Sanford Fish was born December 19, 1839 in Walker, Kent County, Michigan, on the “old Graham farm,” the son of John (1812-1889) and probably stepson of Jane (1828-1905).
New York native John settled his family in Michigan and married his second wife, New Yorker Jane. By 1850 Sanford was living with one George Moore in Walker, Kent County and in 1860 he was possibly working as a laborer for and/or living with another laborer by the name of Warren Dennis in Novi, Oakland County.
In any case, Sanford eventually returned to the western side of the state by the time the war broke out.
He stood 5’7” with blue eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion and was 21 years old and probably working as a miller in Otisco, Ionia County when he enlisted in Company K on May 13, 1861. According to Captain Byron Pierce, then commanding Company K, in the summer of 1861 Sanford was confined for some two weeks in the smallpox hospital (probably near Hunter’s Farm, Virginia) and also afflicted with pneumonia “the result of which he is not expected to recover.” In fact, Fish was discharged for “pulmonary consumption developed by smallpox” on August 14, 1861, from the “Eruptive Disease Hospital” at Hunter’s Farm, Virginia.
After his discharge from the army Sanford probably returned to Ionia County, and may have been living in Otisco when he reentered the service as a Private in Company B, Twenty-fifth Michigan infantry on August 2, 1862, at Otisco for 3 years, and was mustered on September 11 at Kalamazoo, where the regiment was organized and mustered into service on September 22.
The Twenty-fifth left Michigan for Louisville, Kentucky on September 29 where it remained until December 9 when it moved to Munfordsville and remained there on duty until January 8, 1863. It was then moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky where it was on duty until March 26 when it moved to Lebanon, Kentucky and participated in actions against Pegram’s forces until early April when it was assigned provost and guard duty at Louisville until August. It participated in numerous operation sin Kentucky and eastern Tennessee throughout 1863, culminating in the siege of Knoxville in November.
Sanford was sick at Knoxville, Tennessee in November of 1863. The Twenty-fifth participated in the Atlanta campaign from May to September of 1864 and various operations around Georgia as well as the battle of Atlanta and subsequent siege and the battle of Nashville in December. Sanford was again reported sick in the hospital at Knoxville in March and April of 1864.
In May he was in the Division hospital and in July on detached duty, presumably in the hospital, where he was probably employed as a nurse. He remained hospitalized through September of 1864, and in May and June of 1865 was on furlough, possibly in Michigan. It is quite possible that Sanford remained in Michigan until he was discharged at Detroit on June 30, 1865.
Sanford eventually returned to western Michigan where he worked for many years as a mason and a farmer.
He married Michigan native Althea E. (1845-1909), and they had at least one child, Harry S. (b. 1880?)
By 1870 Sanford was living with his wife and had settled on a farm in Cascade -- his father owned some $8000 in real estate in Cascade -- and by 1880 he was working as a farmer and still living in Cascade with his wife and child; next door lived his parents and two houses away lived Emory and his family. He was living in Cascade in 1890 and 1894.
Sanford eventually moved into Grand Rapids and was living at 449 East Street in 1906 and in May of 1910 when he joined the Grand Army of the Republic Watson Post No. 395 in Grand Rapids; he was also a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association. In 1911 he was living at 946 Quigley in Grand Rapids.
In 1897 Sanford applied for and received a pension (no. 988514)
Sanford had been spending the winter of 1913-14 at Jacksonville, Florida, and was on his way back to Michigan when he was taken ill on the train before it reached Grand Rapids. When he arrived in the city he went to the home of a friend, Stephen Flanigan, 740 Bates Street where he died, a widower, of pneumonia, on March 26, 1914. Prayer services were held at Flanigan’s home at 10:30 Sunday morning, and Sanford was buried in Cascade cemetery.