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John (Johannes) Bengt Anderson

Photo page 332

The history of Swede Point and Madrid would not be complete without the life story of John Bengt Anderson, who, with his spiritual, mental, and physical qualities, helped to build and develop the town of Madrid, and much of Boone County.

A native of Sweden, the son of Magnus and Elizabeth Anderson, he came with the original Dalander party at the age of 14 in September, 1846. He was engaged as a hired hand on his arrival from Sweden by Dr. Brooks, who then lived where the City of Des Moines is now located, which at that time was nothing but timber and wilderness.

In 1857, he was married to Miss Caroline Nelson, who had come from Sweden with a party of early settlers. To this union, nine children were born, of whom five grew to adulthood. When John had acquired sufficient capital, he purchased 80 acres of land, and later on, as his financial resources grew, he purchased more land until his farm had increased to 275 acres.

After the death of his first wife, Mr. Anderson married Miss Olive Anderson, in 1877. To this union, eight children were born. Two of these children are living, namely: Mrs. Esther Grant, of Hawthorne, California, and Mr. Arthur Anderson, of Council Bluffs, Iowa. Another daughter, Mrs. Selma Olson, who was a life-long resident of Madrid, died February 2, 1981, at the age of 102 years, a resident of the Madrid Home for the Aging.

In 1895, Mr. Anderson, having improved his land, and having built a large, beautiful home with all of the necessary equipment for his farm work, became interested in the progress of Madrid. He assisted in the organization of the Madrid State Bank, and was elected its first president, holding this office until his death in 1906. He also organized and promoted the Swedish Mutual Insurance Company, of which he was secretary and treasurer for 16 years. He was president of the A. T. Davis Milling Company, and a member of the school board and its treasurer for many years. In 1896, he was elected to the office of County Supervisor, and served two terms in that capacity, and was the assessor for Douglas Township for 20 years. At these duties, he would walk, rather than take his horse and buggy, going many miles a day, cutting through the cornfields and pastures to contact those he represented, so as to maintain a personal contact with them.

He was a "home man" in every sense of the word, loving his family and always showing them kindness and unselfishness.

A true story told by his daughter, Mrs. Alma Dalander, is that when Mr. Anderson's son, Charles Silford, contracted polio and became severely paralyzed at the age of four, treatment was not available in Swede Point. Even though the trip was long and painful for young Charles, Mr. Anderson would take his wagon and two horses, place his son stretched out flat on a board, and drive to Des Moines over the roads and trails twice a month for two years for the best treatment available for this serious condition. The pain finally left, and with the afflicted leg and use of crutches for many years, Charles Silford (Anderson) lived a normal, busy adult life, until his demise at the age of 93. At the turn of the century, this same Charles Silford was the owner and publisher of the Madrid Register-News from September, 1899 to December, 1904. He also organized and directed the Madrid Band which gave concerts once a week in the summer in the old Madrid City Park. These concerts were very popular, as practically all the townspeople and also those from the country would attend, sitting on the plank benches, or on the lawn, listening to the fine music.

Besides Mr. Anderson's business, family, and political life, he was a spiritual man, and was a charter and active member of the Madrid Lutheran Church. He was a liberal contributor toward its support, and served on its official board for 32 years.

The memory of John Anderson, and what he did is alive and revered by his children, to the sixth and seventh generations.

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