The Prized Devon Bull of the East Concord NH Sanborns

Nero, the prize winning bull of East Concord, New Hampshire, owned by the Sanborn family.

Nero, the prize winning bull of East Concord, New Hampshire, owned by the Sanborn family.

An unusual postcard came to my attention recently.  The photograph shows a well-built dark bull, on display with a long-handled twitch and chain in his nose.  In handwritten script in the margin is added: “Bull, Nero, No. 8160 winner of five first prizes in ’06. Its a two year old that weighs 1740 now as a three year old. Owned by John W. Sanborn (Concord NH).”

In researching this story, many interesting facts came to light about its breed, and about a few local New Hampshire farmers who bred and showed them off.  I became curious about Devon cattle, and how this specific breed came to be in New Hampshire.  It was immediately apparent that tracing Devon cattle was much like researching a human genealogy.

The American Devon Record: Containing the Pedigrees of Full Breed Devon Cattle, in the United States and Dominion of Canada, to January 1, 1880, Volume 1, by James Buckingham provides an excellent history of how Devon Cattle came to New England: “The first recorded exportation of pure-bred Devons [from England] to America took place in 1817, and thus narrated in a letter from Mr. G. Patterson, of Maryland, to Mr. Richard Peters, of Atlanta, by him communicated to Captain Davy, and published in his preface to the second volume of the “Herd Book:”  “SYKESVILLE, MARYLAND, September 3, 1853: “Dear Sir: Your letter of the 29th August has been received. In 1817 Mr. Coke (afterwards Earl of Leicester), of Holkham, England, gave my brother, Robert Patterson, six Devon heifers and a yearling Devon bull named by Mr. Coke, Taurus 197.  My brother gave three of the heifers to his father-in-law, Richard Caton; the other three he gave to my father, William Patterson; the bull Taurus was the joint property of Caton and my father. Two fo the heifers belonging to my father were in calf by a bull of Mr. Coke’s, the third heifer was put to Taurus 197, upon their arrival in this country. The three afterwards were bred to Taurus 197, and the progency of the whole were bred together. In 1835, after the death of my father, I became possessed of his stock of Devon cattle, descended from Taurus 197, the three heifers above mentioned and the calves of the two heifers which were in calf before leaving England.  Taurus 197 was bred by Mr. Denny, a tenant of Mr. Coke’s. Mr. Coke gave me fifty guineas for Taurus.  In 1820 I saw the dam of Taurus on the farm of Mr. Denny; she made thirteen pounds of butter a week. In 1833 I wrote to the Earl of Leicester that I owned the Devon cattle descended from the stock he had given m brother some years before, and that I was anxious to procure a bull for a cross. He sent me out Anchises 7, and wrote me that he had bought him from one of the best dairies in Devonshire for his own use.” — G. Patterson.

Although another source states that Devon cattle came to New England from Canada, it is well documented in the herd books, that the prominent  cattlemen of New Hampshire’s Devon herds arose from the above-mentioned Patterson herd of Maryland.  The American Devon Record book that was published yearly, shows John B. Sanborn, and his son John W. Sanborn both of East Concord New Hampshire as being early Devon breeders.   [see the Sanborn family genealogy below].  John B. Sanborn had purchased one bull (Monitor 615) and several cows (Strawberry 2d 2573, Minnie 9th 2040, May Queen 2003, and Fancy 1638) prior to 1870, mostly from H.M. Hall in East Burke, Vermont.  On 9 September 1870 it appears that he had produced his first New Hampshire bull, aptly named “Pennecook 938.”

938 PENNECOOK 635 (BULL) Calved September 9th 1870. Bred by John B. Sanborn, East Concord, N.H. By General Butler 601. Dam May Queen 2003 by Lincoln 782, 2d dam Red Face 2333 by Winchester 1243, 3d dam Lady Hurlbut 1737 by Thrall 1171, 4th dam Beauty 506 by Exchange 542, 5th dam Beauty (Old) 505 by Holkham 686, 6th dam Fancy 1179 by Taurus 197, 7th dam Fancy 134, imported.

[Editor’s note: All of the Devon cattle that belonged to the East Concord NH Sanborn family can be traced back to Taurus 197, and the imported cattle from Maryland]. John B. Sanborn is prominently mentioned in further additions of the Devon cattle record books along with J.M. Weare of Seabrook, and Ward Parker of Merrimack, New Hampshire.

The Sanborns continued to grow their herd, often naming them after popular people or places in New Hampshire (i.e., Mayflower Maid, Miss Dustin, Mayflower, Cherry Concord, Count Rumford, Shaker, Belknap). Both father and son Sanborn frequently show off their prized animals. On 11 September 1879 the New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette (Concord NH) page 4 presented a large portion of the page to the New England Fair, run by the New England agricultural society, holding its 16th event at Worcester, Massachusetts. Under “Exhibitions of Neat-Stock” is mentioned: “In devons a noticeable lot was that exhibited by John B. Sanborn of East Concord, sixteen in number. He was one of the largest exhibitors in this department. Under, “A Look At The Livestock,” states, “There are in addition to the devons of Mr. Sanborn of East Concord, some fine herds…

In addition to the annual New England Fair (held in a different location each year) John B. and John W. Sanborn exhibited their cattle also at the Kearsarge Fair (held in Warner annually). They seemed to focus on bull breeding, and on working oxen teams. However on occasion they exhibited other animals including Southdown buck ewes and lambs.  At a meeting of the Kearsarge Farmer’s Club at Contoocook on 12 February 1880, J.D. Sanborn stated that he “mixes good hay and meadow hay to all his cattle; gives them all they will eat and they grow to his satisfaction.” At the 1883 Kearsarge Fair, J.B. Sanborn of East Concord (exhibited) “A yoke of oxen in particular attracted much attention: they were magnificent. Eight feet was the girth thereof, and forty-nine hundred pounds was the weight thereof, and they were perfectly matched.”

Eventually the Devon cattle lost favor, gained it again, and now is a rare breed in New England. According to The Encyclopedia of Historic and Endangered Livestock and Poultry Breeds, by Janet Vorwal Dohner, states that “under the leadership of Dr. Stewart Fowler, the breed reached its greatest number of registrations from 1879 to 1981. At present, fewer than 200 cattle are registered annually. Most are being used in crossbreeding operations.”

*****ADDITIONAL READING***** History of the Devon breed of cattle – Sinclair, James, 1853-1915 American Devon Record: Devon Cattle, United States and Dominion of Canada to January 1, 1880; Volume 1, by James Buckinham – (Earliest History of Devon Cattle imported to the US) American Devon record : containing the pedigrees of pure bred Devon cattle in the United States and Dominion of Canada (1880) American Devon Record, United States and Dominion of Canada, to August 1, 1884, Volume 3, James Buckingham, Zanesville Ohio

—-Partial Genealogy of the E. Concord NH Sanborn Family—-

William & Mary (Moulton) Samborne [of Hampton NH]

Josiah & Hannah (Moulton) Sanborn [of Hampton NH]

William & Elizabeth (Dearborn) Sanborn [of Hampton & Hampton Falls NH]

Joshua Sanborn & Abigail (Sanborn) Sanborn  [of Hampton NH]

Daniel & Hannah (Folsom) Sanborn [of Epping NH] [listed in DAR Patriot Index]

Tristam & Abigail (Knight) Sanborn [of Epping & Boscawen NH] Herman/Heman & Mary Ann (Bean) Sanborn [for Boscawen & Concord NH]

John Bean Sanborn, son of Herman & Mary Ann (Bean) Sanborn b. 1 April 1831 in East Concord NH, died 26 Sep 1901 in Concord NH; He m1) Concord NH 4 Sep 1852 to Hannah M Powers; He m2) 28 March 1857 in Boscawen NH to Hannah A. Stone, dau of Amos & Nancy A. (Couch) Stone;  She b. 12 April 1830 in Webster NH. He was a farmer and a breeder of Devon cattle in East Concord, New Hampshire [see Tristam Sanborn links above for additional biographical material].
Devon Cattle in the United States and Dominion of Canada to January 1st, 1903 page 322, 327 Several bulls, calved from 1900-1902, Bred by John W. Sanborn, East Concord NH, and some by John B. Sanborn.
1850 US Census > NH > Merrimack > Concord
Abram Bean 61 M Farmer NH
Sally Bean 61 F NH
John B. Sanborn 19 M NH
1860 US Census > NH > Merrimack > Concord
John B. Sanborn
Hannah A. Sanborn
Sarah J. Sanborn 6
1870 US Census > NH > Merrimack > Concord
John B. Sanborn 40
Hannah A. Sanborn 41
Sarah J. Sanborn 16
John W. Sanborn 11
George B. McL Sanborn 9
Frank P. Sanborn 7
Charles W. Sanborn
1880 US Census > NH > Merrimack > Concord
John B. Sanborn M 49 NH
Hannah A. Sanborn F 49 NH
Frank P. Sanborn M 16 NH son [b abt 1864]
Charles Sanborn M 14 NH son
Harvey H. Sanborn M 8 NH
Children of John B. &. Hannah (Powers) Sanborn:
1. Sarah Jennie Sanborn, b. 20 April 1854 Concord NH; d. 16 Aug 1914 in Concord NH; m. William F. Sargent
2. Nancy P. Sanborn, b betw 1855-1857 NH
Children of John B. & Hannah A. (Stone) Sanborn:
3. +John W. Sanborn, b. 19 Aug 1859 East Concord NH
4. George B. McLennan Sanborn, b abt 1861 NH; d. 23 June 1924 Concord NH
5. Frank P. Sanborn, b. abt 1864 NH; d. 17 Dec 1886 Concord NH
6. Charles Henry Sanborn, b. abt 1866 NH; d. 21 Jan 1947 in Boscawen NH
7. Harvey/Harlie Hall Sanborn, b. 25 Dec 1872 Concord NH

John W. Sanborn, son of John B. & Hannah (Stone) Sanborn, b. 19 Aug 1859 NH, d. 3 March 1929 in East Concord (Penacook) NH;  m. 19 March 1881 in Fisherville (Concord) NH to Clara J. Ames, dau of Harlow Ames, a merchant of Lawrence MA. She was b. July 1862 in Lawrence MA; He is buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, Concord NH. He was a member of [the Fire Department’s] Old Fort Engine Company, No. 2.  A farmer and devon cattle breeder along with his father in East Concord, NH.
1900 US Census > NH > Merrimack > Concord
John B. Sanborn M 68 NH [b Apr 1832]
John W. Sanborn M 41 NH son [b Aug 1859 NH]
Clara J. Sanborn F 28 MA dau-in-law [b July 1862 MA]
Mabel G. Sanborn F 18 NH granddau [b Dec 1882 NH]
Frauline S. Sanborn F 13 NH granddau [b Apr 1887 NH]
Children of John W. & Clara J. (Ames) Sanborn:
1. Mabel Gertrude Sanborn b 4 Dec 1882 NH; she m. 9 Aug 1902 in E. Concord NH to Harry B. Sanborn, son of Daniel B. & Emeline P. (Clough) Sanborn.  He was b. abt 1877
2. Frauline S. Sanborn, b. April 1887 NH [possibly adopted, Clara in 1900 census states she only had one child]
3. Emma H. Sanborn, b. 28 Oct 1902; d. 11 Jan 1904 in Concord NH, age 1 yr 3 months 14 days of meningitis

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3 Responses to The Prized Devon Bull of the East Concord NH Sanborns

  1. Lawrence says:

    There is lots more information about Milking Devons on the American Milking Devon Cattle Association website

  2. jkyus says:

    I’m glad I found this blog on the Sanborn’s and their prized Devon Cattle. I discovered a silver medal about 10 years back from the New England Agricultural Society awarded to none other than John B. Sanborn for his Devon Bull. I bought the medal because it reminded me of my childhood on a farm in CA where our family raised bulls, hogs and sheep to show at the County Fair for our 4-h project each year. I tried to locate his surviving family as they would probably have some interest in the medal. Anyway, glad I found this and I still have and enjoy the medal. See some photos of the coin on eBay

  3. Pingback: NH Tidbits: Cow Hampshire Revisited | Cow Hampshire

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