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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Alexander Anderson, M. D.

The name of Dr. Anderson is so well known to the residents of Petaluma and the surrounding country that he needs no introduction, but as he has accomplished much in medical and other lines of usefulness his name should not be omitted from the list of citizens who have contributed so largely to the upbuilding of this section. The descendant of Scotch ancestors, he was born in Pictou, Nova Scotia, October 1, 1844. His father, Col. James Anderson, was born in Elgin, Scotland, and in his native land received a splendid medical education through a course of study and training in Guyís Hospital University. Following closely upon his graduation he entered the British army under General Morse, commander of the Royal Dragoons, enlisting is services in 1812. He was sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and to Quebec, to inspect and report to headquarters upon the condition of the fortifications there, and then returned to the continent, reaching there on the day immediately following the famous battle of Waterloo. During his career in the army he arranged to fight a duel with an aide-de-camp, but this mode of settling differences was contrary to army rules, and he had to resign before the duel was fought. Following this he returned to Scotland, where in attempting to relieve the pressure of royalty from some of the small farmers of Achriemsdale he was brought in conflict with the Duchess of Sutherland. She sent her rieves to the tenant who had leased the land in question, and as the recorderís office burned so after she claimed title to the land, sold it. Still continuing his humanitarian efforts in behalf of his down-trodden countrymen, the colonel in 1832 chartered a brig and brought one hundred and eight of the peasants to Quebec, but about one-half of the number died before any large settlement had been made in this country. The death of a brother in the meantime made it necessary for the colonel to return to Scotland to settle his estate. As an indication of the love which his countrymen bore toward him it is pleasing to note that on reaching his destination he was met by about two thousand loyal citizens who took the horses from his carriage and themselves pulled it to the hotel. Upon completing the settlement of his brotherís affairs he returned to Nova Scotia, in Pictou, opening an office for the practice of his profession. He built up an excellent medical practice and continued to make his home there until his death, at the remarkable age of ninety-six years. His wife, who had encouraged him in all of his ventures and undertakings, was before her marriage Miss Jane Campbell, a native of Achriemsdale, Scotland. She survived her husband, and one year after his demise, in 1868, she came to California with her daughter to join the son and brother in Vallejo. In 1882 mother and daughter removed to Andersonís Springs, a health resort opened and maintained by the son, and there the death of the mother occurred, August 14, 1898, when in her eighty-fourth year.

From his father Alexander Anderson inherited his inclination toward the medical profession as a life calling, and at the age of eighteen he matriculated as a student in Harvard College with this idea in view. After his graduation when, in fall of 1866, he set out for California. The voyage was made by way of the Isthmus of Panama, and on May 12, 1867, he located in Vallejo. In his brother, Walter D., Dr. Anderson had a close companion and sympathizer, the two being class-mates in Harvard, and they were also associated in the practice of medicine in Nova Scotia, as well as in Vallejo, Cal., an association which was continued until 1872. In August, 1903, Dr. Walter D. Anderson died of apoplexy while chairman of the board of health of Vallejo and while engaged in an earnest fight to supply his home town with pure water.

After the separation of the brothersí interests in 1872 Dr. Alexander Anderson opened up Andersonís Springs, in Lake county, Cal., where he discovered quicksilver or cinnabar in a bank of sulpher, and endeavored to obtain a long lease of the land from the owner, but was unsuccessful in leasing it for more than one year, but for that year he sold the mining privilege for $14,000. Following the discovery of the rich deposits on the land the new owners refused an offer of $2,000,000 for the land, attempting to develop the mines themselves, and it is only recently that they have realized any large profit from the undertaking. Dr. Anderson maintained his enterprise at Andersonís Springs for about four years, when he turned the business over to his sister, at the same time giving her a deed to the property. He then went to Napa and opened an office for the practice of his profession, but after continuing there for eight months, went to Virginia City, Nev., still later to Bodie, Mono county, Cal., and while in the latter place was county physician of Mono county until 1884. He then came to Tomales, Marin county, purchasing the practice and drug store of Dr. Dutton, which he maintained for ten months. Selling out the business at the end of that time he came to Petaluma, in 1889, and during the years that have intervened he has built up a large practice in the town and surrounding country.

Dr. Andersonís first marriage occurred in May, 1878, and united him with Miss Marietta Reed, a daughter of Charles Reed, a well-known settler of Knights Landing. She did not long survive her marriage, her death occurring December 29, 1879. Some time later Dr. Anderson married Mrs. L. C. Wales, a native of Yuba City, Cal., the daughter of James C. Cheney, a Ď49er and who was the first partner of John Mackey. Seven children were born of the marriage of Dr. Anderson and his wife, named in the order of their birth as follows: Charlotte Adelia, a graduate of the San Jose normal school and now following the teacherís profession; Alexander Campbell, who graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in San Francisco and is now practicing his profession in that city; James Garfield, who is a graduate of the same medical school and is now associated in practice with his father, making a specialty of surgery, in which he has achieved much success; Genevieve, Mrs. E. S. Smith, of Petaluma; Joseph; Walter Duncan and Harrison Mecham, all of whom have been afforded splendid opportunity for obtaining an education.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011