Biography of John Anderson of Perry, Iowa

John Anderson, who is now living retired in Perry, was at one time a leading landowner of Dallas county. His birth occurred in county Longford, Ireland, in 1830, his parents being James and Mary (Merto) Anderson, who were also natives of the same county in which they spent their entire lives. The son John was reared and educated on the Emerald isle. He was an only child and he remained in Ireland until 1855, when he came to America. He had heard favorable reports concerning the opportunities and business advantages of the new world and in hope of bettering his financial condition thereby he emigrated to the United States, landing at Philadelphia, where he spent one year. He then returned to the old country, again making the voyage on a sailing vessel, and spent the succeeding year in Ireland. In 1858 he once more embarked on a voyage to this country and at length landed at New York city, after a voyage of six or seven weeks. He spent altogether about nineteen weeks on the water. After his second arrival in the new world he did not tarry in the east but came at once to the middle west, spending a few days in Chicago, after which he made his way to Rock Island, Illinois. He then crossed the Mississippi river into Iowa and took up his abode in Scott county where he worked as a farm hand. He saved his money until he had enough to buy a team and then went to work with his team in Clinton county, Iowa, for the Midland Railroad Company. That was at the time of the “wild cat currency” and he was paid forty dollars in this kind of money, which practically had no value. He then returned to Clinton county where he was married, having just purchased forty acres of land for which he paid ten dollars per acre. The timber had been cut away but the stumps remained and it was an arduous task to clear and develop the farm. He built a house, twelve by sixteen feet, and began clearing the land. Later he bought forty acres of the same kind of land, which he also improved, and when he sold that property he bought one hundred and sixty acres of prairie land upon which he lived until 1874. He then sold this land and came to Dallas county in 1875. Here he purchased two hundred and eighty acres and at different times he bought tracts of eighty, one hundred and twenty and one hundred and sixty acres respectively. Again he added to this property, as opportunity offered, until his land aggregated seven hundred and seventy acres. His generous spirit prompted his division of this land, however, and he has given to his children six hundred and forty acres. The remainder he sold, and in March, 1893, he retired to private life since which time he has been living in Perry.

On the 25th of November, 1858, Mr. Anderson was married to Miss Catherine McCallister, who was born in the city of Montreal, Canada, February 25, 1828, her parents being Bernhard and Margaret (McCallahan) McCallister, both of whom were natives of county Antrim, Ireland, in which country they were married. They had a family of seven daughters and four sons, of whom five are now living: Catherine, Ann, Patrick, Bernhard and Elizabeth. Mr. McCallister crossed the Atlantic from Ireland on a sailing vessel and then went to Montreal. At an early date he came to Clinton, Iowa, and spent his life as a railroad man. He was a member of the Roman Catholic church. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Anderson have been born four children: Mary, Margaret, John and Bernhard F.

At the time of the Civil war Mr. Anderson was drafted for service in 1864 but paid a substitute eight hundred and twenty-five dollars to go to the front in his place. He is a member of the Roman Catholic church and in that faith has reared his children. He has been a devoted husband and father and has given to his children large tracts of land, thus enabling them to make a good start in life. In politics he is a Jackson democrat. Mr. Anderson has never had occasion to regret his determination to seek a home in the new world, for he has found the opportunities which he sought. He has improved the advantages afforded him and as the years have gone by he has gradually worked his way upward until he has become one of the most prosperous farmers of this section of the state. Today he is living in well earned ease, enjoying the comforts and many of the luxuries of life.


Wood, Robert F., Past and Present of Dallas County, Iowa, Chicago, IL: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1907.

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