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Below is a family biography included in the History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania published in 1889 by A. Warner & Co.   These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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CAPT. WILLIAM B. ANDERSON, retired captain and boat-owner, post office Shoustown, was born in Washington county, Pa., Oct. 10, 1822, a son of Hon. Robert and Jemima (Taylor) Anderson. Hon. Robert Anderson was a native of Pennsylvania, a gold and silver-beater by trade, and while a young man established a pack-line to carry salt from Philadelphia to Washington, Pa. He purchased land adjoining the town of Washington, and later engaged in farming. He represented Allegheny county in the legislature, and died at the age of sixty-three years. He was twice married; first to a Miss Agnew, of Washington county, Pa., who bore him four children, all now deceased: Samuel A., Robert S.; Eliza, wife of Samuel C. Cole (also deceased), and Brice Clark. After his first wife’s death Mr. Anderson married Widow Swearingen, of Washington county, Pa., who had one son, Joseph C. (now deceased). By this marriage Mr. Anderson became the father of eight children: Margaret (widow of Samuel C. Young), James (deceased), who married Elizabeth Onstott; Julia, who married Nathan Porter (both deceased); Hettie Ann (who died unmarried), Capt. William B., David S., John C., married to Rosa Hinton; and Mary Jane, who married Rev. James Allison, publisher of the Presbyterian Banner, (They had one daughter, and afterward Mrs. Allison died; the daughter, Lizzie Taylor, still lives, and is married to a Mr. Rinehart.)

William B. Anderson, at the age of eleven years, went to live with his brother Robert S. and go to school, and did attend school six months, and then went in his store, and continued clerking until April, 1848; then started a grocery himself in Pittsburgh, and continued it until the fire of 1845, and after the great fire of April 10, 1845, he was left penniless. He next took a position as clerk on the steamer Lake Erie, under Gen. Charles M. Reed, of Erie, Pa.; clerked on that boat and on the Michigan No. 2 and the Beaver, three years. Next he took a clerkship on the Clipper No. 2, one of the seven daily packets making weekly trips between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, Ohio, making 138 round trips on that boat. Then he formed a partnership with Capt., Samuel C. Young and others and built various passenger and freight boats to run on low water between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati; they built some twenty passenger and freight boats, and generally sold them to run on small rivers in the south. In 1860 Capt. Young died. At that time they were running four packets from Pittsburgh to Memphis, Tenn. In the spring of 1862 Capt. Anderson built a light-water packet, the Glide, a very fast boat, and was that fall employed by the government to carry dispatches to the several gunboats in and about Cincinnati, and towed all the barges for the pontoon bridge at Cincinnati, the time Kirby Smith was expected to attack that city. Sept. 27, 1862, Capt. Anderson was sent with his boat and crew, a cannon crew, cannon and sharpshooters, to Augusta, Ky., to defend that town. Subsequently he was again employed carrying soldiers, dispatches and government supplies for Cox’s army on the Big Kanawha river, until winter, when the government bought this boat. He immediately had Glide No. 2 built at Murraysville, W. Va., and carried iron from Portsmouth to Eads’ shipyard, St. Louis, Mo., a few trips; then carried government and sutlers’ supplies from Cincinnati to Nashville, Tenn., until just before the fight between Hood and Thomas, when the government took charge of the boat, and soon after purchased it. Capt. Anderson then contracted at Freedom, Beaver county, Pa., and built Glide No. 3, a full-cabin passenger boat, which he ran on the Ohio until the close of the war, and afterward between Memphis and Little Rock, Ark., and from New Orleans up the Red river, where the vessel was sunk. Having wrecked her and rebuilt, for the machinery, the steamer R. C. Gray, he four years later sold her at Louisville, Ky. At one time he was in partnership with Capt. R. C. Gray, and together they built the steamer Denmark, the first packet for the Northern Line company, from St. Louis to St. Paul.

September 15, 1853, at Cincinnati, Ohio, Capt. Anderson married Louisa Fischgens, a native of Pittsburgh and a daughter of Joseph L. and Ann (Woolslayer) Fischgens. Her father was born in Cologne, Prussia, and her mother in Pittsburgh. Capt. and Mrs. Anderson have five children: William Y., married to Nancy C. McKinley and residing in Shoustown; Anna M., married July 3, 1888, to Edward A. Hart, of Shoustown, Pa.; John L., Robert and Harry C. reside on the homestead. The homestead is where the family still reside and have resided since Aug. 1, 1855.

The length of time employed by Capt. W. B. Anderson in the boating business was twenty-five years, and during all that time there never was an accident of any kind causing loss of life happened, although he made many narrow escapes. On the last trip of the Kenton, the Memphis packet that he was on, he had presented to him a pass from Memphis to Charleston with a view of going from Charleston to New York by coast, and from there to Pittsburgh by rail and be at Pittsburgh in time to meet his boat, but through the persuasion of Capt. Crooks and other personal friends, of Memphis, he did not take that route, but continued on the boat, and that very day commenced the firing into Fort Sumter, and as they went up the river things began to appear lively, but they made the trip safely and concluded to lay up at Pittsburgh till they saw more about what was to happen, and they did see a great deal of it before it was all over.

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This family biography is one of 2,156 biographies included in the History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania published in 1889 by A. Warner & Co.

View additional Allegheny County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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