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Hon. James Oscar Anderson

From the Portrait and biographical record of Hancock, McDonough and Henderson counties, Illinois : containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county (1894)
May, 1894. Lake City Publishing Co.

HON. JAMES OSCAR ANDERSON, one of the representative farmers and stock-dealers of township 9 north, range 5 west, Henderson County, was born on the farm on which he now resides August, 1845. He is of Scotch descent, his grandparents, Thomas and Elizabeth Anderson, having emigrated from Scotland, their native land, to America in an early day. They located in Pennsylvania, where Mr. Anderson was extensively engaged in stock dealing. He was murdered for his money in a tavern near Lancaster, Pa. His son Alexander, the father of our subject, was born in York County, Pa., June 5, 1817, and was reared to manhood upon a farm. He continued to make his home in the Keystone State until 1841, when he came to Illinois and purchased land on section 32, township 9 north, range 5 west, Henderson County, where he made his home until his death, which occurred February 12, 1854, at the age of thirty-six years. He took quite an active part in local politics and was a supporter of the Democracy .

Alexander Anderson was united in marriage February 22, 1844, with Miss Harriet C. Davis. who was born on the 13th of November, 1821, in Windham County, Vt., and at an early day came to the West with her parents, Abner and Lucy (Oaks) Davis. Her death occurred on the old homestead, August 3, 1877. In the family were four children, two of whom died in infancy.

The surviving brother of our subject is Charles A., a prosperous farmer of Stronghurst Township. James Oscar Anderson was reared upon the old home farm where he now resides, and acquired his education in the common schools and in Monmouth College. When he was about eighteen years of age he entered the service of his country, enlisting May 6, 1864, as a member of Company A, One Hundred and Thirty-eighth Illinois Infantry. Nearly this entire company was formed from students who left the school-room to aid in the defense of the Union. Mr. Anderson enlisted for one hundred days, but on the expiration of that period re-enlisted as a member of Company H, Twenty-eighth Illinois Infantry. He served for a time as a Sergeant, was afterwards commissioned Second Lieutenant, and when the war closed was sent to Texas and Mexico, being retained in the service until March 13, 1866. He took part in the sieges of Mobile and Ft. Blakeley, and was in the last fight of the war, April 13, 1865.

On receiving his discharge, Mr. Anderson returned to his home, but his health was so greatly impaired that it was a year before he was able to engage in work. He then began operating the farm, having inherited the same from his father's estate. On the 6th of March, 1867, he married Miss Rhoda B. Paul, and to them have been born three children: Francis M., a farmer of Stronghurst Township; Edwin A., at home: and Eva M., who is now a student in the Stronghurst High School.

Mr. Anderson continued to engage in agricultural pursuits until 1876, when he was elected Sheriff of the county on the Republican ticket, filling that office for ten years, the limit that the constitution allows. On his first election he removed to Oquawka, and there made his home until 1888, when he returned to the farm, and has since devoted his time and attention to agricultural pursuits and the breeding of Jersey cattle. He now owns eighty acres of valuable land, which was secured on a land warrant given his grandfather Davis for service in the War of 1812. On his retirement from the office of County Sheriff he was elected to the Legislature, was re-elected in 1890, and again in 1892, and is now serving as Representative from his district. Socially, he is a member of the Masonic fraternity, belonging to the Blue Lodge of Oquawka, the Chapter of La Harpe, the Commander at Galesburg, and the Consistory at Peoria. He also holds membership with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows of Oquawka, and the Knights of Pythias of Stronghurst. Mr. Anderson is recognized as one of the most prominent and influential citizens of Henderson County. His long continuance in office well indicates his fidelity to duty and the confidence and trust reposed in him by his fellow townsmen. He is a most able member of the House, faithful to the best interests of those he represents, and among the Legislators of the State, he is held in high regard.