Biography of Crittenden H. C. Anderson

Crittenden H. C. Anderson. No name is more intimately associated with the rise and development of Macoupin County and its financial prosperity than that of the late lamented Crittenden H. C. Anderson, who was for many years one of its most prominent business men and valued citizens. It gives us pleasure to place in this volume his portrait, and the following review of his life and work which has lovingly and carefully prepared by his nephew, W. E. P. Anderson, at the request of the publishers, and is an eloquent and just tribute to the great worth and ability of the departed.

Crittenden H. C. Anderson was born near Hopkinsville, Christian County, Ky., January 26, 1819. He was the eldest son and child in a family of eight children of Col. James C. and Ann R. Anderson, who were of Irish and Scotch descent. He came to Illinois with his parents when he was about sixteen years old, arriving at Carlinville (which was then a mere hamlet) October 27, 1834, camping out on the first night after his arrival with his father, mother, brothers and sisters, on the lot where the residence of Judge Tappen is now located on First South Street, one block southeast of the Court House, the site of which was then covered with timber and hazel brush. During their first winter here the family lived at Carlinville in a log house, standing upon the lot where the present postoffice is now located on the east side of the public square.

In the spring of 1835 his father, having entered four hundred acres of land on section 11, Carlinville Township, the family removed to it, and our subject made himself generally useful in bring the farm into cultivation, and in improving the home with such facilities as were afforded at that early day. The elder Anderson, with the vigor, energy and push characteristic of the early pioneer, desiring to improve the opportunities afforded in a country indicating a rapid growth and rise in the value of the unbroken prairie soil, at once extensively entered into buying and selling land and stock, driving the stock to the nearest market, St. Louis. For a couple of years or so, the management of the farm and looking after the family generally fell upon young Crittenden. At the early age of nineteen, however, as he developed an aptness for trading, and displayed good judgment as to the quality and value of land, he became the companion and business associate of his father in dealing in land and in stock generally. They traveled the country in all directions, and for long distances, for the purpose of buying hogs and cattle, frequently going together on horseback and driving cattle as far north as Wisconsin and Michigan to a market, and also driving stock of all kinds overland to the St. Louis market. At one time they were offered forty acres of land now in the heart of Chicago for a cow, which was declined.

On April 14, 1840, our subject was united in marriage with Mary J. Glass, a sister of the late Robert W. Glass. Taking his wife to the home of his parents, they continued to reside there until the spring of 1841, when they settled upon the farm given to him by his father; this is now known as the homestead of Malcolm M. Anderson, and is the south half of section 11, Carlinville Township. The happiness of their union was of brief duration, his wife dying May 4, 1841, leaving to his care an infant son, James Henry Anderson, who died October 28, 1854, aged thirteen years, five months and twenty-four days. Together with his little son Mr. Anderson again became a member of the home circle under the parental roof, where he continued to oversee his farm, and to deal in stock and land as previously, residing there until his marriage November 14, 1850, to Miss Mary E. Cole. He again took up his residence on his farm, where he conducted agricultural pursuits and trading generally.

In the summer of 1851 the dreaded disease cholera struck this neighborhood, from which Mr. Anderson’s father died August 14; the wife of his brother Erasmus S. Anderson, August 16, Erasmus himself August 26; and his mother, August 27. This was a period which tried men’s hearts; but with unswerving fidelity and love for his kindred which knew no fear, our subject nursed and cared for each one of these during their last sickness; taking his brother Erasmus and his little boy, W. E. P. Anderson, then only fifteen months old, to his own house and ministering to the wants of each. On account of the scarcity of help, he was compelled to assist in the sad duty of digging the graves and depositing the remains of each of these loved ones in their last resting place.

In the month of November, 1852, our subject removed to the farm now owned by Henry C. Anderson, near the fair grounds. Here he still continued his old business until the month of May, 1853, when he formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, Dr. R. W. Glass. Under the firm name of Anderson & Glass, they opened the first exclusive drug store at Carlinville, in a little frame building, located on the northwest corner of the public square, where now stands the three-story brick building erected by Capt. W. B. Dugger in 1868.

In 1855-56, Mr. Anderson, in connection with William H. Rider, erected the three-story brick building on the east side of the public square, recently known as the “Duplex Building”, and which was the first three-story building ever erected in the city or county. To the lower floor of this building, the stock of drugs was removed the spring of 1856, and in the fall of that year Mr. Anderson removed his family to it, occupying the second and third stories as a residence. Here January 20, 1857, his wife died, leaving to him the care of their only child, John C., who was then only two and a half years old, having been born August 31, 1854.

On October 20, 1857, our subject was married to Mary J. Stratton, the only child of Marshall H. and Rebecca (Blackburn) Stratton. By this marriage three children were born: Mary J., born December 27, 1858, died August 19, 1860; Virginia, born August 21, 1861, died February 25, 1867; and Effie M., born June 18, 1864, now the wife of William L. Mounts, to whom she was married June 18, 1884. After marriage Mr. and Mrs. Anderson boarded with the family of Dr. Glass until the month of April, 1858, when he purchased and removed to the property on East Main Street, adjoining the residence of Joseph Bird.

In the year 1860 Mr. Anderson retired from the drug business, having sold his interest to his partner, and again engaged in farming, feeding and grazing cattle, and general trading. Having devoted much of his life to the buying and selling of real-estate, he became quite familiar with the title to the same for many miles around the county seat and could with great accuracy repeat from memory the descriptions and the various transfers of the land. In 1868 he opened an abstract and real-estate office in a room in the Chestnut and Dubois building, adjoining the law office of the Hon. C. A. Walker. He continued in that business until February, 1870, when he opened a banking house under the name of the Henderson Loan and Real estate Association. This was a private corporation, he being the sole stockholder and he continued the same in its corporate capacity until April 30, 1878, when he surrendered the charter of the corporation and organized the business as a private bank, under the name of the Banking House of C. H. C. Anderson.

He was exceedingly fortunate in his selection of a cashier and confidential business manager, and that, together with his own business conservatism and caution, served to increase the business from a capital of $5,000, the amount required by the charter of the corporation when he established the bank, to a paid up capital of $100,000, with a surplus of $5,000, exclusive of losses incident to any banking business, which had prior thereto been charged to the expense account, July 10, 1889, when he associated with himself his two children, John C. Anderson and Effie Anderson Mounts. The banking business is still carried on by them, under the supervision of the same faithful cashier and business manager selected by their father. Mr. Anderson was eminently successful as a financier, and left his heirs an estate valued at nearly a quarter of a million dollars. In the accumulation of this vast property he displayed business talents of a rare order, that were inherent in himself, and were not the results of education. He was not an educated man in the ordinary acceptation of the word, as his early advantages for schooling were limited, being confined to acquiring a common knowledge of reading, spelling, writing and ciphering to the “Rule of Three.”

While our subject was more than ordinarily successful as a business man in gathering together this world’s goods, yet his financial career met with many obstacles and reverses in its pathway, and frequently caused him to do his share of “floor walking”. His plans, like those of many other often miscarried, and many for whose prompt payment he pledged himself failed to meet their obligations, and threw the burden upon him. He witnessed four of the financial panics which swept our country, and felt effectively the force of three of them, viz: those of 1857, 1873 and 1878. In 1857, the safe of his drug store, which was the depository (there being no bank in that town then) of most of the citizens and business men of Carlinville, was taken into the street, blown open and robbed of several thousand dollars, entailing a heavy loss upon himself as well as upon others at a very critical time.

In 1873, although his bank was in its infancy, it had to withstand the ordeal of a several days’ run. On the morning of January 15, 1878, immediately after the opening his bank for the day’s business, he received notice that the oldest bank of the city had assigned. Conscious of the fact that the excitement and fear of panic to follow would result in temporarily closing his doors, nevertheless, knowing his solvency and trusting to a confiding public, he promptly met the withdrawal of his depositors during the day. At closing time, when waited upon by three of his principal mercantile depositors to ascertain his ability to stand a precipitated “run”, he frankly informed them that his depositors could close his doors, but they could not “break him”; upon the invitation from him to go behind the counter and make a thorough examination of his assets and liabilities, the investigation resulted in twelve of the depositors of the bank, whose financial standing gave satisfaction, executing to Samuel T. Mayo a power of attorney, authorizing him to sign their individual names as guarantors for the payment of any claim against his bank. So great, however, was the confidence and faith of his depositors in his integrity and in the solidity of his bank, that only a few availed themselves of this security.

During his active business life Mr. Anderson occupied many positions of trust in the settlement of estates in the capacity of executor, administrator and guardian, without his honesty or integrity ever being called into question, with one exception which terminated in the Presiding Judge dismissing the bill and paying him a high tribute from the Bench for a seventeen years’ faithful, successful and honest service to his wards. In dealing with his fellow men in all the ups and downs of a business life, it was not a question with him as to his individual action what is legally right or wrong, but what is right between man and man, and he was governed accordingly, frequently refusing to avail himself of legal defenses in order to escape liability. He acted upon the principle that a man’s word ought to be his bond on all occasions. He insisted on what was his due, but adhered strongly to the principle of “live and let live”, and so long as a debtor manifested a disposition of honesty and fair dealing, he was never pushed to the wall, unless as a last resort, in order to protect himself against other creditors.

While no man felt a keener pleasure and enjoyment in the respect, trust and confidence tendered him by his friends and fellow men, yet our subject was averse to pushing himself forward in any manner for the purpose of gaining applause or notoriety. In his charities, though not demonstrative, yet he appreciated the fact that out of the abundance with which he was blessed, he owed a share to the unfortunate, and he always responded in some measure to the solicitations made upon him for benevolent purposes. In his personal habits and expenditures, while not penurious in any sense, he practiced rigid simplicity, and indignantly repelled any act which had the appearance of ostentation or display; so regardful was he for the feelings of his friends and patrons with whom he came in daily contact, that it was his constant aim to refrain from any act which indicated distinction. He felt that he was only one of a great mass of humanity, that it was not wealth or position alone which made the man, and the greatest satisfaction that prosperity afforded him was the fact that it enabled him to be of that much more service and benefit to the community generally. As a friend, he was loyal dn unflinching with his heart and purse, often running the risk of financial embarrassment to himself in order to oblige or help a friend or patron in need. Socially, it afforded him enjoyment and pleasure to have his friends and acquaintances partake of his hospitality, and he was especially fond of having young people around him. He had his faults and eccentricities, but they were in a large measure overshadowed by the promptings of a noble and sympathetic heart, and he left to his children the enduring inheritance of a name and memory respected, honored and revered by all who knew him and a life-record worthy of the emulation of his posterity.

In 1855, during the Pitner revival, Mr. Anderson connected himself with the Carlinville Methodist Episcopal Church; and while not an active participant in the inside work of the church, he served many years upon the Board of Trustees, was a large contributor to its support and to the erection of its present house of worship in this city. His social relations were with the Masonic fraternity, and for twenty-eight years he was a devoted member of the Mt. Nebo Lodge, No. 78, serving for many years as its Treasurer; always insisting that if the principles of the order were lived up to by its members, man would attain as near perfection as possible on this earth.

In politics, Mr. Anderson was originally a Whig, casting his first vote in 1840 for William Henry Harrison, and upon the disruption of that party he identified himself with the Democratic party, with which he affiliated the remainder of his life. He was strong in his party convictions, though not in any sense a politician, and always accorded the greatest respect to the opinions of his opponents. He was a member of the first City Council of Carlinville upon its organization as a municipality.

In the spring of 1871 our subject purchased and removed to his late home in the north part of the city near the Fair grounds. Although living some distance from his business,, unless confined by sickness, he was always the first one to arrive at the bank in the morning, and the last to leave at night. It was in this attractive home, surrounded by loving friends, that he calmly awaited life’s great end, and from it his spirit at length took flight when released from the weary body. July 2, 1889, after suffering for several months from a gradual breaking down of his system, he was stricken with a slight attack of paralysis. In a few days, however, he had materially recovered from its effects; but realizing that his time on earth was near at an end, he faced the situation bravely, and expressed himself freely as thinking that he had out-lived his usefulness, that he could no longer be of assistance to himself or his fellow men, and saying that he was not only willing but anxious for the final summons. Though confined to the house for several months, he was free form suffering, and retained his mental faculties until a few days prior to his decease. Receiving all the care and attention in ministering to his needs that a loving and devoted family could render, January 10, 1890, at mid-day, he peacefully dropped into the sleep that knows no awakening, surrounded by his family. Surviving him are his widow, Mary J. Anderson; his son, John C. Anderson; his daughter, Effie A. Mounts; his nephew, William E. P. Anderson; his brothers, Malcolm M. and Henry C. Anderson; and his sister, Mary Ann Anderson, the wife of William C. Anderson, of Shaw’s Point Township. A sister, Maria C. Adams, wife of Austin Adams, died a few days prior to his demise.

Such is the private history of one who was an active participant for fifty-six years in the growth and development of Macoupin County; he coming here when it was a vast wilderness, but thinly settled. In this tribute to his memory, there has been no attempt on the part of the writer to misrepresent or overdraw the facts embodied in this biographical sketch, and as far as possible he has endeavored to avoid inaccuracies or the appearance of giving any statement a “varnished character.” The facts are such as he has been able to gather from the recollections of others, and his individual knowledge of many of the occurrences mentioned, derived by an intimate association with the subject of thirty years’ duration; all of which are prompted by a heart overflowing with gratitude, and in order to give to the descendants of the subject an opportunity to avail themselves of such traits in his character as are worthy of adoption.


Chapman bros. Portrait and biographical record of Macoupin county, Illinois. Chicago: Biographical publishing company, 1891.

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