From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Eilers v Eilers [Anna F. Anderson]

In September 1964, eight months after Anna F. Eilers married Marshall C. Anderson, the courts took her five children away.

Anna, who was white, was from New Haven, KY. She had divorced her previous husband and father of the children, George Eilers, in 1963. Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Lyndon R. Schmid had awarded custody of the children to Anna.

In January 1964, Anna and Marshall C. Anderson, an African American musician and restaurant employee, were married in Chicago, IL. [Marriages between the races were still illegal in Kentucky and 17 other states.] When they returned to Louisville, KY, the couple lost their jobs in retaliation for their marriage. George Eilers sued to have the children taken away from Anna, and Judge Schmid had the children placed in a children's institutional home. Anna and Marshall moved to Indianapolis, IN, in 1964, by which time the two oldest children had been placed in foster homes.

Prior to their move, the Andersons had retained Attorney James Crumlin of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. to help regain custody of the children. During this same time period, the Virginia Supreme Court had upheld the state's anti-miscegenation law in the Richard and Mildred Loving case [NY Times article].

The Andersons' custody case went to the Kentucky Court of Appeals in 1966, where the Appellate Court upheld the ruling of the Jefferson County Circuit Court. The case was next taken to the federal court, where it became national news; it was the first appeal to the federal courts on constitutional grounds for child custody.

The Andersons' case was temporarily linked to the Lovings' case, which was pending in the federal courts, and the results were expected to be landmark decisions. The link was broken when District Judge Henry L. Brooks declined to take jurisdiction over the Andersons' case because it was determined that the mother had not exhausted her appeals in the Kentucky courts, and the indirectness of the attack on the Kentucky miscegenation laws was a weakness of the case; therefore, there was no federal question.

For a third time, the Anderson case was brought before the Kentucky Court of Appeals. The court reversed the judgment for proceedings consistent with the opinion. "No reason appears which would warrant interference with the custody order from which this appeal was taken. That order shall remain in effect until further order of the trial court or any court of competent jurisdiction."

For more see F. Ward, "Mixed couple suffers ordeal," Jet, 4/07/1966, pp. 46-49, and "Mixed couple losses custody bid," Jet, 10/27/1966, p. 15 [both articles available full-text at Google Books]; B. A. Franklin's articles in the New York Times: "Kentucky facing race custody suit," 3/25/1966, p. 29, and "Judge bars case of miscegenation," 6/26/1966, p. 30; "N.A.A.C.P. to fight ruling on custody," New York Times, 7/08/1966, p. 12;  Anna Frances Eilers (now Anna Anderson), Appellant, v. George F. Eilers, Appellee, Court of Appeals of Kentucky, 412 S.W.2d 871: 1967 Ky, March 17, 1967; and Eilers v. Eilers 412 S.W.2d 871 (Ky. Ct. App. 1967).

Marshall Carlisle Anderson, born February 20, 1938 in Louisville, KY, was the son of Lonnie L. Anderson and Marshall T. Carter. He died February 24, 2002. [Source: U.S. Social Security Applications and Index].

Anna Frances Spalding Eilers Anderson, born November 16, 1928, in Nelson County, KY, was the daughter of James W. and Imelda A. Spalding. She died January 16, 1975 in Louisville, KY and is buried in the New Haven Cemetery in Nelson County. [Sources: Find a Grave; and Kentucky Death Index].

George F. Eilers, born February 18, 1919 in Louisville, KY, was the son of Joseph E. and Anna Mary Eilers. He died December 22, 1991 in Louisville, KY, and is buried in the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery. [Sources: U.S. Social Security Death Index; and U.S. Veterans' Gravesites].

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Nelson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about New Haven, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Crumlin, James A., Sr.
NKAA Source: The New York times (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Anna Frances Eilers (now Anna Anderson), Appellant, v. George F. Eilers, Appellee

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Eilers v Eilers [Anna F. Anderson],” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed October 25, 2020,

Last modified: 2020-10-07 17:11:45