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Edwards, Richard; Hopewell, M.; Ashley, William; Barry, James G.; Belt and Priest; Casey, John; Hall, W.; Labaum, Louis A.; Leduc, Mary Philip; Lisa, Manuel; O'Fallon, Benjamin; Piernas; Port Folio; Risley, W.; Stoddard, Amos; Williams, Henry W.; Yore, John E. Edwards's Great West and Her Commercial Metropolis, Embracing a General View of the West, and a Complete History of St. Louis, from the Landing of Ligueste, in 1764, to the Present Time; with Portraits and Biographies of Some of the Old Settlers, and Many of the Most Prominent Buisiness Men . St. Louis: Office of Edwards's Monthly, A Journal of Progress, 1860. [format: book], [genre: biography; history; letter; narrative]. Permission: St. Louis Mercantile Library
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=edwards.html


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John J. Anderson, President of the Bank of St. Louis.

ON the other side of the Mississippi, three miles south of St. Louis, in the little French village of Cahokia, January 19th, 1813, John J. Anderson, the well-known banker of St. Louis, was born.

During the war of 1812, his father, Reuben Anderson, was connected with the army, and emigrated from the state of Delaware when some military companies were ordered West. He had charge of the military stores when the troops were stationed at Bellefontaine, and in the change of location incident to military life, he had to move from station to station until his connection with the army was severed. He had married Miss Margaret Byron, daughter of Captain Byron, of the United States army, and the eldest child of the marriage was the subject of this memoir.

The first recollections of John Anderson are associated with the French hamlet of Cahokia, surrounded by the thick forest trees in which it then nestled, and which concealed it almost totally from view, until the visitor entered upon the open space which surrounded the romantic village. He remained there until Belleville was made the capital of the county, when his father removed from Cahokia to the new seat of government, and was soon after appointed sheriff, which responsible public office he held for eight years — or until his death, which took place in 1822. By his death the family was left in rather straitened circumstances, and young John J. Anderson, who was then attending school, soon after was removed from the school-house, at the early age of thirteen. It was necessary that he should earn his own livelihood, and, entering thus early upon the eddying currents of life, he came to St. Louis July 2d, 1827.

The first business experience of John J. Anderson was in the store of Richard Ropier, where he was employed first as a boy, but being of an ambitious and diligent nature, as he advanced in years, he was gradually promoted, until he became the confidential clerk of the proprietor, and in 1834 became a partner in the concern, the firm then becoming Ropier & Anderson. Two years afterward, Mr. Ropier retired, and the junior partner purchased the whole business, which he conducted upon a most extensive scale, and for many years in the most profitable manner.

Commercial life is ever precarious, and subject to uncertainties and fluctuations, which the most observing and cautious cannot at all times control. In the year 1842, the pecuniary pressure was so great that many of the strongest firms in the country were forced to submit to the stringency of the times, and could not meet their financial contracts. John J. Anderson was of this number. He failed; but all of his debts, when fortune again smiled upon him, he cancelled in an honorable manner.

With all his worldly wealth swept away, and having debts hanging

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over him, and feeling keenly the torture of the rankling shafts of adversity, the spirit of John J. Anderson was not subdued, but was nerved to greater efforts. He conducted mining and merchandizing for a short time and was then appointed clerk of the City Council in the spring of 1843.

About this time, Joseph S. Morrison, of Pennsylvania, came to St. Louis, and, becoming acquainted with Mr. Anderson, had so much confidence in his business capacity, that he offered to take him as partner in the banking business, which offer being accepted, the new banking-house went into operation under the title of John J. Anderson & Co., which continued until 1849, when Mr. Morrison retired.

Every one who has been a resident of St. Louis for a little more than a score of years, remembers the great fire of 1849, and the terrible visitation of the Asiatic cholera. The general conflagration in the eastern part of the city burnt the banking-house of Mr. Anderson to the ground, but quickly he commenced building the structure in which he is at present located, at the corner of Main and Olive streets, and then took Reuben L. Anderson, his brother, into partnership.

Mr. Anderson has taken an active part in the government of St. Louis, and was a member of the Common Council for four years. He took an active part in all measures tending to the improvement of the harbor, and ably seconded the effective efforts of the Hon. Luther M. Kennett, to whom St. Louis owes so much for having removed the obstructions of the harbor. He was the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, when one million of dollars was appropriated to the Ohio and Mississippi and Pacific Railroads — half a million each. He was two years director in the Pacific Railroad, was a director in the Iron Mountain Railroad, and is now a director in the North Missouri Railroad. He procured for the Bank of St. Louis its charter, subscribed liberally to its stock, and is now its efficient president.

So popular was John J. Anderson from his official service in the City Council, that he has been since frequently importuned by his friends to become a candidate for other high and responsible public offices, but has always declined. The new marble building which he has erected is a monument of his liberal enterprise. The marble was brought from the quarries of Vermont, and it was the first entire marble building that was erected in St. Louis. Its cost exceeded $80,000. He is one of the ten gentlemen that have undertaken the building of the Southern Hotel, of this city, which will be one of the palatial structures of the Union — costing $600,000.

On April 23d, 1835, Mr. Anderson was married to Miss Theresa Billon, daughter of Charles L. Billon, of Philadelphia. He has worked out a destiny of which any one might be proud; and whatever of wealth, public confidence, and social position he has achieved, he owes to the self-reliant and energetic elements which make up his character.

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Edwards, Richard; Hopewell, M.; Ashley, William; Barry, James G.; Belt and Priest; Casey, John; Hall, W.; Labaum, Louis A.; Leduc, Mary Philip; Lisa, Manuel; O'Fallon, Benjamin; Piernas; Port Folio; Risley, W.; Stoddard, Amos; Williams, Henry W.; Yore, John E. Edwards's Great West and Her Commercial Metropolis, Embracing a General View of the West, and a Complete History of St. Louis, from the Landing of Ligueste, in 1764, to the Present Time; with Portraits and Biographies of Some of the Old Settlers, and Many of the Most Prominent Buisiness Men . St. Louis: Office of Edwards's Monthly, A Journal of Progress, 1860. [format: book], [genre: biography; history; letter; narrative]. Permission: St. Louis Mercantile Library
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=edwards.html
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