Civil War Wiki
John Byers Anderson
Personal Information
Born: November 22, 1817(1817-11-22)
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: July 25, 1897 (aged 79)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: {{{branch}}}
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Colonel
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Battles: American Civil War
Relations: {{{relations}}}
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

John Byers Anderson (November 22, 1817 – July 7, 1897) (also known as John Byars Anderson) was an educator, railroad contractor and United States Army officer who served in the American Civil War as a colonel and superintendent of the Union railroads in the Department of the Ohio, Department of the Tennessee and Department of the Cumberland.

Education work[]

Anderson was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania, on November 22, 1817.[1] He graduated from Washington and Jefferson College in 1836. After graduation, Anderson moved to Kentucky to teach. In 1842 he and his wife opened two separate private schools for boys and girls in New Albany, Indiana, known as the Anderson Collegiate Institute and Anderson's Female Seminary.[2] He operated the schools until 1858. Charles Woodruff Shields was a graduate of the Institute, and the missionary William Alexander Parsons Martin served as professor of classics for one year at the school.

Railroad work[]

In the 1850s, Anderson turned his focus to railroad operations. In 1851, he supervised the construction of a road from New Albany to Corydon, Indiana; in 1852, he was chosen chief engineer of a proposed road from the Ohio River, below the falls to Sandusky; and then for three years, ending in 1858, he was General Superintendent of the New Albany and Salem Railroad.[2] All this was accomplished while still operating his educational institutions.

File:1857 PRR.jpg

Pennsylvania Railroad map, 1857

As his railroad work took more and more of his time, Anderson gradually withdrew from teaching. Finally, after 1858, he devoted himself wholly to railroading, although he apparently continued to provide some educational opportunities, opening his personal library to youths, including the future steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie in Pittsburgh.[3]

In November 1858, Anderson accepted the office of Superintendent for the Middle Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad.[4] In February 1859, he was advanced to the General Superintendency of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railway. In less than a year, however, Anderson was called to be Superintendent of Transportation on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, a position in which the opening of the American Civil War found him.

During the Civil War, he served in the Union Army as superintendent of various railroads, first as a civilian and later with the rank of colonel. In November 1861, General William Tecumseh Sherman appointed John Anderson as Railroad Director for the Department of the Ohio. In February 1862, Anderson was succeeded in this position by Daniel McCallum, after the creation of the United States Military Railroad. Subsequently, in November 1862, General William Rosecrans appointed Anderson military superintendent of railroads for the Department of the Cumberland.[5] McCallum relieved him of this duty in 1864.


In 1864, Anderson left the Army and became interested in the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division, then being planned on a route through Kansas. He apparently never assumed control of the railroad's construction, as urged by the company's president John Perry, but he did become financially involved.[1] In 1868, he and his wife moved to Junction City, Kansas, where his nephew John Alexander Anderson was serving as a preacher. In 1873, his nephew became president of Kansas State Agricultural College in Manhattan, Kansas, and in 1880, John Byers Anderson also moved to Manhattan, where he would remain for the rest of his life.[6] While in Manhattan, Anderson served as president of the First National Bank of Manhattan.

In the 1880s, Anderson also served as president of the board of trustees of the College of Emporia in Emporia, Kansas.[1] In 1888, on the occasion of his 50th wedding anniversary, he established the Anderson Memorial Library at the college through a donation of his book collection. Subsequently, in 1899, Andrew Carnegie agreed to build a suitable building for this library as a memorial to Anderson, who had once opened his library to Carnegie. An inscription on the Carnegie library in Emporia states: "In grateful remembrance of Mr. Anderson who opened his own private library for the working boys of Allegheny City, of whom Mr. Carnegie was one."[3]

John Byers Anderson died at Manhattan on July 25, 1897.


John Byers Anderson was the second son of the Rev. John Anderson, a missionary and trustee of Washington & Jefferson College from 1806 to 1831. His brother was the Rev. William C. Anderson, president of Miami University from 1849 to 1854.

32x28px American Civil War portal
32x28px United States Army portal