Contact the Indiana Room for questions related to Anderson's history.
Prior to the organization of Madison County, William Conner entered the land upon which Anderson is located. Conner later sold the ground to John and Sarah Berry. Mr. and Mrs. Berry donated 32 acres of their land to Madison County on the condition that the County Seat would be moved from Pendleton to Anderson.
John Berry laid out the first plat of Anderson on November 7, 1827. In 1828 the seat of justice was moved from Pendleton to Anderson.
Introduction of internal improvements caused a growth in the population in 1837. The Central Canal, a branch of the Wabash and Erie Canal was to come through Anderson. Work continued on the canal during 1838 and the beginning of 1839.
In December, 1838, Anderson was incorporated as a town. The town contained 350 inhabitants. Almost immediately came the discouraging news that the work on the canal had been suspended by the state.
The town again became a sleepy village until 1849 when it was incorporated a second time as a town. Many new commercial ventures located around the Courthouse Square.
This incorporation was short-lived and Anderson once again went back to village status in 1852. However, with the completion of the Indianapolis Bellefontaine Railroad, as well as their station in 1852, Anderson burst to life. With the new life, incorporation was again on the minds of the citizens.
The third incorporation of Anderson as a town occurred on June 9, 1853. The population continued to increase. Finally, on August 28, 1865, Anderson was incorporated as a city. The population was nearly 1300 people.
Between 1853 and the late 1800's, twenty industries of various sizes located here. On March 31, 1887 natural gas was discovered in Anderson. With this discovery several factories (i.e. glass, etc.) rushed to locate here. The population increase made Anderson bulge at the seams. Other industries that could use natural gas began to locate here over night.
Anderson grew to such proportions that a Cincinnati Newspaper editor labeled the city "The Pittsburgh on White River." Other appellations were "Queen City of the Gas Belt" and "Puncture Proof City" (because of the vulcanizing done here and the rubber tires manufactured).
In 1897 the Interurban Railroad was born in Anderson. Charles Henry, a large stock holder, coined the term "Interurban" in 1893. (It continued to operate until 1941.)
The year 1912 spelled disaster for Anderson--the natural gas ran out. Several factories moved out. The whole city slowed down. The Commercial Club (formed on November 18, 1905) was the forerunner of the present Chamber of Commerce. This club persuaded the Remy Brothers to stay in Anderson and others to locate here. For decades Delco Remy and Guide Lamp (later Fisher Guide) were the top two employers in the city.
Among the major industries are Anderson Tool and Engineering, Barber Manufacturing, Delco Remy America, Delphi Energy and Engine, Prarie Farms Dairy, Guide Corporation, Hoosier Park, Jefferson Smurfit/CCA, Magnequench International, and Warner Press.
The Church of God of Anderson, Indiana located their world headquarters here in 1905. Anderson Bible School was opened in 1917 and this was separated from Gospel Trumpet (now known as Warner Press) in 1925. At the same time it became known as Anderson Bible School and Seminary. In 1925 the name was changed to Anderson College and to Anderson University in 1988.
Over the years 17 different types of automobiles were manufactured here with the Lambert family among the leaders in the development of the automobile. Many other inventions were perfected in Anderson including: the gas regulator-Miron G. Reynolds, the stamp vending machine-Frank P. Dunn, clothes presser-H. Donald Forse, Irish Mail-Hugh Hill, flower car for funeral homes-Francis M. McClain, automatic gearshift-Von D. Polhemus, Sisson choke-Glenn Sisson, and the vulcanizing process that retreads tires-Charles E. Miller.
A number of important celebrities have come from Anderson. These include film stars Max Terhune, Karen Sharpe, and James Edwards; authors Sanford Tousey and Fred Mustard Stewart; singers Ruby Wright and Sandi Patty; and sports figures like baseball great Carl Erskine and world kickboxing champion Ross Scott. Among the city's noted politicians are Winfield Durbin-Governor of Indiana, James Davis-Secretary of Labor, Charles L. Henry-Congressman and coiner of the term Interurban, Mack Mattingly-Senator from Georgia, Robert L. Rock-Lieutenant Governor, and Albert Vestal-Majority Whip of the House of Representatives. Others include: General Dale Crittenberger who was in charge of the District of Panama; Oswald Ryan, Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board; and entrepreneurs James Kilgore, Art Brady, Ike Duffy, Ward Stilson, and Earle Sefton.
In 1990 Anderson was the ninth largest city in Indiana with a population of 59,518. The altitude of the city is 884 feet. The latitude is 40o6'27". The longitude is 85o40'43". The city of Anderson is located in parts of four townships: Anderson, Union, Richland, and Lafayette.
The city of Anderson is named for Chief William Anderson, whose mother was a Delaware (Lenape) Indian and whose father was of Swedish descent. Chief Anderson's Indian name was Kikthawenund meaning "making a noise" or "causing to crack" and is spelled in a variety of ways.
The settlers coming into Anderson referred to the village as "Anderson Town." The Moravian Missionaries called it "The Heathen Town Four Miles Away." Later it was known as "Andersontown." In 1844 the name was shortened by the Indiana legislature to "Anderson."
Chronology of Anderson and Madison County history