CHAPTER I. MY BIRTHPLACE AND ANCESTRY.
The town of Marshalltown, the county seat of Marshall County, in the great State of Iowa, is now a handsome and flourishing place of some thirteen or fourteen thousand inhabitants. I have not had time recently to take the census myself, and so I cannot be expected to certify exactly as to how many men, women and children are contained within the corporate limits.
At the time that I first appeared upon the scene, however, the town was in a decidedly embryonic state, and outside of some half-dozen white families that had squatted there it boasted of no inhabitants save Indians of the Pottawattamie tribe, whose wigwams, or tepees, were scattered here and there upon the prairie and along the banks of the river that then, as now, was not navigable for anything much larger than a flat-bottomed scow.
The first log cabin that was erected in Marshalltown was built by my father, Henry Anson, who is still living, a hale and hearty old man, whose only trouble seems to be, according to his own story, that he is getting too fleshy, and that he finds it more difficult to get about than he used to.
He and his father, Warren Anson, his grandfather, Jonathan Anson, and his great-grandfather, Silas Anson, were all born in Dutchess County, New York, and were direct descendants of one of two brothers, who came to this country from England some time in the seventeenth century. They traced their lineage back to William Anson, Esq., of Lincoln's Inn, an eminent barrister in the reign of James I, who purchased the Mansion of Shuzsborough, in the county of Stafford, and, even farther back, to Lord Anson, a high Admiral of the English navy, who was one of the first of that daring band of sailors who circumnavigated the globe and helped to lay the foundation of England's present greatness.
I have said that we were direct descendants of one of two brothers. The other of the original Ansons I am not so proud of, and for this reason: He retained the family name until the Revolutionary war broke out, when he sided with the King and became known as a Tory. Then, not wishing to bear the same name as his, brother, who had espoused the cause of the Colonists, he changed his name to Austin, and some of his descendants my father has met on more than one occasion in his travels.
My mother's maiden name was Jeanette Rice, and she, like my father, was of English descent, so you can see how little Swedish blood there is in my veins, in spite of the nickname of "the Swede" that was often applied to me during my ball-playing career, and which was, I fancy, given me more because of my light hair and ruddy complexion than because of any Swedish characteristics that I possessed.
Early in life my father emigrated from New York State into the wilds of Michigan, and later, after he was married, and while he was but nineteen years of age, and his wife two years his junior, he started out to find a home in the West, traveling in one of the old-fashioned prairie schooners drawn by horses and making his first stop of any account on the banks of the Cedar River in Iowa....