Anderson is a city in and the county seat of Madison County, Indiana, United States. It is the principal city of the Anderson, Indiana Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses Madison County. Anderson is the headquarters of the Church of God (Anderson) and home of Anderson University, which is affiliated with that denomination. Highlights of the city include the historic Paramount Theatre and the Gruenewald Historic House.
The population was 56,129 at the 2010 census. This is down from 70,000 in 1970.
Prior to the organization of Madison County, William Conner entered the land upon which Anderson is located. Conner later sold the ground to John and Sarah Berry, who donated 32 acres (129,000 m²) of their land to Madison County on the condition that the county seat be moved from Pendleton to Anderson. John Berry laid out the first plat of Anderson on November 7, 1827. In 1828 the seat of justice was moved from Pendleton to Anderson.
The city is named for Chief William "Adam" Anderson, whose mother was a Delaware Indian (Lenape) and whose father was of Swedish descent. Chief Anderson's Indian name was Kikthawenund (spelled in a variety of ways) meaning "making a noise" or "causing to crack." The Delaware village was known as Anderson's Town, though the Moravian Missionaries called it "The Heathen Town Four Miles Away." Anderson was also known as Andersonton before being formally organized as Anderson.
Introduction of internal improvements by the Mammoth Internal Improvement Act caused a growth in the population in 1837. In December, 1838, Anderson was incorporated as a town with 350 inhabitants. The Central Canal, a branch of the Wabash and Erie Canal, was planned to come through Anderson. Work continued on the canal during 1838 and the beginning of 1839, but work on the canal was soon suspended by the state following the Panic of 1837. The town again became a sleepy village until 1849 when it was incorporated a second time as a town. Many new commercial ventures located around the Courthouse Square.
This incorporation was short-lived and Anderson once again went back to village status in 1852. However, with the completion of the Indianapolis Bellefontaine Railroad, as well as their station in 1852, Anderson burst to life. The third incorporation of Anderson as a town occurred on June 9, 1853. The population continued to increase. On August 28, 1865, with a population was nearly 1,300 people, Anderson was incorporated as a city.
In 1897 the Interurban Railroad was born in Anderson. Charles Henry, a large stock holder, coined the term "Interurban" in 1893. It continued to operate until 1941. The year 1912 spelled disaster for Anderson: the natural gas ran out, due to the residents squandering their resources. The city left its gas powered lights on day and night, and there are stories of a pocket of natural gas being lit in the river and burning for a prolonged period for the spectacle of it. The result of the loss of natural gas was that several factories moved out. The whole city slowed down. The Commercial Club (formed on November 18, 1905) was the forerunner of the present chamber of commerce.
This club persuaded the Remy brothers to stay in Anderson and others to locate there. For decades, Delco Remy and Guide Lamp, during World War II built the M3, M3a1 submachine gun and the liberator pistol for the allies, (later Fisher Guide) were the top two employers in the city. From 1913 through the 1950s, the Ward-Stilson Company was one of the country's largest producers of uniforms, regalia, furniture and props for the Freemasons, the Odd Fellows and dozens of other U.S. fraternal organizations.
The Church of God of Anderson located its world headquarters in Anderson in 1905. Anderson Bible School was opened in 1917, and this was separated from Gospel Trumpet (now known as Warner Press) in 1925. At the same time, it became known as Anderson Bible School and Seminary. In 1925, the name was changed to Anderson College and then to Anderson University in 1988.
Over the years, 17 different types of automobiles were manufactured in Anderson with the Lambert family among the city's leaders in its development and Buckeye Gasoline Buggy the Lambert product. Many other inventions were perfected in Anderson including: the gas regulator (Miron G. Reynolds), the stamp vending machine (Frank P. Dunn), clothes presser (H. Donald Forse), Irish Mail (Hugh Hill), flower car for funeral homes (Francis M. McClain, automatic gearshift (Von D. Polhemus)), Sisson choke (Glenn Sisson), and the vulcanizing process to retread tires (Charles E. Miller).