As excitement builds for George Anderson Day on Oct. 12, one of our blog readers and Half Dome veterans, Dean M. of the United Kingdom, has done some research to shed more light on good old George. This may bore many of you – but I did want to share what Dean found. He’s kinda located near Anderson’s Scotland birth place and is digging to learn more about my (and your?) hero.
A birth certificate from Montrose in Scotland shows George was born on February 4, 1837 and baptized on the 20th. Father was Robert, his mother Christina. He was named after his maternal uncle. His father’s occupation is listed as Blacksmith, the same occupation George took up in Yosemite.
The census in 1841 shows George had a young brother named Robert but Robert doesn’t appear in the 1851 census…looks like Robert died at a young age though I’ve not found a notice to this effect. The family was living in “Academy Square” in Montrose, Scotland which still exists
The 1851 census has lots of information…the family relocated southeast to the larger town of Dundee. They lived at 20 Park Wynd but the original buildings are gone.This is in the middle of Dundee University campus now.
George is listed as working as a “Lapper of Linen Cloth” – the textile industry was huge in Dundee around this time so no surprise he worked there. His job was to transfer yarn between machines. The 1851 census also shows he had a younger sister named Elisabeth, later changed to Betsy.
This is where George’s trail goes cold and no surprise. The next census is 1861 by which time George would be 24 and most likely well on his way to California…we know his occupation on arrival in Mariposa was a sailor. It would have been easy for George to join a ship from Dundee at the time. Early Yosemite writings call him Capt, Anderson.
His family remained in Dundee, though according to the 1861 census, his sister is working in the textile mills and they have 3 young lodgers all with same surname, possibly orphans. In 1870 his sister was married and I’ll try to follow this line as far as it goes, she has a young son, that’s as far as I’ve got.
In 1875 George’s ascent of Half Dome was noted in the local newspaper The Dundee Courier though it is just a copy of the SF Chronicle piece.
There are 2 problems.
1. George is often referred as having a middle initial, indeed Wikipedia shows George G Anderson but my George has no middle name.
2. There is a strange reference here, at the end of this article, which is a real head scratcher…
“There were problems with Anderson’s estate that were never settled. A claim for money owed him by the State was made but denied. Money due Anderson came up as one of Charles D. Robinson’s complaints against the Commissioners which led to investigation by the Legislature in 1889. George’s brother, Charles, administrator of the estate, testified during this investigation. Ownership of his cabin was also disputed between George Meyer and James McCauley, although it was later purchased by Dr. W. A. Setchell who deeded it to the National Park Service.”
George’s brother Charles? I’m currently looking for reference for this 1889 investigation into the Park Commission; there must be a report, but it’s a real money wrench in the works as “my George” has no brother or brother in law called Charles.
Deanis now trying to get some information for Harvard. Go Dean – Go!!
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey
MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com