Yellow Fever in Anderson, Texas

No Town Escaped Unscathed

Anderson, located ten miles northeast of Navasota, is the county seat of Grimes County and was once the fourth most populous town in Texas. Taking advantage of the stage lines which ran through his property, English immigrant Henry Fanthorp ran an 18-room inn with his wife Rachel in what is now Anderson, Texas. The Fanthorps offered room and board to travelers for $1 - $2 per night, a sum which covered lodging and food for one person and boarding for one horse. Notable men such as Sam Houston, Anson Jones, and Henderson Yoakum were guests at Fanthorp Inn, and other figures such as Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson allegedly boarded there as well. In 1846, when Grimes County was organized, Fanthorp offered up land for the county seat. This town was named Anderson, after Kenneth Anderson, the last Vice President of the Republic of Texas, who died at Fanthorp Inn.

Anderson’s population suffered when it was bypassed by the Houston and Texas Central Railroad, which ran through Navasota as it passed between Houston and Bryan. Though the prosperity of Anderson quickly decreased after its residents declined to let the railroad pass through, it seems that the people of Anderson benefited from their distance from the railroad in that they were spared the heavy blow that Navasota was dealt by the yellow fever. They were also able to hold off the fever through the use of a rigid quarantine. Anderson did not escape unscathed, however. Both Henry Fanthorp and his wife Rachel died of the yellow fever in 1867, and the inn was closed as a result.

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