Absalom Eltinge Anderson (1856-1914)

Absalom Eltinge Anderson.

Portrait of A. Eltinge Anderson in formalwear, undated. Donald C. Ringwald Collection, Hudson River Maritime Museum.

One of the middle Anderson children, Absalom Eltinge Anderson, or A. Eltinge Anderson, or just Eltinge, as he was known, was born on January 11, 1856 in Saugerties, NY. Although not his father’s chosen successor, Eltinge was also interested in steamboats, and in the spring of 1874, at age 18, he joined the crew of the Mary Powell as steward.

In 1883, with the death of his older brother Jansen, Eltinge moved up from steward to purser, a position he held until 1885, when his father Absalom Lent Anderson retired as captain of the Mary Powell. The following spring, in 1886, A. Eltinge Anderson gained a controlling interest in the Mary Powell Steamboat Company, and took up his father’s mantle as captain of the Mary Powell.

In 1883, Eltinge and his wife Fanny welcomed a son, who they named Absalom Lent Anderson, in honor of his grandfather. Unfortunately, like several of his aunts and uncles, little Absalom Lent did not survive childhood. He died on December 31, 1890 of unknown causes. Eltinge and Fanny had no other children.

Eltinge remained captain of the Mary Powell for even longer than his father, continuing the Anderson family legacy of remarkable service. As popular as his father and older brother, Eltinge Anderson took the Mary Powell into the 20th century, and oversaw a number of improvements, including the installation of electric lighting during his first season.

Even when the Mary Powell was purchased by the Hudson River Day Line in 1902, Eltinge Anderson remained on as captain. Like his father before him, the Mary Powell had made him wealthy. He maintained the family estate in Port Ewen, owned an automobile with chauffer that drove him down to the steamboat landing each day, and vacationed at his winter home Palm Beach, Florida.

Older A. Eltinge Anderson.

A. Eltinge Anderson on the deck of the Mary Powell in his captain’s hat and uniform. This photo is undated but is clearly from late in his career, given his white mustache. Donald C. Ringwald Collection, Hudson River Maritime Museum.

Eltinge Anderson died unexpectedly on April 14, 1914 of apoplexy. The evening before he had captained a moonlight cruise aboard the Mary Powell. With his death, the tenure of the Anderson family aboard the Mary Powell came to an end, with nearly 50 years of service between them.

Staffing the Mary Powell
Absalom Eltinge Anderson (1856-1914)