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Fortunate is the man who has back of him an ancestry honorable and distinguished, and happy is he whose lines of life are cast in harmony therewith. In person, in character and talents, Mr. Anderson is a worthy scion of his race. Though his life has been one rather of modest reserve than of ambitious self-seeking, he has shown himself a peer of the brightest men of his adopted state, and his mental talents led to his selection for the important position of superintendent of public instruction of Idaho for the years 1897 and 1898, in which capacity he served with distinction. For several generations his ancestors have devoted their energies to the advancement of intellectual acquirements among their fellow men. His great-grandfather, a native of Denmark, followed school teaching in his native land prior to his emigration to America. The latter event occurred, however, in the colonial period of our country, and he aided in the struggle which brought to the nation her independence. He afterward erected a schoolhouse, and conducted a private school throughout the remainder of his life. He was born December 22, 1747, and died in 1834, at the advanced age of eighty-seven years. His son, Allen Anderson, the grandfather of our subject, was born in North Carolina, in 1777, and he likewise devoted his life to educational work. He married a Miss Evans, and died in 1847, at the age of seventy years. Of his three sons, Watson Gates Anderson was born in North Carolina in 181 5, and when seventeen years of age removed to Indiana. He was among the pioneer schoolteachers of that state, being of the third generation of the family to devote his energies to that profession. He married Miss Beulah Jane Jeffrey, a native of Indiana, whose father was born in New Jersey and was of English descent. He also loyally served the colonies in the war of the Revolution. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Anderson were born nine children, three sons and six daughters, four of whom are living. The father and one son aided in the defense of the Union during the civil war and the latter died of disease contracted in the service. Mr. Anderson and his family were all devout members of the Methodist Episcopal church.
Professor Anderson, whose name introduces this review, was born on the 16th of August. 1850, in Spartansburg, Randolph County, Indiana, and was given the name of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte. When a child of seven years he accompanied his parents on their removal to southern Kansas, a settlement being made near Neosho Falls, in Woodson county, where they lived during the troublous times which preceded the war and during the great struggle between the north and the south. At the age of ten years Professor Anderson became a member of the church, and his whole life has been guided by the lofty principles of Christianity. He acquired his early education under the direction of his father, who instructed him by the light of a hickory fire, in the wilds of Kansas. From 1872 until 1881 he engaged in teaching in Woodson County, and with the capital he had thus acquired he pursued a classical education in Hanover College, in Indiana. In 1882 he was ordained an elder of the Methodist church, and has since been a very acceptable minister in that denomination, preaching in Kansas, Washington, Oregon and Idaho. In 1879 he began a five years’ course in history, literature, science and theology, and was graduated in 1884. The previous year he had located in Idaho, where he has made his home almost continuously since. He resided in Boise County for one year, and has since lived in Latah County.
In 1888 Professor Anderson began the study of law, which he pursued at intervals for a number of years, acquiring a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of the principles of jurisprudence. On the l0th of February 1897, he was admitted to practice by the supreme court of the state. In 1894 he was elected probate judge of Latah county, serving two years in that capacity, during which time he passed judgment upon as many cases as most of the district judges, and his decisions were never in a single case, civil, criminal or probate, reversed on revision by a higher court. He was absolutely fair and conscientious in the discharge of his duties and his judicial career was most commendable. In 1896 he was nominated by the People’s Democratic party for superintendent of public instruction, to which office he was elected, serving in that capacity for the years 1897 and 1898.
For several years he has been an active factor in the politics of Idaho. He gives a stanch support to the Populist Party, believing that its principles are more in accord than those of any other party with the sentiment of a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” He also holds firmly to the opinion that remonetization of silver would be of immense benefit to the country, both in the east and in the west. He gives to all political questions his earnest and careful consideration and his views are the result of logical deductions. He is now engaged in the active practice of the law, with headquarters at Moscow.
In 1876 Professor Anderson was united in marriage to Miss Ellen Taylor, a native of Missouri, and a daughter of George M. Taylor, a well known ranchowner and a representative of Revolutionary ancestors. To Professor and Mrs. Anderson were born five children, three of whom died in childhood, while in Kansas. Those now living are Ella and Paul. The family have a pleasant home in Moscow and enjoy the friendship of many of the best people of the state. At this point it would be almost tautological to enter into any series of statements as showing the Professor to be a man of broad intelligence and genuine public spirit, for these have been shadowed forth between the lines of this review. Strong in his individuality, he never lacks the courage of his convictions, but there are as dominating elements in this individuality a lively human sympathy and an abiding charity, which, as taken in connection with the sterling integrity and honor of his character, have naturally gained to him the respect and confidence of men.