Anderson, John Alexander, clergyman and member of Congress, was born in Washington county, Pa., June 26, 1834. He was educated at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, graduating in 1853. Benjamin Harrison, afterwards president of the United States was his roommate while in college. He began work as pastor of a church at Stockton, Cal., in 1857, and preached the first Union sermon on the Pacific coast. He soon began to take an interest in all matters of general welfare, and as a result the state legislature of California elected him trustee of the state insane asylum in 1860. Two years later he was appointed chaplain of the Third California infantry. In this capacity he accompanied Gen. Connor's expedition to Salt Lake City. Mr. Anderson's desire to be always investigating something led to his appointment to the United States Sanitary Commission as California correspondent and agent. His first duty was to act as relief agent of the Twelfth army corps. He was next transferred to the central office at New York. In 1864, when Gen. Grant began moving toward Richmond, Mr. Anderson was made superintendent of transportation and had charge of six steamboats. At the close of the campaign he served as assistant superintendent of the canvas and supply department at Philadelphia and edited a paper called the Sanitary Commission Bulletin. When the war closed he was transferred to the history bureau of the commission at Washington, remaining there one year collecting data and writing a portion of the history of the commission. In 1866 he was appointed statistician of the Citizens' Association of Pennsylvania, an organization for the purpose of mitigating the suffering resulting from pauperism, vagrancy and crime in the large cities. In Feb., 1868, Mr. Anderson accepted a call from the Presbyterian church of Junction City, Kan., and during the years spent in this town he developed power as an orator and took an active part in politics. He was on the school board most of the time he was in Junction City. In 1870, the morning after his mother was buried out on the open prairie, where all the dead had been laid, he remarked to some of his friends, "This town must have a cemetery," and as a result of his efforts beautiful Highland stands as a monument to his memory. In 1870-71, there was much interest throughout the country in narrow gauge railroads, it being argued that there was economy in them. Anderson concluded that the idea was not practicable and determined to oppose the issue of the bonds asked for in Clay county. His ideas prevailed, and the track was relaid standard gauge. In the summer of 1872 Benjamin Harrison secured him a call from a church in Indianapolis, but his wife and family persuaded him to remain in Kansas. In the fall of 1873, Mr. Anderson was elected president of the Kansas State Agricultural College, at Manhattan. A radical change of policy resulted in the institution and it is to Mr. Anderson and the men associated with him, that the state is indebted for the policy which has placed the college near the head of the list of such institutions in the United States. Mr. Anderson remained president of the college until 1878, when he was elected to Congress and served as representative from the First and Fifth districts until 1891. In March of that year he was appointed consul general to Cairo, Egypt, and sailed for his new post on April 6, but his constitution was already impaired and he was unable to stand the change of climate. The following spring he determined to return, but died on his way home at Liverpool, England, May 18, 1892. His last message was from Malta, "It is all in God's hands and He will direct." He was laid at rest on the hill top he had chosen years before, near the town where he said the happiest days of his life had been passed, and where seven of his family are also interred. The funeral ceremonies were conducted by the faculty and students of the Agricultural College, the Grand Army of the Republic and the Masonic Fraternity.Pages 75-76 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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