An Interview with William Anderson

William Anderson is the last person alive today who was once part of Frank Sandford's missionary contingent to Jerusalem.  He and his family joined the Kingdom in Gibraltar in 1906, and went on to Jerusalem from there aboard the Kingdom.  They remained there until Frank Sandford closed it down in 1910.  While there, two of his siblings passed away, one of which are described below in some detail.  We appreciate his willingness to tell and share his story with us all.


We met William Anderson at his son Weston's house in Durham, Maine on March 12, 2000, to have a living room chat about his early years at Shiloh. He was born on July 25, 1903, in Glasgow, Scotland where his father was a railroad signalman. His family left Glasgow in 1906 boarding the Kingdom ships at Gibraltar and sailing on to Palestine. They stayed in Palestine three years finally reaching Shiloh May 16, 1910. At 97 he is sharp of mind, looks well, and still has his sense of humor.

How did you happen to come in contact with The Kingdom?

My father was in contact with Miss H. M. Newton, Katy Kilpatrick, Miss Taylor, and Susi Lawrence. I think he met them in Liverpool, but may have met them in Glasgow. My father held out on them for quite awhile, but finally gave in.

Do you have any memory of the time when you moved from Glasgow, Scotland?

Not much. I was only about 3 years old at the time. It was 1906. We went from Glasgow to Palestine. (As it turns out the Anderson family made its way to Gibraltar and rendezvoused with with Mr. Sandford and company. Mr. Sandford arrived in Gibraltar about the same time by steamer from England accompanied by Mr. Wakeman and a new harp. Since it was faster, Coronet reached Gibraltar first and Mr. Sandford decided to load up and head for Palestine before the arrival of the slower Kingdom. He split the Anderson family up, taking William's father on Coronet and leaving Mrs. Anderson and the two children to hopefully catch a ride on Kingdom. They caught the ride and met up with Mr. Anderson almost two months later in the harbor at Jaffa.)

We left Palestine December 28, 1909. When we were on Kingdom heading to Portland I was on the steps leading from the deck down to the parlor. Israel Whittaker, a boy about my age was in front of me and I put my hands on his shoulder. They said I pushed him, but I do not remember pushing him. I was separated from the company. I couldn't eat, mingle, or go to meeting with them. Only my father or my mother was allowed to be with me. I was separated until we landed in Portland. The Whittaker children on the trip were Debra, Joseph, Israel, and Joshua.

When you got to Shiloh did you live on the hill in the complex?

We were put in the back extension for awhile and then we were moved to the Bowie house. That was the first house on the right after turning right at the bottom of Shiloh driveway. It was also called the Spring house. We lived upstairs and N.G. Brown lived downstairs.

How long did you live there?

Quite a few years. We were still there when the Scattering occurred in 1920.

What was it like at Shiloh during those years?

It was good. We all ate in the dining room before we moved to the Bowie house. Meals were brought into the dining room from the kitchen.

Did you go to school at Shiloh?

Yes. Nellie Smith was my favorite teacher. Daisy Smith, one of the teachers, would come to the Bowie house every Friday night to report to my father how I had done during the week.

You couldn't get away with much then could you?

No. When I was bad, I was really bad. When I was good, I was good. When I saw Daisy coming I was shaking. Sometimes she would give a good report and sometimes a not so good report. Joseph Harriman was the principal at that time.

Did you have a brother who died during that time?

Yes, Hanaan. He was only two when he died of the flu. He coughed a lot. My mother made gruel for him, but he wouldn't eat it. My dad told him the Bible says children should obey their parents. My dad said, "Eat some of this gruel". So he did. Then Hanaan said, "See them Papa, see them?" The angels were there. Then the Lord opened my eyes and I saw them too. Hanaan didn't die, they took him.

Did you have a sled at Shiloh?

Yes, I had a double runner. Mr. Hudson built it for me. I could beat anything there was. We would slide between the post office and another building and up the next hill. We had a good time. We did that in the recess time and it took us a little longer than the 15 minutes allotted for recess to slide down and get back to school again. I don't remember what happened when we got back late. We went to school in Olivet and the Higgins cottage. The school day went from 9 a.m. to about 4 p.m. with a one hour lunch period at noon.

What did you eat during the times when food was not plentiful?

Mr. Shaw was in charge of the storehouse and my father was a clerk. We used to get the crumbs. Mr. Shaw would give my father the crumbs of the stuff that was in storage. We ate that.

My father was a man of faith. When I was born, one arm was shorter, one leg was shorter, and one eye was smaller. Everything that was two was different. He prayed for me. When he got done praying, both arms were the same length, my eyes were the same, everything had changed. Because he was a man of faith, he believed God could do anything. I asked my mother one time why one arm was shorter than the other when I was born. She said I was born prematurely by one or two months.

Do you remember anything about going to the meetings at Shiloh?

I don't remember too much. Meetings were held in the temple.

Did they allow you to "rough- house" at Shiloh?


Did you ever wrestle with your own brother?

Only at home.

Was the Bible school still meeting while Mr. Sandford was in prison?

Yes, all the time. J.B. Harriman was in charge of the Bible school during those years.

Mr. Harriman and I were very close. When we were in Palestine we weren't supposed to go out and play with the kids. I went out and played with the kids and came down with scarlet fever. I think it was 3 weeks I was in quarantine with Miss Main taking care of me. Mr. Harriman would climb up the ladder and put food for us to eat on the shelf outside the window. My brother, James Jr., died while we were in Jerusalem. We weren't supposed to lie under the windows in the sun (or moon). We were told the light would disfigure us. My father did all the business for the group while we were in Jerusalem, because the Northern Scottish dialect and Arabic were similar. He procured the food and supplies for the group. We walked everywhere. I've walked beside the Sea of Galilee.

Do you remember what you ate?

Rice. Mostly rice. Rice and onions. Rice all the time.

Did you have much fruit?

Some, not much. Mostly rice.

After the scattering, what did your father do?

We went to St. John N.B. from Shiloh. In 1920 my father had to go back to St. John to work off money the government had overpaid him. After he had done that we moved to Amherst. Miss Main


Bigmaindartetals.jpg (78743 bytes) left to right: Margaret Matheson Barcalow, Margaret Main, Jean Dart & standing, Marea Tonneson.

was in charge there, and all the Kingdom churches in Canada. My father learned afterward that Mr. Sandford had intended to make my father the leader of the Canadian church, but didn't.

Why did your father choose Canada in the first place?

In 1918 God spoke to Mr. Sandford about letting the members fight in WW I. My father went to Canada because he was a British subject and joined the Canadian army. It was there that they overpaid him, so he had to go back to St. John in 1920 to work off the extra money in the post office.

When did you come to the U.S. and why?

I came back to the U.S. in 1944. I had fallen in love with Gladys (his wife). She was eight years and eight months my junior, and I had carried her to school when we lived at Shiloh on my shoulders years before.

What did you do before coming to the U.S.?

I went to work for Lawrence Jones in western Canada. I drove a team, an eight horse team, four in front and four in back. I was three miles from home with the team one day, and they were jumpy. Mr. Jones was back in the house, three miles away watching me through a pair of binoculars. A storm was coming across, making the horses jumpy. They were hitched to a harrow, and I was trying to unhook them before the storm came. I managed to unhook them, but I figured if I had to be watched from 3 miles away it was time for me to leave.

Mr. Jones had offered me $2 a day to stay, and I had said OK. But then I went into town and they were offering $5 or $6 a day. I went home and Mr.Jones said, "You're not very happy." I said, "No". He said, "I'll release you". He told me a guy named Reed might take me. I went out and worked for four days for $20. I thought that was pretty good.

Reed asked me, "What can you do?" I told him, "Most anything". When I lived at the Jones's, they didn't eat much. At noon at the new place we had steak and onions, bacon and onions. I ate steak and onions, and was SO SICK! We were stooking sheaves, and somehow I managed to keep up with the other help. At the end of the day Reed said, "He's not bad, not bad. And if he had something in his stomach, he'd be a damn good man!"