Margaret E. (Driscoll) Sanderson Pierce

Daisy, Daisy, I’m half crazy all for the love of you…..

Margaret more affectionately known as Daisy was born 14 March 1862 in Milwaukee. She was the second daughter of Capt. Daniel J. Driscoll and Sarah Marie Hardy.

In 1881 Daisy first married William Sanderson, Jr. son of William Sanderson Sr. and Mary Ann Watson. William was born May 1849 in Milwaukee. William was educated in the schools of Milwaukee and had college courses at the Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. His parents died within a year of each other when he was about 15 years old. His uncle Edward Sanderson was given guardianship of the William and his younger brother John.

Before his father died William helped his father on the cotton Plantation near Helena, Arkansas. After his death he returned to Milwaukee and secured a position as purser with the Engelman steamboat line, at that time running between Milwaukee and Grand Haven. In 1866 he was on board the propeller Lac La Belle when it collided with the steamship Milwaukee in the St. Clair River.

The Lac La Belle was homeward bound on her last trip for the season, and would have went into winter quarters on arrival in Milwaukee. It was carrying a heavy cargo of iron and copper ore. There were six passengers on board and thirty-five crew members. All but two of whom survived. All the clothing and cargo on the Lac La Belle was lost when the ship sunk within three minutes of being struck.

The Lac la Belle was built in Cleveland, and came out in July 1861. She was one of the largest of the Lake Superior line of stern wheel steamers and was considered a staunch and reliable craft. She was one of the favorite passenger boats. She was owned by Robert Hanna & Co., of Cleveland. her cost when new, was $130,000. She was insured for $80,000.

Soon after the accident, William took on work in the Edward Sanderson Milling Company, becoming president after Uncle Edward’s death in 1889. At his death he was the president of the National Millers’ Association. He was a director of the Plankinton bank, and he was connected with the Berger, Sanderson Commission company of Minneapolis. He was a member of the Milwaukee chamber of commerce since 1876 and was connected with the Knights of Honor, a beneficiary organization.

William Jr. died unexpectedly in his sleep at his home in Wauwatosa on 12 Feb 1893. He had been ill for at least six months prior to his death. Visiting the doctor on Sept 14, 15th, January 26, 27, and 27th. He was suffering from diabetes which was determined to be his cause of death.

William Jr. and Daisy had two children:

  • William Sanderson born September 1882, he never married.
  • France S. Sanderson b. 9 February 1884. France married Edward Harding Bair

John Eli Pierce

About a year and a half after William died Daisy married John Eli Pierce, a long time friend of the family and cousin. Prior to William’s death, John, or JEP as he was known, were in various business dealings together. Including co-ownership of a horse which was raced at the Cold Spring Race Course. JEP was also a board of director of the Sanderson Mill. More about JEP.

William Sanderson Estate

Upon his death, William left remaining a very large estate to be handled. Everyone seemed to want to get their mitts on some of the estate. Frederick T. Day and Hugh Ryan were appointed executors. F.T. Day later resigning (see below) and John B. LeSaulnier was appointed as replacement. William’s will gave to Daisy all the personal property, clothing, and household items. The remainder of the estate was to be sold and the proceeds used for Daisy and the children to live on as long as Daisy remained unmarried. If she remarried, she would only get half and the surviving children would equally share the other half. Well it didn’t go exactly as expected. Daisy was still battling William’s estate when JEP died in 1902. Then had to deal with the even messier estate of JEP. Portions of the Sanderson estate still remaining unsettled in 1915 when France reached 30 years of age. Daisy received only one allowance/support payment from the Sanderson estate amounting to $276.00.

The Panic of 1893

Early in 1893[1] the economic condition was not favorable. Some of the problems started in the 1880s when the supply and demand for agricultural products began to move out of balance. Immigration was high and many new farms were established on borrowed money. As long as the foreign countries continued to buy from the U.S., things went well. But, the U.S. increased the tariffs on products and countries such as Russia, Australia, Canada and Argentina became large competitors of the U.S. and foreign countries began to slow down the demand for American goods. Market prices plummeted while the supply increased. Farmers were unable to pay back their loans. Financial institutions overextended themselves. Confidence in the financial institutions declined and many failed. Including the Plankinton Bank where William Sanderson owned $3000 of capital stock.

Swindled by Frank A. Lappen

Frank A. Lappan of the Frank A. Lappen Furniture Company was a key player in the failure of the Plankinton Bank. Lappan had been skillfully deceiving many prominent businessmen for a long time. He lied about the amount of capital that was in the company and he pushed his credit limit whenever he could. He even borrowed money from his employees. He had built up his outstanding loans to the bank totaling $267,000 and $45,000 in overdrafts. On May 12, 1893, only a few months after William’s death, Lappen went bankrupt. Other depositors hearing the news of Lappen became uneasy. There was a run on the bank, people withdrawing money as fast as the tellers could count it. At the end of the day, the cash balance that day had dropped by $72,000.
Cash Reserves May 12 $252,000
Cash Reserves May 16 $148,000
Cash Reserves May 23 $ 81,000

The bank tried to slow the run by conspicuously bringing in a large safe, said to contain $600,000 gold from the Chicago Meat Packer, Phil Armour. There was no deposit on record of that magnitude, but it did slow the run.

With cash reserves down to $7,300, on the morning of June 1, Vice President William Plankinton closed the doors within five minutes of it opening. It was later found that Frederick T. Day’s, the bank President and primary stock holder (held 31 1/2 per cent of the stock), debt to the bank almost equaled its capital and surplus, and the security offered by Day included bank stock, which was worthless when the bank failed. There were other bad dealings by the bank, these two being the largest amounting to over $750,000 loss.[1]

JEP to the Rescue

During the bank liquidation proceedings, the creditors tried to re-coop some of their money, wherever they could get it. Ladden went bankrupt, so there was no money there. Rafael Gianella, a creditor of the Plankinton Bank, filed a claim for the benefit of himself and all other creditors against the Wm. Sanderson estate (and other deceased stockholders). It was an attempt to enforce the statutory double liability upon the stock. Which basically means by taking stock in the company, Wm. also was accepting liability for the debts. The claim was appealed to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin and on the 30th of April, 1897 the Supreme Court decided that the claim should be paid. The judgment amounted to the amount of capital stock ($3000) plus interest for a total of $3,287.49.[2] There was not enough cash in the estate to pay the claim, so JEP paid it out of his pocket. Upon JEPs death in 1902 his estate filed a claim against the Sanderson estate for the amount.

JEP also paid other debts on behalf of the estate including 1900 and 1901 property taxes on the Sanderson subdivision in Wauwatosa ($629.99). If the taxes had not been paid others could have applied for the deeds and the property would have been lost.

Values Decreased

The Panic of 1893 brought land and stock values down to relatively nothing. On the day of his death, William had considerable land but also very large obligations.
Homestead 22 acres
Sanderson’s Subdivision 10 acres value of these two were supposedly $60,000.
The half interest owned by the estate in the Borkenhagen tract in the Town of Greenfield was estimated at the time to have a net value of $5000. It was lost in foreclosure.
The Rat Portage property was estimated at $5000.
The homestead Land Company stock, was estimated at $70,000 value but was later sold for $26,500.
325 shares of stock in the E. Sanderson Milling company had cost William $32,500, later valued at $20,000 became worthless after the company went into receivership. More about the Sanderson Mill and receivership.

Outstanding Loans

In 1893 when the Panic of 1893 hit, Harry B. Sanderson and the estate of William Sanderson were jointly liable on a note to the Commercial Bank, amounting with interest to $10,257.36, as collateral to which were deposited 275 shares of the stock of the Sanderson Mill. At the time, Harry was unable to pay his portion of the note, and was supposed to be insolvent. The William Sanderson estate was liable for the whole amount. The Commercial Bank was in difficulties and very eager for money, so the executors borrowed from Mrs. William Sanderson the money to pay one-half of the liability, the Bank taking a note from Harry for the remainder.

The executors from time to time borrowed more money from Daisy amounting to $17,700. As of 1906 she had received $3225.00 interest on the loans, but none of the principal had been paid back.

Edward Sanderson Claim

Even the heirs of Edward Sanderson filed a claim against the estate. Elizabeth, Edward’s wife, originally had the claim, when she died the claim was filed by the heirs of the estate. We imagine they suffered a great loss when the mill closed and they were grasping at anything they could to make ends meet. As of January 1 1905 the Sanderson estate owed the heirs of Edward Sanderson $8000 plus interest for a total of $10,955.57 of which they settled for $4000.

The Homestead Property

In 1894 the Marine Bank began foreclosure proceedings on a $40,000 mortgage William had taken out with a lien against the the homestead property, house and other assets. The executors tried to raise money another way, but they were unable to sell anything that would give proceeds high enough to pay the debt. They sold to Daisy, then Mrs. J.E. Pierce 22 acres of land for $20,000. This covered the interest and past due payments due the bank, plus some other obligations that had to be paid. Daisy also signed an agreement with them that if the executors were able to sell it at a higher price within 3 years from the date of her deed, she would either have to pay the difference or give back the deed in exchange for her cash plus interest. During the three years, the executors made an effort to sell the homestead but were unable to sell it for a larger amount.

It took a great length of time to close up William’s affairs. According to the court documents this was attributable to the fact that, the Bank’s mortgage covered most of the estate, and selling any part of it was not enough to pay off the mortgage and interest. The delay resulted in payment to the Bank of $13,500 in interest. The Homestead Land Company stock was finally sold January 1903 for $26,500. This paid the mortgage in full.

Compensation of the Executors

The executors put a lot of time and effort into trying to maintain the estate after William’s death. They believed that five thousand dollars would be a very reasonable compensation for their actual services, but in view of the fact that the estate assets were insufficient to pay that in full, they would accept $2690.89 which was a bit over $250 a year for the time

Disposition of Assets

Estimated net value of assets remaining in 1906 $7768
plus the amount paid on the E.Sanderson Claim $3425.82
total $11,193.82

Subtract from that the remaining balance of compensation for the executors $2000, leaves $9193.83

Subtract from that the amount necessary to pay to redeem Sanderson’s subdivision from tax certificates $701.39, leaves $8492.93

This amount was divided pro rata between the claims of the E. Sanderson Estate ($13,500), the claim of Dunbar $281.00, and the Gianella judgement owed by Pierce estate to about $4165. Daisy did not receive a penny for the $17,700 that was loaned to the estate.

Death of Daisy

Daisy died on the first of January 1914 at St. Mary’s Hospital. Services were held at the Forest Home chapel. She was buried at Forest Home in the same lot as her sister, brother and mother. JEP and William were buried in Forest Home in the same lot as William’s parents and William and Daisy’s son William.

France Reaches Majority

When France reached the age of majority (30 years old) all of the remaining assets transferred to her possession. They were as follows:

$85.13 cash
Property as follows:
10 shares Lake Go-Gobie Mining & Exporing Co.
5 shares San Pedro Mining & Milling Co.
5 shares United States Swing Treedle Co.
20 shares McElroy Transportation Co.
75 shares E.Sanderson Milling
1 share Automatic Fire Service Co.
All appraised as worthless.

1600 Shares Minnesota Captial Mineral Land Co. @5.00 per share
Notes of the Minnesota Capital Mineral amounting to $225.13 cash

An undivided 7 1/2/16ths east of Rat Portage, Rainey River, in the province of Ontario, British North America, and known as parcel #38, patent 1720 of addition to mining locations 283-P containing 14 acres more or less

Parcel #36 patent 168 of mining location 263-P containing 80 acres more or less and 285-P containing 75 acres more or less.

Parcel #90 patent 245 of mining location 264-P, containing 80 acres more or less/

That part of parcel #91 of mining location 292, lying on the southside of the main line of the Canadian Pacific Ry. Co. containing 30 acres; also mining locations 310-P shown on the map or plan of Edwin Sieger P.L.S. filed in Crown Land Department, Toronto, Containing 120 acres more or less.

[1] Andersen, Theodore A. A Century of Banking in Wisconsin;1980.
[2] The Northwester Reporter, 1897 pg. 112. Excerpt available at Google Books.

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