Harland David Sanders

Burial Location Visited
Louisville, Kentucky April 21, 2010


The grave of Kentucky Fried Chicken's                                                       Sanders' daughter sculpted this
mustachioed founder, Col. Harland Sanders.                                               likeness of the colonel.


My father and I visited the colonel's grave                                                 As he was a Freemason,
during my week's vacation in April 2010.                                                   masonic symbols are engraved
                                                                                                            on this slab at Sanders' burial

                                       *** Interesting Facts ***

* Restauranteur Harland Sanders, affectionately known to most as "the colonel", was born in Henryville, Indiana on September 9, 1890. Harland endured a rough upbringing in Henryville. His father, who had struggled as a farmer, became ill and died when Harland was five. Harland's mother subsequently went out and began working at a canning factory in order to support her family. While his mother was at work, young Harland raised his even younger brother and sister. He did that until he was ten, at which point his mother decided he needed to find a paying job. The youth began working on a neighbor's farm, but was soon fired for goofing around. Worried that her son would not be disciplined without a father, Mrs. Sanders eventually remarried. Harland's new stepfather proved to be too disciplined, sometimes going as far as to beat him. This prompted the youngster to run away from home. When he was sixteen years old, he lied about his age and enlisted in the army. He spent the duration of his time in the military in Cuba. However, Harland came nowhere close to becoming a colonel.

* When he returned to the United States, Harland found a job as a trolley car conductor. When that didn't work out, he went to and from different occupations until he decided to become a lawyer. That came to an end when, during one case, he got into a brawl in the courtroom with his own client. He was even having problems with his marriage. Fed up with him being away all the time with the railroad, his wife Josephine ran away with the couple's three children. Harland and Josephine eventually reconciled, but there was still tension between them. Harland eventually began working as a salesman for Michelin selling their tires. He would dress up as the company's mascot and go to fairs promoting the tires, which resulted in a boost in sales. This was when Sanders realized that he was destined to be a salesman. However, a car accident soon left him injured and without a vehicle to travel in, so he was out of luck.

* Not giving up, the Indianan decided to get a fresh start and bring his family to Corbin, Kentucky, where the family opened up a service station. When a truck driver complained that there were no places to eat in the area, Sanders set aside a place in his station for people to dine in. The most popular dish that was served at the station was fried chicken. This chicken was so good that it gained much recognition and began to bring in tons of customers. Sanders soon expanded the dining area and brought in some hired help to aid him and his wife. Later, when a neighbor introduced Sanders to a pressure cooker, he filled the pot with oil and used it to fry his chicken. The cooking time in the pressure cooker was eight minutes, twenty-two minutes less than it took to fry chicken in a skillet. Then, while working with his daughter Margaret, Sanders came up with what the two believed was the best tasting combination of herbs and spices to use on the chicken (there were eleven). Keeping his recipe a secret, Sanders kept on feeding customers in what had evolved into a cafe and continued to get lots of recognition. In 1935, the governor of Kentucky went as far as to award the restauranteur the honorary title of Kentucky colonel.

* When highways were constructed a few years later, more people decided to get out on the road and explore the country. These travelers needed somewhere to sleep at night, and the colonel knew it. Deciding not to pass up a good opportunity, Sanders opened a motel right next to his cafe. To bring himself even more business, Sanders decided that he should dress like a Kentucky colonel, being that he was one. Taking his inspiration from illustrations of Kentucky colonels that he had seen in his younger days, he soon began to sport his famous mustache and beard, which were eventually followed by a white suit and bow tie. It turned out to be a good marketing gimmick. However, the colonel ran into some trouble when a new highway was built that totally bypassed the route where his cafe was. Before long, the colonel's customers became fewer and fewer. He was left with no choice but to sell his cafe. No highway would be able to keep the colonel down, though. Sanders knew that he had the best chicken recipe around, and that all he needed was a way to get his food to the public. 

* The colonel, at age sixty-five, headed out on the road and started franchising his recipe to local restaurant entrepreneurs. He would go into an eatery, demonstrate how he prepared his chicken, and offer to include the restaurant on his list of franchisees. Sanders had tested these waters several years earlier when, in 1952, he franchised his recipe to a restauranteur named Pete Harman in Salt Lake City. Harman sold the chicken in his place of business and gave Sanders a certain percentage of the intake. This was how it would be with all of Sanders' franchisees, which there were six hundred of by 1963. Millions of Americans were buying Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Harland Sanders emerged as a popular figure. His likeness was displayed at every KFC restaurant and was even on the individual buckets of chicken. The business was quickly becoming too much for Sanders, who brought in an attorney named John Y. Brown, who partnered with a businessman named Jack Massey and bought out the colonel for $2 million. Brown and Massey made Sanders the focus of their advertising campaign, putting him in countless commercials and ads. He also appeared on various television programs like The Tonight Show and the The Mike Douglas Show to promote his "finger-lickin' good" chicken. Soon, the colonel was known not just in the USA, but internationally. He continued to be active with the company he started for the remainder of his years, although he eventually had to slow down. Already weakened from leukemia, the colonel passed away in 1980 at the age of ninety. He still remains a popular icon.

Spouse: Josephine King Sanders (1888-1975)
              Claudia Ellen Ledington Price Sanders (1902-1996)

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