Alfred Anderson was born in Wheeling, Virginia, February, 24, 1824. His mother, Mary Clark, was a free woman, reared from early childhood by Mrs. Ralston, the widow of an officer in the American Revolution. His father's name was Shannon, the brother of Governor Shannon, of Ohio and Kansas. When the boy was three or four years old, his mother married Robert G. H. Anderson, who not long after removed to Cincinnati. They remained there until 1832, when the Asiatic cholera compelled a hasty retreat to the small towns in the neighborhood, and the Anderson family were first in Hamilton and afterwards in Richmond. They settled permanently in this place in 1837, where Alfred has ever since lived, with the exception of twelve years spent in the South.
At the period when he first came to this city the State made no provision for the education of colored children, and he consequently never had but three months' schooling in his life. His constant study at home, with much reading, has, however, made him well acquainted with English literature, and given him a good knowledge of French and Spanish. He married the daughter of a clergyman when still a young man, who bore him nine children, and died in 1863. In 1865 he again married. Both of his unions were fortunate ones. he was enabled to send some of his children to college, and he gave them all as good a training as he could.
He was early identified with the anti-slavery cause. In 1843 he aided in editing the Palladium of Liberty, published in Columbus, the first newspaper attempted by the colored men in Ohio. A few years later he became interested in the Colored Citizen, of Cincinnati, and he was a regular contributor to the North Star, published by Frederick Douglass, and the Liberator, edited by William Lloyd Garrison. He prosecuted, at his own expense, a case through the courts of Ohio, by which a large portion of the colored citizens were enabled to vote, who previously had not been allowed to exercise that privilege. He has also done much to aid those to reach a place of safety who were escaping from slavery. His name has of late been prominently spoken of for minister to Hayti, a post for which he would be well fitted. He is an agreeable and pleasant companion, an excellent raconteur, a man of keen intellect and biting wit, and impressive and dignified carriage. His memory is excellent, his knowledge of history and politics has been sedulously cultivated, and his reasoning powers are good. He has a fine command of the mother-tongue, both in writing and speaking, and is a man of excellent private character.
From A History and Biographical Cyclopædia of Butler County Ohio, With Illustrations and Sketches of its Representative Men and Pioneers, Western Biographical Publishing Company, Cincinnati Ohio, 1882.