from Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa by Manoah Hedge The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1906

JOHN ANDERSON. John Anderson, now eighty-five years of age, is living retired in New Sharon. For a long period he was closely identified with agricultural interests in this county. He is very prominent among the Norwegian settlers in this part of the state, being held in the highest regard by them and recognized among them as a leader. He was born in Norway, February 17, 1821, his parents being Andrew and Lena (Erickson) Anderson, both of whom were natives of Norway, where they resided upon a farm until called to their final rest, the father passing away at the age of fifty years, while his wife died at the age of eighty years. They were in limited circumstances, owning only a small farm and securing little more than a living, so that their children had but few advantages in youth. There were seven children, but John and one sister are the only surviving members of the family. The educational advantages afforded John Anderson were very meager. He lived at home until old enough to work, after which he learned the carpenter's trade, following that pursuit in his native country and also to some extent after coming to America. He was married at the age of twenty-eight years to Christina Knudson and purchased a little farm in Norway, upon which he resided for about eight years, but, seeing that the task of acquiring a competency would be a very long and tedious one in their native land, Mr. and Mrs. Anderson resolved to come to America and in 1858 sailed for the new world. They traveled with a party of thirty colonists, who started out to find a new home. Mr. Anderson had a cousin living in Henry county, Iowa, who had been in the United States for about eighteen years and on visiting Norway had persuaded our subject and his wife and some friends to return with him. They embarked on a sailing vessel and were eight weeks and two days in making the voyage from England to Quebec. They encountered a severe storm which drove them one hundred miles out of their course. From Quebec they came directly to Henry county, Iowa, and Mr. Anderson possessed only sixty dollars when he reached his destination. He bought two cows, one for sixteen dollars and the other for twenty dollars. It was at that time warm weather and they had only the heavy clothing which they had brought with them from Norway, so Mr. Anderson spent the rest of his money in purchasing lighter weight clothing. His cousin was a widower and John Anderson and his wife began to work upon his farm, where they remained for about eight years, during which time they were enabled to save a little money in addition to purchasing a team of horses and a few sheep. Two years before leaving his cousin's employ Mr. Anderson had purchased forty acres of land on section 11, Prairie township, and about 1865 he removed to his little farm. There were no building or fences upon the place when it can into his possession and he paid three hundred dollars for the tract of uncultivated land. Purchasing a small frame house west of his farm, his neighbors assisted him with ox teams in removing this house to his land and later he built an addition thereto, hauling the lumber from Grinnell and Ottumwa. A few years later he bought twenty acres and in 1872 purchased another forty acres, so that he now owns altogether one hundred acres, which is valuable property, there being not one foot of waste land upon his farm. He has erected very fair buildings and has a good orchard and a number of years ago he replaced the old house with a more modern residence. In the early days neighbors were few and widely scattered. Only here and there would be seen a little home to show that the seeds of civilization were being planted on the western prairies. Mr. Anderson turned his sheep out to graze on the prairies and many of them were lost, straying far from home. He had no fences at first and the stock had an open range. New Sharon was but a small village and Des Moines was an inconsequential town containing only a few frame buildings and small stores. While living in Henry county Mr. Anderson engaged in raising flax and also made a machine for dressing it by hand. His wife spun yarn and wove cloth for the clothing and in the early days their cabin home was lighted by tallow candles, but kerosene lamps soon came into use. In 1878 Mr. Anderson was called upon to mourn the loss of his wife, who died on the 21st of September of that year. She was born April 8, 1825, and was therefore fifty-three years of age. After living alone for fifteen years Mr. Anderson wedded Mrs. Osmond Watland, a widow, who bore the maiden name of Bertha Olson. She was born in Norway and came to America with her first husband, by whom she had one child, a daughter, Lena, now the wife of Ole Ferris, who is section boss on the Iowa Central Railroad and lives in New Sharon. Mr. Anderson has never had any children of his own but has reared a niece, Christine Anderson, who went to live with him when two years old and who is now the wife of Nels Thompson, of Prairie township. About fourteen years ago Mr. Anderson bought three acres of land in the southwestern part of New Sharon, built thereon a residence and removed to the town. He has led a very busy and useful life and indolence and idleness are utterly foreign to his nature. Though now eighty-five years of age he yet performs the chores around his place and takes great delight in this work. He and his wife keep two cows and a flock of chickens and their care furnishes him employment. In his farm work he was quite successful, acquiring a competence that now enables him to live retired. He found conditions in America very different from those in his native country and he never realized this more than when in 1872 he paid a visit to Norway. He saw that the land was stoney and was so rocky in some places that nothing can be raised. In the early days he would cut grass all day long with a sickle and then could tie up the entire amount with a rope and carry it on his back. The land was all dug over with a spade, for it was so rocky that a plow could not be used. Great numbers of people lived by fishing and those who farmed made a living and nothing more. Mr. Anderson brought back with him to this country two of his sisters. In politics he has always been a republican, becoming an advocate of the party when it was formed to prevent the further extension of slavery. He was reared in the Lutheran faith, but after coming to America became a member of the Society of Friends and has for a number of years been identified with the congregation of Friends at New Sharon. Though receiving but limited education in his youth he has ever made the most of his opportunities in this direction and although he could not write his name when he came to America, he is now quite a well informed man. He learned much by attending Sunday-school. He was determined to learn and therefore great pains were taken with him to assist him. He has always kept in touch with the progress of the country along many lines and he possesses sound judgment and keen discrimination which have made him a leader among the Norwegian citizens of this community. He has never had occasion to regret his determination to seek a home in the new world, for he has prospered in this country and is now the owner of valuable property interests in Mahaska county. from Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa by Manoah Hedge The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1906

Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa

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