M. D. Anderson’s Birthplace In Jackson, Tennessee Formally Dedicated A Historic Site

md anderson houseLast week the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities (APTA) and the West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation formally recognized And dedicated Monroe Dunaway Anderson’s birthplace, the M. D. Anderson Home — a house at 111 E. Orleans St. built around 1870 when M.D. Anderson’s parents, Ellen Dunaway Anderson and James Wisdom Anderson, moved to Jackson — as one of Tennessee’s historic homes.

Monroe Dunaway Anderson (1873 – 1939) also known as M.D. Anderson, was a banker and cotton trader who became one of the United States’ most successful agri-businessmen and philanthropists of the early 20th century. Born on June 29, 1873 at Jackson, Tennessee, a small city 70 miles northeast of Memphis. Anderson was the sixth of eight children of James Wisdom Anderson, first president of Jackson’s First National Bank, and Ellen (Dunaway) Anderson — daughter of the Rev. William Monroe Dunaway, a Cumberland Presbyterian minister. Monroe Anderson attended Jackson’s public schools and studied at Southwestern Baptist University at Memphis before going to work in Jackson’s other bank, the Peoples’ National Savings Bank, where he applied himself to learning the banking business.

In 1904, M.D. Anderson’s brother Frank Anderson, along with Will Clayton, established a partnership to buy and sell cotton. Finding that they needed more capital, Frank and Will invited Monroe to become a partner, thus establishing the firm Anderson, Clayton & Company. In 1905, Ben Clayton, Will’s younger brother, was also made a partner. Monroe Anderson moved to Houston in 1907 to take advantage of the city’s proximity to the port of Galveston, access to larger banks and, eventually, deep water shipping upon completion of the Houston Ship Channel in 1914. Houston became Anderson, Clayton and Co.’s headquarters in 1916, and M.D. Anderson served as chief financial officer of the company — later treasurer, and eventually president of the firm for a time. By 1945, Fortune Magazine referred to Anderson, Clayton & Company as the largest buyer, seller, storer, and shipper of raw cotton in the world. Cotton at the time was the most popular trading commodity on the planet, and the company was known for nearly a century as “King Cotton;,” making the Anderson and Clayton brothers four of the wealthiest Americans of their era.

Illness had forced M.D. Anderson’s retirement from the firm in 1938, a year before his death. Never married and dying childless, M.D. Anderson had in 1936 created a firewall in the form the philanthropic MD Anderson Foundation, with an initial stake of $300,000. When he died in 1939, the foundation received the bulk of his sizable estate, some $19 million, $500,000 of which the Texas Legislature appropriated in 1941 to build a cancer hospital and research center. The Anderson Foundation’s charter didn’t specify precisely how its money should be used, but its trustees leaned strongly in the direction of health care, and the Foundation agreed to match funds with the state if the new hospital was to be located in Houston in the Texas Medical Center (another Anderson Foundation project) and named after Anderson. The Foundation’s endowment money not only helped create the largest medical complex in the world, the Texas Medical Center, but also established the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, which is one of the world’s most respected centers for cancer patient care, research, education, and prevention.

Last week the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities (APTA) and the http://www.wth.org/home_foundation-id=134.cfm.html. West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation formally recognized And dedicated Monroe Dunaway Anderson’s birthplace, the M. D. Anderson Home — a house at 111 E. Orleans St. built around 1870 when Ellen Dunaway Anderson and James Wisdom Anderson moved to Jackson — as one of Tennessee’s historic homes.

In a note on the APTA Website, APTA’s President Frank McMeen, observes: “Every now and then something tends to remind me of the rich heritage of my city of Jackson. Few are aware of Jackson being the home of M.D. Anderson. We remember him for the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, but few people, even natives of Jackson, know of his deep roots here in Jackson. His body lies reposed in our historic cemetery in a very plain headstone. This unassuming man has changed the treatment of cancer and given life back to patients fighting this dreaded disease. Today there stands a memorial that reminds us of his contributions to our world in his fair city. While it was 79 years in the making, we have chosen to honor this great man.”

The APTA is the oldest statewide nonprofit historic preservation organization in the State of Tennessee and fourth oldest in the nation. Since 1951 the APTA have been preserving and maintaining historic sites that play an important role in Tennessee’s rich cultural heritage, with its mission is to promote and encourage active participation in the preservation of Tennessee’s rich historic, cultural, architectural and archeological heritage through restoration, education, advocacy and statewide cooperation.

On March 3, 2011, Congressman Stephen Fincher representing the Tennessee 8th District introduced a bill, H.R. 1264, an act to honor M.D. Anderson by designating a square in Jackson as the M.D. Anderson Plaza. The bill passed the House and the U.S. Senate and was signed by the President on January 3, 2012.

In its findings regarding H.R. 1264, the House of Representatives notes that “M.D. Anderson and his foundation’s imprint on medical research, education, and agri-business should be memorialized in the town of his birth, Jackson, Tennessee, and deems recognition.”

Congressman Fincher states in a release: “M.D. Anderson had a strong passion to find a cure for cancer. In addition to medical research, the M.D. Anderson Foundation has built libraries, auditoriums, college buildings, and a planetarium on the campus of the University College of Memphis Lambuth Campus in Jackson, Tennessee. We honor M.D. Anderson because of his generosity and interest in bettering the lives of others.”

H.R. 1264 designates the property between the United States Federal Courthouse and the Ed Jones Building located at 109 South Highland Avenue in Jackson, Tennessee as the “M.D. Anderson Plaza.” The bill also authorizes the West Tennessee Health Care Foundation to install in a prominent location on that portion of the Plaza under the jurisdiction of the General Services Administration a Tennessee State Historical Society marker recognizing the outstanding achievements in business and philanthropy on the grounds between the United States Courthouse and the Ed Jones Building, and a life-sized statue depicting M.D. Anderson, with information recognizing persons who donated funds for the manufacturing of the statues. placement of a historical/identification marker on the grounds recognizing the achievements and philanthropy of M.D. Anderson.

Sculpture artist Gregory Beck recently completed four cast bronze over life-size relief portraits of M.D. Anderson and his three founding partners. The M. D. Anderson Memorial Fund in conjunction with the West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation placed this 11-foot tall memorial in downtown Jackson, Tennessee. Dedication took place on Saturday June 29th, the 140th anniversary of his birth. A gallery of photos can be viewed here:
http://www.artbygregorybeck.com/public-art/

Information and geographical coordinates for finding the Andersons & Claytons Memorial at Jackson can be found at: http://goo.gl/JGhHCL

About Charles Moore

Charles Moore
Charles Moore is a syndicated columnist for several major Canadian print newspapers and the Science and Research Section editor for BioNews Texas.
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