Where Does Your Story Begin? Explore Tracing Our Roots / Routes
Alpheus Zaccheus Saunders, patriarch and the eldest of 12 children, was born to Alpheus Charles Timothy Saunders and Jane Bennett of the Turks and Caicos. Alpheus Zaccheus emigrated to Bermuda in the late 1800’s, the birthplace of his 8 children. History repeated itself when 5 surviving children, emigrated to Massachusetts in the early 1900’s to seek employment. His eldest son, Duncan Hilgrove Saunders, remained in Bermuda.
Alpheus Z, as we affectionately refer to him, was a printer. The reason for his departure from the Turks and Caicos is unknown, but he selected Bermuda as a nesting place for his family following his marriage to Mary Susan Davis, (native of Turks and Caicos) in 1883, at St. Paul’s Church, Paget.
Alpheus Z. maintained communication with relatives in the Turks and Caicos and sent birth announcements of his children for publication in the Turks Islands Royal Standard. From 1891, he held the position of Secretary of the Bermuda Loyal Union Society.
Following the marriage of Alpheus Z’s daughter Mary, to Earl Persip I of Pittsfield, Massachusetts and the birth of his Bermuda born granddaughter, Florence, the emigration of his 5 children began in May 1908. Each of the Saunders siblings braved the ocean crossings to Boston. Nina (17), the youngest and last to emigrate, set sail with brother, Alpheus Jr. in 1920 (the year of Alpheus Z’s death), leaving behind Duncan.
Duncan, a marine engineer married Charlotte Ophelia Wilkinson in May 1906. They built a home in Warwick and raised daughters: Joan, Elsie, and Edith.
While visiting the Bahamas, Alpheus Z. died of lead poisoning. Mary Susan Saunders, now a widow, filed a petition, to become a US citizen. She lived her remaining years with son, Alpheus Jr. in Boston, until her death in 1945. Mary Susan was buried in Cambridge Cemetery along with her son, Alpheus Jr.1886-1953 and granddaughter, Bernice Saunders Howard 1918-1966.
Researchers: George Ford (Lee) and Betty Ann Cann Townsell