Annie Mae (Richard) Sanner is pictured with her children on the occasion of her 91st birthday in 1990. Her husband, Alden, is shown in the insert. The Miller school is shown in photo right of the Sanner family.
Sanners descend from orphan boy in Galveston by Nola Mae Ross. Printed in the Cameron Parish Pilot, Cameron, LA on April 26, 2012
“I was told that I was born in 1859 in Matamoras, Mexico,” Ernest Sanner told his family. “They said my father who was working on a boat, fell overboard and drowned and my mother died soon after. I was taken by a foster family to Galveston, mistreated, often cold and hungry, and was found wandering around the Galveston waterfront, crying and forlorn.”
Legend says that a schooner captain known only as “Captain George” from Lake Charles took the little boy aboard his boat and waited for someone to claim him. When no one did, he brought Ernest Sanner to his home in Lake Charles. His descendants have never gotten proof, of whom the “Captain George” was, who took care of the boy for the next few years.
Ernest Sanner remembered being raised on the east side of Prien Lake and that he worked for Captain George Lock, but they have no proof that Captain George Lock was the boy’s rescuer. Some of the descendants think it might have been a “George Livelier,” but no proof has been found of this either.
MYSTERIOUS CAPTAIN GEORGE DIED
When Captain George died Ernest Sanner went to live with Martin Kaough at “Shattuck’s Ditch”, near Moss Lake. He joined Kaough on frequent boat trips across the lake and waterways to Hackberry in a skiff. It was on one of those trips that Sanner met Aurelia Duhon, fell in love with her and they soon were married. The date of the marriage, which is recorded in Cameron Parish, is Jan. 5, 1882.
Ernest Sanner homesteaded 240 acres of land on the corner of Highway 27 and Highway 390, and then planted
a portion of this land in oak trees, which was a requirement of the Homestead Act. For Sanner this was the beginning of a lifelong passion for planting and growing trees. He also planted rice and raised cattle where St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church was later located.
DONATED LAND FOR CHURCH
A copy of a deed held by Ernest Sanner’s great-grandson, Norman Sanner, stated that in 1895 Ernest Sanner gave to the Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans, “one lot measuring one acre, for $15.” Later he gave three additional acres to the church and some of the oak trees he planted over a 100 years ago are still growing there.
A granddaughter of Ernest Sanner, Annette Sanner (Mrs. Harold Totem) wrote an article about Ernest Sanner in which she said, “He often talked about people ‘cheating’ the earth. He believed in giving back to the soil what it gave to him and he always worried that people were not taking care of the earth.”
Ernest Sanner planted pine trees around Hackberry High School. Ironically, the Hackberry Salt Domes were within three miles of Sanner’s Homestead, but he was no longer around to express his opinion about this.
A fond memory of Ernest Sanner; was told by greatgranddaughter, Glenda, (Mrs. Don Guillotte). She said, “Grandpa loved cats, all cats, any cats, and any number of cats. After he became bedridden, he was given a stuffed cat which he often stroked.”
A grandson, Alden Sanner, son of Clarville and Estell Sanner, recalled, “Grandpa Ernest loved to grow trees and plants, and he always had a garden. But he hated grass with a passion. He hoed it so much that he wore his hoe down to one inch across. He even hoed most of the grass in his yard. Another thing I remember about Grandpa Ernest was that he played a violin and he often played it at the Saturday night dances (fais-do-dos) that were so popular in his day.”
The eight-year-old boy, found crying on the Galveston waterfront came a long way in his lifetime. Living to be 101, Ernest Sanner was able to enjoy a homestead of his own, plus the presence of children and grandchildren. He made the world a better place, not just for his descendants, but also for the community in which he lived.
He and his wife, Aurelia, had six children, Lasand, Theophlie, Raymond, Garfield, Evelyn and Clarville. Evelyn left no heirs but the others have many descendants living in the Hackberry, Carlyss, and Sulphur area.
When oil was discovered and drilling began in Hackberry in the late 1920s most of Ernest’s sons went to work with the oil industry. However no oil well was drilled on Ernest Sanner’s land, but he did have oil leases. An early oil well was drilled on the land of Ernest’s son, Raymond Sanner, and at that time it brought about 30 cents a barrel. The Moon Oil Company did most of the drilling.
Since the first oil well happened to be discovered on Raymond Sanner’s land, he bought each of his brothers a
Chevrolet from Glenn Overman in Sulphur, and he gave each of his sisters the amount of money a car would cost.
Ernest Sanner’s son, Clairville married Estelle Johnson from Hackberry and they had six children: Alden, Dean, Annette, Arlene, Neva and Laura Mae.
Alden Sanner served with General George Patton’s army as they raced across France and Belgium, heading to the Battle of the Bulge. “At one time,” Alden Sanner recalled, “We covered 60 miles in combat in 60 hours. When the Bulge started we were in the midst of it near Bastogne. Later, after the Battle of the Bulge we crossed The Rhine on the pontoon bridges built by our engineers and at war’s end we were near Prague where there was a large gathering of German SS troops. We had to make sure they surrendered peacefully. They did.”
When he came home from World War II Alden Sanner worked for Amoco Oil Company for 32 years. During this time Alden Sanner met and fell in love with Annie Mae Richard, daughter of Charles Richard and Azena Miller of Grand
Chenier. Azena’s parents were Eugene and Angeline Sturlese Miller who were pioneers of Grand Chenier.
Annie Mae Richard graduated from LSU in 1941, came to Hackberry to teach, and there she met Alden Sanner
when he returned home from the war. They were married in 1947 the same year he started working for Amoco in
Hackberry. He worked for Amoco for 32 years and retired as a field foreman.
ANNIE MAE SANNER
“Since my family lived with my grandparents, the Eugene Millers,” says Annie Mae Sanders, “I knew them very well. Education was important to Grandpa Eugene Miller, so he built a schoolhouse in his yard and hired a teacher for his children and some of the closer neighbors. The little school stood until Hurricane Audrey blew it down.
“As the children got older and finished the Miller school they were sent to Lake Charles or Abbeville for higher
education. Grandfather’s life seemed tied up with his cattle. He had thousands of them. The cattle drives, when
they took cattle to summer pasture or to market usually started at our house. Most of the cattlemen along Grand
Chenier would meet there and then leave for Mulberry Ridge and Chenier Au Tigre. I helped my mother make the
syrup cookies that they always carried in their saddlebags. Sometimes the men were gone for a month.
“Christmas was a big deal at the Millers. They were quite self-sufficient, with their own syrup mill. We made most of the Christmas sweets with syrup. A week before Christmas we’d bake pies, cakes, make candy and other sweets. The Millers grew their own turkeys, chickens, pigs, cows for milk and meat, and caught oysters, shrimp, and fish in nearby waterways. The vegetables they grew, and they used oranges from their orchards for ambrosia.”
HACKBERRY IN EARLY DAYS
After her marriage to Alden Sanner, Annie Mae moved to Hackberry. She and Alden produced four children, Jan, Charlie, Kirk and Dwayne. “Hackberry was quite different then,” she recalls. “At that time the only way to get into and out of Hackberry was by ferry. The roads were shell and there were no stock laws. Cattle roamed the roads all over Hackberry. It was strictly an oil town and there wasn’t even any commercial fishing.
“Hackberry, like all of lower Cameron,” she reminisces, “lost so many homes and people to Hurricane Audrey in 1957, and then in 2005, to Hurricane Rita, plus Hurricane Ike which struck the same area, a few years later so we are all worrying about the future and hoping to overcome the devastations of Mother Nature, and praying that our community will someday soon come back to the happy place that it used to be.”
(Nola Mae Ross needs information on the Griffith, Nunez, Broussard and Boudreaux families for future
articles on Cameron Pioneers. Call her at 477-6243 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.)