The Life Of William Anderson
There are many types of good men, as there are many types of great men. Some live in humility and meekness and serve their fellow men with quietness that the world seldom takes notice of them. Again, they live a useful life in the confines of a restricted location. They find so much to do in their immediate neighborhood that they seldom venture into other regions they are always busy and happy in the service that they can render to their loved ones and to those who come within "cable-tow length" of them. William Anderson was a man of this type.
He was born on October 19, 1848, in Maury County, Tenn. His father was J. C. Anderson, one of the pioneer preachers of the Restoration Movement in Tennessee. His father was a very efficient gospel preacher, and planted many churches in Middle Tennessee and North Alabama. J. C. Anderson died and left a widow with five children, two sons and three daughters. William was the older of the two sons, and was only nine years old when his father died. His younger brother, James, began preaching the gospel, but died soon after reaching manhood. William began teaching school at the age of seventeen. He would teach a while and then attend school.
In 1866, William Anderson obeyed the gospel, under the teaching of Tolbert Fanning. He was a student at this time at Franklin College. The college was run by Prof. A. J. Fanning at that time. Brother Anderson began at once to take part publicly in the worship and gradually developed into a preacher. He was efficient as a teacher and preacher. These two were beautifully combined in Brother Anderson, and he was successful in both causes.
Brother Anderson spent his life in teaching and preaching in the county in which he was raised. As a teacher he gained the confidence of his students and had a great influence over them. He showed true sympathy for his students and was interested in their welfare. He was kind and considerate of their feelings. He pointed out to them the evils of wrongdoing and the blessing that would come to them in right doing. He always appealed to the better elements that were in them. His pupils in after life regarded him very highly and loved him for the help that he had given them. Brother Anderson and E. A. Elam were schoolmates at Franklin College. Brother Elam said of him: "He was a good student, and exercised a fine influence." He 'taught school for a number of years at what was then known as "Carter's Creek Academy." Many of his students became some of the most useful men in Maury County. His influence for good was great in their lives.
Brother Anderson had made such a success as a teacher, that, in the spring of 1901, when Brother J. A. Harding resigned as superintendent of the Nashville Bible School (now David Lipscomb College), William Anderson was selected by the Board of Trustees to take his place. The school made good progress under his direction. He was holding this position when the writer entered the Nashville Bible School in 1903. He continued his relation to the school until the date of his death. Brother Anderson was an apt teacher, a kind disciplinarian, and a congenial friend. He made friends of all of his students. He took the time to visit them in their rooms and talked with them about their problems. He never left the room of any of his students that he did not give them fatherly advice and encouragement in their work. The school suffered a great loss in his death. William Anderson was a lover of peace and enjoyed the blessings of a "peacemaker." He was called upon frequently to adjust differences between brethren. Once he was selected to talk to a brother who had been overtaken in a trespass. He and the brother went out to a quiet place" and Brother Anderson began in a kind way to talk with him about his mistake. Soon the brother showed anger and wanted to know who had told him, at the same time, declaring that no one could prove it on him. Brother Anderson replied: "But, you know brother, whether you did it or not; it does not need any proof for you to know that. It is a matter between you and your God." He soon had the brother in tears and penitence. The sin was corrected. At another time he was called upon to adjust differences between two brethren. One declared that he was going to sue the other for slander; so, when Brother Anderson began to talk to him, he at once expressed his determination to sue for slander. Brother Anderson replied: "I would not if I were you. I have observed that those who sue for slander usually get what they sue for." He prevailed upon the brother to settle the trouble out of court. William put confidence in men and believed that all things would work out for the good of those who love the Lord. At one time some one thought to do him harm by reporting that he was seen to go into a saloon in Columbia, Tenn. His friends, of course, denied it for him when they heard it. They were anxious for him to denounce the report as false and asked him to publish a denial of it in the county paper. He was not disposed to give the false report such a public notice and refused to do so. His friends asked him what he had to say about it, and he replied: "I'm mighty glad to tell you it is not so." This is all that he said and the report died a natural death. Brother Anderson had firm convictions. At one time he was called into court as a witness. He was asked to hold up his hand and swear. He refused. He said: "I will tell you the truth, so far as I am able; but the Bible forbids me to take an oath." He was permitted to bear his testimony without the official oath.
Brother Anderson was a successful teacher, a faithful preacher, a true Christian gentleman, a kind friend, and brother in the Lord. He was in usual good health the day of his death. On the morning of June 29, 1905, at eight o'clock, the summons came suddenly. He had walked to the mailbox about half a mile away and had met a brother in the Lord there. They sat down on the roots of a tree and began to talk. While talking, Brother Anderson fell over and died instantly. He did not speak. His body was laid to rest near his home, where he had lived, labored, and loved for more than thirty years. He was not quite fifty-seven years old when he died. Brethren David Lipscomb and E. G. Sewell preached the funeral sermon. A large audience assembled to hear it.
The world needs just such men as William Anderson. Such characters are a blessing to any community; such men give prestige and influence to any community. The church needs such men as Brother Anderson was. He was faithful and loyal to the Word of God, and proclaimed it with power and persuasion as opportunity was offered him. Our educational system needs such educators as was William Anderson. He taught for the good he could do, and not for the money that he could get out of it. He endeavored to build character in young people and not merely store away facts and dates in their minds. He earnestly desired to make godly men and Christian women of all his students. Many are still enjoying the blessings of the influence of his life upon them, while he rests from his labors.
-Biographical Sketches Of Gospel Preachers, H. Leo Boles, Gospel Advocate, c.1932, pages 369-373
Directions To The Grave Of William Anderson
The Anderson family are buried in the Alexander Cemetery just west of Spring Hill, Tennessee. Head west out of Spring Hill on Hwy. 247, Beechcroft Rd. Go about four our five miles and the rock-walled cemetery will be on your right. There is a parking area at the west end of the graveyard. Park there and head back toward the east into the cemetery. The first section you come to encircled by a concrete outline. This is the Anderson Plot. See GPS Below. GPS location of grave: 35°45'10.6"N 86°59'28.3"W / or D.d. 35.752954, -86.991192
James C. Anderson - Father of William - A Pioneer Preacher
Photos Taken 03.19.2016
Webpage Produced 04.03.2016 / updated 09.07.2020