Search billions of records on


 Biographies Index  



California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


John Anderson

The entire period of his boyhood and early maturity was passed by Mr. Anderson in his native country, Denmark, where he was trained in the habits of industry, frugality and intelligent labor characteristic of his countrymen. Born in 1845, he was on a little less than thirty years of age when he bade farewell to the scenes and friends of youth and crossed the ocean to the new world, proceeding westward to California and taking up land in Sonoma county. Throughout the remainder of his busy and honorable career he remained a resident of this section of the state and identified himself closely with interests leading to the local upbuilding. Lying along the coast of the Pacific ocean stretch seven hundred acres of pasture and timber land, forming an estate known as Horse-shoe Bay farm, three miles below Stewart Point. Since his death, which occurred September 16, 1908, the family have remained on the old homestead and have engaged in the summer-resort business, their picturesque estate offering exceptional advantages for camping grounds and the successful entertainment of summer visitors.

In addition to engaging in agricultural pursuits Mr. Anderson for sixteen years served as a justice of the peace and thus gained the title of Judge by which he was known throughout Sonoma county. As a justice he proved himself to be impartial, wise, tactful and the possessor of a broad knowledge of the law, such as is not often found in one untrained in the profession. When he came to the west he was a single man and it was not until a few years afterward that he established domestic ties. In his marriage he was unusually fortunate, for his wife proved to be a capable helpmate, devoted counselor and sagacious mother, ministering to his comfort until he passed away and ably superintending his estate subsequent to his demise. A native of Bodega, Sonoma county, she bore the maiden name of Ella Samsel and was born in 1863, receiving a fair education in the schools of her home town and a thorough domestic training, in a home where thrift and economy ruled.

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.

Eight children comprised the family Judge John and Ella Anderson, namely: Carl L.; Eugene T.; John F. C.; Estelle, who married J. S. Wills, a native of Iowa; Freda C., who married Charles F. Branigan, a native of Texas; Hilda H., whos husband, M. J. Pellascio, was born in Switzerland, their union being blessed with two children, John C. and Letha L.; Florence, deceased; and Margaret E., who resides with her mother at the old homestead. Mrs. Anderson descends from old southern ancestry. Her father, Hiram Samsel, was born in Maryland in the year 1805 and during youth learned the blacksmithís trade, which he followed in the east as well as after his removal to the Pacific coast in the Ď60s, crossing the plains with ox-teams. Fraternally he was an active local lodge worker in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. When somewhat advanced in middle life he married Susan Goforth, who was born in Tennessee in 1838. Of that union there were three children, as follows: Charles E., who resides at Visalia; Isaac L., a resident of Oakland; and Ella, who became the wife of Judge Anderson. Mrs. Andersonís second marriage united her with Karl M. Nilsen, who was born in Laurvick, Norway, the son of Christian Nilsen, a merchant in that town, where Karl was reared and educated in the public schools. Like most of the young men of that vicinity he went to sea, and for many years he sailed on the large merchant marine vessels, which entered nearly every port of the world. On coming to the United States he enlisted in the navy, serving one term, and after his honorable discharge he located in Sonoma county, Cal., where he is engaged in farming on Horseshoe Bay ranch. Beautifully located on the Pacific ocean, it affords a delightful view of the ocean and surrounding country, besides which it is heavily timbered with redwood, pine and oak. Mr. Nilsen is raising cattle and getting out railroad ties and tan bark. In his religious belief he is a Lutheran, while his wife is an Episcopalian.

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