In 1859, 47 year old Jonas Anderson arrived in Boulder with his wife and two sons, Fred and Jonas, Jr., from Sweden. An accomplished stone mason, Jonas Sr. settled on 160 acres just south of the fledgling town of Boulder. In 1860 he and Marinus Smith, a neighbor, dug the Anderson Ditch, which diverted water from Boulder Creek at the first possible place after the creek’s plunge down from Boulder Canyon. The ditch wound through the neighborhoods west of Broadway, over University Hill, and past Green Mountain Cemetery.
In the early 1870s, Marinus Smith gave 10 valuable shares of Anderson Ditch water to the fundraising efforts being mounted to convince the territorial legislature to locate the newly planned university in Boulder. Smith and Anderson, and more than 25 citizens, raised the astounding sum of $16,656.66 to bring CU to Boulder in 1876, the same year the territory of Colorado became a state.
Jonas Anderson Sr. bought land close to the foothills and developed a stone quarry. He built many houses in the growing city of Boulder, including two next to each other in the 700 block of Walnut where his sons Fred and Jonas Jr. lived. The Boulder City Herald on July 2, 1890 told of a new depot built in Boulder with stone from the Anderson quarry, so beautiful as to satisfy the “most fastidious cranks of which no city in Colorado can boast of or produce a greater supply.” Jonas Sr. ended his days suffering from cancer that ate away his jaw. He died in 1894 at 82, just months after being declared insane because of senility. Oddly, his son, Jonas Jr. was also senile before he died in 1919, but by then his condition was spared the stigma of madness.
Today only a small number of Anderson Ditch shares remain in private hands. 1/3rd of Anderson water is owned by CU and used to water the campus. Almost 2/3rds of the remaining shares are owned by the City of Boulder.
Jonas Anderson is buried next to the Anderson Ditch in Columbia Cemetery. His headstone was moved a little downhill recently, because it was in danger of falling into the ditch. Written on his headstone is “Company D, 3rd Colorado Cavalry.” Yes indeed, this sweet-looking little old man was one of the participants in the Sand Creek Massacre.