Biography of William E. P. Anderson

William E. P. Anderson, of the legal firm of Anderson & Bell, of Carlinville, and Master of Chancery (for Macoupin County) stands well at the head of his profession, his clear apprehension of the fundamental principals of law, his success in his practice, and his high personal character, having early won him a prominent place at the bar of this State. Our subject is a native-born citizen of this county, and is a representative of a family whose name has been associated with the rise and progress of this section of Illinois from the early years of its settlement.

Mr. Anderson was born May 31, 1850, on the north half of section 7, Shaw’s Point Township, in the home of his parents, Erasmus S. and Mary E. (Hogan) Anderson. His father was a native of Christian County, Ky., and was a son of Col. James C. Anderson, who was a Virginian by birth. The father of the latter was one of the three brothers who came to this country in Colonial times. the great-grandfather of our subject settled in Virginia, whence he subsequently removed to Bourbon County, Ky., of which he was one of the original pioneers. he entered a thousand acres of land in that wild region, and as far as known spent the remainder of his life there. He was unfortunate in his later years and met with reverses whereby he lost all his property.

Col. Anderson, who was an officer in a regiment of the Kentucky State militia while a resident of Christian County, early had to assume the responsibilities of life on his own account after his father lost his property, and at the age of sixteen he left the shelter of the parental roof, and from that time cared for himself. He learned the trade of a hatter, but he did not follow it long, as a sedentary occupation was little to the taste of one of his active temperament. he went from Bourbon to Christian County in Kentucky, and there bought a tract of land. He carried on farming, and remained a resident of that county until 1834. In that year, accompanied by his wife and six children, he started for Illinois with a pair of oxen attached to a wagon, which conveyed the household goods, and the family rode in a two-horse carriage. Bidding adieu to friends, they left their old Kentucky home behind them on the 12th of October, and traveling as fast as they could over the intervening wild country, camping and cooking by the wayside at night, they arrived at Carlinville, near the scene of their future dwelling place, fifteen days later. They found here but a small hamlet of houses where now stands a flourishing city, and in a log cabin which the grandfather of the subject rented, the family passed the winter.

The Colonel was well fitted by a bold, intrepid nature, a resolute will, and great capability to cope with the hardships of a frontier life, and he actively entered upon his pioneer labors of building up a new home in the primeval wilds that were the environments of the location that he had selected. He had visited the region the June before, and had entered from the Government four hundred acres of land on section 11, of what is now Carlinville Township, and during the winter of 1834-35 he erected a log house on his land, riving boards to cover the roof, and splitting puncheon for the floor. the family moved into that typical pioneer abode in the spring of 1835, and there the Colonel and his wife dwelt in comfort and contentment until their untimely death of cholera in 1851, she dying thirteen days after he had breathed his last. She was likewise a native of Virginia, and her maiden name was Ann Rice Harris. The grandfather was a man of more than ordinary intelligence, always a great reader, and well posted. He was especially interested in politics, giving hearty support to the Whig party, and he was an ardent admirer of Henry Clay. He and his wife reared these seven children – Crittenden H C., Maria C., Erasmus S., Augustus E., Malcolm M., Henry Clay and Mary A.

Erasmus Anderson was a lad of twelve years when the family came to this county. He was reared to agricultural pursuits, and at the time of marriage had settled on a farm of two hundred and sixty acres, on the northern half of section 7, Shaw’s Point Township. he was quite an extensive trader in live stock and real estate, was one of the substantial men of the county who was a valuable factor in its upbuilding, and by his premature death of cholera August 26, 1851, in the full vigor of life that seemed to promise many more years of usefulness, it suffered a serious loss to its interests. His wife preceded him in death only a few days, dying of the same dread disease August 16, 1851. She was a native of Shelby County, Ky., and a daughter of Isaac and Nancy Hogan. Her father emigrated from her native county to this county, and was one of the early pioneers of North Palmyra Township. he was a prosperous farmer and trader. his life was cut short when in its prime by his death on his homestead at the age of forty-four years.

The subject of this brief biography was the only child of his parents, and after their sad death when he was only fifteen months old he was taken in charge by his uncle, Crittenden H. C. Anderson, who cared for him tenderly, and reared him to an honorable life. As soon as he was old enough he made himself useful in herding cattle on the open prairie and in working on the farm by the month. He attended the common schools as opportunity offered, and laid a substantial foundation for his after pursuit of knowledge. His aunt, Mary J. Anderson, was very desirous that he should have a good education, and it was through her interest in his behalf that at the age of fourteen he became a student at Blackburn University, which he attended six months of the year for two years. He then worked in a woolen mill one year, but he had by no means abandoned the idea of securing a higher education, and at the age of seventeen he entered Wesleyan University at Bloomington, and was in attendance there two years.

Returning to Carlinville after he left the University, Mr. Anderson studied law in the office of John Mayo Palmer a part of the time the following year. In 1870 he went to Philadelphia, and was in a private school in that city six months. At the expiration of that time he came back to Carlinville and entered the office of Judge William R. Welch in April, 1871, and on August 31 of the same year he was admitted to the bar. Although he was fully equipped to enter upon his professional career, he preferred to prepare himself still further, and assiduously continued his studies until June 1872, when he opened an office in Carlinville, where he has practiced law ever since. September 1, 1877, Alexander H. Bell became his partner, under the firm name of Anderson & Bell, and the partnership still continues to their mutual advantage. Not only is our subject prominent in the professional and public life of this his native county, but he is one of its foremost agriculturists. He has an inherent love for farming, and now owns five hundred acres of highly cultivated land, including two fine farms in Carlinville Township.

Mr. Anderson and Miss Nellie D. Hamilton were united in marriage October 23, 1873, and their home is one of the most inviting and attractive in Carlinville, so full and free in its delightful hospitality and the nameless charm of an all-pervading air of ease and comfort. Mrs. Anderson is a native of McLean County, this State, and a daughter of John and Rebecca (Pritchard) Hamilton. The following is the record of the three children that complete the household of our subject and his wife: William Hamilton was born August 8, 1874; Crittenden H. C., March 18, 1878; Walter Stratton, October 4, 1881. Mrs. Anderson is a woman of fine character, filling in a perfect measure her position as wife and mother, and in her the Methodist Episcopal Church has a valued member.

Mr. Anderson, as a lawyer with a clear conception of the legal questions involved, unites a wonderful industry and a tireless pertinacity which are invaluable. He is honest, conscientious and faithful always. He never wearies in a cause which he regards as just. Is always faithful to his trust, and promptly and carefully attends to whatever may be entrusted to his care. Honesty, industry and unfailing promptness distinguish his character at all times. He has a frank and generous nature, is courteous and considerate in his intercourse with others, and both his public and private life is blameless.

His fellow-citizens, admiring his talents and appreciating his fitness for responsible positions, have often honored him and themselves by electing him to some public office. He served as City Attorney in 1874 and 1875, and in 1877 was elected Assistant Supervisor to represent Carlinville Township on the County Board of Supervisors, and he was influential in securing the funding of the county debt that year. He has interested himself in local educational matters, and for four terms was a member of the Carlinville Board of Education. In October, 1887, Mr. Anderson was appointed Master in Chancery by Judge Welch, he being regarded as the man best qualified in many respects for that position, and in October, 1889, he was re-appointed to that office, by Judge Jesse J. Phillips, with the approval of the entire bar. We can but add that his able and faithful discharge of his duties as Master of Chancery since his appointment has justified his selection. Mr. Anderson cast his first Presidential vote for Horace Greeley in 1872, and has been a confirmed Democrat ever since then.


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

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