William H. Anderson

Page 184-186 - William H. Anderson was born September 6, 1853 at Plymouth, Wayne county, Michigan. About two years later his father and mother, Goram Anderson and Maria (Earl) Anderson, moved to Sparta, Kent county, Michigan. Sparta was then virgin territory. His father was a leader among the pioneers, who courageously set out to clear the forest land, establish homes and cultivate the soil. It was amid the privations and hardships of this pioneer community that William H. Anderson spent his boyhood and youth. He assisted his father in clearing and cultivating the farm and attended the local schools. He spent two winters on the Muskegon river in the employ of Alexander Blake, at a time when the cutting of the pine forests of Michigan was at its height. To the stern discipline of these early years he attributes much of the self-reliance, resourcefulness and thrift that has characterized his later career. He early manifested unusual business ability. Naturally growing assurance and confidence in himself led him to seek a field of larger opportunity, and in 1883 he moved to the city of Grand Rapids, and opened a real estate and general investment business. About this time he became actively interested in the good roads movement, and engaged extensively in the construction and operation of toll roads. He became the manager for four different companies, which built gravel roads leading into Grand Rapids. He became widely known as an authority on road building and maintenance. His unusual executive ability was soon recognized, and in 1891 the board of directors of the Fourth National Bank induced him to accept membership on the board and assume the duties of managing director. In 1892 he was chosen cashier, and in 1897 became and still is the active president. Mr. Andersonís keen appraisal of men, his ability to gather about him strong men, loyal to his leadership, and above all, the use of the same untiring energy and sound judgment, soon began to work a marvelous transformation in the bankís affairs. The general assets were much improved and the institution came to be referred to as "Andersonís Bank" and gained a reputation for soundness and stability second to none. Mr. Anderson was also in control of two or three other banks in Grand Rapids for many years. These banks so improved in strength and standing under his management, that desiring to relieve himself somewhat of outside responsibilities he was able to negotiate a sale of them on such a favorable basis that every stockholder, after had satisfactory dividends on his holdings for many years, was able to realize a handsome profit on his shares. But the Fourth National has always been his particular pride and his real banking home, and its high standing is a tribute to his wise and conservative management. While his most conspicuous business connection is with banking and finance, his outside interests are extensive and varied. He has the unusual capacity of doing many things well at the same time. He also delights in calling himself a farmer, and for many years has owned and operated two large, splendidly equipped and highly productive farms in Sparta township, Kent county, Michigan. He is at present director in the Grand Rapids Gas Light Company, the Grand Rapids Railway Company, the Alabastine Company and the Grand Rapids Show Case Company, and has extensive holdings in many other corporations. His qualities of leadership are recognized, and he is an outstanding personality in every group with which he becomes associated. He was for ten years president of the West Michigan State Fair Association. During this period he brought to the association much popular support, greatly improved the grounds and buildings, and left it in sound financial condition. For three years he served as president of the Grand Rapids Association of Commerce. He directed the construction of the Grand river boulevard system, and the beautiful roads through Hodenpyl Woods. He was a leading spirit in the organization of the Grand Rapids Clearing House Association, and assisted in the formulation of its articles of association. When in 1919 the state legislature authorized the extensive road building program under the state commissioner of highways, Mr. Anderson was chosen as chairman of the advisory board, and still continues in that position. His sound judgment and practical knowledge of road building have been of inestimable value to the commissioner and to the state. A unique instance of his public philanthropy was the deeding to St. Markís church (as well as assisting in making improvements) of an eighty-acre woodlot surrounding Little Bostwick Lake (now known as Camp Roger) as a permanent summer camp for boys of the above mentioned church. Mr. Anderson married in early manhood, Ellen, daughter of George W. and Ann Rogers, Mr. Rogers having moved with his parents from Auburn, New York, to Detroit, Michigan, in 1835, two years before Michigan was a state. Several years later Mrs. Rogers and her parents moved from Canada to Walker township. Mr. and Mrs. Rogers were married in Grand Rapids and lived in Kent county until their death, both living until past eighty. Two sons were born to Mr. and Mrs. Anderson, one dying in infancy, the other just before his twenty-first birthday.


Transcriber: Nancy Myers
Created: 22 March 2003
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/white1924/personal/andersonwh.html