David Sanger (1782-1851)

David Sanger was born on 17 September 1782 in Framingham, Massachusetts, the son of David Sanger (born 1751) and Rheuhama Nutt (born 1753), who married in 1779. David moved to Littleton, New Hampshire, where he married Mary (Polly) Palmer (1783-1854) on 8 July 1806. After the birth of his older children, the family began a long migration westward following the work of building canals, a task that included felling trees, removing stumps, excavating the channel (often through solid limestone), and building locks and aqueducts. Already living in western New York in 1816, he began in 1817 on the western sections of the Erie Canal with a contract at Rochester, where the aqueduct over the Genesee river was completed in 1823, then at the western terminus on the Niagara River, until the canal was completed in 1825. During these years the older children were able to attend schools in Genesee County (near Rochester) and at Black Rock (near Buffalo), while Polly continued to bear additional children. In the fall of 1826, the family removed to Pittsburgh, where David began heavy construction on the Western Division of the Pennsylvania Canal. This project lasted five years, proceeding from Pittsburgh to Blairsville and on to Johnstown, where canal boats were loaded on the Allegheny Portage Railway for the journey eastward. During these years the family settled in Blairsville, where the oldest children were married, Lorenzo in 1830 and Laura in 1831. On completion of the canal, David and his family continued westward to Ohio and Indiana, where further opportunities opened up in canals and other construction. In 1836 David and his sons were living in St. Joseph, Michigan, engaged in bridge building and general mercantile business. In that year contracts were let for the Illinois and Michigan Canal, connecting the Illinois River at Lasalle with Lake Michigan at Chicago. Sanger and his associates, including his son Lorenzo, began in the rock sections near Lockport and Joliet, continuing westward to Lasalle. Among their main accomplishments were Lock 15 and the 464-foot-long Fox River Aqueduct, carrying the canal over the river at Ottawa. This project, begun in 1838, was the greatest engineering feat on the canal, and the pinnacle of David Sanger's career. Upon its completion in 1842 he and Polly decided to settle in Ottawa, where they spent their remaining years. He died on 1 May 1851 and is buried in Ottawa Avenue Cemetery. Polly died in 1854. Their children were:


Elmer Baldwin, History of La Salle County, Illinois. Chicago: Rand McNally & Co., 1877, p. 251

David Sanger, from Massachusetts to Ohio, to near Lockport, Illinois, in 1836, and to Ottawa in 1838. He was contractor for building the canal acqueduct [sic] across the Fox river at Ottawa, under the firm of D. Sanger & Sons. He died in 1851; his widow died in 1854. His children were: Lorenzo P.; Dr. W. A.; J. Y.; Lucien P., who has resided at Ottawa and Joliet, is now in Utah; and two daughers: Louisa; Harriet, married Dr. Henriks, of Indiana, both deceased.

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