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From the Mayflower to Marion
by DJ Kauffman Correspondent · December 14th, 2017


A Marion artist living in a house made from the old Linn County jail, has an ancestry filled with American history, including Dutch Pilgrims who arrived in Cape Cod, Massachusetts on November 9, 1620, aboard the Mayflower. Her name is Mary Louise (Anderson) Andersen, also known as Molly, and this is her story.

Molly was born almost a century ago in Keokuk, Iowa, and lived in a large house on one edge of town. Her childhood home was modernized with running water and a coal furnace, she said. And, thanks to her grandmother's investing ingenuity in the real estate market, they did not suffer through the Great Depression as others less fortunate. Equally important, her mother was an educated progressive during the women's suffrage movement, Molly explained.

As a child, Molly remembers playing kickball in the yard with neighborhood kids until the street lamps, made with carbide fuel used for the lighting, came on and recalls squirrels running away as buckeyes fell from trees. She also has kept a wooden basket that smelled of vinegar used for pickles, from her family's pickle factory in Keokuk.

"People would come with buckets and fill them up. The buckets were small, like a cup with a lid and strips of wood, a round base, and a handle made of metal. They would hold different varieties and sizes of pickles," she said.

According to researcher Diane P. Kruse, "A list of the products was a long and varied one. It included pure vinegar and pickles -- sweet, sour, and mixed. Besides these, other table delicacies were prepared, like dainty white onions, olives, chow chow, sauces, mustards and tomato catsup. Of all these products, the sweet pickle was the prime favorite." ["How the Keokuk Pickle Company Manufactures Relishes" from the Constitution Democrat, September 25, 1896]

The Daily Gate City wrote an article in the Friday, March 5, 1909 newspaper about how the Keokuk Canning Company had closed a deal, expanding the business into Fort Madison and West Point. "Negotiations had been on for several days and the deal was wound up yesterday. ... This makes the Keokuk Canning Co. now operating seven different plants and makes it one of the largest concerns of the kind in the country," the reporter write.

In addition, A Keokuk Iowa Historians facebook.com article post entitled, Saturday, July 30, 1910, LIGHTNING SPARKS FIRE AT PICKLE WORKS, details a fire at the pickle company. "During the night's downpour of rain, a tremendous bolt of lightning struck the northeast corner of the Keokuk Pickle Company's vinegar plant and the building burned... This factory sat on the alley between Main & Johnson Streets, its physical address was 18 - 28 South 1st Street, with the office at 101 Johnson. The Vinegar plant is marked by the red X," they write.

Molly's ancestor, Israel Anderson, was a Captain during the American Civil War. His History of Lee County Iowa biography says he was born on February 28, 1815, in Greene County, Pennsylvania, and died in Keokuk, Iowa on June 25, 1902.

"In 1849 he was elected sheriff, serving for two years. In 1858 he made a trip by wagon to Pike's Peak. When the war broke out, he was mustered into service as Captain of Co. C, Third Iowa Cavalry...

"At the time of the boundary trouble between Iowa and Missouri, the governor of Iowa appointed him to an important military position. He helped to capture the sheriff of Clark County. Mo., for trying to collect taxes from Iowa residents. He was well acquainted with the Indian chiefs Black Hawk and Keokuk."

Israel Anderson's bio also states he was severely wounded and served in the war until 1863. After returning home, he was reselected sheriff and began his Anderson Canning works company.

His findagrave memorial shows his father as Amos Anderson and his grandfather as Charles Anderson II, who served "as a Captain of a militia from Maryland, Company E, in the Patriotic Service during the American Revolutionary War (#A121408 in the DAR Patriot Index). "Charles died in Muddy Creek, Cumberland Township, in Greene County, Pennsylvania."

According to "Tri-County Researcher" by Dallas Ewing, Installment 2, "Charles and his family immigrated to Cumberland Township in Greene County, Pennsylvania, about 1778. They say Charles (II) was one of 34 Harford County men, who met at the Bush Tavern and signed the historical Bush Declaration on March 22, 1775.

And Ford Family of Maryland papers show this Charles Anderson as being the seventeenth signer of the document. Charles II was a millwright and son of Charles Anderson I and Grace Preston.

"Charles and Grace Anderson lived on the tract known as 'Carpenter's Plains' on Swan Creek Run. When he died on March 15, 1739, he left his land to his two sons, Daniel and Charles, then 11 and 5 years of age and made provisions for his wife Grace and his two daughters Sarah and Margaret."

According to Molly, her first American Anderson ancestors came from Europe and traveled down the St. Lawrence River during the early 1600's. Her family tree also includes Dorr of Vermont, Parsons, and White. It was her ancestor William White who traveled to America on the Mayflower. During the 1970's, Molly visited the Plymouth site with her daughter and remembers walking down the worn and narrow steps leading to the landing area.

Molly and her late husband, Richard Andersen, have three children who were raised in her current home. The jail portion was originally located in Uptown near the current library, as Marion was the original Linn County seat. Molly said the mid-1800s structure was moved to its current location using horses.
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