The Stories Behind the Portraits: Dr. Anthony Wayne Rollins – Part 2

George Caleb Bingham, Dr. Anthony Wayne Rollins, (42), 1837

George Caleb Bingham, Dr. Anthony Wayne Rollins, 1837
Oil on canvas, 29 x 24 inches,
Private Collection

Dr. Anthony Wayne Rollins was “a remarkably fine-looking man, near six feet in height, and weighing about two hundred pounds, with a kindly and benevolent disposition, always neat in his dress, and very social, but dignified.”  After studying with Dr. Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia, he returned to Richmond, Kentucky, where he wed Sallie Harris Rodes on April 18, 1811. He may have been a first generation Scotch immigrant, but she was American aristocracy through her Tidewater Virginia roots. The marriage:

“brought great contentment and happiness to the parties. By this marriage there were seven children, of whom only two are now [1882] living—the eldest, the Honorable James S. Rollins, of Columbia, Missouri, and the youngest, Mrs. Sarah H. Burnam, the elegant and accomplished wife of the Honorable Curtis F. Burnam… and present Assistant-Secretary of the United States Treasury.[1]

In the spring of 1830, his eldest daughter, Eliza, having made a marriage engagement with Dr. James H. Bennett, then residing in Columbia, Missouri, and the health of Dr. Rollins failing, he determined to emigrate with his family to Missouri. …His settlement at that early day in the county of Boone was aptly regarded as a great acquisition, not only to the society of the county, but also to Central Missouri…He took great interest in the establishment of schools, in building churches, and in all other enterprises calculated to improve the social and physical condition of the people at that early day. He made large importations from Kentucky and other States, of the best breeds of cattle, horses, and other stock, and agricultural implements, which prior to that time had not been thought of there. He induced men of education and intelligence to come and settle around him—was regarded in fact as a public benefactor, and with his devoted wife dispensed a pleasant and delightful hospitality to all intelligent new comers in this then frontier, and almost wilderness country. Waiving all calls about him to embark in public life…he devoted himself to his farm and to the education of his younger children, spending much of his time in his well-selected library, to reading and reflection.

In his political sentiments, he was always liberal and conservative. A personal and political friend of Henry Clay, he placed him at the head of American statesmen, and being a Whig, endorsed cordially the doctrines of that great party. He acted and voted with it as long as he lived. He had an utter abhorrence of the doctrines of nullification and secession, and his constant prayer was for the perpetuity and glory of the American Union. He was a decided advocate for the establishment and support of a public system of education by the State, so that every son and daughter of the commonwealth should have the advantage of a good common school education. In 1839, when the law was passed by the General Assembly, providing for the location of the State University, although living in a remote part of the county, with no interest near the county seat to be subserved, he was a warm and active advocate for its location at Columbia, and was one of the largest contributors to secure that object. He was subsequently chosen one of its early curators, and aided in laying its foundations, and as far as he could do so making them firm and solid.

His health rapidly failed during the last few years of his life, and he died at Richland, his residence in Boone County, on the 9th day of October 1845, in the sixty-third year of his age. He was buried at the family cemetery with Masonic honors, of which ancient Order he had been a life-long member; but his remains, with those of his affectionate wife, were afterward removed to the Columbia Cemetery, where they now rest. A handsome marble monument, the base surmounted with twin columns, entwined with a beautiful wreath, marks their last resting place, and on it is found this simple and beautiful inscription: “To father and mother, by their grateful and affectionate children.


(c) Fine Art Investigations, 2012
All Rights Reserved


[1] All quotations from L.U. Reavis, Saint Louis: the future great city of the world: with biographical sketches of the representative men and women (C. R. Barns, 1876), page  ~750 – 755 and L.U. Reavis (anonymously), History of Boone County, Missouri (St. Louis: Western Historical Company, 1882), 938-940.

About Patricia Moss

Patricia Moss is an art historian, or art detective if you will, who solves mysteries of 19th century American portraits. She located nearly 70 of Bingham’s lost portraits, a feat acknowledged by the Smithsonian’s Research and Scholar’s Center. From expertise with portraits of George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879), she developed skills that evolved into a comprehensive system based on the scientific method that conforms to the legal and ethical standards of art authentication. Moss served as a guest curator for the Bingham Bicentennial Exhibit, “Steamboats to Steam Engines: George Caleb Bingham’s Missouri: 1819-1879,” (March 10-September 8, 2011) at the Truman Presidential Museum and curated the opening exhibition, “George Caleb Bingham: Witness to History,” (September 2013 –), Jackson County Art Museum, Independence, Missouri. She is also the principal researcher for Fine Art Investigations.
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