Biographical Sketch of James S Anderson

Anderson, James S., one of the most worthy and successful of the pioneer residents of Jacksonville, Morgan County, Illinois, was born in Loudoun County, Virginia, on Gladstone’s birthday, July 22, 1810, the son of Robert and Sarah Anderson. In 1815 Robert Anderson journeyed with his family to Jefferson County, Indiana, where he settled on a tract of land which he cleared of timber.

For a short period of his early boyhood Mr. Anderson attended the subscription schools, meanwhile assisting his father on the farm during the summer. At the age of fifteen years, he went to Bethlehem to learn the trade of a cabinet maker. Thence he accompanied his employer to Nutford, Ohio, where he worked at his trade for three years. His employer having died Mr. Anderson went to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he secured employment in a furniture store, making furniture by hand. Having received an encouraging letter from his brother, John, who had located in Morgan County, Illinois, he persuaded his father to sell his property, and the family started for Illinois October 24, 1830, the fall preceding “the deep snow”. On arriving in Morgan County, his father entered a section of land nine miles south of Jacksonville. After assisting his father to clear a patch of the land and erect necessary buildings, a few weeks later James S. went to Jacksonville to work at his trade. As all work was stopped by the deep snow, he remained with his brother that winter on the latter’s farm. In March, 1831, he returned to Jacksonville and entered the employ of James Hurst, who had a furniture store on East Main street. Later he was employed by a Mr. Ament. Subsequently he and a fellow workman, named Ross, went to Carrollton, Illinois, to commence a business together, but Mr. Anderson became sick and returned to Jacksonville, where he established himself in the furniture trade in connection with Mr. Ross. Mr. Ament had failed and they occupied his old stand, where they conducted their business for eight years. At the end of that period, Mr. Anderson bought the interest of Mr. Ross, and soon afterward located on the northeast corner of the Public Square. Near that corner, in 1840, Mr. Anderson erected a frame building, in which he conducted his business until the present brick store was erected by him. He took a prominent part in mitigating the ravages of the cholera epidemic in 1833, nursing the sick and burying the dead, and sleeping in houses which had been vacated by those who had fled from the town.

In 1833 Mr. Anderson was united in marriage with Sarah J. Thompson, who was born in Lexington, Kentucky, and their union resulted in eight children, of whom but one survives – Samuel T., of Jacksonville.

In politics Mr. Anderson was first a Whig and afterward a Republican. He served one term in the City Council of Jacksonville. Religiously, he was a member of the Christian Church from early manhood, and officiated as Deacon for a long period. He served as a soldier in the Black Hawk War. Mr. Anderson died July 1, 1899, and his widow passed away on July 19th, following. He was a man of excellent traits of character, diligent and energetic in business, and highly respected.


Bateman, Newton; Selby, Paul; and Short, William; Historical encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Morgan County; Chicago: Munsell Publishing Co. 1906.

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