Sanders/Dyer Family


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To The

Sanders/Dyer Family

Part of the

dale/brown family album

Memorial To Merritt S. Sanders

25 February 1919 - 18 October 1945


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    This picture was taken at our home in Port Townsend, WA, Christmas of 1946 as noted on back of the photo. The story of these three pictures as they appear in this Christmas photo of 1946 are being told as outlined above in the navigation pages of this Sanders/Dyer family. The pictures are sitting on an end table in front of a Christmas Tree, (by a couch), which I recall going out with some of my brothers to cut down. At this period of time dad owned 4 lots. All of the lots with the exception of where the house was located, were covered with evergreen trees. There were several photos of Merritt but in my mom's eyes these were the predominate ones.


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 First came the picture of Merritt in the folding type one with the sail boat. This one was taken shortly after he enlisted in the Army after 21 Oct 1938 when he was 18 or 19 years old.
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Then came the one showing him as Sergeant, for confirmation see the letter from Merritt to mom dated 5 February 1944, which was replaced with the one of Gladys Shear and Merritt.
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After the sadness and disappointment of his first marriage to Barbara he stated in a V-Mail letter dated 24 Nov 1943, to mom; "
I sure do have a sweet wife now. I will be glad when you can see her." I have tried to find his first wife, but at this time to no avail.
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Finally there is the picture of his daughter Judy that Gladys had sent mom showing Judy at 3 months old. Merritt never lived to see his daughter.

 The Dale family traveled quite a bit prior to my school years, and whenever the folks decided that they would like to visit relatives in Illinois, Oklahoma or wherever these photos were the first ones packed and mom knew exactly where they were packed away at and were the first things to be unpacked. They first stayed in the front room on an end table near the couch. After awhile they were placed on a cedar chest in her bed room, which my brother Lloyd had built in a high school wood shop . It seems that they were positioned so it was the last thing mom saw before going to sleep and the first thing she saw upon awaking.

Merritt was the love of my moms life, she only had Merritt with her a little over 18 years, but I'm willing to bet that this was the best 18 year old child and mother relationship anyone had.

I was too young to remember Merritt, but doing this project it seems that I now know him as well as anyone in his short life time. If my math is correct, Merritt only lived 26 years 7 months and 23 days.

Participants in this Memorial to Merritt

(To speed up downloading time, most images will be in thumbnail size
just click on the image to obtain a larger view).

    Mary D. Dyer married Merritt Smith Sanders prior to 1903, probably in Illinois.  With the exception of John Brown, Merritt and mom, the photos were provided by Debra Matton, granddaughter to Zephel Edna Sanders. Photos of Lafe Cemetery, Merritt Smith Sanders, Mary D. Dyer headstones can be seen at  Maternal Cemeteries along with the obit of Merritt S. Sanders.

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Merritt Smith Sanders

The following notes provided by Great Granddaughter Debra Matton that were provided to her by the children of Merritt Smith Sanders/Mary D. Dyer:
He was a barber and sold furs.
They were farmers from East TN and were heading West when they got to Thebes, IL they did not have the money for the ferry to cross the river. They settled in Thebes, and later moved on to Lafe, AR. 

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Mary D. Dyer

From the research by Debra Matton, Roxanne Bayle, Floyd Bennett and myself we believe Mary's parents to be William Riley Dyer/Nancy K. Swearingham. There are several variations in the spelling of Nancy K. last name but we believe these to be her parents.
From Floyd Bennett research; Nancy K. (Seana) Swingum was married to a man with the last name of "Stevenson" (first name Unknown) but believe to be "Tom", about 1870.
This man, while drunk, killed Seana's brother about 1875 and was sent to prison for 30 years. About 3 years later, she married Riley Dyer.
Her two children, born in this marriage to Stevenson, Mary and Sam, took the name "Dyer" for the remainder of their life.

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Zephel Edna Sanders

Zephel is a sister to my foster brother Merritt S. Sanders of which this Sanders Family pertains to. Zephel is also the Grandmother to Debra Matton.
Zephel was born  21 March 1903 in Thebes, IL. She married John Alfred Harris in 1921. John A. Harris was a Postmaster in Lafe, AR.
My mother Florence Mae Brown was born 7 May 1902 in Thebes, IL.


They were school friends and corresponded throughout their life as shown by this school class photo of about 1909-1910..

Class Photo

Mom & Zephel Harris

Marie Nellie Brown


1 Florence Mae Brown Dale 2 Mom And Zephel Sanders Harris 3 Mom Sister Marie Nellie Brown Dyer

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John Brown

John and Gustara Augustus Malinda (Gussie) Brown family my maternal Grandparents, took Merritt Jr into their family when he was about 2 years old. Merritt's Jr. mother,  Mary D. Sanders died in Lafe, AR during the flu epidemic, 13 March 1919. When Mary died, her husband was left with seven children, 16, 12, 11, 6, 5, 4, and 1 month. It would have been very difficult for him with the number of small children and no family living in the area.

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Florence Mae Brown

I first found Merritt Jr. with the family of Alva and Noretta Dyer Holshouser Family in the 1920 Thebes, Alexander Co., IL Census. Noretta is a younger Sister of Mary. Here he is listed as Merritt Smith 11/12 years old as Step-son. So it appears that when Mary Dyer Sanders died 13 Mar 1919 Merritt was placed with Alva and Noretta Holshouser Family. It appears from the pictures of Merritt with Mom and Grandpa John Brown Merritt was about 2 or 3 years old. Why and how he joined the Brown Family has yet to be determine.

Gussie Brown died and is buried in the Old Thebes Cemetery 28 December 1924. John Brown died and is buried next to Gussie 25 April 1928. During this time frame my mother was corresponding with my father Elmer E. Dale at Fort Warden, Port Townsend, WA. After the death of mom's father John Brown, mom came to Port Townsend, WA., with Merritt and married my father, 4 June 1928.

Merritt lived with my folks till he enlisted in the Army and was stationed at Francis E. Warren Army Base, Cheyenne, WY., 21 October 1938.
Thereafter my folks only saw Merritt twice, once at Francis E. Warren Army Base (See letter dated 25 May 1939 of tracking Merritt by letters from Merritt to mom). My brother John E. Dale recalls seeing Merritt at Fort Ord, CA., but I don’t have any evidence of it.


ŠPaul and Phyllis Dale 1997-2009
Date this page was last edited 10/15/2011