JOHN EDWIN ANDERSON. - The record of this excellent citizen and enterprising contractor and builder is written in the development and improvement of Kansas City, Kansas, the city of his home, in phrase so substantial and enduring that no one can overlook it in even a casual observation. He is a native of Sweden, where he was born on January 22, 1867, and he brought to this country at the age of eighteen the indomitable energy and sterling manhood of his race, which became the terror of Europe in war under Gustavus Adolphus, and opened to the world some of the inner courts of the Temple of Science through the masterly penetration of Swedenborg.
Mr. Anderson is in all respects a self-made man. Nature gave him commanding attributes of insight, application, courage and self-reliance, then threw him on his own resources at an early age to work out his own destiny and make his way in the struggle for supremacy among men. He is a son of Andrew and Charlotte (Carlson) Anderson, who were also born and reared, educated and married in Sweden, and never lived in any other country. The father died in 1901, aged seventy-five years. The mother is still living in her native land, at the advanced age of eighty-three years. At the age of ten the son took up the battle of life for himself as a hired hand on a farm in the neighborhood of his home. At the end of a year he left his unpromising engagement, returned to the city where his parents lived and became apprenticed to a Mr. Dholdren to learn the brick layer's trade. After finishing his apprenticeship and working a year or two at the trade in his native land, he came to the United States, in 1885, when he was but eighteen years old, making the trip unaccompanied by relative or friend of any degree. He came at once to Kansas City, Kansas, and here he found a congenial home and a fruitful field for the employment of his skill as a mechanic and his acumen and fine capacity as a business man. The rest of the story could easily be outlined in a few plain sentences. There was a struggle with difficulties and obstacles, an experience of privation and hope deferred, a steady improvement in conditions and finally extensive and highly gratifying success, with all of worldly comfort and esteem and consequence among men which such success involves and embodies.
But the story is not wholly a plain one. The difficulties and obstacles were met and mastered with a determined spirit and native resources ready for any requirement. The privation and delay were borne with patience and cheerful confidence. The success is enjoyed without ostentation and used for the good of the community, Mr. Anderson soon began putting up houses on his own account and selling them when completed. This method of procedure he followed almost exclusively for a number of years. But his superiority as a builder attracted wide attention, and the demands upon him to superintend the construction of buildings for other persons became more and more frequent and insistent, and through these demands many of the most massive and imposing structures in the city have grown to enduring solidity and artistic beauty under his direction. He built the Stock Yards Exchange building, the Rialto building, the Mernger building, the Westport high school building, and many others, the total cost of their construction running into millions of dollars. Recently he decided to confine his operations to contracts which he secured himself, and now (1911) has three large buildings in course of erection under this arrangement, with plans for additional ones in view.
Deeply and earnestly interested as Mr. Anderson is in all that pertains to the progress and development of his adopted land, he is still strongly attached to the people of his native country and eager to do all he can to advance their prosperity and contribute to their happiness. This feeling has led him to become an active member and the president of the Nordes Venner Swedish Society in his home city, which has bound the Swedish men of the community into an effective organization for their common advantage and social enjoyment in frequent meetings and occasional festivities. On October 24, 1889, in Kansas City, Kansas, he married with Miss Emma M. Blumquist, a daughter of Johannes and Anna Blumquist, esteemed residents of that city. Two sons were born of the union, both of whom have been given excellent facilities for securing good educations. The older, Carl Edwin, whose life began on December 17, 1894, was graduated from the Kansas City high school in June, 1911. The second son, William McKinley, is still attending school. Their mother died on April 16, 1909, at the age of forty-two years, she having been born in 1867, in Oregon, Ogle county, Illinois. On April 15, 1911, the father contracted a second marriage, uniting himself with Miss Anna Landen, a daughter of Vogman and Susanna (Jasperson) Landan, all natives of Sweden and worthy representatives of its people.
One of the most estimable and admired traits in the character of Mr. Anderson is his strong filial devotion to his aged mother. He arranges for her comfort and freedom from care in life and contributes to her happiness in every way he can. In 1907 he made her a visit of several weeks, finding her as active and energetic as in her earlier life, and eager to accompany him in his trips all over the country. She entered into the spirit of the journeying with as much ardor as he had himself, and equaled him in enduring its sometimes wearying exactions. His home at 713 Lafayette avenue is a fine modern dwelling built by himself.
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