THE LIFE OF A BROWN COUNTY PIONEER,

WILLIAM COLUMBUS ANDERSON,

©2010  Rollie Taylor

 

 

Many records exist that provide a glimpse into the life of William Columbus Anderson, including those records found in the Brown County archives, and photographs of family members in the Brownwood Museum of History.

 

William Columbus Anderson was born in Cole County, MO, 7 February 1840, where the 1840 census shows 2 of the 5 sons of William Anderson are under the age of 5.   William was the eighth of nine children born to William M. Anderson and Jane Scruggs, both of whom were born in South Carolina.  In 1846, the Anderson family moved from Cole County to Taney County, MO.  That portion of Taney County is now Stone County, MO.  In the 1850 census of Taney County, W. C. Anderson, age 9, is in his parents’ household, W. and J. Anderson, with siblings D. Q., P., M., J. N., and E.  His oldest sibling, J. H. Anderson, is married and is the preceding census entry.  By 1860, Stone County had been formed from a portion of Taney County.  The 1860 census of Stone County finds William Anderson, age 20, in the household of his parents, William and Jane Anderson.  Only 2 of his siblings remain in the home.  James N. Anderson, age 21, and his younger sister, Elizabeth Simpson, age 18, who is now married.

 

William was in Brown County in 1859, when he patented (filed a claim for) land.  He returned to Stone County before the 1860 census was recorded July 23rd, 1860.  David and Agnes Anderson, and their oldest child had arrived in Brown County with the Byrd-McPeeters wagon train in 1859. By July 11th, 1860, David Q. Anderson, his wife, and two children were residents of Brown County when the 1860 census was recorded. 

 

The activities of William C. Anderson in Missouri between 1859 and 1862 are not well documented.  Pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions had resorted to violence prior to the beginning of the Civil War.  William Quantrill was a guerrilla leader active in southwest Missouri, and there are stories that William C. Anderson may have met William Quantrill before the battle of Wilson’s Creek in August 1861.  There are also stories that William C. Anderson may have participated in the death of several neighbors, Union sympathizers who had been taken captive, including Clemuel Davis.  If true, this may be the basis for the sensational and inaccurate Brownwood TX Bulletin newspaper article written by Henry C. Fuller in 1924.

 

 

In 1862, William M. Anderson, his wife Jane Scruggs Anderson, and sons Francis Marion, James Noble, and William Columbus Anderson left Missouri to join David Q. Anderson and other relatives in Texas.  His oldest son, John Henry Anderson, remained in Stone County on the family homestead, which is still in the Anderson family. The brother of William M. Anderson, Moses G. Anderson and his wife Jane George Anderson had been in Brown County since 1858.   Their daughter, Elizabeth Robinson and her two children were living in their household in 1860.   Moses G. was the first county clerk of Brown County after the county was organized in 1858.  Their daughter, Harriet C. Anderson Clements, and husband Israel Clements had arrived in 1858, and Israel was the Brown County tax assessor in 1859.  The anniversary article about the Anderson family pioneers in the Brownwood Bulletin, dated Tuesday, October 15, 1935, also relates that William Anderson Sr. came here (Brown County) from Missouri, bringing his sons Dave Q., William C., Francis, and James N. shortly after the arrival of his brother, Moses G. Anderson.

 

The 1863 General Land Office (GLO) property owners’ map of Brown County shows Wm. Anderson’s property on or near Salt Creek near the confluence of Pecan Bayou and Salt Creek.  The Cotton Calculator published by Henry Ford’s bank shows that W. Anderson was a new taxpayer in Brown County in 1863.

 

The 1870 census record of Brown County shows William Anderson as head of household, wife Elizabeth, with children Frances, age 6; Moses, age 3; Mary J., age 2; and John, age 11 months.  The oldest child was named Francis Marion Anderson, the same name as one of William’s older brothers.  The second son, Moses G., was probably named for Elizabeth’s father, Moses G. Anderson.  The marriage of William C. Anderson and Martha Elizabeth Anderson probably occurred in July or August of 1863, based upon the 1900 census which shows that they had been married 37 years.  That assumption is supported by the death certificate of their oldest child, Francis Marion Anderson, whose date of birth is recorded as 9 May 1864, approximately 9 months after August 1863, and by Martha Elizabeth Anderson, who testified under oath, that she was married “in about 1860”.

 

Information found in Goodspeed’s 1894 biography of William’s oldest brother, John Henry Anderson, provides valuable information regarding his siblings:

“When our subject (John Henry Anderson) was five or six years of age the parents came by team to what is now Moniteau County, Mo., when that was thinly settled, and in 1846 removed from there to Taney, now Stone County, and settled on Crane Creek. There they remained until the war, and in 1862 he removed with three of his sons to Texas. His death occurred at Ft. Griffin, Shackelford County, Tex., about 1883, when seventy-seven years of age. He followed farming through life and met with fair success. His father, Noble Anderson, was born in South Carolina, and his grandfather was a Revolutionary soldier. The mother of our subject died in the Lone Star State about 1886. Mr. and Mrs. Anderson were the parents of nine children: John H., subject; Polly, wife of David P. Parker, died at Aurora; Francis M., a farmer of Blanco County, Tex.; David died in Texas; Parsedda Trammell of Texas; Martha Ann, deceased, was the wife of Hiram Leath; James N., of Brown County, Tex.; William C., also of Brown County, Tex.; and Elizabeth, deceased, who was the wife of J. C. C. Simpson.”

The biography is not a primary source, but census records confirm the members of the family group.  James N., David Q., and William C. Anderson are all found in Brown County in one or more census years.  Francis Marion Anderson was a new taxpayer on  the Brown County tax roll in 1863, before leaving for Blanco and Hays Counties, where he is counted in later censuses.  Parsedda, who appears as Paralee, Perlee, and Parace in various census records, was in Shackelford County, Texas in the 1880 census before moving to California prior to 1900.

 

The 1862 departure date from Stone County is consistent with records found in the Cotton Calculator list of new taxpayers in Brown County for the 1863 tax year, where the names of F. M. Anderson; J. N. Anderson; and W. Anderson appear.

 

Brown County was on the frontier of civilization when William Anderson arrived.  The Civil War was underway, and Indian raids into Brown County increased as a trained army was replaced by local militia along the frontier.  The Indians stole horses and killed settlers.  Brown County was not a safe place to live in the 1860s.

 

 On February 5, 1864 in Brown County, W. C. Anderson, age 23, and two of his older brothers, David, age 36, and J. N., age 24, enlisted and were mustered in as privates in the 2nd Frontier District,  Major George B. Erath, Commanding, TST (Texas State Troops) under the Act of December 15, 1863. The enlisting officer was B. W. Lee. The mustering officer was Major George B. Erath. W. C. Anderson served 10 days at $2.00 per day, $20.00, and J. N. Anderson served 20 days for $40.00.

 

William C. Anderson, sometimes referred to as Colonel in his old age, served briefly as a private in the Texas State Troops about 3 months before his oldest son, Francis, was born in 1864. Lieut. William T. “Bloody Bill” Anderson married Bush Smith in Grayson County in March 1864, about a month after William C. Anderson was mustered out of the TST.

 

Sometime after William C. Anderson’s arrival in Brown County in late 1862 or early 1863, he married his 1st cousin, Martha Elizabeth Anderson Robinson, daughter of Moses G. and Jane George Anderson.  Martha was born 20 February 1835, and died 1 October 1916.  Martha was already the mother of two children, Alonzo Robinson and Benjamin Windfield, who were raised by her parents.  The first house William C. Anderson built on his property was probably a two room “dog trot” cabin made of logs, with a covered walkway between the two rooms, a common pioneer dwelling .  William later converted this building into a barn.  A 1970s photo of this building exists in the Brown County Museum of History.  Soon after building the cabins, William probably built a three room house, to which he added rooms, creating a large two story house with imposing rock chimneys for his growing family.  A 1928 article states, “The house in which Bill Anderson, now in his 87th year, lives was built in the autumn of 1866, the year in which the great war closed.  It is a large double room, affair, big chimney at each end and hall between although the hall has been partially closed, and the hall converted into a room.  Stairs lead from the hall to the second story of the house which was originally of logs, but which in later years was weather boarded with lumber hauled on ox-wagons from Waco.  A long old fashion gallery runs in front of the house, and at one end of this long gallery is a deep well, the excellent water of which is famous throughout the Salt Creek section….”  The Brown County Museum of History has two 1970s photographs of the house.  The house was the subject of an article written by Dr. Don Newbury which appeared in the Brownwood Bulletin 23 July 1958, with a photo of the 95 year old house, which was still standing but no longer inhabitable. 

 

William C. and Martha E. Anderson were the parents of 10 children.  Francis Marion, Moses “Mode” Georgia, Mary Jane, Samuel H., Harriet Ellen, Robert Lee, Texana Eldorado, Storm, Ruffy, and Patrick Henry.  The 1900 census indicates that William and Martha had been married 37 years, and that Martha was the mother of 12 children, but only 7 survive.  She had two children prior to her marriage to William.  The 1910 census indicates that William and Martha had been married 44 years, and that Martha was the mother of 10 children, 7 living.  In this census she reports only the children of her current marriage.  Martha reports that this is her 2nd marriage, while William says it is his 1st.

 

The oldest, Francis Marion Anderson (probably named for William’s 2nd oldest brother, Francis Marion Anderson) was born 9 May 1864.  The death certificate of F. M. Anderson shows that he died in Palo Pinto County, 19 May 1945, son of W. C. and Elizabeth Anderson.  His place of birth was probably Brown County rather than Brownwood as shown on the death certificate.  Francis married Anna Green.  They had no children.

 

The second child, Moses “Mode” G. Anderson was born 17 March 1857.  He was probably named after his maternal grandfather Moses G. Anderson.  Mode was married twice.  His three children born of the first marriage to M. E. Wooldridge were Nessie Ellen, Dean, and William Brian.  Dean died in early childhood, and William died in infancy.  He had 7 children by his second wife, Venia Harwell.

 

The third child, Mary Jane Anderson, was born in 1867 or 1868, according to the 1870 and 1880 census records.  It is believed that she married a Mr. Wilson, died in 1892, and was buried in Staley Cemetery. Samuel may have been named for Samuel Anderson, his oldest Anderson great-uncle who remained in Stone County, Missouri.

 

The fourth child, Samuel H. Anderson, was born July 1869 according to the 1870 census record.  He married Margaret A. Staley 17 October 1891.  His daughter, Jessie Elizabeth Anderson was born in 1892, the same year that Samuel died and was buried in Staley Cemetery. Samuel may have been named for Samuel Anderson, his oldest Anderson great-uncle who remained in Stone County, Missouri.

 

The fifth child, Harriet Ellen Anderson, was born 14 February 1872.  She married William Aaron “Billy” White 15 December 1895.  They were the parents of 7 children.  Harriet died 26 September 1950 in Brownwood and was buried in Staley Cemetery.

 

The sixth child, Robert Lee Anderson, was born 1 January 1874.  He married Sally Gertrude Pitcock about 1895.  They were the parents of 10 children.  Robert died 28 September 1952 and was buried in Staley Cemetery.

 

The seventh child, Texana Eldorado “Texas” Anderson was born 20 September 1875.  She married Franklin P. Bailey, 25 December 1894, in Brown County.  They were the parents of one child, Robert Marion Bailey, and were divorced.  She married second, Martin van Buren “Shine” Eidson 16 April 1900 in Brown County.  They were the parents of two children, Opie Joe and Martin Ottis, and were divorced.  She married third, Harry S. Pedigo 26 December 1908 in Brown County.  Texas died 21 January 1960 and was buried in Staley Cemetery.

 

The eighth child, Storm Anderson, was born 13 September 1877.  Storm may have been named for Allison Storm, who was living in the household of William’s brother, James Anderson, in the 1870 census of Wise County.  He married Letha Longley 1 May 1908 in Brown County.  They were the parents of 4 children.  Storm died 5 August 1935 and was buried in South Park Cemetery, Roswell, Chaves County, NM.

 

The ninth child, Ruffy Anderson, was probably born in 1879, and died after 1 July 1880, based on information in the 1880 census.

 

The tenth child, Patrick Henry “Pat” Anderson, was born 7 November 1880.  He married Sarah Ethel Andrews 1 March 1908 in Brown County.  They were the parents of one child, Charles Low Anderson.  Pat died 29 December 1972 and was buried in Staley Cemetery.

 

 

For a more extensive and complete record of the descendants of William Columbus Anderson, and the extended Anderson family, visit Rootsweb Worldconnect, or Ancestry.com.

 

All records indicate that William C. Anderson was a farmer and rancher while he resided in Brown County.  His first land was the 153 acres he patented in 1859, identified as the W. C. Anderson Preemption Survey, Abstract No. 8.  Upon the death of Moses G. Anderson, his uncle and father-in-law 3 October 1879, his wife Martha inherited 55 acres that were added to the family farm, described as part of the M. G. Anderson Survey No. 2, Abstract No. 9.  In 1871, a Texas land grant of 158 acres was added to his holdings, described as being a part of the M. R. Williams Survey No. 71, Abstract No. 946.  He later purchased 30 acres, described as being a part of the Wm. Guyman Survey No. 66, Abstract No 345, and another 40 acres described as a part of the W. P. Patton Survey No. 25, Abstract No. 52.  On 24 September, 1924, Patrick Anderson filed suit in Brown County to have his interest in these lands set aside.

 

W. C. Anderson and his neighbor, J. R. Thomas, clashed over land use 29 December 1902 and a gunfight ensued.  Both were armed with shotguns.  W. C. was shot in the stomach and leg, while J. R. Thomas was shot in the stomach, arm, and leg.  Both survived.  The issue of land use was resolved by the legal system.

 

 

 

In 1924, Henry C. Fuller interviewed the 84 year old William C. Anderson.  The resulting sensational story, variations of which appeared in several papers and other publications nationwide, claimed that William C. Anderson was the Civil War guerrilla leader known as Bloody Bill Anderson who had escaped death in the ambush near Orrick, MO, in October 1864.  Fuller described an improbable scenario in which William Anderson anticipated the ambush, allowed another guerrilla to ride his horse into battle, the rider was killed and mistakenly identified as Bloody Bill because of the horse, while he Anderson escaped to Texas on another horse, and arrived in Brown County while the bluebonnets were in bloom.  This romantic and fictional version of history ignores the fact that William C. Anderson was a taxpayer and landowner in Texas in 1863, and had a wife in Brown County who was expecting their first child in May of 1864.   A Grayson County marriage license shows that the real Bloody Bill Anderson, Lieut. William T. Anderson, married Bush Smith in Grayson County, TX, in March of 1864.   William T. Anderson had a younger sister named Josephine who was killed at age 14 in the collapse of a Union jail in Kansas City in 1863.  This Anderson family lived in Breckenridge County, Agnes City Township, Kansas Territory, in the 1860 census, and was headed by parents, William C. Anderson, age 40, of KY, Martha J., age 36, of Kentucky, whose children included William T., age 21, and Josephine, age 11.  William Columbus Anderson, later a resident of Brown County, lived with his parents in Stone County, MO, in the 1860 census with older brother Jim and his only younger sister, Elizabeth, who was then 18.

 

 

Obituary of William C. Anderson

Brownwood Bulletin

Tuesday, November 1, 1927

 

Pioneer Resident of Brown County Claimed by Death

 

  Colonel William C. Anderson, 87, one of the pioneer citizens of Brown County, died early this morning at his home in the Anderson Community, several miles North of Brownwood.  “Uncle Billy”, as he was affectionately known by friends and relatives, had been confined to his bed for about four months and his death had been expected at any time for the past few days by members of his family.

  Colonel Anderson came to Brownwood in the sixties, about 1863, and settled in the community where he had made his home since.  Soon after coming to Brown County, he married Miss Martha Anderson, a daughter of the first county clerk of Brown County.  To this union were born ten children, seven of whom survive their father.  Mrs. Anderson preceded her husband to the grave several years ago.

  Colonel William C. Anderson was born in Missouri, February 7, 1840 and lived in that state until he came to Texas and to Brown County.  Col. Anderson was a member of Quantrill’s band which was active in Kansas during the time that the bloody history of Kansas was being made.  The status of Quantrill and his band has never been determined by historians.  With the death of Colonel Anderson only two known members of the band survive.

  After settling in Brown County, Uncle Billy Anderson indulged in farming and stock raising.  He made a marked success in both, but had to cease active work several years ago and since had lived with his children who have cared for him tenderly.

  Funeral services were to have been held this afternoon at 3:00 in the Staley Cemetery in the Anderson Community.  Rev. Wm. Teague of Zephyr, a life long friend of Mr. Anderson, was to have conducted the last rites for the pioneer citizen.  Burial was to have been made by the side of his wife and life long companion.

  Colonel Anderson is survived by seven children, five sons and two daughters; F. M. Anderson of Mineral Wells, M. G., R. L., and Pat Anderson of the Anderson Community:  Storm Anderson of Roswell, New Mexico:  Mrs. Ellen White and Mrs. Texas Pedigo of the Owens community.  In addition to the children, there are 29 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren.

 

 

William Columbus Anderson was sometimes referred to as Colonel William C. Anderson, although there is no record of his service in either the Union or Confederate Army.  In his later years, he was referred to affectionately as “Uncle Bill”, or “Uncle Billy”.

 

Because of similar names, ages, and residence in Missouri at the beginning of the Civil War, William C. Anderson of Brown County has sometimes been confused with William T. “Bloody Bill” Anderson who was killed near Orrick, Ray County, Missouri, 26 October 1864.  For a comparison of the lives of these 2 men, go to http://unclebilly.texas-heartland.com/2Williams.html .

 

Descendants of William C. and Martha E. Anderson have their own family histories provided by their parents and grandparents to add to this record, which is based upon the following reference material:

1840 MO census, Cole County

1850 MO census, Taney County

1860 MO census, Stone County

1870 TX census, Wise County

1870, 1880, 1900, & 1910 TX census, Brown County

1860 KS Territorial Census, Breckenridge County

A Tale of Two Trains, by John Limmer

Stone County, MO, Research, Dave and Peggy Anderson Caldwell

Death certificate, Missouria Elizabeth Anderson

Death certificate, F. M. Anderson

Death certificate, Moses Georgia Anderson

Death certificate, Harriet Ellen White

Death certificate, Robert Lee Anderson

Death certificate, Mrs. Texas E. Pedigo

Death certificate, Pat Henry Anderson

Obituary, Col. William C. Anderson

“A REMINISCENT HISTORY OF THE OZARK REGION COMPRISING A CONDENSED GENERAL HISTORY, A BRIEF DESCRIPTIVE HISTORY OF EACH COUNTY, AND NUMEROUS BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF PROMINENT CITIZENS OF SUCH COUNTIES”, ILLUSTRATED, GOODSPEED BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS. 1894, pages 571 and 572

Brownwood Bulletin article, Wednesday, 23 July 1958 ,“One of Brown County’s Older Houses Erected in 1862-1863”, by Don Newbury

Brownwood Bulletin article, Tuesday, 15 October 1935, “Anderson is Family Name of Pioneers”

Abilene Reporter News, Western Weekly, article, Sunday 17 October 1926, “One of Quantrill’s Bravest Men Lives in Brown County”

1863 General Land Office (GLO) map of land owners in Brown County, TX

Daily Constitution, Chillicothe, MO, article, “Is the Man in Texas the Real Bill Anderson?”

1906 Pocket Cotton Calculator for farmers issued by Coggin Bros. and Ford Bank, listing new taxpayers in 1863

Brown County District Court, Suit No. 4584, filed by Patrick Anderson, plaintiff, dated 24 September 1924

 

Salt Creek Farm in Brown County, Texas ca. 1910

 

 

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