Anderson, the county seat of Madison County, Indiana, is a modern industrial city with a religious tint. The city is the headquarters of the Church of God (Anderson). Anderson University, based here, originally opened as Anderson Bible School in 1917.
Anderson was called Anderson Town by the early settlers. It was named in honor of Chief William Anderson, who was of mixed descent. While his father was Swedish, his mother was a Delaware Indian. One of the first settlers in this land was William Conner. Later on, he sold his land to a couple, John and Sarah Berry. The Berrys donated 32 acres of their land to Madison County so as to make Anderson the county head. The new settlement of Anderson was platted on November 7, 1827. The following year the seat of justice was moved to Anderson from Pendleton.
The town was incorporated in December, 1838, and expected a boost to growth from the proposed Central Canal, which was planned to pass through the town. However, following the abandonment of the canal work, the town again went back to its old village days. The second incorporation occurred in 1849. But this incorporation was short lived and continued only till 1852. The Indianapolis Bellefontaine Railroad, which was completed in 1852, led to a renewed increase in population and Anderson was again incorporated as a town on June 9, 1853 and as a city on August 28, 1865.
Anderson saw rapid growth following the discovery of natural gas in the region on March 31, 1887. The city’s accelerated growth earned it such titles as ‘The Pittsburgh on White River’ and ‘Queen City of the Gas Belt’. However, the city received a major setback with the depletion of natural gas around the year 1912. Many of the industries began to move to other destinations, but due to the efforts of the Commercial Club, some companies such as Delco Remy and Guide Lamp stayed back. The club, predecessor to the chamber of commerce, also persuaded other companies to locate in the city premises. In time, the city became home to numerous automobile manufacturers.
Anderson also came to be known on the religious front. The international headquarters of Church of God of Anderson was established here in 1905. The Anderson Bible School, which opened in 1917, was converted to Anderson Bible School and Seminary, and later on in 1925 to Anderson College. The college became the present day Anderson University in 1988.
Anderson is the site of several museums, including the Madison County History Center, the US Merchant Marine Museum, and the Historical Military Armor Museum, as well as the Anderson Fine Arts Center. Other significant landmarks of the city include the historic Paramount Theatre and the Gruenwald Home.
In addition to Anderson University, the city is home to branch campuses of Ivy Tech Community College and Purdue University.
Saint John's Health System can be traced to an 1895 donation by local philanthropist John Hickey. In May 1962, Community Hospital of Anderson and Madison County opened its doors. It merged with Community Hospitals Indianapolis in 1996 to become Community Hospital Anderson.