Governor Anson Peacely Killan  (A. P. K.) Safford

     Anson P. K. Safford was the third Governor of Arizona serving from 1869 - 1877. He was also the founder of Tarpon Springs, Florida.

     Most histories of Anson P. K. Safford gives his birthdate as February 14, 1830, but a passport issued to him on May 6, 1866 has his birthday February 1, 1828. He is 5' 3'', has hazel eyes, dark brown hair and ruddy complexion. The document was filed in New York and signed APK Safford.
     Mr. Safford was born in Hyde Park, Lamille Co., Vermont to the parents of Joseph Warren Safford and Diantha P. (Little) Safford. The family moved to Illinois when Anson was eight years old. Both of his parents died a short time apart; his father, July 5, 1848 and his mother, April 25, 1849. They are both buried at the Crete Cemetery, Crete , Illinois. Anson is shown on the 1850 Crete, Will Co., Ill. census living with the L. B. Safford family.
     Anson at the age of twenty crossed the plains to California, and began mining for gold. It was a successful endeavor. He may have come from a poor background and denied a formal education due to unfortunate circumstances, but being of strong character, Anson was not limited by his meager beginnings. He mined for gold during the day and at night poured over books and by the truest since of the words, was a self educated man. At the age of twenty-five he ran for state legislature, but was defeated. Not to be deterred in his ambitions, he was successfully elected to the legislature in 1857 and re-elected in 1859. He left office a month later and served as the mining recorder and the county recorder. He then moved to San Francisco and in 1862  moved to Hombolt Co., Nevada where he was elected as County Commissioner after only a few short months of residency. He took an extended two year trip to Europe for cultural purposes and then returned to Nevada. As his star kept rising, Anson turned down a nomination for the US House of Representation before being appointed to the office of Surveyor-General by President Andrew Johnson on March 1887 serving until 1869 before health issues forced him to resign.  He was nominated for Governor by Ulysses S. Grant and elected Governor of Arizona April 3rd of that year. He believed in the public school system and went about establishing schools throughout the territory. While serving as Governor he passed an act of 1871 establishing a territorial tax for the public schools. Short in stature he became known as the "Little Governor." He raised a standard for higher education and literacy increased under his administration, earning him the title, "Father of Public Schools." The Indians were hostile. In 1869 and 1870 Mr. Safford took hold of the situation and appointed Jon Clum to assist in establishing order. He also created a volunteer militia to deal with the Mexican outlaws. "With intelligence, bravery and an unflinching purpose to bring order out of chaos, to give the people protection, to establish a system of public schools, he went to work." Through his efforts, the frontier made great progress. By making the area safer for travel Governor Safford was considered responsible for bringing the first easterners into the southwest. Railways, roads, telegraph lines, were all improved upon under his administration.  The Yuma Territorial Prison was one of the achievements under Governor Safford. The prison welcomed its first inmates on July 1, 1876. One of the most isolated places in Arizona, the prison was known as the "hellhole" by the locals. Even so, due to Governor Saffords interest in education, the prison held a library and as well as a photo gallery. The last inmate left in 1909 and from 1910-1914 the building served as Yuma Union High School. By the 1920s it was being used to house the homeless and is now on the National Registry of Historical Places and operated as an Historical Museum.  After leaving public office, Anson opened one of Arizona's first banks with offices in Tucson and Tombstone. He was president of the Tucson Gold and Silver Milling and Mining Company for a time as well. During the 1880s he sold his business interests and moved to Philadelphia and  New York remaining there for a couple of years before moving on to Florida. 
     Anson brought his family to Tarpon Springs around 1882. A friend of Hamilton Disston and a land agent for Mr. Disston's company the Disston Corporation, Anson built the city of Tarpon Springs from what some called nothing but a "forest." By bringing the Orange Belt Railway into the city and establishing the first Bank of Tarpon, the city was well on the way of being a "boom town." Due to Anson Saffords influence and acquaintances, the influx of wealthy business men arriving to invest in the area and bringing there families along with them, assured Tarpon Springs of this title. He soon sent for his sister, Dr. Mary Jane Safford. Upon her arrival and noting a need for a physician, she remained and became the first female practicing physician in the state of Florida.
    During his time in office Anson married Jennie L. Tracy; the marriage taking place at the Governors mansion and performed by Judge John Anderson. The couple soon had a son, Frank Alfred Safford, born July 2, 1870. Tragically the child died August 28, 1871 and perhaps set into motion an estrangement between Anson and Jennie. She filed for a divorce and publicly humiliated her husband by taking out notices accusing him of infidelity and of having a venereal disease. A Territorial Legislature bill was introduced into law on January 1, 1873 and signed by Governor Safford himself in which he was  granted a divorce. A month later Jennie had remarried. Anson next married Margarita Grijaliva, born in Mexico on July 12, 1859. They were married December 12, 1878, but sadly Margarita died a couple of years later on Jan 7, 1880, just two months after giving birth to their daughter, Margarite. They were living in New York City at the time.  Anson then married Soledad Bonillos, born in Mexico also, on May 25, 1859. They were married September 10, 1881 in Tucson,  Arizona. 
     On December 15, 1891 Anson P. K. Safford passed away not unexpectedly from unknown heart trouble and is buried at Cycadia Cemetery there. The last year of his life was a struggle to live and regain his health. His good friend, John Wasson  thought he had worked himself "beyond his strength and doubtless shortened his life," in his enthusiasm for the building of Tarpon Springs. He left a widow and three children; his daughter from a previous marriage and an adopted son and daughter to mourn his death. A week after Ansons death his sister also passed away, from a fever of an unknown cause and is buried along side of her brother. A copy of his will appeared in the Western Kansas World Newspaper on September 23, 1893. It reads:


     An Authentic copy of the will of Anson P. K. Safford was filed in the probate court. Safford died in Hillsborough County, Florida, in December, 1891, leaving property in that state and in California valued at $30,000. The will was probated there and is brought here to secure the administration of the property here.
     One-third of Safford's estate goes to his widow, one-third to his sister, $5,000 to his adopted son and the remainder to his daughters. There is nothing remarkable about the will except its quaint conclusion. Here the testator says: "This life is only the beginning of another. You will miss me, but I shall be with you and meet and welcome you on the other shore; but you have your work to do here.
"Do it bravely and do not mourn for me, for I shall not be dead. I shall only bid you good evening in order to say good morning to you when we meet  on the other shore."  --San Francisco Call

Ansons unswerving integrity in his public and private life won him respect all over this country and many friends. He was a leader among men. He had a kind, sympathetic heart for his fellow man and his simple philosophy was to do right and be helpful and useful to your fellow man.

The heritage Society of Tarpon Springs bought the Safford home saving it from demolition. It has been restored and serves as a museum for the city. Anson Saffords desk is on display at the museum, which is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. A street in Tarpon Springs is named for Anson P. K. Safford and when the hospital was built many wanted to name it after A. P. K. Safford as well.

Author: Linda Flowers

Source: Ancestry, Find A Grave, New York Tribune, Western Kansas World,
Coconino Weekly Sun (Flagstaff, Arizona), Wikipedia and

©Linda Flowers

©Linda Flowers

A. P. K. Safford Headstone
Cycadia Cemetery, Tarpon Springs, FL
U. S. Passport Applications 1795-1925 The Safford House Museum

©Linda Flowers

Safford Family Cemetry Plot
New York Tribune: 4-15-1880

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