George Clay Anderson (1856-1930), Abstracter and Insurance Agent

George Clay Anderson 2

George Clay Anderson

On December 9, 1885, George Clay Anderson celebrated his 29th birthday and his second week as a resident of Abilene, Kansas.  For the next 45 years, George would become one of the most recognizable and respected members of the community.  George was a native of Bracken County, Kentucky on the southern back of the Ohio River.  He was born in Rock Springs, Kentucky and for a time resided in Augusta, Kentucky.  Around 1879, George started working as a deputy county clerk and had this position for six years.  He married Ms. Ada Lee Norris in Bracken County on the 15th of December, 1880.  While in Kentucky, the couple had two children: Grace Greenwood Anderson (Ryan) and Harry Norris Anderson.

Ada Lee Norris Anderson 1

Ada Lee Norris Anderson

Their three other children were born in Abilene: Edith A. Anderson (Shockey), Mary Elizabeth Anderson (who died in infancy), and Ada Lulu Anderson (Murphy).

George, along with his younger brothers, Thomas and William H., established themselves in Abilene by November of 1885.  Upon arriving in Abilene, George began working as a clerk in the Shane & Emig grocery store.  However, within a couple months, George was working for the abstract, real estate, and insurance company of J. H. Brady & Company.  Ada and the children remained in Kentucky until their arrival in Abilene in April 1886.  The family lived in part of Mrs. Gorden’s house in the 500 block of NW. Third street, formerly occupied by Mrs. Worthington.

ADR 3-25-1891

Abilene Daily Reflector – March 25, 1891

Shortly after the new year of 1889, George Merrill split from J. H. Brady to start his own abstract and loan company with Mr. Anderson has his employee.  The George Merrill office was in the old offices of Doc McMaster & Company over Vanderbelt’s Emporium, later known as the toothpick building at 200 N. Broadway.  Two years later in January 1891, George and his brother William started their own abstract and insurance company.  The new firm was located in the Union Pacific Railroad annex along with the Kansas Farm Mortgage Company.  The brothers would work for the Kansas Farm Mortgage Company while operating the Anderson Brothers Abstract Company.  The annex was located at the northwest corner of the Union Pacific Depot and Henry House Hotel, approximately at the south side of the intersection of NW. 2nd and Spruce Streets.  Later that year, George became a solicitor for the Home Insurance Company of New York.  In 1894, George was an assistant to the postmaster in addition to conducting his own business.

In August 1894, the family moved to the Walnut Grove stock farm in Grant Township south of Abilene.  The farm was owned by the Travelers Insurance Company and had been managed by Frank L. Ball.  Frank moved to Wichita.  A year later tragedy struck the family when Ada died of pneumonia after a month long illness.  Her funeral was held at the Christian Church in Abilene on November 28, 1895.  She is buried in the Abilene Cemetery.  Managing the stock farm, running the abstract and insurance business, and raising four children became difficult even though his sister in-law, Lula Norris, had been living with the family for many years.  In April 1896, Frank Ball returned to his old position as superintendent of the Walnut Grove stock farm and the Anderson’s moved back to town.  The family moved to the Floyd property on NW. Third, now owned by Prof. Jewett.  The following February the family moved to the house on NW. 3rd Street, which had previously been occupied by M. B. Fulton.

AWC 6-12-1896

Abilene Weekly Chronicle – June 12, 1896

William H. Anderson died in Abilene of a heart attack in 1903 and the name of the firm changed to G. C. Anderson Abstract Company.  In May 1905, the G. C. Anderson Abstract Company moved into the middle space of the Perring Building, which was addressed 203 N. Spruce Street (most recently Etherington Real Estate).  In the spring of 1914, the abstract company moved back to the Union Pacific Hotel Annex at the Southeast corner of Spruce and NW. 2nd Streets.

George Clay Anderson 1

George C. Anderson

In 1904, Miss Bertha C. Barnes moved from Chapman, Kansas to Abilene to work under her brother in law, Thomas J. Rexroat, as deputy Register of Deeds.  George and Bertha quickly became acquainted and their relationship blossomed.  The couple went to Lawrence, Kansas in June 1906 and were married on the 24th at the home (808 Indiana Street) of her sister, Mrs. Elvina M. (Elmer L.) Case.  The family moved from 907 NW. 3rd Street to 920 NW. 3rd Street Bertha was born and raised in Chapman and would be deputy Register of Deeds until 1910.

In 1910, she was the Republican candidate for the

Bertha C Barnes Anderson 1

Bertha C. Barnes Anderson

Register of Deeds.  There were five primary candidates for the position with Bertha winning by a slim 10 vote margin over Jacob L. Worley.  Mr. Worley demanded a recount.  Probate Judge Anderson appointed a committee of himself, Newton Cole, and Joseph Edgar Keel to conduct the recount.  The recount resulted with Worley gaining 11 votes and Anderson gaining 10 votes and was settled with Bertha having a 9 vote victory.  That November, Bertha was elected the Register of Deeds over D. Simpson with a vote of 2,246 to 1,802.  During her reelection bid in 1912, Bertha trailed Thomas Easter by 55 votes.  A recount discovered that of 250 ballots that were marked as void, 58 were declared legal.  Although Bertha gained votes, it was not enough to overcome the 55 vote deficit.

From his earliest days in Abilene, George was civic-minded and was involved in several of the local clubs and associations.  In 1888, George was on the committee that drafted the constitution and by-laws of Abilene’s Cleveland Club.  He was a member of the Elks Club, Masons, Ancient Order of United Workmen (A.O.U.W.), the Knights of Pythias (K of P), Woodmen of the World (W. O. W.), F. A. A., Abilene Commercial Club, and others.  In 1900, George was appointed a district manager of the Bankers’ Union of the World and would travel throughout the county on behalf of the organization.  He was also involved in the Carnival Committee parade planning.  George served on the Dickinson County Fair Association and managed publicity for the event.  George served as President of The Twilight Baseball League in 1914 and was a member of the Abilene Country Club.

George was active in County politics.  His political affiliation was with the Populists and Democrats and served the county party in a number of capacities.  He began by volunteering as a polling place clerk during the elections in 1890.  In 1893, George was the Democrat candidate for Dickinson County Register of Deeds.  He came in third place with a respectable 1,019 votes behind Mr. King (1,710 votes) and Mr. Frazier (1,413 votes).  The following year, George along with Judge Hutchinson and A. W. Livingston conducted an audit of the County Treasury.  In 1898, George was nominated by the Populist-Democrats as a candidate for the Abilene School Board for the 2nd Ward.  However, he refused to run and was replaced by Edwin B. Malott.  In July 1918, George was the first person to apply for car tags in Dickinson County

George died on May 2, 1930 and is buried in the Abilene Cemetery.  Bertha continued to operate the G. C. Anderson Abstract Company until her death on September 11, 1958.  Bertha is buried in the Abilene Cemetery.

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About James D. Holland

I'm a former local government planner turned real estate agent turned safety manager turned Chamber of Commerce Director, turned marketing sales representative... phew. I enjoy writing about Abilene's history, businesses, events, politics, and anything else that interests me.
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1 Response to George Clay Anderson (1856-1930), Abstracter and Insurance Agent

  1. Ronald Britt says:

    As Usual James Holland a wonderful Historical story on another Pioneer of Abilene Kansas. Enjoy all your efforts to capture and write about each one. Thank you. Ron Britt, Maineville, Ohio

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