Henry Shelton Sanford and Family at Belair Grove


Dublin Core


Henry Shelton Sanford and Family at Belair Grove

Alternative Title

Sanford Family at Belair


Sanford (Fla.)
Sanford, Henry Shelton, 1823-1891


Henry Shelton Sanford (1823-1891) and family at Belair Grove in Sanford, Florida. In 1870, Sanford purchased 12,547.15 square acres of land known as the Sanford Grant. Sanford was an American diplomat, lawyer, and businessman. Born in Derby, Connecticut, Sanford eventually joined the United States Diplomatic Corps in 1849. During his initial tenure in the Diplomatic Corps, Sanford served as Secretary of the American Legation at Paris. In 1853, he was promoted to the position of Chargé D'Affaires in France. In 1861, President Lincoln named Sanford as the U.S. Minister to Belgium. During the Civil War, Sanford served as a fiscal agent for the U.S. Government and supervised the U.S. Secret Service in Europe. After his tenure as Minister to Belgium, Sanford played a role in the establishment of the Congo Free State, a vast colony in Equatorial Africa under the direct control of the Belgian King Leopold II. In particular, it was Sanford who lobbied U.S. President Chester A. Arthur to recognize King Leopold's colony, a move that sparked broader international recognition of the Congo Free State. He also served as a delegate for the American Geographical Society at the International African Association Congress established by Leopold II and held in Brussels in 1887. Sanford organized the "Sanford Exploring Expedition," an expedition that served to answer scientific and commercial inquiries in the Congo.

Aside from his diplomatic career, Sanford was also a businessman and investor. He made several real estate investments in Florida in the late 1860s and early 1870s, the most notable being the purchase of the "Sanford Grant" in May 1870. The grant encompassed over 20 square miles and provided the basis for the town that eventually bore Sanford's name. Sanford was convinced that Florida would prove a profitable place to invest. Anticipating significant traffic and commerce by waterway, Sanford bought a land grant positioned on Lake Monroe along the St. Johns River. The city of Sanford thus became deemed the "Gate City of South Florida" - the southernmost stop along the river. During the 1870s, Sanford invested significant amounts of money to the development of his city - he built a wharf, several hotels, a general store, and a sawmill - all of which he hoped would spur investment and growth in the city. Sanford also developed several experimental citrus groves in his Florida city. The first was St. Gertrude's Grove. The second and more successful grove was Belair, developed in the early 1870s. Though Sanford never lived in Florida, he did visit occasionally from the late 1860s until his death in 1891. His diplomatic and business duties kept him preoccupied abroad, and most of his development in Florida was undertaken by representatives and confidants. Following the "Great Freeze" of 1888, Sanford's Belair grove was destroyed. Sanford was committed to rebuilding the grove and, in the late stages of his life, he committed his energies to his Florida investments. He died several years later though, and his wife Gertrude, in an effort to settle debts owed in Europe and elsewhere following his death, sold many of Sanford's properties in Florida.


Original 8 x 5.25 inch black and white photograph: Henry S. Sanford Collection, Sanford Museum, Sanford, Florida.


Ensminger Brothers Photographers

Date Created

ca. 1891

Is Format Of

Digital reproduction of original 8 x 5.25 inch black and white photograph.

Is Part Of

Henry S. Sanford Collection, Sanford Museum, Sanford, Florida.
Sanford Collection, Seminole County Collection, RICHES of Central Florida.




124 KB


8 x 5.25 inch black and white photograph


Still Image


Belair Grove, Lake Mary, Florida

Accrual Method



History Teacher
Economics Teacher
Geography Teacher


Originally publsihed by Ensminger Brothers Photography.

Rights Holder

Copyright to this resource is held by Ensminger Brothers Photography and is provided here by RICHES of Central Florida for educational purposes only.


Hazen, Kendra
Cepero, Laura

Digital Collection

Source Repository

External Reference

Westgate, Philip J., and R. Bruce Ledin. "Belair Groves, Sanford, Pioneer in Sub-Tropical Horticultural Introductions." Florida State Horticultural Society 66 (1953): 184-187.
Some Account of Belair. Sanford, Florida: 1889.
Fry, Joseph A. Henry S. Sanford: Diplomacy and Business in Nineteenth-Century America. Reno, NV: University of Nevada Press, 1982.
Molloy, Leo T. Henry Shelton Sanford 1823-1891. A Biography. Derby, CT: Valley Historical Research Committee, 2009.
Sanford Historical Society, Inc. Sanford. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2003.

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

1 black and white photograph

Physical Dimensions

8 x 5.25 inches



“Henry Shelton Sanford and Family at Belair Grove,” RICHES, accessed June 22, 2024, https://richesmi.cah.ucf.edu/omeka/items/show/4225.