From the Richmond Times, 9/8/1892, p. 3, c. 3

He Passes Away at the Isle of Shoals – A Sketch of His Long and Useful Career.

Another of Richmond’s most prominent and beloved citizens has gone over to the silent majority.

General Joseph R. Anderson, who good gray head, kindly face, and striking figure were familiar to every man, woman, and child in the community, who was looked up to and respected by all classes, and who for half a century had been in the van of every movement having for its object the advancement of the social, charitable, and material interests of the city, died at Isles of Shoals, N. H., yesterday morning at 8:15 o’clock.

Joseph Reid Anderson was born in Botetourt county, Va., seventy-nine years ago, and was the son of William Anderson, a Revolutionary patriot. After attending the schools of his section he entered the United States Military Academy at West Point. He graduated in 1836 second in his class, and being commissioned a lieutenant was ordered to Fort Monroe. While stationed at that post he met his first wife, Miss Sarah E. Archer, a surgeon in the United States army. General Anderson had been in the old army only about a year, however, when he was offered, and accepted, a position as civil engineer under the late Claudius Crozet, and spent some two years in building the Valley turnpike extending from Winchester to Staunton.


Upon the completion of his work on the valley improvement General Anderson moved to Richmond and established himself in the commission business on the Basin bank, then a famous locality for that line of trade. Subsequently he was employed as commercial agent of the Tredegar Iron Company, of which Mr. Francis D. Deane was president; soon thereafter leased the works, and early in the forties became the owner. From that time to the day of his death General Anderson was the controlling spirit of this large enterprise.

Under General Anderson the capacity and sphere of the Tredegar were extended in every respect. Prior to the war it had large contracts for making heavy ordnance for the United States Government, and the records of the War Department show that the guns cast at the Tredegar and from Virginia iron stood the severest tests of any used by the United States during the ante-bellum period. By the Tredegar and under the direction of General Anderson and the expert force he employed were built the United States revenue-cutter Polk and the machinery of the United States men-of-war Roanoke and Colorado. For the building of the Polk he established a ship-yard at Rocketts.


At the breaking out of the war General Anderson entered the Confederate service and was commissioned a brigadier-general and ordered to Wilmington, N. C. His brigade was composed of North Carolina and Georgia troops. General Anderson took part in the Seven-Days’ Battles around Richmond and remained in active service until after the engagement at Malvern Hill, when President Davis ordered him to return to the Tredegar. These works were the chief dependence of the Confederate Government for the manufacture of ordnance, and the Confederate authorities considered that General Anderson’s executive ability was essential there. At Frayser’s Farm General Anderson was stunned by an exploding shell, and at one time it was thought that he was among the killed.

General Anderson was one of Richmond’s most public-spirited and valuable citizens. From the day of his taking up his residence here until the day of his death he evinced a deep interest in all that concerned the city’s welfare. He was one of the inaugurators of the Richmond and Danville railroad, was energetic and influential in pushing the James-River and Kanawha canal extension, was a moving spirit in the Virginia Agricultural Society, and his voice was always heard on the side of conservative progress in the business councils of our people. Prior to and after the war he served the people of Richmond in the lower house of the General Assembly, where his advice was always potent, and he had held the presidency of both the Common Council and the Chamber of Commerce.

He was elected president of the chamber October 8, 1874, by a unanimous vote, and re-elected October 19, 1875, but resigned March 9, 1876, in consequence of the position’s conflicting with his duties in the Council. His colleagues in the House of Delegates when he was first returned to that body, in 1857, were the late James A. Cowardin and the late Henry K. Ellyson.


General Anderson’s nature was essentially kindly, charitable, and affectionate, and his manners courtly under all circumstances. To his friends, whether of his earlier or later days, he was loyal to the core and as tender as a woman. He rejoiced with them in their good fortune and was the first to be with them in their sorrow. He entertained with a lavish hospitality, and his heart and purse were always open to the appeal of the suffering or unfortunate. He loved Richmond and loved her people and took an intense pride in all that gave a good report of her and them. He was in the fullest sympathy with al that is refined and elevating, and though from early manhood his life had been a busy one he made time to store his mind with a wealth of information on all the leading questions of the day.

General Anderson was a consistent and devoted member of St. Paul’s church, and was a liberal giver to it. By none will he be missed more than by the congregation of St. Paul’s. He was deeply interested in the Davis-monument movement, and it was at his beautiful and hospitable home, on Franklin street, that Mrs. Davis and her daughter stayed during their recent visit to Richmond. His first wife died some years ago, and about 1882 he married Miss Mary, the accomplished daughter of General James Pegram. She survives him. He also leaves five children, Colonel Archer Anderson, Joseph R. Anderson, Jr., John F. T. Anderson, Mrs. Edwin L. Hobson, and Mrs. Seddon Bruce. Upon his immediate family he lavished an affection that was beautiful, and in return was almost idolized. His death was due to a general giving away of the system consequent upon his advanced age. Early in the summer he visited the White Sulphur, but after a few weeks’ sojourn there returned to Richmond and went to the Isle of Shoals, the bracing air of which, it was hoped, would build him up. It was soon apparent, however, that this hope was in vain and that his friends might expect the worst.


When the sad news was received at the Tredegar by Major Robert Archer, General Anderson’s brother-in-law, orders were given to shut down the works until after the funeral. By the men the announcement of the loss they had sustained was received with the most profound sorrow. Many of the employees of the establishment had been associated with General Anderson for long years, and had for him the deepest affection. To these his death was the breaking of a personal tie. By all he was regarded with respect and esteem, and to all he was ever kind, courteous , and approachable. To-day there will be a meeting of the force to make arrangements for attending the funeral.

The Chamber of Commerce will also hold a meeting at 6 o’clock this afternoon to testify their respect for his memory.

General Anderson was not only well-known throughout Virginia, but his business acquaintance extended to the leading cities in the country. All of his children were with him when he died, they having been summoned to his bedside several days ago. Last night Colonel Archer Anderson telegraphed that they had started home with the remains, and that the funeral arrangements would be made upon their arrival here. General Anderson’s death will cause no change in the operations of the Tredegar. The enterprise is a stock company and the heads of several business and mechanical departments of the works have virtually been reared in the positions they occupy.

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