Sanford Avenue

Wilmington founder Phineas Banning married Rebecca Sanford (c. 1835-1868) in 1854. Around twelve years later, he named Rebecca Street in her honor, but you know it now as Broad Avenue. Thus Sanford Avenue isn’t really named for Rebecca but for her brother William T.B. Sanford (c. 1814-1863), a partner of Banning’s and an early Los Angeles councilman, postmaster, and police chief. The Sanfords were a Kentucky farming family who moved to Missouri sometime between William’s and Rebecca’s births, then settled in L.A. by 1851. Many of the Sanford siblings came to tragic ends. Rebecca died in childbirth – of the eight children she had with Banning, only three survived infancy. William was one of twenty-six victims of the April 27th, 1863 explosion of Banning’s steamship Ada Hancock. Months later, William’s brother John was murdered by Wild West outlaw Charles Wilkins, who boasted of having killed nine men before he was lynched by a gang of L.A. vigilantes led by Banning himself. Cyrus Sanford Sr., who oversaw the family farm in Rancho La Ballona (see Del Rey’s Sanford Street), allegedly committed suicide in 1886 due to financial ruin. Only sister Marilda lived to a ripe old age; it’s unclear what happened to their other sister Amanda.