Self-portrait of photographer Sanford Burrill

Fascinating, rare, self-portrait tintype (2 ½” x 3 ¾”) and cdv of photographer Sanford Burrill. Sanford Luther Burrill was born on June 9, 1843, in Pittsfield, MA.  The family moved to the Midwest in the mid-1800s.  According to a printed family genealogy book, Sanford was a strong young man destined to be quite tall until he accepted a dare at the age of 14 to shoulder a sack of wheat.  He was injured, damaging his spine, and became deformed, with an anterior posterior curvature, for the rest of his life.  He did however serve in the Civil War for one year as a guard in the 146th Illinois.   The tintype illustrates his injury quite well and Sanford seems to record this quite proudly with his profile pose.  He is pictured with a brother, John, who is seen wearing his Civil War outfit.  According to the IL database John was a private in the 12th Infantry. Further research connected us with the website,

~knight57/direct/knight/aqwg174.htm#2321 which provided us with this additional information.


Sanford Luther Burrill bought a photography studio and was able to make his living while getting his education. His first pastorate was at Sargenta Bluff, Iowa, where he stayed two years. He took his family to Walla Walla, Oregon [Washington], where he was a pastor. Sanford continued to have various businesses and was a pastor at the same time throughout the years. Business in Adams, Oregon became so bad that Sanford had to close his operation, so moved the family to Harrington, Washington on November 11, 1889. In the fall of 1889, Sanford's pastorate consisted of Toppenish, Washington, and various adjoining points. He was named Sanford, or perhaps Sanford L., and later assumed the middle name of Luther. "The Genealogy of Hugh Stewart" gives his middle name as "Lewis". He was known to his family as Sanford Luther and that is the name on his tombstone. Raised Methodist, Sanford went to Mount Morris, Illinois and attended the Rock River Seminary. In 1870 he attended Garrett Biblical Institute and graduated June 1872. In the winter of 1890, Sanford bought a farm "about seven miles northeast of Harrington on the road to Davenport. In the spring of 1901, Sanford purchased property in Yakima - 10 acres from a Mr. Irish, and a 4 acres plot from Mrs. Ruth Cock. The family moved to Nob Hill in the fall of 1901. This home burned in 1924. In December of 1908, Mr. Irish invited Sanford and Helen to move to Long Beach, California. Sometime later they moved to an apartment in Pasadena. Sanford died at the family home on Nob Hill, in Yakima, Washington. Sanford was buried in the Civil War Veteran's plot with a big granite stone. After about two years, the ladies' auxiliary hired an attorney and insisted the stone must be removed. However the casket was moved to a new plot of ground.

The cdv bears the back stamp for Sanford’s studio in Mt. Morris, IL as shown.  The tintype had his name written above his head at one time and it is still slightly visible at an angle, and it has some bends and marks as seen.  The cdv has some light wear mostly on the top right corner.   Don’t miss this opportunity to own an exciting and rare self-portrait of a documented hunchback photographer who served in the Civil War!