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William H. Anderson, Bio

William H. Anderson was born in 18341, and "came from Jefferson County," Virginia2. Both of his parents came from Virginia. He first appears in the 1850 census as a 16 year old clerk living with merchant Robert Seevers & family, and 2 other clerks, in Shepardstown, Jefferson Co., VA, now West Virginia. It is to be suspected that he knew the Ruffners of Page Co., VA, or Charles Staude, a merchant, before he came west, but I have found no definite ties. The only Anderson in Jefferson County, VA in 1840, with a 5-10 year old son, is Samuel Bealmear Anderson, of Prince George County, MD, and I have proven that William was not his son.

William came to Iowa in 18572, appearing in the 1860 census as a 26 year old clerk, in Glenwood, living at Betts' inn with other clerks and attorneys, and the merchant Charles B. Staude, of Mecklinberg, Germany.

By 1865 he formed a business with Charles Staude, Staude & Anderson. They executed real estate transactions in Mills Co., IA and Cass Co., NE, and in Cass Co., NE they also operated a large and thriving general merchandise and farming implements store.3,4

A newspaper announcement from the Neb. Herald reflects:

Wm. H. Anderson, of the firm of Staude & Anderson, and E.T. Dovey, of the firm of Amison & Dovey, have gone east to purchase their spring stock. Look out for new ad's.

About 1860, he and Charles Staude were two of the six original incorporators, successors by purchase to the charter for the Cass County Ferries. In 1868, the franchise was sold to the city of Plattsmouth. The history of these boats will be found in detail in the early history of Plattsmouth, on the Cass County website.

Wm. H. Anderson was also a member of the first Vestry of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Plattsmouth, taking part in the process of erecting the church, begun in August 1865, the cornerstone laid in May, 1866, and first services conducted in May, 1867.5

In the meantime, he met and in 1866 married Ella J. Ruffner, daughter of Benjamin Franklin Ruffner of Plattsmouth, formerly of Holt Co., MO. That family came from Page Co., VA. The wedding took place at the First Presbyterian Church, by Rev. J. J. Cole.6 Their first daughter, Bessie Eliza was born in Plattsmouth in 1867.7

Their daughter Annie Louise was born in Missouri in 18698, but it is unknown whether her mother was visiting there at the time, or exactly where. It is possible that Annie was born in Holt County.

Meanwhile, Charles Staude married Helen Borders in Mills Co., IA in 1862. She died in 1867 and shortly thereafter Charles Staude returned to Germany, giving William Power of Attorny to deal with his by-then extensive real estate holdings. In late 1867-early 1868, they sold the store to William's nephew-by-marriage, Peter Edward Ruffner.

Sometime before the summer of 1870, the family moved to Glenwood, Mills Co., IA.

In Glenwood, Mr. Anderson was identified as a merchant and banker in the 1870 census, and in later censuses, as a banker. He was known was one of the prominent men and bankers of Glenwood for many years. He built a large Italianate brick mansion on North Walnut Street in 1899, which was razed in 2006.9

In 1882 Articles of Incorporation were set up at the Anderson home for St. John's Protestant Episcopal Church. Until the church was built, services were held at their home, including the baptism of Bessie. William Anderson was elected warden, along with James Hickox in August, 1882, and he was a member of the first Vestry. The Anderson family is the first family to be listed in the St. John's Registry.10

Anderson was a member of Chapter #59 Mt. Gerizim Masons from 1878 to 1890, receiving the Royal & Select Masters degree in 1879, was the Scribe of The Grand Chapter State of Iowa, in 1881, and the local Scribe in 1882.11

His other children were William (Willie) H. 1870-1903, unmarried; Ella J. (Lizzie), 1874-1891, died at age 18; James R. 1876-1937, El Paso, unmarried; Ada Vivian, 1879-1959, married Langdon Cheves West and settled in Oklahoma; Helen Lucile, 1885-1912, married John T. Dearborn; and John Randolph, 1882-aft. 1902, lived in Oklahoma. Bessie married H. C. Woodhurst, and later, Leroy Eustis Williams. Annie married William Ambrose Fisher.12

His wife, Ella J. Ruffner died in 1889, and William Anderson died in 1891. His will names his children, and sets up a trust for the benefit of his minor children.13 There is a family plot in the Glenwood cemetery.


  1. Federal census of 1850, 1860, 1870. The federal census of 1880 & 1890 list his birth as 1838 rather than 1834. All censuses list both parents as coming from Virginia
  2. According to the biography of L.E. Williams, the 2nd husband of WHA's daughter, Bessie. Document on Mills County Genealogy Website, http://iagenweb.org/mills/bios/1901/R.htm
  3. Recollection of C. C. Stringfield, reported to the Glenwood Tribune in 1909. He first came to Glenwood in 1853. There was also a Green & Staude, which may have existed prior to Staude & Anderson.
  4. Deeds, Powers of Attorney, Mills Co, Iowa; Cass Co., Nebraska
  5. History of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, from St. Luke's records at Cass County Historical Society.
  6. Records of Cass County Historical Society website, and marriage certificate, Cass County, NE.
  7. Records of Cass County Historical Society website.
  8. Census records, 1870, 1880.
  9. Per Assessor's Office, 2007, Mills Co.
  10. Registry of St. John's Episcopal Church, Mills Co.
  11. Records of Mills Co. Historical Society, from website.
  12. Census records, marriage records from Mills Co website, obituaries of various children from Glenwood Tribune.
  13. Will of William H. Anderson



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