There is no record which the American public holds in higher regard than that of the man who has carved out his own fortune, winning his success by enterprise, integrity and perseverance. Such has been the history of Christopher Anderson, now one of the most prominent business men of Ford county, owning and conducting the Roberts Exchange Bank and also engaged in the manufacture of brick and tile. He has at other times been connected with other interests and is today the owner of considerable valuable farming property.
Mr. Anderson was born in Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, on the 28th of April, 1842. His parents were Adam and Martha (Hamilton) Anderson, who spent their entire lives in Scotland, where the father was a coal master. The maternal grandfather, Captain James A. Hamilton, won his title by service with the Sanquhar Volunteers and had charge of Waterloo prisoners at Sanquhar for some time. His watch and sword are now in possession of Mr. Anderson and are cherished heirlooms. The father's family numbered four children, namely: Mary, who first married Alexander Smart, of Scotland, and after his death came to Piper City, where she lived some years and then moved to Evanston, where she died in 1907; James, who remained in Scotland; Christopher, of this review; and Jean, the wife of George Campbell, who came to this country from Scotland in 1872 and located in Piper City, Illinois, where he conducted the Piper City Bank for some years.
Christopher Anderson was six years of age when his parents removed from his native town to East Lothian. He attended the grammar schools at Musselburg until fourteen years of age, at which time he began providing for his own support, entering the auditing department of the Edinburgh & Glasgow Railroad at Glasgow. There he continued from 1856 until 1860, and was afterward in Dumbartonshire until 1866 in connection with the coal trade.
On the ninetieth anniversary of the proclamation of American independence — July 4, 1866, — Mr. Anderson sailed from Glasgow to Montreal, Canada, whence he made his way to Chicago and on to Chatsworth, Illinois, reaching that place about six months after sailing from Glasgow. In the fall of 1866 he worked as a farm hand in Marshall county. Desiring that his labors should more directly benefit himself, he then purchased a quarter section of land in Lyman township, Ford county. It was raw prairie, for which he paid eight dollars per acre, and in the spring of 1867 he took up his abode thereon and began its cultivation, continuing his farm work until the fall of 1872. He brought the fields into a state of rich fertility and made a number of substantial improvements upon the place. Thinking to find other business interests more congenial and more profitable, he removed to Roberts and began general merchandising in connection with J. A. Montelius and George Campbell, under the firm name of J. A. Montelius & Company. This relation was continued for about three or four years, after which Mr. Anderson purchased his partner's interests and continued the business under his own name for a number of years, meeting with success in the undertaking. He has also been engaged in the grain business from the time he located in Roberts in 1872, until 1896 or 1897. In 1878 he built the Roberts Brick & Tile Works, which he operated until 1880, when the plant was destroyed by fire. He was then joined by John Kenward and they rebuilt the works, which are still in operation under the firm style of Anderson & Kenward. In 1879 Mr. Anderson purchased the private bank then owned by J. B. Meserve and has since been sole owner of the Roberts Exchange Bank, which is a substantial financial institution of which he has active charge. His various business interests have ever been of a character that has contributed to the substantial development of the village and promoted the general welfare, at the same time proving of substantial benefit to Mr. Anderson. In addition to his financial and industrial interests, he has valuable farming property, including three hundred acres of rich land in Lyman township, and fifteen hundred acres at Tensas, Parish, Louisiana.
Aside from his business interests, Mr. Anderson has done effective work for the village in public office, serving as justice of the peace for the past thirty years. He takes considerable interest in local politics, has served on the village board and does everything in his power to promote the welfare and upbuilding of the community. He does not consider himself bound by party ties but is independent, with leanings toward the democratic party.
In 1869 Mr. Anderson was married to Miss Mary G. Martin, of Marshall county, and a native of Peoria. They have ten children: Margaret; Dr. Martha Anderson, who is a physician of Roberts; Georgia, who is with her uncle in Scotland; Mary, the wife of Irvin H. Murray, of Morgan Park, Chicago; Bethia, the wife of Reynold J. Blesch, who is engaged in farming near Roberts; Jean, who is filling a position as bookkeeper at Clyde, Illinois; Anne, who is cashier in her father's bank; Marian, who is studying music in Chicago; and Flora and Adam, at home.
Since coming to America, Mr. Anderson has made two trips back to his native land and there learned a matter of interesting local history concerning Ford county — the naming of Paxton, which was so called in honor of Sir Joseph Paxan, the architect of the London exposition of 1851, who was knighted for that work. He was sent to America by an English syndicate that furnished the capital for the building of the Illinois Central Railroad. He remained all night at Paxton and in his honor the name of the town was changed from Prospect City to Paxton. Mr. Anderson has never had occasion to regret his determination to seek a home in the m-w world. Coming to Illinois when a young man of twenty-four years, he availed himself of the opportunities here offered, and as the years have passed he has steadily worked his way upward until his orderly progression has gained him rank with the leading, prominent and substantial residents of the county.

Extracted 16 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Ford County, Illinois, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908, author E. A. Gardner, Volume 2, pages 521-524.

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