John A. (Allen) Anderson was born about 1844 in Columbia, Pennsylvania. He was the child of Rebecca and John Anderson. He and his sisters Mary and Rebecca shared the Allen surname in 1850, but thereafter were Andersons. Mostly likely they were Rebecca's children from a previous marriage and took their stepfather's surname, but it's also possible the couple adopted the Allen children.
He served with the famous 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry during the American Civil War.
He was a lifelong resident of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
In 1860, he is attending school, probably in or near Marietta, Pennsylvania.
1870, 1880: Laborer
1880: Front, Marietta, Pennsylvania with his wife and children
1870: East Donegal Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with his wife, children, and 60-year-old Hanna Jones
1860: Marietta, Pennsylvania with his parents and siblings
1850: Marietta, Pennsylvania with his parents, siblings, 21-year-old James Allen, and 22-year-old Andrew W. Allen
During the Civil War, he served as a Private in Company D of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the second regiment in the United States made up entirely of enlisted men of color. He was about 19 years old, single and working as a shoemaker when he enlisted on 19 March 1863 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Mustered out 20 August 1865 with his regiment.
↑ and the first with federal recognition; the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry regiment was against the wishes of the Secretary of War and filled only six companies, but did see action a full year before the 54th
↑ the McKay roster in Emilio erroneously lists his profession as farmer, but the Regimental Descriptive Book confirms "farmer" was for John W. Anderson of the same company
Fold3.com. "Records of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (Colored), 1863-1865." National Archives, Catalog #577134. "Regimental and Company Books of Civil War Volunteer Union Organizations, compiled 1861 - 1865."