Alabama Pioneers Honored

Biography: William Henry Anderson born May 6, 1820

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Mobile, Alabama.

William Henry Anderson was a physician. He was born May 6, 1820, in Norfolk, Virginia and died November 14, 1887, at Mobile, the son of Leroy Hammond Anderson and Hannah (Southgate) Anderson, the former a classmate of John Randolph of Roanoke, Virginiaa., and Gov. Tazewell, at William and Mary College, and one of the founders of the University of the South, Suwanee, Florida. He was the grandson of James Anderson, who was King’s armorer at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, and was taken prisoner by the British because of his services as artificer to the Americans; and of Wright Southgate, an officer in the British navy, who emigrated to America.

The Andersons are of Scotch-Irish descent and came to this country about two hundred years ago. Robert Anderson, uncle of William Henry, and adjutant-general in the War of 1812, at one time, made a gallant dash with three hundred men and put to rout three thousand British troops.

William Henry Anderson received his early education from private tutors under his father’s direction. He was graduated from William and Mary college, 1841, and from the University of Virginia, M. D., 1842. He became a resident physician at the Baltimore almshouse hospital, 1843, and later spent a year at the University of the City of New York, visiting Bellevue hospital daily with a private instructor. From 1846 until late in 1849, he studied medicine and natural history in Europe, spending a year in Paris attending the lectures of Roux, Velpeau, Jobert, Couveihier, Andral, Magendie, and Claude Bernard. On his return to America, he practiced in Mobile. From 1853 to 1857, he was associated with Dr. G. A. Ketchum. He took an active part in the organization of the Medical College of Alabama and was a professor of physiology from its foundation in 1858 until he became dean of the faculty in succession to Dr. I. C. Nott, the first dean.

Dr. Anderson was a member of the original committee appointed by the State Medical Association to ascertain the number of insane persons in the state, whose report resulted in the establishment of the Alabama insane hospital, opened at Tuscaloosa, July 1861.

He entered the C. S. Army as surgeon of the Twenty-first Alabama regiment, and after three months service was made medical purveyor of the military district commanded by Gen. Bragg. He established a chemical depot at Montgomery, and in 1865, when Gen. Wilson was threatening that city, moved twenty-eight carloads of medical stores to Macon, Ga., where he was overtaken when Gen. Wilson raided that city. He was a member of the State Medical Association of the Mobile Medical Society and of the American Medical Association.

He was the author of “A Detail of Experiments, by Magendie and Bernard, on Living Animals,” American Journal of Medical Sciences; “Scarlet Fever,” New Orleans Medical Journal; “A Biographical Sketch of the Late I. C. Nott,” and numerous other articles. He was one of the medical directors and examiners of the Alabama gold life insurance co. and was an Episcopalian.

On December 24, 1852, he married Ann Louisa Witherspoon, (b. Mar 31, 1832 – Nov. 6, 1891) daughter of Dr. John Ramsey and Sophia (Graham) Witherspoon, of North Carolina, and a descendant of John Witherspoon, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Their known children were:

  1. Clara Southgate Anderson of Mobile (b. 1852- d. Aug 1923) She died unmarried.
  2. Leroy Hammond Anderson, d. in infancy.

Dr. Anderson is buried at Magnolia Cemetery in Mobile along with his wife and daughter.


  1. History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, Volume 3 By Thomas McAdory Owen, Marie Bankhead Owen
  2. Find A Grave Memorial# 25610952 # 94856403 # 25611017# 107010525# 39628466
  3. 1880 Mobile, Mobile County census


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One comment

  1. And the Andersons are still an exemplary family here in Mobile.

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