Captain John Anderson
Captain John Anderson, now a prominent real-estate dealer of Chicago, and one of the aldermen of the Fifteenth ward, an important office which came to him unsolicited, is also one of the successful lake masters. Most of his active and eventful years were spent upon the lakes, and upon the high seas before he came to America. Upon the ocean he exerienced more than the ordinary danger and privation which come to the mariner, but the buffetings of adverse fortune did not change Captain Anderson one point from the course which he had undertaken, and therein perhaps is revealed one of the characteristics which have won for him a richly deserved sucess.
He was born in Norway in 1837, and after receiving a common-school education, such as the schools of his native land then offered, he at the early age of fourteen years began an adventurous life upon the sea by going aboard the schooner Habie, a fruit trader. A little later he shipped aboard the barkship Caloretus on a voyage to Central America, lasting twenty-two months. His next vessel was the barkship Oricall. While aboard this ship she was wrecked in the middle of the North Sea on a voyage from London to Norway, the catastrophe occurring December 19, 1856. The lad was picked up by the barkship Gangeralff and taken to Norway, arriving home on Christmas day. Soon after he entered the government school of navigation at Porsgrund, where he pursued his studies until the following spring. He then shipped aboard the barkship Augusta to the East Indies, on a voyage that lasted twenty-two months, serving as petty officer. On her return voyage the Augusta was wrecked on the east coast of Africa. She was loaded with coal oil, which expanded and burst the casks. Heavy storms blew away the canvas and the ship took water. They put into Angora bay, but a storm drove the boat to sea again. The crew by this time was terribly overworked, having been at the pumps for six weeks continuously. In their exhausted condition they demanded of the captain that he change course. After consultation it was decided to bear toward Madagascar, six hundred miles distant. The understanding was that every man should remain at his post, pumping constantly to keep afloat, until a favorable opportunity should present itself to abandon the ship. They made for the passage usually taken by vessels from Bombay, and one morning fell in with two vessels, one a Bremen bark, on which the crew were taken, the Augusta being abandoned. The crew was landed on the Island of St. Helena three weeks later. A part of the crew and the officers secured passage on a vessel leaving, but Mr. Anderson was left on the island with sixteen of the crew, over whom he had been placed in command with instructions to get away as best he could. While there he visited the tomb of Napoleon. Finally he and the remnant of the crew were taken off by the ship Calkedoyle and conveyed to London, arriving in October. Thence young Anderson returned to Norway on the ship Oscar, and upon arriving home resumed the study of navigation at the government school. He completed the prescribed course of study, and received his diploma the following year. The institution was known as the Freidericksweren Government Navigation School.
In 1857, while yet a boy of twenty, young Anderson started for America. He was one of 248 emigrants, comprising a colony under the leadership of a Mr. Tillis, sailing on the ship Schufna, destination Quebec. En route from Quebec to Chicago, Mr. Tillis, the interpreter, became ill, and the care of the emigrants devolved upon Mr. Anderson, who was both interpreter and business agent. The colony came by rail to Chicago, arriving June 9, 1857, and from that city Mr. Anderson sent the emigrants to the respective destinations.
That business dispatched, he began his career on the Great Lakes by shipping before the mast on the schooner Monsoon, Captain McGraw, engaged in the lumber trade. Later in the season he left the Monsoon and shipped as wheelsman aboard the steambarge C.C. Maris, thus completing the season of 1857. In 1861 he reached the position of master by being appointed to the command of the schooner Hercules. In 1862 the Hercules was sold, and Captain Anderson remained as mate, but the same year was made master of the schooner A. Frederick. Its owner a year later sold the Frederick and bought the Alba, Captain Anderson becoming part owner in the vessel. He fitted her out at Gibraltar, Mich., and commanded her for four years. Selling his interest, he then with others bought the brig Montezuma, and as part owner commanded her four years. Then disposing of that property Captain Anderson purchased the tug Magnolia in the spring of 1870, and began tugging on the river. Later that season the Towing Association was formed, and Captain Anderson became assistant superintendent. In the fall of 1870 he bought a half-interest in the schooner Anna O. Hanson, which he commanded for nine years. He then traded his interest for the G. & A. Stranach, which he commanded two years. He was caught in what is known as the Alpena storm, and for shelter ran his boat to the Manitou island, where with several others she was beached and badly used up. Selling his interests in this vessel, he bought the steambarge Daisy Day, and in this vessel Captain Anderson closed his active lake career; for four years he commanded her, and then sold out and quit the lakes.
In 1885, he entered the lumber-commission business in partnership with Jacob Johnson in Chicago. In 1886 he was appointed harbor-master for Chicago harbor, which position he held for two years. In 1888 he entered the service of Peabody, Houghteling & Co., loan bankers, as an appraiser of property on which loans were to be made, remaining with them two and one-half years. In 1890 Captain Anderson entered the real-estate and loan business at No. 120 North Center avenue, under the firm name of John Anderson & Co. He has in connection therewith erected a number of good, substantial buildings in that city, which he has subsequently sold. Without seeking the nomination, he was made the candidate on the Republican ticket for alderman of the Fifteenth ward, and was elected. Captain Anderson is a member of Our Savior's Lutheran Church, and for years has served as trustee of the Church. He is a member of the Tabitha Hospital Association, of which he has been president and secretary, and of which he is now for the ninth year serving as director.
On November 1, 1857, Captain Anderson was married to Miss Maria Olson, and to them have been born eight children, all of whom are living, as follows: Albert E.; Jennie M.; Martin J. (now in Klondike); Emma M., of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Henry C.; George W., of the battleship Oregon; Arthur L.; and Lester C. Captain Anderson is widely known as one of the successful lake masters. He is quiet and unassuming in manner, deliberate in judgment, and thorough in whatever he undertakes. He has acquired a competence by his own unaided efforts, and is not only prominent in marine circles but is, as well, one of the prominent and well respected citizens of Chicago.
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This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.