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Mary E. (Bush) Anderson
(1847-1938)

 

Greenfield Cemetery

Mary E. (Bush) Anderson was born on December 4, 1847 in Wayne County, IN, the daughter of Christopher and Elizabeth (Miner) Bush. She sometimes went by the nickname of "Mollie." 

 As a young girl she moved with her parents to Greenfield, Hancock County, IN. 

On June 25, 1868, at the age of 21, Mary married 24-year-old Civil War veteran John B. Anderson (April 12, 1844-1910), a native of Miamisburg, OH. Justice of the peace George Barnett of near Greenfield performed the ceremony. 

The Andersons did not reproduce. In later years they cared for Mary's widowed and aging mother, Elizabeth. Said the Greenfield Republican, "while no children came to bless this union, they lived as two children, trustful, happy and obedient to the heavenly message, 'Except ye become as little children, ye cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven'. Their devotion to each other made their home life truly beautiful, and even more, their home was blest by the abiding presence of the Saviour whom they both learned to worship early in life."

A farmer and carpenter, John served in the 8th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, Companies B and G, during the war. He enlisted at age 18, standing 5 feet, 5 inches tall, with black eyes and black hair. During his service, he suffered from minor bowel and kidney discomfort and "stitch in back" but otherwise was unharmed. He served in the same regiment as his future brothers in law John, James and Henry Bush.

 

Vicksburg battlefield trench ruins

In 1863, the 8th Indiana crossed the Mississippi River near Vicksburg, and early on the morning of May 1 engaged the enemy in battle on Thompson's Hill (also known as Magnolia Hill), near Port Gibson, MS. Seen here are the remains of a trench used by Union soldiers at Vicksburg, with battlefield monuments as preserved circa 1910.

While on a charge, and after taking a hill, after being outnumbered five to one, James tended to brother in law Henry Bush who was wounded by a gunshot in the left shoulder. 

John later was discharged at Charleston, WV on Sept. 4, 1864. 

In the postwar years, he was a member of the Samuel H. Dunbar Post of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a veterans organization. Said the Republican, "No one could have been more proud than he of the little button he always wore, which told the heroic struggle of a brave man for the country he loved."

John and Mary settled in a house on 106 East Main Street (also known as Route 40, which at the time was the National Highway) in Greenfield. Many of Mary's distant cousins in Pennsylvania were directly involved with construction of the highway and its ongoing maintenance and repair.

 

Greenfield's Main Street (National Road)

The Greenfield Republican once reported that Mary "was during her long residence in Greenfield one of the most valuable workers in the M.E. church...  She was a remarkable woman in many ways.  Her acquaintances here were many and her friends numerous."

One of the Andersons' neighbors several blocks away was a famous American, James Whitcomb Riley, the "Hoosier Poet." Their brother-in-law Benjamin S. Johnson grew up with the poet as one of his best boyhood friends. Riley was said to be "one of the best known Hoosiers of all time ... [and] famous for his use of Hoosier dialect." His handsome, two-story residence along the National Highway has been a draw for tourists both then and now. 

In the 1880s, John joined the Methodist Episcopal Church of Ogden, IN and remained a member for many years. Later he transferred his membership to the Methodist Church in Greenfield and served on its board of directors until later migrating to Florida.

Mary and John are known to have spent several months in Iowa in the summer of 1883. When her father became seriously ill that September, and was confined to bed for three weeks, word was sent and reported in the Hancock Democrat

In 1907, after a lifetime of residing in Greenfield, but his health on decline, John and Mary moved to St. Petersburg, FL, where they "bought a home and resided there because he was benefited by the climate." He again transferred church membership, "always believing he could do more good by being a member of his resident church," said the Republican. "John was "a constant sufferer ever since" their move. "Although the agony at times seemed almost unbearable, no one ever heard him complain or question why; and only those who watched by him can know the perfect trust and sweet content and peace of his daily communion with the One who was helping him bear his burdens bravely even unto the Valley of the Shadow."  

By 1909, they had moved to San Benito, Cameron County, TX, where her sister Allora Johnson was living, with the hope that his health would improve.

   

Famed "Hoosier Poet" James Whitcomb Riley, the Andersons' neighbor. His home suggests what theirs' might have looked like.

 

 

Obituary, 1938

John then returned to St. Petersburg, and died there on July 29, 1910, "in the still hours of the summer morning," said the Republican. The "Savior called to the beautiful home in the sky John B. Anderson, and to him we know the Heavenly Father has given one of the very choicest of the beautiful mansions, for his life was one long reflection of the Christ in whom he had implicit faith and trust."  His body was sent back to Greenfield for burial. Added the Republican, "John Anderson was a christian gentleman; in religion, business and politics, always standing on the side of righteousness and truth. His friends he hunbered by the score and his neighbors can testify to his never failing help in time of sickness and need."

Mary remained in San Benito, TX, living with her sister and brother in law, Alora and Benjamin Johnson.  After a fall that fractured her hip, compounded by the effects of Alzheimer's disease, Mary died there in December 1938 at the age 91.  A newspaper reported that she "arranged her funeral, selected the pallbearers and the music." Her remains were sent back to Greenfield for burial. 

John and Mary rest together in the Greenfield Cemetery, in a plot with her parents.

 

Copyright 2000, 2002-2004, 2008, 2013 Mark A. Miner