Saturday, December 7, 2013

Edmund Anderson, Promoting Charlottesville Virginia

Edmund Anderson was born in 1785 in Virginia, near the close of the revolutionary era.  He is likely to be the son of Richard Anderson and his second wife Mildred “Milly” Thomson.  I like to think of this 4xgreat-grandfather of mine as a “visionary”.  But, “dreamer” might be closer to the truth. 

Charlottesville Virginia, Downtown Mall, 2009; wikimediacommons
Edmund Anderson grew up in Louisa and Albemarle counties in Virginia, and as a young man, he looked to his future in Charlottesville, Albemarle’s county seat.  The town of Charlottesville was established by the Virginia General Assembly in 1762.  It is of particular interest to our family, that the land was donated by another of our grandfather’s, Dr Thomas Walker of Castle Hill.  It has been told that Thomas Walker drew up the earliest deeds and offered prizes to encourage settlement of the new town.  The original plan set aside fifty acres of land for lots and streets, with the courthouse sitting outside of the town to the north.  Growth for the new town was slow.    Almost fifty years later, in 1810, the town had only grown to “forty five houses, a courthouse, a jail, and an academy.“ 

By that 1810 date, one of those forty-five Charlottesville houses may have been the home of Edmund Anderson, or he may have lived outside the town proper.  Others in the household were his wife, Frances Moore, and infant children, Pamelia Mildred Anderson (my 3xgreat-grandmother) and John Mortimer Anderson.  A few years later, in 1813, Edmond Anderson purchased sixty acres, near the courthouse and established his “Anderson Addition”.  He had plans to be a part of Charlottesville’s further growth!

Author, Edgar Wood, in his “History of Albemarle County Virginia”, 1901, tells us:
In 1813, Edmund [Anderson] purchased from Clifton Rodes, Executor of John Jouett, sixty acres of land lying east and north of Charlottesville, and extending from the present Ninth Street east to the hill overlooking Schenk's Branch, and laid it out in town lots. This tract was known as Anderson's Addition. He sold a number of lots, chiefly on East Jefferson and Park Streets, during the decade of 1820 . . .

The property Edmund Anderson purchased outside of Charlottesville had some interesting history.  As indicated above, he purchased it from the estate of John Jouett who had died in 1802.  Jouett had acquired the property as part of a one hundred acre purchase from John Moore in 1773.   It included Jouett’s Tavern (also called Swan Tavern) which had been erected by John Jouett to serve the Charlottesville community and travelers through the area.  It sat directly across from the courthouse, and its claim to fame arrived during the Revolutionary years. 

The Albemarle-Charlottesville Historical Society website tells the story this way:
The Swan tavern resided at 300 Park Street, where a brick townhouse now stands. Jack Jouett, whose father owned The Swan, made the tavern famous. In 1781, Jefferson and Virginia’s  government quit Richmond under threat of capture by the British, and reconvened in Charlottesville. Jouett rode through the night on back roads from Louisa County to warn Governor Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee and other members of the General Assembly of the approach of British forces under the command of Colonel Banastre Tarleton. Eluding capture, most legislators fled to safety in Staunton. Tarleton’s men destroyed some court records and military stores, but spared the town from destruction . .

Not long after Edmond Anderson’s 1813 purchase of the Jouett property, he removed his family to Richmond Virginia.  His wife Frances Moore Anderson died around this same time, and he was secondly married to Nancy Cole.  He took up other pursuits in Richmond Virginia, but continued to manage his Albemarle county property.  In 1818 the property was annexed to the town of Charlottesville.  This was about the same time that Thomas Jefferson’s Central College was established in Charlottesville.  Over time, Central College grew into the University of Virginia, and ensured the continued growth of the town. 

But, as Charlottesville’s prospects improved, Edmond Anderson’s vision faded.  It seems that his endeavors in Richmond were draining his pockets.  “The History of Albemarle . . “ gives this clue:
[speaking of Edmund Anderson] . . he removed to Richmond, and entered into business under the firms of Anderson & Woodson . . , but the business failing, he transferred all his property in Albemarle to John R. Jones as trustee, who in 1829 sold it for the payment of his debts.

Edmund Anderson struggled on in Richmond, investing in other properties, operating several businesses, and even serving as the city’s postmaster.  But, the few available records do not suggest that his “visions” ever brought financial success.   When he died of “old age” in 1861, his Charlottesville years were long behind him.  I like to think his “dreams”, and his willingness to invest, made a worthwhile contribution to a lovely and enduring community. 

For more details on Edmund Anderson, visit his page at Family Stories,

Moving back in time:  Albert Luther Clarkson 1901 > Aubin Mildred Fry 1878 > Reuben Macon Fry 1847 > Pamelia Mildred Anderson 1810 > Edmund Anderson 1785.

Further Reading: 
Bio for Edmund Anderson, by Pam Garrett, at Family Stories,
History of Albemarle County Virginia, by Rev. Edgar Woods, 1901.  Look for this as a scanned ebook on the internet.  Details about the Anderson Family are found on page 139.
From Cuckoo to Charlottesville: Jack Jouett’s Overnight Ride, by Rick Britton, 5 Mar 2013; at the Journal of the American Revolution website.
Charlottesville and the Albemarle County Courthouse Historic District; National Register of Historic Places Inventory.

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