sincere wishes &c. &c., we are gratefully, your obedient servants."

It is not surprising, to those who knew Col. Sanders well, that such a testimonial should have emanated from his official associates, for he had a personal magnetism engrafted into a nature so lofty in its sense of justice, and so kind and generous to those under him, that it was a natural sequence of personal association with him.   The administration of the collectorship of the port of San Francisco, at that early day, must have been difficult, indeed, in a commercial community not yet familiarized with the intricacies of customs laws, and would be naturally unreasonable and restive, under the inflexible dicta and rulings of a righteous chief, in his construction and administration of them, and yet, upon his retirement from this highest position of trust on the Pacific coast, the entire commercial community united in paying "tribute to a private gentleman and unsullied public officer," and presented him a superb piece of plate -- an epergne, upon which is inscribed this flattering classical memo:

"Hic murus aheneus esto, nil cons seire sibi nulla palles cere culpa." ("Let this be thy brazen wall of defence; to be conscious of no crime, and to turn pale at no accusation!")

Did the limits of this sketch of the life and character of this remarkable man permit other testimonials, of like character could be incorporated into it, as President of the chamber of commerce, President of the Pacific Club, President of the San Francisco Gas Company, commissioner of the funded debt, and the depository of the public monies of the United States and of the Bank of California. 

At the close of his official relations with the port of San Francisco, he was appointed, in 1853, "President of the American-Russian Commercial Company," of which mammoth enterprise the New York Tribune of that date thus speaks: "Mr. Beverley C. Sanders, of San Francisco, who left Paris for the Russian capital in the month of January last, has succeeded in effecting an arrangement with the Russian Government.   By this arrangement Mr. Sanders becomes paymaster for the western coast of America, and enjoys (in the interest of his company) certain rights in connection with Russian commerce, which will become very lucrative." 

In the prosecution of this vast commercial negotiation, which among other important features included a guarantee from the Czar himself, of the monopoly of the ice trade during the contract, Mr. Sanders was brought into close and frequent communication with the most renowned statesmen and officials of the great Empire, and was feted by them in the characteristic princely style of the Russian nobility.  In his interesting diary, which is before us, are copies from, and accounts of personal interviews with the Emperor, Count Nesselrode, the Grand Duke Constantine (in whose honor BCS named his son Beverley Constantine Sanders), the Grand Duchess Hellen, sister-in-law of the Emperor, and other celebrities of little less note.  In all of these novel experiences, he never lost his head or his heart, but bore himself like a princely courtier, as he was, by nature's patent; while his part of the business correspondence is marked by a savoir faire and ability worthy of the best diplomacy.

Such is a grouping of some of the leading features in the life and business experiences of our departed friend. The wars of Europe, and later on, our own civil war broke up all these grand enterprises so well matured, and "losses and crosses and troubles, right severe," fell to his lot, as to many another of the best in our Southern States, leaving him without property, and oftentimes without employment, and with a loving family dependant upon him alone for comfort and support.

In this strait, some six years ago, he received, through the influence of friends, an appointment to a subordinate position, which he gladly and gratefully accepted, and the ministerial duties of which he performed with such intelligence and fidelity that the collector himself said to the writer, in speaking of, and lamenting, his loss, "He was the best man I had."

In this connection we cannot do better than insert the following paragraph from the letter of the Washington correspondent of the San Francisco "Chronicle" himself a warm and devoted friend of Col. Sanders, from the early California Days:

"A Gentleman of the Old School.

"Washington letter to the San Francisco Chronicle. "I have had a call on Christmas day from a friend who had just heard of the death that morning of an old Californian of early days -- Beverley Sanders.  The deceased was once collector of the port at San Francisco, and president of the Pacific Club.  He was a gentleman of elegant manners and of high character. 

In these later years he had been so much reduced as to accept a place as a custom house subordinate in New York.  Residing in New Jersey, he has arisen before light on the coldest winter mornings and made his way to his work, carrying with him at all times the grand bearing of old, and shedding his unfailing good humor on all with whom he came in contact. 

I met him in New York several times, and he seemed to me a noble example of patience in adversity, dignity in poverty, and gentleness and cheerfulness in a world of which so many younger folks complain querulously for much less cause than he had."  We have shown how he bore himself in affluence, and in the enjoyment of the highest honors, and yet prosperity but half developed the traits of this noble nature.  Indeed, it is not always the sunshine of Fortune that illumines and expands the soul.  Alas, too often it dries and contracts it! 

Adversity is the unerring test of its greatness and truth, and hence has given to the earth more heroes than the battlefield.  And so it was with him.  He played the humble role of duty, in his closing years, with the same zeal and fidelity, and even cheerfulness, that marked the zenith of his earlier career.  No false pride found a lodgement in his loving, unselfish nature.  Verily, his life is a "living epistle," to be read with profit, of us all, who are still struggling on, until we, too, shall pass beyond the river!  To the young, especially, such a life should inspire alike admiration and emulation!


Glowing eulogies upon the dead have become so common and indiscriminate, that it would seem when, a really good man and brave warrior in the battle of life lays down his battered armour in peace and dignity, that the custom were more honored in the breach than in the observance -- that the silent tears that roll over manly cheeks were fitter tribute to the worth the world has lost, surer emblems of genuine grief and true-hearted sorrow, than the florid word-painting of heartless conventional panegyric. 

But may we not, from this veritable record of public and private virtues, justly claim an exception here?  Friendship, with him, was as a higher law, and stood unswerved by a thousand tests.  An so we, who basked a lifetime in the general warmth of his, may not withhold this imperfect but heartfelt tribute of ours to him: "Our ingress to Life is naked and bare-- Our progress, in life is trouble and care. Our egress from Life we know not where! But doing well here we shall do well there!"

And by this token may we not think of him, in that happier sphere, near the Throne, above the stars, for "He did well here!"


[The above "In Memoriam" is signed only "B.T."   Accoding to "BCS and Am-Russian Relations 1853-55",  B.T. were the initials of Nathaniel Beverley Tucker, who was a Southern politician and Confererate agent and a family friend since the Civil War period.  The eulogy was published in Washington DC: J.D. Free, 1884]

Following from "The Descendants of William Tucker of Throwleigh, Devon" by Robert Dennard Tucker:

On page 302, Beverly M. Tucker b. 1881, son of James Ellis Tucker b. 1844, son of Jane and Nathaniel Beverly Tucker (1820-1890). NBT was a U.S. Consul at Liverpool, England, 1857-1861, later a Deputy Confederate Commissioner to procure commissary supplies in Canada. He was believed to have been involved with the assassination of President Lincoln, but was pardoned after the war.



Back to Photo Gallery

Back to Sanders Family Page