James H. Anderson, whose term as state auditor of Idaho expired at the beginning of the present year (1899), was born in Platte County, Missouri, on the 4th of October 1845. His ancestors were early settlers of Virginia and were participants in that struggle which ended in the overthrow of British rule in the colonies and the establishment of the United States of America. In the year 1818 his grandfather emigrated to Kentucky, at which time George W. Anderson, father of our subject, was only about six years of age. His birth had occurred in the Old Dominion in 181 2, and he remained in Kentucky until 1837, when he removed to Platte county, Missouri, where he industriously and successfully carried on agricultural pursuits. In Kentucky he married Miss Mary Roberts, and to them were born six children, five of whom are yet living. The father attained the age of eighty-six years, and the mother passed away at the age of seventy-three. Both were consistent members of the Methodist church, and had the high regard of many friends.
James Harvey Anderson, their second child, was educated in the public schools and at Pleasant Ridge College and in Spaulding’s Commercial College, at Kansas City, pursued a business course and a course in commercial law, holding diplomas as a graduate of both departments. On laying aside his textbooks he returned to the old homestead, where he was engaged in farming and stock raising, buying, selling and breeding shorthorn cattle and French draft horses. He also bought and shipped fat cattle to the eastern markets and continued in that line of business until 1884, meeting with excellent success in his efforts.
In that year he came to Idaho, locating in Washington County, where he has since continued stock-farming. A good income has rewarded his labors, although at one time he narrowly escaped financial disaster, owing to his indorsement of notes for friends. Notwithstanding this he has not lost confidence in the honesty of his fellow men, and is ever ready to lend a helping hand to those who need and deserve aid. He has managed his business interests carefully and systematically, and his integrity in trade transactions is above question. His prosperity is well merited, being the just reward of his own efforts.
In politics Mr. Anderson has always taken a deep interest, and gave to the Democratic party a loyal support until President Cleveland’s second campaign, when, believing that the Populist platform contained the best ideas of American government and was calculated to advance the best interests of the people, he joined its ranks and has since followed its banner. He became one of the organizers of the party in Idaho and was chosen a delegate to the first Populist national convention, which met in Omaha, Nebraska, July 4, 1892. He was also a delegate to the St. Louis convention which nominated William J. Bryan for the presidency in 1896, and has been a member of the Populist national committee for Idaho since its organization. He also represented Idaho on the conference committee at the St. Louis convention of 1896, a committee composed of representative Populists and “silver men.” He was chosen secretary of the tri-state convention of the Populist Party and also of the joint convention of the Populists and Democrats in 1896, after which he was nominated for the position of state auditor and elected in the fall of that year. He filled that responsible position in a most creditable manner. Although thus exalted to a high place, he is a man of the people, plain and unassuming, but possessing that genuine worth of character which in every land and every clime commands respect. In the discharge of his official duties he was prompt, careful and methodical, and no more capable official could have been chosen for the position of auditor.
On the 8th of December 1884, Mr. Anderson was happily married to Miss Mary Jeffreys, a native of Oregon and a daughter of Woodson Jeffreys, a pioneer of that state, now deceased. They have two children Georgie and James Woodson. Their comfortable and pleasant home in Weiser is the abode of hospitality, and as their circle of acquaintances is extended, their circle of friends is correspondingly enlarged. Socially Mr. Anderson is connected with the Knights of Pythias fraternity. He is a man possessed of that too often rare quality of common sense, which enables him to view matters in their true and practical light. He is loyal and patriotic, placing country before party and the public good before self-aggrandizement, and though he has been honored with high office he is exceptionally quick to recognize real worth in others, no matter how humble their station in life.