From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Anderson, Robert B.

(born: 1843  -  died: 1930) 

Anderson was born in Green County, KY. His mother and siblings were enslaved property by Colonel Robert Ball, his father enslaved by Alfred Anderson. When he was six, Anderson's mother had a dispute with the mistress and was sold for field work in Louisiana. Robert never saw his mother again.

In 1864, Anderson ran away to Lebanon, KY, where he joined the Army. He served in the west and received an honorable discharge, whereupon he returned to Kentucky. But he eventually moved out west in 1870, settling in Nebraska. As a farmer, he had both years of prosperity and years of poverty until he finally found security with a farm of 1,120 acres; it eventually grew to 2,000 acres.

Anderson married a 21 year old woman in 1922 when he was 79. His wife's family soon moved in and his wife took over his affairs, resulting in the land being heavily mortgaged. In 1927 Anderson had his book published by the Hemingford Ledger: From slavery to affluence; memoirs of Robert Anderson, ex-slave. In 1930, he deeded all of his property to his wife.

Robert Anderson died after the car he was riding in overturned; his wife, her brother, and a friend survived. Ball's wife Daisy Anderson, who passed away in 1998, was one of the three surviving Civil War widows in the U.S.

For more see D. D. Wax, "Robert Ball Anderson, ex-slave, a pioneer in Western Nebraska, 1884-1930," Nebraska History, vol. 64, issue 2 (1983),  pp. 163-192; "Robert Ball Anderson" at the National Park Service website (includes a link to an NPR interview with Daisy Anderson); and the Robert Ball Anderson Archive Collection at the Nebraska State Historical Society.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Green County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Marion County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lebanon, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

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Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: From slavery to affluence; memoirs of Robert Anderson, ex-slave
NKAA Source: Nebraska history (periodical)

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“Anderson, Robert B.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-06-23 17:19:38