The slot for an informant on Sanford Rainwater's death certificate had been left blank and that discovery had troubled me. By all appearances, he had spent his last days/weeks/months and years... alone. I first shared his story HERE.
After his divorce following about six years of marriage, Sanford Rainwater and his ex-wife Alice Atkinson Rainwater took up residence in completely different parts of the state. Alice initially returned to Mills County, Texas where some of her family still lived and Sanford moved for a time to Sherman, Texas but ultimately moved 750 miles to settle in Aransas Pass along the coast north of Corpus Christi. Sanford's daughter Minnie married and lived with her husband and
children in Parker County, Texas which was 400 miles from Sanford, a sizable distance in those days.
|Denotes some of the counties where Sanford, Alice and their daughter Minnie lived|
Sanford's only known sibling, Mary seemingly disappeared following the 1880 census, and Sanford's father, John Rainwater, died in 1890. Sanford's mother, Bargilla, lived with Sanford from the time of his divorce until her death on the 24th of October 1919. So it appeared that for the remaining 21 years of his life, Sanford had been alone, far from any extended family. My heart ached for him.
|Aransas Pass, E.P. Chambers, April 10, 1911, No. 2, Wikimedia Commons, Original LOC|
Sanford Rainwater lived in Aransas Pass from 1920 until his death in 1940
And then a discovery in a newspaper changed a great deal of what I thought I knew about him. Quite by accident, I stumbled onto first one and then several more newspaper write ups in the Aransas Pass Progress which referred to a Sam Rainwater.
I had taken note that Sanford was listed as Sam on his death certificate, but I had originally dismissed it without much thought, regarding it as information likely provided by someone who didn't know him and therefore didn't know what name he went by. After all, there wasn't even an informant listed on his death certificate, and other basic information such as his address was left blank. Additionally, he was listed as Sanford on every census entry during his entire lifetime. Census entries revealed that while there were other Rainwaters living in the area at the time, none were his close family and none had names even remotely similar to either Sanford or Sam. Everything seem to indicate that Sam Rainwater's death certificate was for "my" Sanford Rainwater. Eventually further research would confirm that.
As I searched the newspaper collection to see if there were other entries for Sam Rainwater living in Aransas Pass, I was pleasantly surprised to find more entries and it became apparent that Sam and Sanford were one and the same. I was excited to find entries that helped me to learn a few more details to round out the last years of his life.
Among other things, I discovered that Sanford was not as "invisible" as I had initially assumed. I learned that light hearted things he said sometimes found their way into the local newspaper. People have always liked to have fun with the Rainwater name and such was the case back then as well. The first mention I found was in the March 31, 1935 Aransas Pass Progress newspaper and simply stated:
Sam Rainwater, rejoicing over the shower. Well why shouldn't a Rainwater?Then on August 25, 1938 he was quoted again. This time it said:
SAM RAINWATER: I never heard a storm going as fast as the one that's suppose to be near Haiti right now. Well, I don't care where it hits, just so it don't hit here!One final trivial entry was found in the July 20, 1939 edition of the Aransas Pass Progress and was located under the "Have You Heard?" column.
.......Sam Rainwater has a pair of scissors which have been in use for over a 100 years........Apparently news could be s l o w some days in Aransas Pass. That last entry made me scratch my head and wonder if there were really reporters who looked for that type of news or exactly how they came by that type of information? It reminded me of an Andy Griffith episode where Opie and his buddy Howie skulked around town, eavesdropping and listening around corners for any little thing townspeople said and then included it in their school newspaper.
While seemingly trivial in content, these simple entries nevertheless make me smile as they confirm that Sanford or Sam as he was apparently known, held a place in his community. People knew who he was and his simple quips and details about his life sometimes found their way into the local newspaper. Maybe Sanford was different from the man I had initially envisioned.
While fun to find, these entries essentially served to confirm that he was there and that others knew him. I discovered several other entries which provided more significant information, information which made all of the difference in what I now know about Sanford, information which I will share in upcoming posts.
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