Kitty Anderson was born in Dayton, Ohio, on April 8, 1840, and made her mark in Texas as an 1861 Civil War diarist. She was the daughter of Charles Anderson and Eliza Jane Patterson (Brown) Anderson and niece of Robert Anderson, commander of Fort Sumter at its surrender. Kitty Anderson, her parents, and younger sister Belle Anderson left their Dayton, Ohio, home in 1859 and settled in San Antonio, Texas, where her father bought extensive land and built a large ranch house known later as the Argyle Mansion (see ARGYLE HOTEL).
On November 24, 1860, Kitty Anderson’s father was flagged as a Union sympathizer after he gave a pro-Union speech in front of the Menger Hotel. A proclamation by Confederate president Jefferson Davis on August 8, 1861, exiled men fourteen years of age and older who did not support the South. Anderson noted her father’s bravery and asserted in her diary when “his Country called—he came boldly to its front, and on the Alamo Plaza, denounced Secession and Treason ‘with no uncertain sound.’”
Kitty Anderson began her diary on September 29, 1861, at the forced sale of the family home, for after her father’s “denunciation a Vigilance Committee, constantly threatened his life.” Her fiancé Capt. William G. Jones, a Union prisoner of war and captured at Adams Hill, was at her side that night, along with friends and officials. The Andersons left the city and headed to Brownsville, only to be apprehended by Henry McCullough’s rebel forces a day later, taken back to San Antonio, and placed under house arrest at the Menger Hotel. Held for several days, the women were released and allowed to leave the city. Secession commissioner Philip Luckett helped Kitty Anderson into the family’s ambulance, and Henry McCulloch appointed Confederate agent José Agustín Quintero, who happened to be in San Antonio at the time, to escort the Anderson women on their journey south. Charles Anderson, however, was sent to a prison camp on the Salado Creek, just outside of town.
Kitty Anderson chronicled the women’s journey as they traveled from San Antonio to Brazos Santiago at the mouth of the Rio Grande, where they boarded the Confederate schooner Ursulita bound for Vera Cruz. Throughout her dairy Anderson painted a vivid picture of the places they stopped and the people they encountered. One example included a brief description of her stay at the King Ranch. She was pleased with the hospitality of Richard King and his wife Henrietta Chamberlain King, and a note in the margin of the diary stated, “Arms stored here for ‘Confederacy.’”
Anderson later penned a ten-page addendum to her diary. She ably recorded the escape of her father, aided by San Antonio Unionists, Ann Ludlum and Belgium astronomer Jean-Charles Houzeau de Lehaie, who risked their lives to help Charles Anderson escape. Anderson professed that Ludlum, along with other strong Unionists present in the ranch house the night of the sale, “were so indignant over the injustice of his arrest and imprisonment, they planned a way for his escape.” Others also helped, including Santiago Viduarri, who offered Charles Anderson a “seat in his carriage,” which was bound for Tampico. There, he boarded the “Royal Mail [Steam] Packet [Company], The Clyde” which landed in Vera Cruz two days after the Anderson women.
Kitty Anderson’s diary written from September 29, 1861, through November 30, 1861, with the inclusion of the addendum, takes the reader back to Civil War Texas and presents life from a Unionist perspective. Lamenting, Anderson wrote, “Alas, in times of war power will abuse the innocent offender and stain the purest cause!” The strength of Anderson’s dairy lies in her ability to capture in gifted prose the experiences of her family and their encounters with persons of note, such as Zenas Bliss and John Salmon “Rip” Ford.
After leaving Texas in 1861, Kitty Anderson’s father served as a colonel with the Ninety-third Ohio Volunteer Infantry and was nominated for lieutenant governor on a ticket with John Brough, who was elected governor of Ohio in 1864. Before Anderson took office as lieutenant governor he spoke at the dedication ceremony of Gettysburg National Cemetery in Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863, at the Presbyterian Church there. Abraham Lincoln was in attendance and is said to have “paused to congratulate Anderson on his effort.” John Brough died in 1865 while still in office, and Charles Anderson completed his term as governor of Ohio. Charles did not seek a second term, but in 1866 moved his family to Kentucky, where he purchased land and established the town of Kuttawa, Kentucky.
Kitty Anderson never married. Her fiancé Capt. William G. Jones was killed during the Civil War at the battle of Chickamauga. She lived most of her remaining years in Kuttawa, where she played the organ and taught Sunday school classes for more than fifty years at the Hawthorne Chapel, a Presbyterian church founded by her father. She died on April 16, 1928, and is buried alongside her parents and other family members in Kuttawa Cemetery, in Lyon County, Kentucky.