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.
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
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!
Family Farm in Antrim Township, 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.
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.
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 www.the-christian-recorder.org. 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
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."
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