A Brief History of the Town of Anderson
The town of Anderson has a rich legacy in the history of Grimes County. It began years before Grimes County was created by the first legislature of the new state of Texas, April 6, 1846, when the new county was named after Jesse Grimes. Mr. Grimes was a Senator from Montgomery County from which Grimes County was created. Mr. Grimes was also a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence.
In 1833 Henry Fanthorp purchased about 1100 acres of land at 25 cents per acre. He met and married Rachel Kennard and built a house where stagecoach visitors traveling through the area stayed. The area is where the Fanthorp Inn now stands. Therefore the town was first called Fanthorp, then changed to Alta Mira which means High View. Part of the area near the Zion Lutheran Church was also called Rudolph by early German settlers. In 1845, the name was changed to Anderson in memory of Kenneth Anderson, the last vice president of the Republic of Texas. He died at the Fanthorp Inn on July 3, 1845 and is buried in the Fanthorp Family Cemetery.
Anderson has long been referred to as the “Little Rome of Texas” since it is built upon seven hills as Rome is built upon seven hills. Through an election ordered by the Texas Legislature and Henry Fanthorp’s land donation, Anderson was selected as the county seat in 1846. Several attempts to move the country seat in 1870, in 1890 and once again in 1948 failed.
The first Post Office in Grimes County was established in 1835 at the Fanthorp Inn by the provisional government of Texas. The first county jail was built in 1852. Another one in 1879, 1897, 1956 and the present jail in the Law Enforcement Center in 1998.
As far as the courthouse goes, the first one was built out of cedar logs and burned in 1838. The next one was destroyed by a ferocious wind in 1850. The third structure was made of stone in 1859 and was lost in a fire in 1890. The 4th structure was also destroyed by a fire in 1893. Our present courthouse, the 5th structure, was built in 1894 and was restored in 2002. The present courthouse has appeared in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” as the only courthouse built on a rise in the middle of the street. A 1900 gunfight erupted between a new Sheriff and an outgoing Sheriff. Five bullet holes are still visible on the courthouse walls.
Stagecoaches, trains and highways have crossed through Anderson through the years. In its prime time many years back, Anderson had a population of 3000 residents. Six newspapers have been published here. Many businesses have been established here over the past 175 years. Doctors’ offices, lawyers, hotels, dairies, blacksmith shops, cotton gins, sawmills, drug stores, car dealerships, jewelry stores, cafes, a bank and a volunteer fire department to name a few. Churches and schools have also been established in Anderson.
There are many interesting stories about our town in the history books. There was an actual hanging at the end of Main St., Bonnie & Clyde Barrow passed through our area robbing a business in Navasota. Because of a change of venue, in 1934, Joe Palmer, a member of the Barrow gang, was sentenced to death by a Grimes Country jury for killing Major Crowson of the Walls Unit in Huntsville. More recent, Hollywood came to our town in 1997 when Goldie Hawn directed her first movie for television “Hope.” Local citizens were cast in the film and fun was had by all.
Because a sewer system was needed, the town of Anderson had to incorporate to be eligible for grants for the system. John Freeman served as our first Mayor and in May of 2003, Gail Sowell was elected as the town’s second mayor until 2019. Karen McDuffie was elected in 2019 along with five aldermen: Harold Minor, Daryl Alford, Carnell Carrell, Bessie White and one seat vacant. Michael Casaretto serves as the Town Attorney. In the 2010 census, approximately 215 residents live in the city limits. A much smaller town than its past days, Anderson consists basically of small businesses, schools, churches, the Fanthorp Inn, the county government and its beautiful old courthouse as the center of attention. Our town’s proud history and the county seat are important to the continued growth of Grimes County and its commerce for the future.