Anderson Family of Antrim Township

Robert Anderson was born in 1760 in Northern Ireland and  was a member of the Presbyterian Church.  Family legend says that  Robert Anderson was a “factor” on a slave ship, which made repeated  journeys to the Ivory Coast of West Africa.  At some point during his  involvement in the slave trade, the immorality of one of the most  heinous times in American history became too much for Robert Anderson  and he vowed that he would never again work on a slave ship.  On his  last trip, it is said that he met “the tallest, most beautiful woman,”  he had ever seen.  He proposed to this African woman (whose name is not  known to the family), telling her he would give her freedom if she  married him.  She accepted.  How the Robert Anderson family made their  way to Franklin County is unknown.  Three of their sons are known to us  at this time – William (born in 1792 in PA), Elias (born 1793 in PA),  and Timothy Sr. (born in 1796 in Franklin County, PA).

Timothy Sr., Negro, is listed on the 1828  Pennsylvania Septennial Census, in Antrim Township.  He was a farmer.   Timothy and his wife Mary “Polly Croog” Anderson appear again two years  later, during the 1830 US Census records, in Antrim Township. There were  nine people living in the household.    Their eldest child Moses, born  in 1829, was their only child.

Timothy and his brother William and their families  lived next to each other in Antrim Township during the 1840 US Census.   Both families were recorded under the far right columns entitled “Free  Colored Persons.”  Timothy, Negro, and a farmer, was again listed in the  1842 Septennial Census of Pennsylvania, as well as the succeeding US  Censuses of 1850 and 1860.  He was listed as a farmer in 1860 and his  real estate was valued at $4,000.  Timothy Sr. lived here until his  death on January 23, 1878.  The Timothy Anderson property still exists  today at 13831 Ridge Road, Antrim Township, about three miles north of  the Mason-Dixon Line.  The property was included on the 1858 and 1868  Antrim Township maps.  On the 1868 map, an additional property is  indicated just east off of Route 11, south of Greencastle, where the  Anderson family owned a lumber mill and yard.  It was here that they  employed former slaves.


Timothy Anderson Sr. was born a free black man, a  member of the Greencastle Presbyterian Church, and a strict  Sabbatarian.   As a man of mixed race, Timothy instilled in his children  self-worth, the principles of equality, and love for humankind, whether  black or white.  He owned 58 acres of land, 12 animals, and raised 663  bushels of grain in 1860, according to the U.S. Agricultural Census.  If  the Andersons employed escaped slaves and freed slaves post-Civil War,  did they do more than just employ fugitives.

Traditionally, the Mason-Dixon Line has divided  the Northern states from the Southern states and for thousands of  slaves, the Mason-Dixon Line culturally bisected the United States into  the land of freedom and the land of slavery.

The term Underground Railroad did not come about  until after actual railroads were prevalent in the United States.  The  U.S. railroad system also provided the vocabulary for the UGRR with  terms such as depots, stations, conductors, station masters,  stockholders, passengers, and engineers.

Charles Blockson, author of Hippocrene Guide to  the UGRR, identified Franklin County as "a hazardous area of 100 miles,  which contained the most secretive, tangled lines of the Underground  Railroad."  From the Timothy Anderson application to the National Park  Service for the Network to Freedom program, “Fergus Bordewich, author of  Bound for Canaan:, the UGRR and the War for the Soul of America refers  to the area of Franklin County and all the border counties east of  Franklin all the way to Philadelphia as “Underground Zero.”  Bordewich  writes that William Still, “… soon becomes the coordinator of one of the  most important underground networks in the country, linking activists  from Norfolk, Virginia to New York, and throughout southern  Pennsylvania.”  “Author William Switala calls this same area the  “Central Route.”  (Randolph J. Harris, January 2010.)

Timothy Sr. and Polly had ten children - Moses,  Mary, Isabella, Timothy Jr., John, Sarah,  Mordecai, Matthew, Margaret  Anna, and James Craig.  As a youth, on the family farm, Rev. Dr. Matthew  Anderson (born January 25, 1848; died January 11, 1928), had a “craving  thirst” and “longing desire” for an “opportunity to obtain an education  - - - that we might be prepared to accomplish the very most possible  for God and humanity, especially in lifting the standard of the race  with which we were identified …”


Matthew Anderson attended Iberia College and Oberlin College, Ohio, both  known for their abolitionist sentiments.  After Oberlin, he went to  Princeton Theological Seminary where he became the first  African-American to live “on campus!”  It was here that Matthew received  his divinity degree.  Following that, he did post-graduate work at Yale  Seminary School in New Haven, CT.  Matthew was ordained by the Carlisle  Presbytery in 1878 and in 1905, he received his doctorate from Lincoln  University. 

Matthew Andersona

Matthew Andersona

While at Oberlin College, Matthew Anderson met his  future wife, Caroline Virginia Still.  She became one of the first black  women to graduate from the Women’s Medical College of Philadelphia.   Her patients were the black families who lived in northwest  Philadelphia.  Matthew and Caroline were married in 1880.

In 1897, Matthew wrote the book Presbyterianism:  Its Relation to the Negro.  Part One was about the establishment of the  Berean Presbyterian Church, Berean Savings and Loan Association, and the  Berean Manual Training and Industrial School in northwest  Philadelphia.  Part Two was his autobiography.   Only paragraphs into  Part Two, Matthew wrote the following:  “Among the earliest impressions  made upon our childish mind were the tales of horror about the South  told by the fleeing fugitive as he lay in the secret enclosure of my  father’s house where he was concealed. It was during the great storm  which burst forth with such rage and fury in the late Rebellion, which  culminated in the abolition of four million of human chattels that we  grew up into youth and early manhood.  The neighborhood in which we were  brought up was the scene of some of the bitterest contentions and  engagements both before and during the war.” (Anderson, 1897: p 155).   Within the first sentence, Matthew tells the reader that his father was  an “Engineer on the Underground Railroad” in Antrim Township, Franklin  County, PA.

Timothy Anderson Sr. was born a free Black man.   From at least 1828 (according to records) until his death in 1878, he  owned property and lived in Antrim Township, just about three miles  north of the Mason-Dixon Line.  Everything in Timothy Sr.’s life – from  being the son of a white man and former slave trader; son of an African  woman, who but for the marriage proposal, would have become a slave; his  strict upbringing in the Presbyterian Church; to his knowledge that  every human being is born with inalienable rights, led Timothy Sr. to  make a conscious decision to break Federal laws and become an activist  by harboring escaped slaves in a “secret enclosure” in his home – the  same home in which he raised his family of ten children.  Contemplate  the effects that Timothy Anderson Sr.’s actions had on his children and  how they would their lives as adults.

Caroline Virginia Still

Caroline Virginia Still


It is from Matthew Anderson’s prolific writings as well  as his book Presbyterianism: Its Relation to the Negro, written in 1897  that we begin to understand how his father Timothy Sr. and mother Polly  brought up each and every one of their children, and how his upbringing  translated into his adulthood.

As a youth, on the family farm, the following  verifies that Rev. Dr. Matthew Anderson was a first-hand witness, as  were his siblings, to the reception of runaway slaves, in his father’s  home. On page 155, in his book, Matthew wrote the following, “Among the  earliest impressions made upon our childish mind were the tales of  horror about the South told by the fleeing fugitive as he lay in the  secret enclosure of my father’s house where he was concealed.”   These  first indelibly imprinted experiences became the roots of who Matthew  Anderson would grow to become.

What  was life like on the “Ridge” in Antrim?  In Greencastle’s March 25,  1905, Echo Pilot, pages 1 – 2, Matthew wrote an article entitled “Fifty  Years Ago.”  It was filled with a considerable amount of reminiscences  of his home, the farm on which he grew up, his church, and the quiet  town of Greencastle.  Matthew wrote, “My parents in keeping with the  spirit of the community were strict Sabbatarians.  Family worship on  Sabbath morning, attendance at church Sabbath forenoon and evening, and  Sabbath School at nine o’clock in the morning or three o’clock in the  afternoon according to the season, this together with the reading of the  Bible and reciting of the shorter catechism as a holy recreation  between, was the rule and not the exception at my home when a boy, and  what was true of our home was true of every Christian home in  Greencastle and throughout Antrim Township at the time.”

Regarding work ethic, he said, “I am here to say I  would not exchange the tuition I received on the old Ridge farm here in  Antrim Township for the best college education in the land, and I am  sure I do not undervalue a college education.”

 “… there was the same strict attention to duty  during the week. An honest day’s work faithfully performed for the  established rate of wages was expected of every laborer whether on the  farm, in the shop or behind the counter.”

“Four o'clock in the morning was the usual time  for commencing work on the farm, and six or seven o'clock in the  evening, according to the season, for quitting. --- and by six o'clock  hooked up and was in the field plowing or on the way to town with a load  of wood or grain to the market.  Life as lived then in Greencastle and  the country adjacent was indeed most rugged and exacting, or using the  popular expression it was a most strenuous life, but I am free to admit  that whatever measure of success I have attained in life, it has been  due largely to the discipline which I received by that rugged training  on the farm and there are many who would say the same."

Matthew was the “keynote” speaker for Old Home  Week 1905.  In his address, he described Greencastle when he was a boy.   “Greencastle … may not have had a great town hall with its necessary  accompaniments, nor a lock-up, much less a jail or a police force.  ….  its happy people were not obliged to live behind bolts and bars at  night, as a precaution against the midnight prowler, the sneak thief,  the highway robber and the assassin.  The Greencastle which he knew when  a boy may not have had in its possession great wealth, but it had a  noble people of high moral Christian character, honesty of purpose and  kindliness of heart who are not surpassed by any other people in this  country.”

Matthew, the eighth child of Timothy Anderson Sr.,  was first schooled at the old Canebrake one-room school house, at the  intersection of Leitersburg and McDowell Roads.  The Presbyterian  Sabbath School also had a great influence on him.  These two local  institutions whetted Matthew’s “craving thirst” and “longing desire” for  an “opportunity to obtain an education - - - that we might be prepared  to accomplish the very most possible for God and humanity, especially in  lifting the standard of the race with which we were identified …”

Working his way through college by doing odd jobs,  Matthew attended and graduated from Iberia College (a preparatory  school) and Oberlin College (1874), Ohio, both known for their  abolitionist sentiments.  After Oberlin, he went to Princeton  Theological Seminary, where he received his divinity degree in 1877.   Following that, Matthew did post-graduate work (1877-1879) at Yale  Seminary School, in New Haven, CT.  He was ordained by the Carlisle (PA)  Presbytery on June 12, 1878 and in 1904, Matthew received his Doctor of  Divinity degree from Lincoln University.

In 1869, during his time at Oberlin, Matthew  received a letter from his father, with an “urgent request that we come  home at once.”  Matthew did not elaborate on the urgency but spent six  months at home, during which time, he accepted a job from the Board of  Freedmen, as a teacher, “and for two years had charge of the  Presbyterian School at Salisbury, NC.

On page 156 of his book, Matthew, speaking of his  impending time in Salisbury, NC wrote, “Never have we undertaken  anything when were in a higher state of excitement, which arose, not  from any fear of personal harm, for this we never had, but from a  feverish desire to see and to know for ourselves. We had heard much  about the South, the country, the people, the state of morals, the  cotton fields, the rice swamps, the whipping posts, the slave pens, the  cabins, the swarms of colored people and their wrongs.”  (The last  sentence alludes to all the stories of the “fleeing” fugitives, harbored  in his father’s home.)

It was at the Presbyterian School in Salisbury  that his life’s ministry began.  On page 161, Matthew wrote, “Never have  we seen brighter and more energetic scholars than some at this school.  …  The people all around us were crying for intellectual and spiritual  bread and there were at that time but few of us to furnish it.  … A  number of the most influential educators and professional men and women  in the South today received their first instruction under us in our  school at Salisbury.”  The Presbyterian School at Salisbury became the  model for the Berean Trade School, which Matthew later established in  northwest Philadelphia.

At the age of 21 and just four years after the end  of the Civil War, and one year after the passage of the Fourteenth  Amendment, Matthew was very cognizant of his civil rights and was  absolutely resolute when standing firm for his truths.  Matthew  Anderson, the mulatto grandson of a white Scots-Irishman, born in  Northern Ireland, who married an African woman, and whose father was a  captain on the Underground Railroad, was well aware of racial prejudice  outside of his home in Franklin County.  I have not found any reference  in Matthew’s writings about him experiencing racial prejudice in Antrim  or Greencastle.  That changed though when he left home and went to  college.  Anecdote, after anecdote, after anecdote in his book tells the  story of racial prejudice, as he experienced it after the Civil War.   “When we went south we resolved to have nothing to do with politics but  to attend strictly to our duty as a missionary, but at the same time we  would demand our rights on all public conveyances.  We resolved that we  would never be compelled to ride in a second class car, and if we rode  in a second class car it would be at our own option.”

Upon his departure from Salisbury, NC to return to  Oberlin, he purchased a one-half to two-thirds reduced-price emigrant’s  train ticket and boarded the car for second class “white” emigrant  passengers.  The white conductor “politely” asked him to remove himself  to the other end, which was for colored people.  “We told him we were  emigrants and that we were in the right car.”  The conductor left but  sent the black brakeman, not once but twice, to convince Matthew to move  to the rear of the car.  The second time, “We now told him if he did  not let us alone, we would pitch him head foremost off the train.  From  that on until we arrived at Baltimore we were not interfered with  further.”

With the surname Anderson, Matthew was readily  accepted at Princeton Theological Seminary, for you see, the application  at that time did not yet ask for racial ethnicity.  “We are so  constituted that we can generally see the ridiculous or ludicrous side  of a thing, a habit whether a vice or a virtue, which has served to  carry us over many a rough and thorny road…”

141 years ago upon arriving at Princeton, a very  confident 26-years-old Matthew went directly to the office of the  corresponding secretary Dr. Alexander McGill.  McGill “met us formally”  but mistook him for the colored man who was looking for manual labor at  Princeton.  Matthew’s response was to hand Dr. McGill the acceptance  letter McGill signed and sent to Matthew.  “A study of the old Doctor’s  face as he glanced over his own letter was as good as a play. … ‘Mr.  Anderson I’m glad to see you.  I didn’t know, Mr. Anderson, that it was  you (a Negro) I was writing to.  Take a seat.’  By this time all the  ludicrous side of our nature was excited, and we would have given  anything to roar, but we were under bonds to keep our equilibrium, and  we simply replied to his surprises, ‘Yes,’ ‘No, ‘Oh yes.’”  Matthew  steadfastly refused off-campus housing “among your own people,” because  “on-campus rooms” were part of the “inducements” that led Matthew to  accept a seminary student position at Princeton.  McGill wrote a note  asking Dr. Moffat to find a room in the dormitories for Mr. Anderson.

Matthew bided his time for two weeks, housed in a  storage room for broken chairs, shutters, bedsteads, etc. when “… we  were called upon by one of our wealthiest classmates, who is now (1897) a  professor at Princeton University, who, when he noticed the pile of  broken objects, said, ‘Mr. Anderson this room is not fit for occupancy,  it is a lumber room.’  There is a room on the other side of the hall  vacant.  There is no reason why it shouldn’t be assigned to you.”   Matthew immediately went to Dr. Moffat who protested because Princeton  never before had any Negroes room in the seminary.  “It makes no  difference to us whether you ever did or not, Doctor.  We are going to  room there… because we were assured by Dr. McGill that a good room, well  furnished, would be given us in the seminary building.”  The room was  reluctantly assigned and “This ended our battles at old Princeton on the  race question.”  And thus, Matthew Anderson, a mulatto farm boy from  Ridge Road in Antrim Township, Franklin County, PA became the first  African American to live on campus at the Princeton Theological  Seminary!

Anderson Home on Ridge Road, Greencastle, PA

Anderson Home on Ridge Road, Greencastle, PA

The Ku Klux Klan was established in 1866 in opposition  to post-Civil War Reconstruction in the South.  Their targets were  Republicans, both white and black.  Members of the KKK included a cross  section of white Southern people, including former slave holders,  Confederate veterans, lawyers, doctors, and even pastors.  The Klan  evolved into a white-supremacy group, determined to undermine the  Federal laws that provided for economic and political equality for all  blacks.

For over a decade and a half after the end of the  Civil War, the voice of the KKK was heard loud and clear via the ballot  boxes and its goal of white supremacy was yet again realized, through  the election of Democratic state representatives and senators throughout  all the southern states.  The South’s state legislatures railed against  the Federal Reconstruction laws by writing and passing segregationist  laws.  But the Klan’s victories were not passive victories.  They were  victories fraught with violence, intimidation, lynching, and burnings.   “What you see, you learn; what you learn, you practice; what you  practice, you become; what you become has consequences, by Ernie  Larsen.”  Seven black men elected to legislative positions, during the  state constitutional conventions under the Reconstruction Acts of  1867-1868, were murdered and ten percent of the black men elected during  this time were persecuted, in various ways, by the KKK.

In the very early years of Reconstruction, after  leaving the school at Salisbury, SC, it was Matthew’s deep conviction  that “what we have always believed, namely, that color or Negro  prejudice, is not the result of an innate or natural antipathy toward  the Negro because of the color of his skin, but wholly because of his  past and his condition.  Lift them out of this condition, let him become  educated, and refined, let his moral standard be high and prejudice  against him because he is a Negro will have vanished.”  Throughout his  life, Matthew never let go of this theory.  But if Matthew had the  advantage of hindsight, he might have also initiated a program where  blacks and whites would have sat down, face-to-face, and talked about  prejudice, in an effort to educate whites about the injustices endured  by the black race, since the first slave ship landed on the eastern  shore of America.

During the 1870s when the Southern Democrats were  making inroads in electing legislators to state legislatures, Rev.  Matthew Anderson graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1877,  followed by post-graduate work at Yale Divinity College, New Haven¸ CT.   When Matthew left Yale in 1879, his plans were to go back home and  visit his father and family, and then return to the South to continue  his missionary work with former slaves by teaching in a school for  blacks. But Divine Intervention touched Matthew Anderson’s life once  again.

From the time all of Timothy Anderson Sr.’s  children were small, he brought them up to be socially and politically  conscious.  “What you see, you learn; what you learn, you practice; what  you practice, you become; what you become has consequences.  Ernie  Larsen”

From Page 55 of Matthew’s book, “And since from my  earliest childhood, I had been made to feel the wrongs of the slave and  the thralldom which rested upon the colored people, free and slave,  throughout this country, from anti-slavery books, papers and speeches  which were being daily read in my family, and the prayers which were  offered up by my father, I most naturally, when called upon to choose a  profession, chose that profession, in which I could accomplish the most  for humanity and especially for my own people.”

Matthew would never consider himself just a pastor  of the Gospel; he was also a social worker.  “I could never believe,  that the work of a Gospel minister was simply preaching, in the commonly  accepted sense of that term, but that it included everything, which  tended to the development of the whole man, intellectual, moral, and  spiritual…”

Instead of going straight home from Yale, Matthew  stopped in Philadelphia to visit Dr. John Reeve, who was the senior  pastor of Lombard Central Presbyterian Church, in Philadelphia. In an  article written by William Allison about Matthew Anderson, he wrote,  “Thousands of African Americans were streaming north to escape the Jim  Crow system and take advantage of America’s Industrial Revolution  following the Civil War, only to be disappointed by inadequate housing  and limited employment options.”  The “Socially conscious white leaders  (of which Reeve was one), trying to cross a chasm of suspicion, were  failing to reach the city’s African American population.”  Reeve was  convinced that Matthew would be able to achieve more and do more for his  race in Philadelphia than in Salisbury, SC.  Reeve challenged Rev.  Matthew Anderson to take over Lombard’s Gloucester Mission church  project in Northwest Philadelphia, for African Americans.  And so he  did, establishing what would become the Berean Enterprises ~ The Berean  Presbyterian Church (1880), The Berean Savings and Loan Association  (1884), and the Berean Manual Training and Industrial School (1889).   This was a phenomenal feat, accomplished in a relatively short amount of  time.  Of the Berean Church, Matthew said, “The chief aim of the Berean  Church will be to cause men to act instead of being acted upon…”

 Matthew lived by ten personal rules.  Rule nine:  That  we fear no man, nor call any man master, but be kindly affectioned  towards all men, and under no circumstances to allow an insult to pass  unresented which was intended to belittle our manhood, not because of  ourselves personally, but because of the race with which we are  identified, and which to stigmatize would be the real object of the  insult.”

Upon professionally soliciting, at his home, the  white president of the Pennsylvania Railroad for a donation to purchase a  lot, on which to build the Berean Presbyterian Church, the railroad  executive, “… rushed to the door and threw it open, and then in the most  brutish manner ordered us out, at the same time raising his foot to add  emphasis to his demand.”  Matthew went home and wrote an eloquently,  fiery letter in late Victorian prose.  Putting him “in that class of  white men, of whom there is a large number in this country, who look  with contempt upon every man who is clad in a canopy of black, and who  feel that no Negro has any rights which they are bound to respect; men  whose souls are so small that five hundred of them can dance upon the  point of a cambric needle.  For no man would ruthlessly insult a  gentleman who calls upon him at his home unless he has a soul of  microscopic dimensions.  Hoping to hear from you at your convenience, I  am Yours with regret, MATTHEW ANDERSON, Pastor Berean Presbyterian  Church.”  Matthew did receive a letter of apology and a donation for the  church.  The two men eventually became friends for the rest of their  lives.

Berean Enterprise, Philadelphia, PA

Berean Enterprise, Philadelphia, PA




In 2010, the congregation of the Berean Presbyterian Church

in northwest Philadelphia celebrated its 130 anniversary.

The congregation outgrew the first church building established by

Rev. Dr. Matthew Anderson and moved to Broad & Diamond Streets

(across from the campus of Temple University).

This image shows the inside of the current sanctuary of the

Berean Presbyterian congregation.

Matthew not only lived by Rule Nine, he also instilled  that same kind of self-respect into the black men and women in his  congregation and those in the industrial school.  Matthew taught by  example.  He was a well-known civil rights leader in his time, a social  reformer, a humanitarian, and a renowned pastor, not just within the  Presbyterian denomination, but throughout Philadelphia; Pennsylvania;  and the Nation.    Matthew was a visionary, more than three generations  ahead of his time.  In a 1902 speech, he wrote, “… when the American  people will not ask whether the workman is white or black, but whether  he has the qualifications and the skill to do the work required as well…  as any other man.”  Rev. Dr. Matthew Anderson did not live to see this  day.

Matthew’s other nine rules (paraphrased) were. One  – Never undertake anything without first studying it in all its  different phases, with the Spirit’s guidance. Two – Don’t allow any  adverse influences whatever to divert us from our purpose. Three –  Present all work in its true light, even though the truth might tend to  prejudice against the work. Four – Use all means (temporal,  intellectual, and spiritual) to insure the success of the work.  Five –  In all our work, look toward future needs. Six – That we be guided  always by the great and immortal principles of divine truth, by one  common Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.  “That while by accidents of birth  and the unholy sentiment of the country, our labors are confined  principally to the people of the colored race, we should nevertheless  regard ourselves, ministers of Christ, since in God’s sight there is  neither Jew nor Greek, barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free, but all  related by ties of consanguinity, having sprung from common parents.”  Seven – Hold sacred the truths of the Fatherhood of God and brotherhood  of man toward our fellowman.  Eight – Be perfectly frank and honest in  all our work and carry out the principles of the Golden Rule. Ten –  Listen to the criticisms and advice of friends; acknowledge our failures  and faults; always apologize to others for injuries I’ve done to them.

It was at Oberlin that Matthew met his future wife  Caroline Virginia Still, daughter of William Still, a famous captain on  the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia.  Caroline became one of the  first African American women to graduate from Women’s Medical College of  Philadelphia.  Matthew and Caroline worked hand-in hand within their  neighborhood in northwest Philadelphia ministering to their congregants  and neighbors in a way no other man or woman had done so.  They had  three daughters, Helen, Maud, and Margaret.  Caroline died June 3,  1919.    Matthew’s second wife was Blanche Williams.

Matthew Anderson was a member of Pennsylvania  Peace Society, the Negro Academy of Political and Social Sciences, and  was a delegate in 1903 to the Universal Peace Society convention in  Rouen, France.  Matthew was asked to speak before many groups and  societies and he wrote numerous papers, among which are:  The  Opportunity of the Negro in Domestic Service; The Black Man’s Side;  Intensive Report of the Berean Manual Training and Industrial School;  The Presbyterian Church Must Stand by its Doctrinal Standards as to  Race; and of course his book Presbyterianism: Its Relation to the Negro.

Matthew’s friends and contemporaries included  Frederic Douglass, William Still, John Wannamaker, and Col. Alexander K.  McClure (Chambersburg, PA).  Wannamaker and McClure served on the board  of directors of the Industrial School. Upon Matthew’s death, Dr.  Francis Grimke, black Princeton classmate of Matthew’s, said, “He never  seemed to realize the fact that he was growing old that his life’s task  was drawing to a close.  He had work, he said, the last time I talked  with him, that he wanted to do, and that it would require at least  fifteen more years to do it.  So that when death came to him, it found  his mind, his heart, his whole being taken up with the thought, not of  rest, but of work, work, hard, hard, work.”

It was a remarkable and astounding, 80-year  journey, from the “Old Ridge” in Antrim Township to Princeton  Theological Seminary, to College Avenue, Philadelphia.  Matthew Anderson  was the eighth of ten children, born on January 25, 1848.  He was an  exceptional human being, whose life was always touched by the hand of  God.  The fact that he became the first African American to live on the  campus of Princeton’s Theological Seminary is testimony to the very  fiber of who Matthew Anderson was.  He didn’t stop there; all of his  life’s work was spent in Philadelphia – the antithesis of Ridge Road in  Antrim Township, and he was just as home in urban Philadelphia as he was  in Antrim and Greencastle.  The Rev. Dr. Matthew Anderson died January  11, 1928, 14 days shy of 80 years. He is buried in Eden Cemetery,  Collingdale, Delaware County, PA.


Moses Anderson was born October 18, 1829 and was the  eldest of ten children, of Timothy Sr. and Mary “Polly” Anderson.   Much  is expected from the first born – responsibility, leadership, being a  surrogate parent, achievement of expectations or even overachievement,  to name a few.  Moses fulfilled all expectations as he eventually took  over his father’s business of farming and running a lumber yard, where  former slaves were employed.

We know from Moses’ younger brother, Matthew, that  their father had within the household, “anti-slavery books, (news)papers  and speeches, which were being daily read in my family,” to which all  the children had access, in addition to listening to the daily prayers  of Timothy Sr. for the colored race.  The children also grew up hearing  the harrowing, first-hand stories of the escaped slaves, who Timothy Sr.  hid in the “secret enclosure” in the basement of his home.  Although  the Andersons of Antrim Township had been free blacks for generations  each of the children understood that the yoke of slavery was not just on  the backs of the enslaved but also carried by free blacks.  It was  their civic duty to speak out against the enslavement of their brothers  and sisters and to be proactive in the anti-slavery movement.  Moses,  being the eldest, had a head start on the rest of his siblings.

The newspaper The Christian Herald was the  precursor of The Christian Recorder, which “is the oldest existing black  periodical in America.”   The Christian Herald was established in  1848.  It was published weekly and cost the subscriber $1.50 per year  for a subscription.  The name was changed to The Christian Recorder in  1852 and in 1865 became “the newspaper” of the Pennsylvania State Equal  Rights League.  This author believes that The Christian Herald and then  The Christian Recorder were most likely two of the newspapers that were  bought and read within the Anderson household.  From The Christian  Recorder’s “History Page” on its Web site, “The Christian Recorder was a  strong and vocal opponent to slavery.  It repeatedly addressed the  biblical and moral issues of slavery and encouraged and nurtured black  consciousness.”  The Christian Recorder was the source through which the  Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League disseminated its news and  lobbying efforts, such as voting rights for black men.  In 2015, The  Christian Recorder is still published and has a Facebook page, blog, and  Web site at  This newspaper is also the  source for the following information about Moses Anderson and his  membership and activity within the League.

Moses Anderson was an activist.  He was a member  of The Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League and travelled to  Pittsburgh in 1866 to attend the 2nd annual meeting on August 8, 9, and  10.  Moses, from Greencastle, and James Lewis, from Chambersburg,  represented Franklin County at the annual state convention.  There were  55 dues-paying members (which included Moses and James Lewis) and 23  honorary members in attendance.  In 1865 the annual dues were $2 per  man.  At the 1866 annual meeting, Moses was appointed to the Business  Committee, which consisted of one person from each county (17)  represented at the meeting.

There were two nationally-known men among the  League’s membership with who Moses associated – William Nesbit, one of  the co-founders of the League on February 8, 9, and 10, 1865, who served  as its first president, and Octavius V. Catto, also a co-founder, who  became a martyr for Civil Rights on Election Day, October 10, 1871.    Catto was one of a number of African Americans who were shot dead in  Philadelphia, by native Irishmen (Democrats) who opposed black voting  rights, established under the Republican Reconstruction Acts.  Nesbit  was also the League’s primary lobbyist and worked closely with  Pennsylvania’s US Representative Thaddeus Stevens, as well as Charles  Sumner and William Kelley.

Just two years after the end of the Civil War, at a  meeting of the Equal Rights League in May 1867, a message from Moses  Anderson, not in attendance, was read to those assembled, by William  Nesbit, president of the organization.  In part it read, “Moses  Anderson, who speaks of himself a "an humble citizen of prescribed  race," sends us "An address to Leagues and other Associations auxiliary  to the Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League, and to the colored people  of the State of Pennsylvania.  He anticipates that “the day is not far  distant when the colored man will enjoy all the rights that belong to  American citizens…”

The object of the League is “to unite the entire  colored people of our State into one common brotherhood, for the  promotion of morality, education, temperance, frugality, industry and  the encouragement of everything that pertains to a well ordered and  dignified life, and to obtain by appeals to the minds and consciences of  the American people, or by legal process, a recognition of the rights  of the colored people of the United States.”

Moses appealed “to the colored people to rise  above their surroundings, and, by their own merits, close defamation and  detraction. They must not depend solely on the philanthropist or  statesman. They must plead their own cause. As they are now American  citizens, they must cultivate such virtues as will not shame that  honored title. Education is their surest passport to respectability, and  industry and frugality will silence their enemies.”

These are the identical thoughts and beliefs that  Moses’ younger brother, Matthew, would propose and live by 22 years  later, when he arrived in northwest Philadelphia.

Moses was a benevolent man.  In the July 20, 1867  issue of The Christian Recorder, Moses was among 40 men and women who  made donations toward the establishment the First Colored Church,  formerly located at 11th and Pearl Streets, Philadelphia, PA.  Again,  this was 22 years before his brother, Matthew, arrived in Philadelphia.

The State Journal (Harrisburg) was another African  American newspaper.  In one issue The Journal printed the following:   Mrs. (Julia B.) Moses Anderson of Greencastle, Pa, is home on a visit to  her relations and friends.”  In the August 19, 1884 issue of The State  Journal, the Chambersburg correspondent reported, “Your correspondent  had the pleasure of meeting Rev. Matthew and Mrs. Doctress Anderson, of  Philadelphia; Mrs. (Julia B.) Moses and Mrs. (Nanie) Timothy Anderson,  of Greencastle, while paying a flying visit to our town on August 12th.”

Moses Anderson, the eldest of ten children, did, indeed, live up to and exceeded the expectations of being the firstborn.

In the summer of 1863, all men between the ages of  20 and 45 were required to register for the draft.  In Provost Officer  Captain George Eyster’s draft registration book for the 16th  Congressional District, three Anderson brothers – Moses (34 and  married), Timothy Jr.  (25), and John (23), were recorded on Page 7,  under Antrim Township.

There was a loophole in the 1863 Enrollment Act  that allowed draftees, if their name was drawn, to pay $300, so that a  substitute would serve in their place.  The Pilot printed the list of  Antrim men who were drafted on July 19, 1864.  Fourteen men were  drafted, among which were four blacks.  Timothy Anderson Jr.’s name was  among the four blacks.  The July draft only required seven men but an  additional seven names were drawn to make up for Antrim Township’s June  deficit.

The Timothy Anderson Sr. family was considered a  middle-class family.  In 1860, he owned 58 acres of land, 12 animals,  and raised 663 bushels of grain in 1860, according to the U.S.  Agricultural Census.  His real estate was valued at $4,000 or $114,280  in 2014.

Today, because of inflation, the equivalent value  of one dollar in 1864 would be worth about $15.15.  In other words, the  $300 commutation fee in 1864 would be about $4,545.  Whether in 1864 or  2015, the commutation fee was a lot of money.  Moses wrote that Timothy  paid the $300 commutation fee in 1864, when he was drafted.  It is not  known whether it came out of his pocket from wages earned working on the  family farm or if it was paid by the Anderson family.  It has not yet  been uncovered who fought in the Civil War as a substitute for Timothy  Anderson.  Whether in 1864 or 2015, the commutation fee was a lot of  money.

Eight months later in February 1865, Timothy  Anderson Jr.’s name was drawn yet again for the draft from Antrim  Township.  Timothy was registered and mustered in on February 22, 1865,  in Chambersburg.  He was given the rank of sergeant in Co. M, 2nd US  Colored Cavalry.  Timothy was 26 years old, 5’10” in height, with black  hair, hazel eyes, and yellow skin.  Under “Remarks” it lists him as a  substitute for someone in Antrim Township but does not give the name.   So off Timothy Anderson went to serve in the Civil War.

Another African American from the Greencastle  area, George Young, was also mustered in to Co. L, 2nd USCC on February  27, 1865.  Both men were members of a detachment of U.S. Colored  substitutes for enrolled white men.  While George and Timothy were  enlisted in the 2nd USCC, it was ordered to eastern Virginia in the  Norfolk area where they stayed until May 1865.  After being ordered to  City Point (now Hopewell), Virginia, the regiment set sail for Texas on  June 10.  Duty time was spent at various places in Texas, including in  the Rio Grande and Brazos Santiago, an island at the tip of Texas with a  strategic harbor, across the Brazos Santiago Pass.

Considering the fact that a $300 commutation fee  had been paid so that Timothy Jr. would not have to actively serve, his  big brother Moses, surrogate parent and proactive, decided to write a  letter directly to the Adjutant General of the US Army.  The front page  of this very rare letter was found in Timothy’s Civil War service  records (No. 47918837).

The letter is dated June 26, 1865.  Respected Sir   My Brother Timothy Anderson was drafted into the United State service  on 22nd February last from the 16th district of Pennsylvania.  And he  had also been drafted in May 1864 and paid the $300 commutation.  He is  now in the 2nd United States Colored Cavalry enroute for Texas.  And as  most if not all the white men from this Township have Either been  discharged or are getting their money back, I mean those that paid $300  commutant I respectfully submit his case to your consideration.  I hope  if you decide not to discharge him, Page 2: you will order his money to  be refunded.  For any official Records I would refer you to Cap. G. W.  Eyster Provost Marshall of the 16th District of Penn.  I do not ask that  he be discharged if you do not think but I hope at least that you will  have his money Refunded.  Please let me know your decision.  Very  Respectfully submitted, Your Obedient Servant, Moses Anderson.  PS Moses  Anderson Greencastle Franklin Co Penn.

The second page was not in Timothy’s records  because whoever first scanned and digitized his records did not turn the  letter over and scan the back of the letter.  This situation was  remedied by contacting the National Archives.  Someone had to go into  the storage “vaults” to find Timothy’s records, retrieve the letter and  “copy” the back page.  Several weeks later a photocopy was received in  the US Mail.

When the Adjutant General’s office received Moses’  letter, they responded within 11 days.  Service record No. 47918836  says, “War Department A.G.O., Washington D.C. July 6, 1865, Respectfully  returned to Mr. Moses Anderson (Colored) Greencastle Pa. with the  information that a Special Order was issued from this office May 30th  1865 directing the discharge from service of Private Timothy Anderson  Co. M. 2nd US Colored Cavalry. By order of the Secretary of War.  C. W.  Foster, Assistant-Adjutant General of Volunteers.

Two of Timothy’s service records, No. 47918826 and  47918827 say that Special Order No. 265 was dated May 30, 1865, which  predates Moses’ letter by almost a month.  This leads one to believe  that someone, most likely Timothy, had been working on correcting the  fact that he was drafted in 1865, in spite of paying the $300  commutation fee in 1864.

Special Order No. 265: War Department, Adjutant  General’s Office, Washington, May 30th, 1865. Private Timothy Anderson,  Company “M,” 2nd U.S. Colored Cavalry, a drafted man, will be discharged  the service of the United States, on the receipt of this Order at the  place where he may be serving. By order of the Secretary of War: E. D.  Townsend, Assistant Adjutant General.

Two of Timothy’s war records (No. 47918820 and  47918828) say that he was discharged July 10, 1865, per Special Order  No. 265, Adjutant’s Office of the War Department.  It was July 2, 1865  before the hardcopy, paper records, discharging Timothy, were received  in the regimental headquarters in Texas.  Record No. 47918834 is a  letter to Lt. Edwin Hughes, from the Headquarters of the 2nd USCC,  Brazos Santiago, Texas, written by Edward R. Wilson, Capt. 2nd USCC,  Commanding Regiment.  “Lieutenant, I have the honor to enclose discharge  of Private Timothy Anderson Co M 2nd USCC also muster and descriptive  ---.  Any information you have relative to the man please forward to the  Hd  Quarters.”

Questions remain.  Timothy was discharged seven  months before the rest of his regiment.  How did he get back home to  Antrim Township from Brazos Santiago?  Did the Army give him enough  money to make his way back home or did he have to pay his own way?  Was  Timothy ever paid for the five months of duty that he performed in the  2nd USCC?

Moses died on October 5, 1893, aged 63 years, 11  months, and 17 days old - 13 days shy of 64.  He was revered enough that  The Christian Recorder (Philadelphia) reprinted, in its October 26,  1893 issue, the following, which was initially published in The Pilot:  “My father (Moses Anderson ) died today (Thursday, October 5) at 1.15.  Funeral Saturday at 2 p.m. (Saturday, October 7, 1893)   JNO. M.  ANDERSON.”

Timothy Anderson Jr. was born January 13, 1838,  the fourth child of Timothy Sr. and Polly Anderson.  He died November  30, 1895, aged 57 years, 10 months, and 17 days.   Timothy Anderson Jr.  is buried in the Anderson family plot, in the white section of the  cemetery, in Section I, Lot 14, Cedar Hill Cemetery, Antrim Township,  Franklin County, PA.

June 5, 1867

Address of Penna. State Equal Rights League

(Column 2)

Summary: The editorial endorses the Pennsylvania  State Equal Rights League, a "colored" organization promoting racial  uplift. Its goal, the piece relates, is to "'unite the entire colored  people of our State into one common brotherhood.'" To achieve this goal,  the group promotes the importance of "morality, education, temperance,  frugality industry, and everything that pertains to a well ordered and  dignified life."

Full Text of Article:

Moses Anderson, who speaks of himself a "an humble  citizen of prescribed race," sends us "An address to Leagues and other  Associations auxiliary to the Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League,  and to the colored people of the State of Pennsylvania, signed by  William Nesbit, President of Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League, and  he asks us to give place to his address, or at least to a synopsis of  it. He anticipates that "the day is not far distant when the colored man  will enjoy all the rights that belong to American citizens," and deems  it important that the race is prepared for their coming privileges. The  aforementioned League is said to be a thorough organization of the  colored people, looking to this end.

The address opens by announcing that it is  fitting and proper that the persons to whom it is directed should take  note of their progress, and counsel together as to their condition and  prospects; and, it congratulates them that they have more to encourage  them now, than they had in all the long years since their race has  inhabited this continent. The true principles of the government, as  enunciated in the Declaration of Independence, are asserted to be for  the first time understood and practiced, and the policy everywhere  recognized that it is not safe to trample on human rights. Their  brethren in the rebel States, being invested with their God-given  rights, it is assumed that they will be a judicious use of their power  reflect back power upon the colored residents of the North. The lively  hope is expressed that the National Congress will secure their rights,  or that the Supreme Court will decide against discriminations on account  of race or color. But if no shorter or juster course be possible, the  question of enfranchisement will be before the people at the general  election in 1869. It is therefore proposed to secure the tribunal of the  people in their favor. To effect this purpose, the address counsels a  combination of effort.

The objects of the League are "to unite the  entire colored people of our State into one common brotherhood, for the  promotion of morality, education, temperance, frugality, industry and  the encouragement of everything that pertains to a well ordered and  dignified life, and to obtain by appeals to the minds and consciences of  the American people, or by legal process, a recognition of the rights  of the colored people of the United States," and to arouse these people  to labor until they have arrived at the full stature of enfranchised  manhood. The address denies that they are, under all circumstances,  especially lax in morals, intelligence or understanding. Outraged and  oppressed as they have been, it is a wonder that they have preserved  even a show of regard for law and order. It points proudly to the fact  that they have kept pace with the spirit of the age in the amenities and  refinements of civilization, and that they present an unbroken front of  loyalty to the government.

Each one can do something to raise their standard  still higher; and by uniting their energies in a common cause will reap  the reward that comes to a just cause guided by intelligent combination  of efforts. If they suffer themselves to be distracted and divided,  they will show themselves a race of idiots, of whom their friends now,  and their children hereafter, will be ashamed. They have already  realized the blessings of union. They did all possible to influence  Congress in the direction it has taken, have poured in petitions; sent  their agents to Washington; have personally solicited the champions of  their cause, and know their organization is approved. The victory most  satisfactory and practical which they have achieved, is in removing the  discrimination against them in public conveyances. The address claims  that the committee of the League, Messrs. Foster, Catto and Bowser,  prepared, word for word, as it now stands on the statute books, the act  passed by the legislature of Pennsylvania forbidding discrimination  against passengers by railroad and railway corporations, and then ably  assisted in securing its passage and approval. It appeals to the colored  people to rise above their surroundings, and, by their own merits,  close defamation and detraction. They must not depend solely on the  philanthropist or statesman. They must plead their own cause. As they  are now American citizens, they must cultivate such virtues as will not  shame that honored title. Education is their surest passport to  respectability, and industry and frugality will silence their enemies.  Their plain duties are organization, education, industry and frugality.  The League is the only organization universally adapted to their needs,  and the colored person who opposes it is false to his interests. The  next annual meeting sits at Reading, Pa., on the second Wednesday of  August. The address closes with a glowing appeal to the colored men of  Pennsylvania to unite, organize, do their full duty, and rely upon God,  who has brought them through the wilderness of slavery, almost within  view of the promised land of equality before the law.

We have condensed the address, nearly in its own  words. It is written skillfully, earnestly, and forcibly. All good  citizens, of whatever race or party, will rejoice at any effective  efforts to promote the personal welfare of the race; and intelligence,  sobriety, frugality and industry are powers that will elevate any  people, however degraded by oppression and wrong. The colored people  have now inducements to progress, morally and intellectually, before  them, and it is wonderful how they are pressing forward in  self-improvement. We bid them God speed in their "longings, strivings,  yearnings," and we have enough faith in "God and Nature" to believe that  they will be "lifted up and strengthened."