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Anderson Family Papers

Microfilm MS 443-MS 445



The publication of the pamphlet guide and of the microfilm publication it describes was made possible by a grant from the National Historical Publications Commission, Washington, D. C.

Anderson Family Papers

The three rolls of this microfilm publication contain the correspondence and papers of John Anderson, Presbyterian clergyman and educator; his son, John Byars Anderson, educator, railroad official and financier; another son, William C. Anderson, also a Presbyterian minister and educator; and John Alexander Anderson, son of William C. Anderson, Presbyterian clergyman, educator, and statesman.


John Anderson was born in Guilford county, North Carolina, in April, 1768. Licensed to preach in the Presbyterian faith in 1793, he spent the next several years as an itinerant minister in the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. By 1802 he had settled in Upper Buffalo, Pa., where, except for occasional journeys on business for the church, he lived the remainder of his life. In 1810 he was active in the founding of the Western Missionary Magazine and for a time served as one of its editors. As a trustee of the Western Missionary Society he made frequent tours among various Indian tribes. In 1817 Anderson became president of the board of trustees of Washington College (now Washington and Jefferson College) at Washington, Pa., which post he held until 1831. He died on February 8, 1835.

John Byars Anderson was the second and younger son of the Rev. John Anderson. He was born in Washington county, Pennsylvania, on November 22, 1817, and was graduated from Washington College in 1836. After graduation he moved to Kentucky to teach and in 1841 was in New Albany, Ind., where he and his wife, Cecelia Alexander Anderson, established private schools for boys and girls.

In the 1850’s he became interested in railroad operations. As this new vocation took more and more of his time he gradually withdrew from teaching and by 1858 his schools were closed. During the Civil War he was colonel and military superintendent of railroads, first for the Southwest, then for the Department of the Cumberland. In September, 1863, he was directed by the secretary of war to stock and equip railroads between Louisville and Chattanooga for military purposes. By October, 1863, his title was general manager “of all Railways in the possession of the Government . . . in the Departments of the Cumberland, the Ohio and Tennessee.”

Early in 1864 Anderson became interested in the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division, then planning to build through Kansas. Though he apparently never assumed control of the railroad’s construction, as urged by John D. Perry, he did become financially involved. In 1868 he moved to Junction City, Kan., and “retired” to become president and director of several firms in that city as well as in Manhattan, Kan., where he later resided. In the 1880’s he was president of the board of trustees of the College of Emporia, Emporia, Kan., where, in 1888, he established the Anderson Memorial Library. In 1899 Andrew Carnegie agreed to build a suitable building for this library as a memorial to Anderson, who had once opened his library of 400 books to Carnegie, then a youth working in Pittsburgh.

John Byars Anderson died at Manhattan on July 25, 1897.

William C. Anderson, the eldest son of John Anderson, was born in Washington county, Pennsylvania, on August 18, 1804. In 1824 he graduated from Washington College and then studied theology under his father. His entire adult life was spent in the ministry with the exception of a short period (1843-1844) when he was professor of rhetoric and belles-lettres at Hanover College, Hanover, Ind., and later when he was president of Miami University at Oxford, Ohio, from 1849 to 1854.

In 1869 Anderson came to Kansas and settled in Junction City where he occasionally preached in the Presbyterian church. Sermons were also delivered in Abilene, Kan., when that town was at the height of its cattle chipping activities. Anderson died at Junction City, August 28, 1870.

John A. Anderson, son of William C. Anderson, was born near Pigeon creek, Washington county, Pennsylvania, on June 26, 1834. He was graduated from Miami University in 1853 and was ordained in the Presbyterian ministry four years later. His first charge was located in Stockton, Calif., where he served until 1862 when he was appointed chaplain of the Third regiment, California volunteer infantry. He accompanied Gen. P. Edward Connor and the regiment on an expedition to Utah but resigned in the spring of 1863. He was subsequently appointed relief agent, United States Sanitary Commission, a post he held until 1865.

In 1868 Anderson came to Kansas as pastor of the First Presbyterian church in Junction City. He resigned that position to become president of the Kansas State Agricultural College in 1873. Anderson’s tenure there was marked by pedagogical reform in which academic emphasis was subordinated to a more practical approach to applied agriculture.

President Anderson was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1878 but he continued to serve as head of the college until September, 1879, when he resigned. Reelected to congress three times, he failed of the nomination in 1886 but switched from the Republican party to an independent ticket and won reelection. In 1888 he was elected to his final term, again as a Republican. He was appointed consul general to Cairo, Egypt,, the day after his congressional career ended, March 4, 1891, and remained there until shortly before his death, which occurred on May 18, 1892, at Liverpool, England, while en route home.

Scope and Content

The papers of the Anderson family in the collections of the Kansas State Historical Society, consisting of five document boxes containing correspondence, diaries, documents, and manuscripts, were given the Society by the family in 1905. Those relating to John Anderson are primarily concerned with his work in the field of religion with a strong smattering of family material included. The earliest of his papers date from the time he served as pastor at Upper Buffalo. They continue for 31 years and outline his service there, not only as a minister, but as an educator and periodic Indian missionary.

Perhaps the most noteworthy portion of the papers of John Byars Anderson is that concerned with his railroad activities. Documents, correspondence and other papers relating to the New Albany and Salem Railroad company, the New Albany and Sandusky City Junction Railroad company, and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad company are included with papers detailing Anderson’s involvement in Civil War railroad matters. A large segment of the collection pertains to the finances and construction of the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division (later the Kansas Pacific), which was then building across the length of Kansas from Wyandotte to Denver. Anderson apparently was offered the job of supervising construction of the road but he never assumed command. Letters from persons connected with all phases of the railroad’s early life give a detailed view of its status and progress. These letters cover the period 1864 to 1879.

Of particular interest in the John Byars Anderson collection is a series of letters written in 1899 by Andrew Carnegie to Mrs. Anderson, in which the industrialist expresses his gratitude to Anderson for opening to him the “temple of knowledge.” Other correspondents of Anderson include Aleck C. Anderson, E. M. Bartholow, Robert E. Carr, Charles S. Greeley, Charles B. Lamborn, John A. Logan, M.C. Meigs, William J. Palmer, John D. Perry, Thomas A. Scott, and Edwin M. Stanton.

A diary kept in December 1866, and January, 1867, during a trip to Europe completes the J. B. Anderson collection.

The William C. Anderson portion of the collection is concerned with his life and duties as a Presbyterian minister. Service in churches at Louisville, Ky; Buffalo, Pa.; Pigeon creek, Pa.; Pittsburgh; New Albany, Ind.; Chillicothe, Ohio; San Francisco; Cincinnati; and Junction City, Kan.; is reflected in these letters and documents. Some correspondence concerns his service as agent of the missionary board of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in 1830 and 1831 and as agent of the Western Foreign Missionary Society in 1836 and 1837. A small portion of the collection covers his term as president of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, 1849-1854.

Manuscript copies of some of his sermons, a manuscript of a book on theology and an account book, follow the correspondence.

The correspondence and papers of John Alexander Anderson conclude the collection. An assortment of family letters and correspondence dealing with his first pastorate, in Stockton, Calif., from 1857 to 1862 precedes correspondence and documents related to Anderson’s Civil War experiences with the Third California. A later pastorate in Junction City, Kan., and his presidency of Kansas State Agricultural College occupy the bulk of the remaining portion of his collection. Only meager correspondence reflects Anderson’s congressional career and his service as consul general to Cairo.

Correspondents include Franklin G. Adams. George T. Anthony, J. A. Banks, Henry W. Bellows, Fred Billings, Alfred J. Bloor, David J. Brewer, John Browne, P. Edward Connor, George A. Crawford, John P. Devereux, John Frazer, Jessie Benton Freemont, Albert Griffin, Lewis Hanback, James M. Harvey, Albert H. Horton, John James Ingalls, Fred N. Knapp, Cyrus Leland, George W. Martin, John A. Martin, John R. Mulvane, F.F. Oakes, Joseph Parrish, William A. Phillips, Samuel C. Pomeroy, Noble L. Prentis, C.V. Riley, T. Dwight Thacher, Balie P. Waggener, Daniel A. Wilder, and Hill P. Wilson.

A collection of Anderson’s sermons follows the correspondence.

The Anderson family papers are arranged chronologically under the names of the individuals concerned. This order is maintained in the microfilm edition of the papers. Undated material follows dated, and illegible letters are immediately followed by typed copies which are included only as aids.

Microfilm targets have been kept to a minimum and are used only when necessary to indicate enclosures, retakes, et cetera. Targets containing editorial information have not been included. Title targets on small sheets of white paper introduce each new series and are easily noticed during rapid winding of the film. Title targets and roll content headings are identical and may be used for rapid location of desired items on the film.

Helpful secondary works relating to the Andersons include:
George W. Martin, “The College of Emporia, Andrew Carnegie, and John Byars Anderson,” Kansas Historical Collections, V. 7, pp. 502-520.
George W. Martin, “John A. Anderson—A Character Sketch.” Kansas Historical Collections, v. 8, pp. 315-323.

Contents List

MS# B & FO Descriptions Dates #IT
443   I. Correspondence of John Anderson (1767-1835) 1802-1835 35
  1.01   1802-1827 17
  1.02   1828-1835 18
444   II. Papers of William C. Anderson 1821-1870 181
    A. Correspondence 1821-1870 122
  1.03   1821-1834 30
  1.04   1835-1839 22
  1.05   1840-1845 16
  1.06   1846-1849 16
  1.07   1850-1859 21
  1.08   1861-1870 17
    B. Mss of sermons 1827-1857 57
  1.09   1827-1838 19
  1.1   1839-1840 19
  1.11   1840-1857 19
  2.01 C. Didactick theology 1826 1
  2.02 D. Account book 1849-1850 1
    (containing also religious memoranda)    
445   III. Papers of John Alexander Anderson (1834-1892) 1857-1905 208
    A. Correspondence 1857-1905 187
  2.03   [n.d] 4
  2.04   1857-1859 11
  2.05   1861-1864 25
  2.06   1865-1869 25
  2.07   1870-1874 24
  2.08   1875 20
  2.09   1876-1877 26
  2.1   1878 32
  2.11   1879-1905 16
  2.12 Originals [1861?] May 11 -June 10? 4
  3.01 B. Mss of sermons and public addresses 1859-1882 21
443   IV. Papers of John Byars Anderson (1817-1897) 1848-1958 275
    A. Correspondence 1848-1902 259
  3.02   1848-1859 15
  3.03   1861-1862 15
  3.04   1863-1864 30
  3.05   1865 28
  3.06   1866 38
  3.07   1867 37
  3.08   1868 15
  3.09   1869 9
  3.1   1870-1879 48
  4.01   1880-1902 23
  4.02 Originals 1899 Apr. 17 1
End 4.03 B. Notebook kept during European trip 1866 Dec. 15 1