Kilsyth, Scotland

A City Full of Andersons

Alexander Anderson

Alexander Anderson (b1805, d1863) and Jane F. Taylor Anderson (b1810, d1881) immigrated to the United States from Kilsyth, Scotland sometime in the Fall of 1830. Alexander’s first child, Isabella Anderson (b1828, d1915), was born at a Fort George in Northern Scotland. Alexander’s second child, William Anderson (b1830, d1885) was born in Kilsyth, Scotland based on several census forms, biographies and christening records.

Alexander Anderson (b1805, d1863) was Private in the Scottish Royal Regiment (Black Watch). He was posted at Fort George and the Edinburgh Castle during his tour of duty which ended sometime before 1830.

Alexander, Jane, Isobella and William left Scotland in the Fall of 1830 bound for New York City.

Alexander’s second son was Robert Anderson (my great, great grandfather, b1832, d1863). Robert was born on December 18, 1832 in New York City. Jane Anderson his mother, was born about 1810 (various sources suggest date of birth between 1806 and 1810) making her 18 when Isabella was born, 19 when William was born and 22 when Robert was born in New York City. It would appear by the record that by 1832 (the year Robert was born) the family was present in or passing through New York City. Once source said the family immigrated to the United States when William was an infant in late 1830 at 6 weeks of age. There is no firm documentation that would confirm when or where the Anderson family arrived in the United States except for the birth of Robert in New York City in 1832. There was a major cholera outbreak in New York City in the Summer of 1832 that may have played a role in the Anderson family moving west after 1832 when Robert was born.

Alexander Anderson and Jane Taylor were both from Kilsyth, Scotland. They were married in Kilsyth on March 1, 1827 by Rev William Hamilton Burns a parish minister. There is a record for the christening of William Anderson on July 20, 1830 by a church in Kilsyth, Scotland. Kilsyth is a small town between Glasgow and Edinburg, Scotland. July 20, 1830 is William’s known date of birth from various sources and the Christening record in Kilsyth shows Alexander Anderson and Jean Taylor as the parents on that date for the Christening of William. Apparently Jean and Jane are used interchangeably in Scotland and sound the same when pronounced by a Scotsman, so we assume Jean Anderson in the Christening record is Jane Anderson as recorded in the United States. Alexander and Jane Anderson can be placed in Kilsyth, Scotland in March of 1827 and in July of 1830 before they immigrated to America with Isabella and William. 

The Kilsyth parish records show a Jean Taylor born June 17, 1810. The christening record for William show Jean with the middle name of Ferm while this birth record indicates a middle name of Farm. Later records show a middle initial of J for Jean Taylor. The year of birth is 1810 in this record. Various census records in the US have recorded different birth years and middle names or initials for Jane Taylor Anderson between 1806 and 1810. Later in her life 1806 seemed to be recorded more frequently. Jane’s tombstone in the Cottonville Cemetery indicates she died “In her 75 year” on May 3, 1881. For now I have elected to use this record in the ANC family tree for Jane F Taylor. This record indicates Jane’s father was Peter Taylor and her mother is Isobel Livingston. This is the only Kilsyth Parish record with the name Jean Taylor in that time period.

There is one more piece of information confirming that Kilsyth was the original home for Alexander and Jane Anderson. There was another confirmed Kilsyth immigrant in Cottonville, Iowa, John Anderson. It turns out John Anderson is Alexander Anderson’s brother who immigrated to the United States in the between 1842 and 1856.  John Anderson was born in 1810 in Kilsyth. Records also confirm a second brother, James Anderson (b1813 d1888) also immigrated to the Cottonville, Iowa area between 1856 and 1860. James Anderson had a wife and six children in Kilsyth, Scotland before migrating to Cottonville. There is no record the wife and children ever left Scotland. Census records show he was working as a laborer on John Anderson’s farm near LaMotte, Iowa, just north of Cottonville. Based on census records John Anderson lived near Alexander Anderson in the village of LaMotte. John’s son, Archibald Anderson also lived in LaMotte. Alexander, Robert (Alexander’s son), James (Alexander’s brother) and Archibald (John’s son) all joined the 31st Iowa in 1862 and began life in the Union Army marching down to Vicksburg, MS in the fall of 1862 and spring of 1863. Both Archibald and James survived the Civil War.

A biography of William Anderson published in 1879 states that Alexander Anderson and his family moved to the area of Lake County, Illinois north of Chicago as one of the first settlers in that area. Chicago was incorporated in 1833 with 400 citizens. The biography says that Alexander Anderson assisted in building the first pier in Chicago, then later settled in Lake County, Illinois just north of Chicago. To date the only documentation putting Alexander Anderson and his family in Lake County, Illinois is the 1840 US Census. In the 1840 US Census it shows a line for Alexander Anderson’s family that was composed of two males under 5 years, two males between 5 and 9 years. one male between 30 and 39, one female between 10 and 14, one female between 20 and 29, one person employed in agriculture, five persons under 20, two persons between 20 and 49 for a total of seven persons in the household. Alexander and Jane’s third child was born in Illinois in 1836, so by 1836 they had moved to Illinois.

While in Illinois, Jane gave birth to John Anderson (born 1836), James Anderson (born 1840), Peter Anderson (born 1844) and Edwin Anderson (born 1847). William Anderson’s biography indicates the family arrived in Cottonville, Jackson County, Iowa in 1846 while Edwin Anderson shows Illinois as his birth place in 1847, so it is possible some of the family moved to Cottonville, Iowa before Jane and the new born child Edwin Alexander arrived. Alexander and Jane’s last child Phoebe E Anderson was born in Cottonville on July 19, 1849. Except for later census documents there is no firm documentation of the family between the time they arrive in New York City and their arrival in Cottonvile, Iowa around 16 years later.