Biography of Thomas Anderson

Thomas Anderson. The honors and responsibilities of public life come with singular appropriateness to Thomas Anderson, of Salina, where he was among the first group of pioneer settlers and where his home and activities have been centered for the past fifty-five years. He retired from business a number of years ago, and the greater part of his time since his retirement had been spent in the office of county commissioner of Saline County.

This old time citizen of Salina is a Scotchman by birth. He was born March 24, 1838, at Fenwick, Scotland, a son of Archibald and Margaret (Young) Anderson. His father was born in 1799, and his mother in 1818. The family came to America in 1855, and the parents spent the rest of their lives in and around Sparta, Illinois, where the father died in 1874 and the mother in 1883. The father was a shoemaker by trade, and followed that occupation to some extent in addition to his work as a farmer in this country. There were eight children, five daughters and three sons, and the two now living are Thomas and his sister Mary, who is the widow of James Cuthbertson and lives at Girard, Kansas.

When the family came to America Thomas Anderson was seventeen years of age. In the meantime he had attended the Scotch schools, but his real education came from the university of experience. During the several years spent with his parents at Sparta, Illinois, he not only worked at the shoemaker’s trade but also did farming.

It was in 1861, the year the great Civil war broke out, that Mr. Anderson started westward with his destination as Kansas. From St. Louis he went up the Missouri River on a steamboat as far as Leavenworth, and then journeyed by team and wagon into Salina, where he arrived with a capital of $12.50. Salina at that time was on the dim border line of civilization. Eastward were the scattered settlements of the pioneers, but only a few miles to the west were encountered the countless herds of buffalo and also many wild Indians. Mr. Anderson recalls the fact that when he arrived at Salina there were less than thirty people comprising the population of the town. His first three months there were spent as an employe in the brick yard, and he was paid wages of $10 a month. During that time he lived on unsalted buffalo meat and corn meal.

He is one of the homesteaders of Saline County, having taken up a claim 1½ miles northeast of town. That land had rewarded him with a score or more of crops, and he still owned it. His substantial success was gained largely as a farmer, and he had contributed one of the best improved farms to that section of Kansas. He retired from active affairs in 1899.

Mr. Anderson from the beginning of his Kansas residence had taken an active part in local affairs. The war came on about the time he reached Salina, and a little later he became a member of the Fifteenth Kansas Militia and was first sergeant of Company G. His first service was against the hostile Indians. He is now a past post commander of John A. Logan Post No. 127, at Salina, department of Kansas, Grand Army of the Republic. Politically he is a republican, and cast his first vote for Lincoln in 1860. His fellow citizens honored him in 1879 with election to the State Senate from the districts comprising Saline and McPherson counties. His service on the board of county commissioners of Saline County had been continuous since 1911.

In Randolph County, Illinois, in February, 1864, having returned to that locality for the express purpose, Mr. Anderson was married to Miss Jane Crawford, a daughter of Brice and Marian (Kennedy) Crawford, both of whom were natives of Scotland. Mrs. Anderson was born in Randolph County, Illinois, August 12, 1843. They have been married more than half a century, and in that time eleven children, four sons and seven daughters, have come into their home and most of them are now grown and established in homes of their own. Margaret, the oldest, is the wife of Fred Stevens; Nellie is the wife of T. E. Fulton; Mary is the wife of Harry Holdoway; Brice E., a farmer at Salina; Elizabeth, wife of Charles Peden; Anna, wife of Claude Switzer; Arthur G., a merchant at Salina; Catherine, unmarried; Alexander; and William, who is deceased. Mr. Anderson and family are members of the Congregational Church. He is a life member of the Kansas State Historical Society. The competence won by his many years of strenuous endeavor as a Kansas farmer had given Mr. Anderson in later years the privilege of travel, and he had indulged his inclination to see the world to a considerable extent. In 1897 he went back to Europe and paid an extended visit to the scenes of his boyhood in Scotland.


Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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