The Blackinton family has its origins in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Pentecost Blackinton, Sanford’s Blackinton’s great, great grandfather was born in Marblehead in 1662. He married Ann Pedrick and they moved to Attleboro, Massachusetts. They had eight children. For some two hundred years the Blackinton family was a continuous name in Attleboro, filling high and honorable positions in the town. Otis Blackinton, father of Sanford, married Ruth Richardson and they left Attleboro with their children in 1801 and settled on a 100 acre farm near the village of Blackinton in present-day North Adams.
Otis Blackinton was a teacher as well as a farmer. Sanford, the second child of seven, began his education under the instruction of his father, whom he accompanied to school on horseback, two miles from the farm. Otis was a plain man, a constant attendant at church and he commanded wide respect in society. He passed away in September of 1848 of dysentery. He and his wife Ruth are buried in the Blackinton Cemetery.
At the age of 16, Sanford became an apprentice in a woolen mill where his long business career began. He worked in this mill and several others until he was 24. He then founded a partnership with Rufus Wells and Joseph L White, and built a mill. By the mid-1840s, Sanford Blackinton was the sole owner of this very successful textile business. Sanford married Mary Russell in 1821, and they had three children, William, Mary Frances, and Austin. One child, Otis, was born to Sanford's second wife, Eliza Robinson, but the child only lived for 6 years.
Sanford Blackinton devoted himself to his manufacturing interests, yet was also very active in banking, civic and religious circles, taking part in political affairs as a Whig and then a Republican. Additional business partners, including his brother John, were brought into the mill, with Sanford’s son William buying out his uncle’s interest in 1861. At this time, the mill was booming due to orders for war material. The two remained in business until William’s untimely death of ptomaine poisoning. Several years later Sanford reorganized the company with himself as president.
Sanford built a community church at his own expense in Blackinton village which was used by several denominations. For most of his life he lived in the village, but in 1872 he built a palatial residence at the corner of Main and Church Streets in North Adams (the present-day North Adams Public Library). Besides this stately home, Sanford also built the Blackinton Block on Holden Street and contributed heavily to the construction of the Baptist Church, both in North Adams.
At the age of 88 years, Sanford Blackinton passed away July 24, 1885. He was laid to rest in the North Adams Hillside Cemetery, in the same plot as his two wives and his children.