Alvord Van Patten Anderson was born April 10, 1872, in New York City, to John R. Anderson and Clara Van Patten Anderson. Clara Van Patten Anderson soon died, and John left their son with maternal relatives for some time. John Anderson married Isabel Sime or Gime when Alvord Anderson was five years of age, at which time the boy was reunited with his father and his new wife. Alvord attended grammar school in Upper Montclair, NJ, from 1879 to 1885, and Wesleyan Academy in Willingham, MA, from 1885-1886. He was enrolled at Pennington Seminary, in Pennington, NJ, from 1886-1888, but was suspended for mild but frequent misconduct. His post-secondary education consists of eight months of study at the University of the City of New York in 1889, and a full year at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, from 1890-1891. Several letters from 1893 refer to his experience as a schoolteacher.
On May 28, 1891, Anderson enlisted in the Cavalry. He was stationed at Fort Niobrara, NE, where he attempted to gain a commission as an officer in 1893. He was not recommended for final examination for promotion, but he stayed on, working to gain the experience that, it was generally felt, he was lacking. During this time he was a non-commissioned corporal with the 6th Cavalry's Troop G. He went up for promotion again, again unsuccessfully, in 1894. On May 10, 1894, Anderson left Troop G on the advice of some officers from his post. Not long after, he took up his post at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, with Troop B of the 6th Cavalry.
At Fort Leavenworth, Anderson met Cora Collins. They were married on March 2, 1897. A daughter, Dorothy Van Patten Anderson, was born on February 6, 1898, in Ft Leavenworth. Anderson was called to Cuba, via Tampa, FL, in the spring of 1898, leaving his family in Leavenworth for the duration of the Spanish-American War. He received a Silver Star for his role in the battle of Santiago.
Anderson was next called to China as part of the Relief Expedition in 1899, where he remained until the end of 1900. His family stayed at Nagasaki, Japan, during this time. Near the beginning of 1901, Anderson was sent to the Philippine Islands. His family joined him for a time, in 1902, at Lucena, Tayabas Province, PI According to a letter from Cora to John R. Anderson, Alvord Anderson was hospitalized with malaria in the spring of 1903.
By early 1904, Alvord Anderson and family were residing at Fort Keogh, MT, where they remained for three years. During this time they had a son, A.V.P. Anderson Jr., born November 8, 1905.
Anderson was detailed to a prisoner of war camp, Camp Avery, in Corregidor in 1910, an assignment that caused him to dispatch his family to the states for the duration of his tour of duty in the Philippine Islands. General John J. Pershing then recruited Anderson as a district governor. From 1911 to 1912 Anderson traveled extensively in the Philippine Islands settling land disputes, enforcing a quarantine against a disease affecting cattle, and moving troops and supplies about the islands. Cora and Alvord Jr. rejoined Anderson in November 1912. The three may have briefly toured the Far East, while Dorothy remained in boarding school in the states. Anderson spent some weeks with his son in El Paso, TX, around January 1913, but was back in the Philippines by January 19th with his wife and son.
Anderson returned to El Paso toward the end of 1913, serving as a commanding officer of Troop B, the 12th Cavalry, and later Troop "M" of the 6th Cavalry, during the Mexican Revolution. While A.V.P. Anderson patrolled the Mexican border, Cora Anderson at first stayed at Fort Robinson, NE, with her son, where she received almost daily communications from Anderson, apparently in answer to her own daily letters, (which are not included in this collection).
Over the next several years, Anderson moved from station to station along the border, first from El Paso to Harlingen. A captain in command of Troop "B" of the 12th Cavalry of the United States Army at this time, Anderson was wounded in a skirmish with Mexican forces near Progresso, TX. After a brief stay in the field hospital, Anderson was assigned duty in nearby Donna, Tex. with Troop "M" of the 6th Cavalry, where he was joined by his family at nearby Santa Maria, TX. The family had barely settled into camp when Anderson was ordered to a new station at Shafter, near the Big Bend area. Cora Anderson apparently removed to Fort Des Moines, Iowa, where she again received frequent letters from her husband.
Captain Anderson's letters indicate that he stayed in Marfa for a short while, taking examinations for promotion. He went directly from there to Presidio, TX, although he returned to Marfa on business from time to time. In a letter dated July 2, 1916, he informed his father that he was now in command of "four companies of the 4th Texas, four troops of the 6th Cavalry, one machine gun troop, one machine gun company, one pack train, fourteen wagons, and one gun," making him feel "quite the brigadier general," even though he had not yet had confirmation of his promotion to the rank of major. At Presidio he and his command were separated from hostile forces at Ojinaga, Mexico, only by the Rio Grande River, and rumors of Villas approach made their way into an official report by Anderson.
Some time between January 8, 1917, and August 31, 1917, Anderson, now a colonel, was sent to Fort Dix, NJ as commanding officer of the 312th Regiment of the Infantry. Almost a year later, in May 1818, Colonel Anderson sailed to Europe, leaving his wife to board with brother Hale Anderson in New York City. Anderson arrived in London by June 7, 1918. He took his regiment to Calais for training until early July before proceeding to the front lines and the Argonne Forest. By December of that year, Anderson and the 312th Infantry were comfortably billeted at Bussy-le-Grand-Cote d'Or, France, where they remained until May 6, 1919.
After returning to the states, Anderson apparently was assigned to recruiting service in Chicago, and possibly Cleveland and Greensboro, NC According to information provided by Anderson's family, Cora Anderson died in Greensboro in 1920. Anderson was stationed at Camp Harry J. Jones, Douglas, AR in 1921. By 1923 he was in Marfa, TX. Again according to information supplied by his family, Anderson was in Presidio, CA, in 1927, and married Jean Raison in 1928. He was stationed at Fort Lewis, WA, in 1934. According to family information, Anderson was in Portland, OR in 1935, and retired in 1936, becoming a Brigadier General upon his retirement. He apparently spent the time between his retirement and his death, probably sometime in 1951, in San Francisco.
Over the course of his military career, General Anderson received many awards and service medals, including the Silver Star for the Battle of Santiago. Other awards not included in this collection, but listed by Anderson's family include a Purple Heart for the Spanish-American War, a Distinguished Service Medal for command of the 312th Infantry, World War I, as well as a French Croix de Guerre with Palm and a Verdum Campaign medal for World War I. He received service medals for the Spanish-American War, the Cuban Occupation, the China Relief Expedition, the Philippine Insurrection, Mexican Service, and three World War I campaigns, including St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne.