Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sanders was early leader

Sent to The Frederick Leader and the Frederick Press, December 7, 2010


D.P. Sanders was business and spiritual leader
One of Frederick’s early residents was D.P. Sanders.
Sanders came to Frederick in its earliest years and was influential in the town’s spiritual, business, and real estate development.
Sanders was a Baptist preacher who was originally from South Carolina. In the early 1900s he brought his family west to Texas to preach. Sometime before 1905 he became a missionary to the Indians in Comanche County of Oklahoma Territory. That is when he came to Frederick.
He worked with the Indians and in Frederick he helped organize the First Baptist Church. This was before there was a church building, so the members met in their homes where Sanders and S.N. Gosnell, one of the founders of Frederick, took turns preaching.
Sanders also preached for a time at the Baptist church in Hollister and he helped organize the Baptist church in the Hurst community west of Frederick.
During his early years in Frederick Sanders went into the furniture and undertaking business with Gosnell. Their business, D.P. Sanders and Gosnell, was located in the 100 block of North Main in the area where the Crawford Collection is located today.
Gosnell later sold his interest in the business to William Zumwalt.
Zumwalt and Sanders furniture and Undertaking moved across the street into the building that now houses J & J Gift Shop and the vacant office next door (for many years, the Register Insurance Agency and Dr. Stephen Zoller’s optometry office).
It was common in those days for furniture and undertaking parlors to operate in the same establishments. The story has it that a few times sick people were brought in to wait so that when they did die, they’d be conveniently located.
Sanders was not an undertaker, so in 1911 he and Zumwalt hired David Gish I to work for him, and in 1915 the furniture store and funeral home were sold to the Gish family who operated the businesses for many decades.
Sanders was also noted for his dealings in real estate. Although he wasn’t in the construction business, he and Gosnell developed a large part of the area that is now the northwest part of Frederick. Sanders bought up large parts of this land at a good price, but he did not do so with the real intention of making profit. He had three boys and he always said that he bought the land so that he could give them something to do to keep them busy. The Sanders land comprises a considerable part of current-day Frederick.
Sanders loved to fish and it was while he was on a 1917 fishing trip to Corpus Christi, Texas, that he suffered a heart attack and died. His gravesite is in the Frederick Cemetery.
NOTE: In 1978 I talked with Sanders’ granddaughter, Mrs. Lucille Grant, about her memories of her grandfather, for a Frederick Leader story. Mrs. Grant, who died in 1985, remembered her grandfather as a “short and heavy-set man, not fat, with a full beard. He had fine gray hair,” she said, “and he liked to let us kids comb it.”
She said that he always wore a coat in the style of the day for businessmen.
She recalled fishing trips with her grandfather, including one memorable expedition to Deep Red Creek in which she fell into the water. When she had been fished out, he laughed that she was that she was his biggest catch of the day.
“Grandpa,” Mrs. Grant said, “was a very bad driver. He bought a Model T Ford but he had a bit of trouble with it.” He broke his leg trying to crank it and once, northwest of town, he ran over a boy with it. The boy was not hurt, but was trying to get out of the car’s way and Sanders was trying to miss him. The boy got run over in spite of their best efforts to avoid each other.
“The joke around town for a long time,” Mrs. Grant said in 1978, “was that Brother Sanders runs over people in his automobile.”
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Joe Wynn is a member of the Tillman County Historical Society Board. He can be contacted by e-mail at jawynn@cableone.net.

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