Historic Markers Across Florida

City of Sanford's Namesake

Marker ID:  
Location: along Sanford's waterfront near Veteran's Memorial Park, E Seminole Blvd Sanford, FL
County: Seminole
Coordinates: N 28° 48.858    W 081° 15.999
  28.8143    -81.26665
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMQ5TJ


Henry Shelton Sanford was born in Woodbury, Connecticut in 1823. Henry was eighteen when his father died and left him a considerable inheritance. Henry used his wealth to fund a series of journeys abroad. His travels eventually led him to a career in the diplomatic service.

In 1861 President Lincoln appointed Henry Sanford as the U.S. representative to Belgium. From Belgium, Sanford supervised the U.S. secret service in Europe during the Civil War. He thwarted efforts by the Confederacy to purchase supplies in England and France. In 1862 he was granted a commission as Major General in the Minnesota Militia after presenting a battery of cannons to the state.

In 1864 Henry Sanford, married Gertrude Dupuy of Philadelphia. They raised eight children during their lifetime. In 1869, Mr. and Mrs. Sanford traveled to Florida on vacation. General Sanford found that land was cheap and the potential of the state was great. He purchased the 'Belair' citrus grove just outside the City of Sanford's original city limits.

In the 1880s Henry Sanford became involved with the creation of the Belgian Congo through his connection to King Leopold II of Belgium. He invested in the Sanford Exploring Expedition, hoping to make a fortune from the ivory and rubber trade. He purchased a riverboat, named it "Florida," and shipped it to Africa. The expedition was one of a series of financial failures towards the end of Henry Sanford's life.

The Sanford family maintained residences in Brussels, Belgium, and Derby, Connecticut, and usually visited Florida only in the winter. In May of 1891, Henry Sanford died of kidney disease in Virginia.

City of Sanford