April 11, 1910: ‘The parents are heart broken’

  • Blog Post by: Ben Welter
  • August 30, 2013 - 6:01 PM
Part 7: Early this summer, I happened upon the tale of a little foundling left at a Minneapolis confectionery in 1909. The woman behind the counter, Mary Sanford, had been longing for a child, and she and her husband, a real estate man, welcomed the happy infant into their home. The feel-good story extended to the neighborhood and beyond, thanks to the Minneapolis Tribune, which published stories and photos about the foundling nearly every day for two weeks: Tribuna is wrapped in loving arms, Tribuna is a thriving tot; Tribuna is showered with gifts.

I posted the first few pieces without knowing how the story would unfold. I hoped Tribuna would continue to thrive and enjoy a happy childhood. I hoped she would grow up to be a fine woman with children of her own. I hoped to track down her descendants and talk with them about how their great-grandmother got her start in life. I hoped to give you a happy ending. Instead, then as now, the ending is abrupt and heart-breaking.

[read part 1]  |  [read part 2]  |  [read part 3]  |  [read part 4]  |  [read part 5]  |  [read part 6]

Foundling Baby, for Whom The Tribune
Found a Home, Died Sunday Morning

Tribuna Sanford, foundling baby, discovered by The Tribune last August and later adopted by C.C. Sanford, 1709 Fourth avenue south, died Sunday morning. Specialists were called in Saturday in an effort to save the baby’s life.
Tribuna had been in poor health ever since she was found on a doorstep last August. She had submitted to three serious operations, and just as she was regaining her strength contracted the whooping cough.
When she recovered from this attack a few weeks ago, she was left in a weakened condition. The parents are heart broken.
Tribuna was eight months old Saturday. She was found on a doorstep on the morning of Aug. 23 last. A note was found giving the date of her birth and asking that someone care for her.
The next day, the Tribune published a funeral announcement accompanied by the most recent photo of the little girl.


Rites for Little Foundling
to Be Held This Afternoon

Tribuna [Sanford] was left in the store of the Sanfords last August, by an unknown woman who had entered and asked Mrs. Sanford for a drink of water. When Mrs. Sanford returned with the water the woman was gone but she left the baby. So fond were Mr. and Mrs. Sanford of the child that they adopted it.
The parents are heart broken over the loss of their adopted child. Tribuna was eight months old Saturday, when she was baptized by Rev. Irving Johnson, rector of Gethsemane Episcopal church.
Funeral services Tuesday at 1 p.m., at Gethsemane church. Rev. L. Houlgate, brother-in-law of Mrs. Sanford, will officiate. Interment in Crystal Lake cemetery.
A day before Tribuna died, a minister from Gethsemane Episcopal Church in Minneapolis visited the Sanford home and baptized the girl "in extremis," according to church records. This postcard of the church at 905 4th Av. S. in downtown Minneapolis is from about 1905. (Image courtesy of
In this, the Tribune’s final story on the little founding, Tribuna’s true given name, Evelyn – the name listed at the church where she was baptized and at the cemetery in which she is buried -- is mentioned for the first time:

Little Baby’s Trinkets
Laid Away in Coffin

When Tribuna Evelyn Sanford, the adopted daughter of Mr. and Mrs. C.C. Sanford, 1709 Fourth avenue south, who died last Sunday, was laid to rest Tuesday, her sorrowing foster-parents placed in the casket all her little trinkets, her ring, locket and her favorite doll. The casket was covered with floral offering from people who had become her friends, some without even seeing her, by the newspaper accounts of her romantic adoption by the Sanfords. “The kindness of so many people in our hour of trial makes us feel as if we were being rewarded almost too much for our act in adopting Tribuna,” said Mrs. Sanford.
Tribuna is buried in an unmarked grave in Crystal Lake Cemetery in north Minneapolis. She was laid to rest next to the Sanfords’ other child, Albert, who died in infancy on Aug. 22, 1908, nearly a year to the day after Tribuna was left in their care. His grave is also unmarked, which was common for infants of that era.
It's unclear what happened to the Sanfords after Tribuna's death. I can find no Minnesota death record for Mary (or Leah, as she was listed in Tribuna's baptismal record), but it appears the couple parted ways at some point, whether through death or divorce. Carlton sold off his family property in Faribault and headed to California, where it appears he married a woman named Alice. Carlton C. and Alice I. Sanford are buried at San Gabriel Cemetery in Los Angeles County. I will try to locate Carlton Sanford's descendants to see if I can confirm his move to California and perhaps find out what happened to Mary Sanford. Please let me know if you can help in that search.

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