William T. Anderson, clergyman and physician, was born a slave in Seguin, Texas, on August 20, 1859. During the Civil War he and his mother moved to Galveston, where he joined the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The congregation sponsored him at Wilberforce University in Ohio for three years, and he received a theology certificate from Howard University in 1886. In 1888 he graduated from the Homeopathic Medical College of Cleveland. He then pastored AME congregations in Toledo, Urbana, Lima, and Cleveland, Ohio. In 1897 President William McKinley appointed Anderson chaplain of the Tenth United States Cavalry, with the rank of captain. In April 1898 the regiment departed for the Chickamauga area from its headquarters at Fort Assinniboine, Montana. Anderson remained behind and is believed to be one of the first black officers to command an American military post. On July 24, 1898, he joined the Tenth near Santiago, Cuba, where he treated the sick for fever and dysentery. After the war he coedited Under Fire with the Tenth Cavalry (1899, 1969), a book about the heroism of black soldiers in the war based on eyewitness accounts.
From mid-1899 to 1902 the regiment occupied Manzanillo, Cuba. In Cuba and later in Nebraska, Anderson helped enlisted men organize a regimental YMCA as a means to engage in self-help, address issues of concern, and discuss racial matters. In April 1907 he and the regiment were sent to Fort William McKinley, near Manila, Philippines. Anderson was promoted to major in August 1907 and commanded the United States Morgue.
On January 10, 1910, he retired because of a disability caused by a fever contracted in Cuba in 1898. He returned to Wilberforce and worked as an accountant and secretary to the bishop in the Third Episcopal District. Anderson died in Cleveland on August 21, 1934. He was survived by his wife Sada J. Anderson, who was also active in the AME church. An American Legion post was named for him in the Cleveland area.
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Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: Norton, 1982).
Health and Medicine
African Methodist Episcopal
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Anderson, William T.,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 24, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
November 1, 1994
Most Recent Revision Date:
July 30, 2020
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: