Author: William Hanna


“Old Joe Anderson, Greenville, Once slave of C. H. McC.” (1885)

In this interview of Joe Anderson, included in the pamphlet called, “Notes On a Virginia Trip,” written by William J. Hanna, Anderson describes his relationship with the McCormick family and the role he played in the development of the McCormick reaper, which heralded the rise of industrial agriculture. Anderson was enslaved by Cyrus McCormick, who was a friend of Hanna and a sales manager at McCormick’s Chicago office. Those ties surely shaped what Anderson felt he should say or could say, safely. In 1885, Hanna wrote this collection of interviews with people who remembered the early days of the mechanical reaper. He never published them and they only survive in manuscript. Hanna, included comments in his transcription of the interview. His bracketed comments have been included below.