John B Anderson Boxholm’s Founder (1837-1892)
Posted By: Tina Keister (email)
Date: 2/22/2012 at 13:26:59
The man generally recognized as the founder and the first businessman of Boxholm is John B Anderson. Even though he died eight years before the town was platted, the town owes its namesake to him. His life history is given here.
John B Anderson was born in Ekeby socken (near Boxholm), Ostergotland, Sweden on April 11, 1837. He was raised and educated in his native land and immigrated to America in 1860. His first 10 years in this country were spent at Galesburg, Illinois. In 1870 he moved to Altona, Illinois. On Jan 24, 1876 he left with is family for Grant Township, Boone County, Iowa and upon arriving, settled in Section 16. When he arrived here, there were already over 400 people in the township, so Mr Anderson can’t be considered one of the earliest settlers. However, few people in the township were destined to leave as lasting a mark on its history as did Mr Anderson. He rented land for the first six years he was here and then on Oct 21, 1882, he purchased 80 acres in Section 16 (E1/2 of NE ¼) for $1,6000, establishing his homestead here. It isn’t known for sure whether he built his home or moved into one that was already there, but at any rate, about 1886 he opened a small general store in this house. The north addition to the original small house was built on for this purpose.
The house is still standing in its original location, although it has been remodeled and enlarged several times. The present owners are Dan and Elaine Kauffman, who have lived there since 1966. It is the oldest building still standing within the present city limits of Boxholm.
After having lived in Grant Township for 10 years, Mr Anderson fully realized the needs of the settlers around him. They welcomed this pioneer store, as the nearest trading places of Dayton and Pilot Mound were over five miles away. It must be remembered that the roads in the township at this time were not in very good shape and usually impassable in wet weather for a horse and wagon. (The present paved road to Pilot Mound wasn’t even graveled until 1923.) AS this country store was located about one-half mile north of the center of Grant Township, it was ideally located. The area around it was by then well known as the Grant Center Settlement.
Besides being used as a trading place, the area around the store was used as a place to congregate for social affairs during good weather. Mr Anderson had planted a grove of trees just north of his place and in time, this grove afforded the people of the township a place to have picnics, reunions and other gatherings. A grand Fourth of July celebration was held there in 1889, attended by over 400 people. At least two “old settler reunions” Were held there before 1900 and many other gatherings were held there in the early 1900’s.
According to newspaper accounts of that time period, by June of 1888, Mr Anderson kept a full assortment of groceries, dry goods and tin ware on hand in his store. Because money wasn’t plentiful, he sometimes accepted butter and eggs in trade. By October 1889, his store was doing so well he had to decide between it and farming, so he rented out his farm and held a closing out sale of all his farm-related items. In December of 1889, he purchased a set of wagon scales for his business so he could weigh corn and accept it in trade for goods. This business was now the sole means of support for him and his wife and children.
Through Mr Anderson instrumentality, a country post office was established in this store. At his request the office was named Boxholm, after the town of his nativity in Sweden. He became the first postmaster, his commissions being dated April 2, 1887, and his salary set at $50 per year. At first the name of the new town was hyphenated into two words like this, Boxh-Holm, but was later changed into its present form. During that first year of 1887, the mail was delivered on Tuesdays and Saturdays, with only 12 to 15 farmers utilizing the service. But as soon as they realized how handy it was to have a local post office, more and more farmers received their mail through this post office. It was also his duty to carry the mail between his office and Pilot Mound.
Besides being the first businessman and first postmaster, Mr Anderson also served the people of Grant Township in numerous other ways. He served on the board of directors of the township school board during its formative years of the late 1870’s and early 1880’s, and was president of this board during the late 1870’s. He served as township assessor in 1880 and 1881 and as townshIp constable in 1885. Although not serving as an officer, he was also one of the organizers of the Scandinavian Mutual Insurance Association in 1884, which was Grant Township’s first insurance company.
Mr Anderson was one of the original supporters of the Grant Center Lutheran Church. He and his wife and two of his sons were charter members of this church, joining on Feb 13, 1886. He is generally given credit as being the found of that congregation. Anything that aided the community and benefited his fellowman, John B Anderson was one of the first to become involved and was one of the prime movers of all township functions.
So it was that he also helped establish the Prairie Lawn Cemetery. He was one of the original directors of the Lawn Cemetery Association when it was incorporated on June 4, 1890, and served as its first secretary up until the time of his own death. It can be safely stated that no man did more good for Grant Township’s early progress than did John B Anderson.
John B Anderson was twice married. His first wife was Miss Inga Lisa Persdotter whom he married in Knox County, Illinois on Nov 4, 1861. She was born on July 10, 1825 in Sweden, but nothing is known of her past. After slightly less than six years of marriage, she died in 1867, aged 42 years, and is buried in Illinois. They had two children that lived to adulthood and lost one in infancy or at birth.
The oldest child was Mary Charlotte Anderson who was born in Galesburg, Illinois on Oct 22, 1862. She came to Grant Township with her parents in 1876 and in 1882 was married to Andrew J Peterson (1855-1940). They had eight children: William (1884-1967), George (1886-1965), David (1889-1961), Mrs George (Agnes) Peterson (1891-1975), Mrs Alva S (Anna) Moreland (1894-1985), John (1897-1952), Mrs F John (Alice) Ormand (b.1898) and Mrs Francis (Esther) Rouse (b.1901). All of these children were born in Grant Township. Their home place was located in the northwest corner of Section 16, one mile west of Boxholm. Mary died at the relatively early age of 41 years on Dec 20, 1903, and her husband Andrew died April 26, 1940. Both are buried in Prairie Lawn Cemetery east of Boxholm.
The other child from the first marriage was Theodore, who was also born in Galesburg, Illinois, on May 24, 1864. He came to Grant Township with his parents in 1876 and later helped his father in his farming operation. He also took over the position of Boxholm postmaster after his father’s death, serving from 1892 to 1895. He also kept the store operating during the 1892 to 1900 period. IN 1901 he was married to Emma A Thornberg (1866-1955). They had two children, both of whom died young, Carl T (1902-1902), and Ernest A (1905-1906). They later adopted two sons, Carl T (b about 1901) and Reuben C (b about 1905). Theodore died on Aug 3, 1932, aged 68 years and his wife Emma died on March 5, 1955, aged 88 years. They are buried in Prairie Lawn Cemetery along with their two infant children.
ON Sept 14, 1867 in Knox County, Illinois, Mr John B Anderson was married for the second time, to Miss Anna Charlotte Nilsdotter. She was born in Fliseryd, Kalmarlan, Sweden on Feb 28, 1838, the daughter of Nils Jonsson and his wife Anna (Hemmingsdotter) Jonsson (b about 1809). Very little is known of her early life, but she immigrated to this country in 1864, settling in Illinois. She also had a sister in this country by the name of Mrs Emma Lindstrom. Mr and Mrs Anderson had seven more children, only four of whom lived to adulthood. (Mr Anderson was the father of a total of 10 children by his two wives.)
The oldest child from this second marriage was Emil Julius. He was born in Galesburg, Illinois on July 27, 1868 and came to this township with his parents in 1876. He was well known in the early days of Boxholm as a carpenter and built the old Boxholm hotel in 1901. Mr Anderson never married and died on Feb 27, 1933, aged 64 years. He is buried in Prairie Lawn Cemetery east of Boxholm.
The next three children all died young . First was Johan Albert Wilhelm, born Jan 16, 1871 in Altona, Illinois and came to Grant Township in 1876 with his parents. He died shortly thereafter (before 1880) and is buried in an unmarked grave in the Scandinavian Cemetery two and one half miles north of Boxholm. Next was Carl Edward Ferdinand, born April 18, 1872 in Altona, Illinois and died there Aug 28, 1873, aged 16 months. Edna Wilhelmina was born in Altona, Illinois on Feb 16, 1874 and came to Grant Township with her parents in 1876. She died here sometime between 1880 and 1884 and is also buried in an unmarked grave in the Scandinavian Cemetery two and one half miles north of Boxholm. There also was another infant that died, but its order of birth or burial place in unknown.
The next to the youngest child was Lydia Augusta, who was born here in Grant Township in Nov of 1877. She married Edwin O Gord and they had five children: Mrs Alice Marsh, Mrs Esther Holm, Mrs Evelyn Gardeman, Irving and Harvey. They lived in California most of their married life. She died July 20, 1958 and is buried in Burbank , California along with her husband.
The youngest child was John August Gotfred, who was also born here in Grant Township on March 5, 1881. He married Hannah C Anholt (1881-1976) in 1904 and they had two children, Mrs Earl “Candy” (Margaret) Westeen (1905-1984), and Rollin (b. 1915). John A Anderson was instrumental in the actual building of Boxholm being a carpenter in the early days of the town. His life history is given elsewhere in this book. He died Jan 27, 1967, aged 85 years, and his wife died April 2, 1976, aged 94 years. Both are buried in Prairie Lawn Cemetery. The son Rollin is the only descendant of John B Anderson still residing within Grant Township.
The subject of this sketch, Mr John B Anderson, died at his home in Boxholm at 8:00 in the morning on Feb 10, 1892, at the comparatively early age of 54 years, 9 months and 29 days. He had been in feeble health for a long time prior to his death, suffering from rheumatic fever and heart trouble. These infirmities, aggravated by a case of influenza, cause his death. His funeral was held at the Grant Center Lutheran Church which he helped organize six years prior. Newspaper accounts of the vent said it was the largest funeral ever held in Grant Township, Mrs Anderson followed him in death eight years later, dying on her birthday Feb 28, 1900, aged 62 years. Both are buried in Prairie Lawn Cemetery east of Boxholm. Thus, both he and his wife died before the town of Boxholm actually got started.
From the probate records of John B Anderson’s estate, we find the following items inventoried along with their value (in 1892 dollars):
2 horses………..$45.00 1 heating stove………..$8.00
2 cows…………..$26.00 2 bedsteads…………….$5.00
5 pigs…………….$25.00 2 tables……………………$5.00
2 calves…………..$6.00 12 chairs…………$3.00
6 doz chickens……. $18.00 1 buggy………….$10.00
7 tons hay ………$20.00 1 bureau…………$5.00
250 bus. corn…………$7.50 1 cupboard……..$3.00
1 cook stove…….$30.00 Bedding, wearing apparel, and misc. items……..$40.00
These assets do not include the inventory of his store nor the value of the residence itself, which was taken over by his son Theodore. The land he bought for $20 an acre was worth about $35 an acre in 1892 or $2,800. On this there was an $800 mortgage with interest due and also two $100 promissory notes which he owned. Total debts were $1,200, total assets, $3, 100 for a net worth of about $1,900. Although not considered wealthy even by 1892 standards, Mr Anderson, through the benefits of his own hard labors, left his family in a better than average financial condition.
History of Boxholm and Grant Township in Boone County, Iowa 1986 by David C Peterson
Boone Biographies maintained by Jan Bony.
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