Thomas Bracken Sanders

Thomas B. Sanders. Courtesy of Gilbert Morrill
Thomas Bracken Sanders

He was born on November 29, 1848 in Illinois, one of thirteen children, yet ten of his brothers and sisters died in infancy, some of whom are buried in the Susanville Cemetery. It should be noted that the family came west in 1860 and settled in Plumas County and in 1867, they moved to Susanville.

One of his more interesting jobs began in the late 1870s, when he went to work for the Fish & Game Department as a deputy. They kept him busy planting fish in the various lakes and streams to learn what would best adapt in the area. In January 1879, Sanders along with Dr. H.S. Borette and William Dow introduced the first non-native species of fish at Eagle Lake. It was two wagonloads consisting of 225,000 Great Basin whitefish. That fall they planted brown bullhead catfish at Eagle Lake. Sanders also planted catfish in the Susan River and Piute Creek, where they did quite well. Take for instance, in 1883, Masillon Martsteller caught a twelve pound catfish from the Susan River. Sanders, himself, caught a catfish from Piute Creek that weighed fourteen pounds.

While Fish & Game paid Sanders a stipend for what he did, the work was sporadic and the payment not sufficient to make a living. For a livelihood he learned the carpentry trade. He specialized in making cabinets, furniture and trunks. As most furniture makers of this era, he was called upon to make coffins. He added undertaker to his profession and continued until 1896 when he sold out to Tom Oakes. In 1897, he moved to Sacramento where his brother, Plumas Sanders resided. It was not a good move. Two years later, unable to find steady work, he committed suicide.


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