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Anderson Family papers

 Collection 0494-MDHC

The Anderson Family papers consists of documents, receipts, and letters related to the Anderson family of Somerset County, Maryland, on the lower Eastern Shore. Documents date from the mid- to late-19th century and include tax documents, business letters, and personal letters. During their life in Somerset County, there are records that the Anderson family enslaved 11 individuals. The bulk of the collection documents an attempt by the family to collect financial restitution for Charles Nelson, a freed man the Anderson family enslaved, who enlisted in the Colored Troops after emancipation.


  • 1863-1893
  • Majority of material found in 1865

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Special Collections reading room. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.


.25 Linear Feet (Letter size half size Hollinger box)

Scope and Contents

The Anderson Family Papers cover the period from 1862 to 1893, with the bulk of the material dating from 1865. The collection consists of personal letters and professional correspondence, both to and from two members of the Anderson family: Andrew Wilmore and his son, Perry.

The bulk of the 1865 papers address an attempt by Andrew Anderson, acting through a solicitor, to claim restitution from the State of Maryland for Charles Nelson, a man Andrew Anderson enslaved, who joined the Union Army in 1863 following the Emancipation Proclamation. Since Maryland was a loyal state, the Union offered compensation of $100 to previous enslavers of the people they formerly enslaved joined the “Colored Troops,” as they were called at the time. Nelson had enlisted in the 7th Regiment, and was killed in action at Fort Gilmore, VA in September of 1864. The family still worked to gain monetarily for Nelson’s life even after he was both freed from his enslavement and had died.

There are numerous income tax receipts from the United States Internal Revenue, covering the years 1863-1870.

The collection also includes drafts of proposal letters from Perry to two different local girls; a letter to Perry from his cousin, jokingly accusing him of assassinating Lincoln; an indictment against Andrew W. for causing bodily harm to a George Davis, who was the proprietor of the Quantico Hotel; and a monetary list of crops sold and livestock and enslaved people purchased at an unknown location in 1862. The collection documents rural life in Maryland, covering both the pre-Civil War and the antebellum time periods.

Biographical / Historical

Andrew Wilmore Anderson, son of Isaac Anderson, was a farmer and land owner in the Somerset County area of Maryland’s Eastern Shore from the 1830s until his death in 1879. His wife died before 1850, and he raised two children, Mary Virginia (b. 1839) and Perry Harrison (b. ~1843-44), who both eventually inherited portions of his estate. Due to multiple redrawing of district and county lines, he is first listed in the Tyaskin district (1850 census), then later in Quantico (1860 and 1870 censuses), though he retained the same property holdings throughout his life, with various purchases and sales of small parcels in the region known as “Upper Trappe.” The area is now called Allen, MD. Like many residents of this rural community pre-Civil War, he was an enslaver, with as many as 20 slaves listed in the 1850 census.

Andrew’s daughter, Mary Virginia Anderson, married Anthony Pollitt, part of another prominent Somerset County family, and was willed the property “formerly belonging to Peter Bell,” a homestead in which the Pollitts were apparently already residing when Andrew W.’s will was probated. Anthony and Mary separated sometime after 1879, and Mary became head of her household until 1905, at which point her sons Frederick and Andrew inherited this property. It is now known as the Pollitt-Shivers farm and house.

Andrew’s son Perry never married. He continued to live in his father’s house (the Andrew W. Anderson Farmhouse in the Catchpenny vicinity), which was willed to him in 1879, until the farm was sold out from under him in 1891. He was forced to move out in 1893, at which point he lived with his sister and her family until his death, sometime after 1900.

Custodial History

Purchased from the William Reese Company, New Haven, CT, on February 8, 2016.

Related Materials

The Andersons and Pollitts can be referenced in several Maryland county histories and organizations, including:

Corddry, George H. History of Wicomico County. Peninsula Press, Salisbury, MD: 1981.

Shivers, George R. Changing Times: Chronicle of Allen, Maryland, an Eastern Shore Village. Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD: 1998.

Allen Historical Society website:

For materials related to Charles Nelson and the Civil War Colored Troops, refer to:

Callum, Agnes K. Colored Volunteers of Maryland, Civil War: 7th regiment. Mullac Publishers, Baltimore, MD: 1990.

Processing Information

The materials were arranged in chronological order. Letters were removed from envelopes and flattened. All materials were placed in acid-free envelopes and in an acid-free box. Transcriptions of two documents have been provided for ease of research.

Guide to the Anderson Family papers
Processed by Sarah Hedlund
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742