Anthony was born on a farm near Mayfield, New York, on June 9, 1824, and was the youngest of five children born to Benjamin and Anna Anthony. His parents were active members of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, and were unwavering advocates of the abolition of chattel slavery. His father died in 1829, leaving the family in somewhat strained circumstances. When George was about nine years old, the family moved to Greenfield, New York, where he attended school during the winter months and worked for the neighboring farmers in the summer. At the age of 16, he entered his uncle’s shop at Union Springs, New York, and served an apprenticeship as a tinner and coppersmith. Here, he worked 14-16 hours daily, which doubtless inculcated those industrious habits that characterized his course through life.
On December 14, 1852, he married Miss Rosa A. Lyon of Medina, New York, and there, he engaged in business as a tinner and dealer in hardware, stoves, etc. Later, he added agricultural implements to his stock. He then moved to New York City, where he engaged in business as a commission merchant until the commencement of the Civil War. At that time, Governor Edwin Morgan selected him as one of a committee to raise and organize troops under the call of July 2, 1862, in the 28th District. Anthony organized the Seventeenth Independent Battery of Light Artillery in four days. He was commissioned as the organization’s captain when it was mustered into the United States service on August 26, 1862. In command of this battery, he served between Washington and Richmond, Virginia, until the close of the war; was attached to the Eighteenth Corps while in the trenches in front of Petersburg; and was with the Twenty-Fourth Corps in the Appomattox Campaign, which ended in the surrender of General Robert E. Lee.
Captain Anthony was mustered out at Richmond, Virginia, on June 12, 1865. Later that year, in November, he moved to Leavenworth, Kansas, where he was editor of the Daily Bulletin and Daily Commercial for nearly three years. He then published the Kansas Farmer for six years. After coming to Kansas, Anthony held several positions of trust and responsibility. In 1867 he was one of the commissioners in charge of the soldiers’ orphans; in December of that year was appointed assistant assessor of United States Internal Revenue; was commissioned collector of Internal Revenue on July 11, 1868; was president of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture for three years, and president of the Board of Centennial Managers in 1876. That year, he was also nominated by the Republican State Convention for the Office of Governor. During the campaign, some of his political enemies charged that he had been guilty of cowardice while serving with his battery in the Army of the Potomac. They insisted on his removal from the ticket. The State Central Committee investigated the charge and refused to remove Anthony, and the committee’s decision was ratified by the people at the election in November when Anthony was elected. Two years later, in the Republican State Convention, he was defeated for a re-nomination.
In 1881 he was made Superintendent of the Mexican Central Railway, a position he held for about two years. In 1884 he was elected to represent Leavenworth County in the State Legislature; was a member of the State Railroad Commission from 1889 to 1893; was the Republican nominee for Congressman at large in 1892 but was defeated by William A. Harris. He was a delegate to the Trans-Mississippi Congress at New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1892; he was appointed Superintendent of Insurance by Governor Edmund Morrill in 1895 and held this office until his death.
As an orator, Governor Anthony was logical and forcible, rarely failing to impress his audience with his intense earnestness. He was often criticized — such is always the case with men of positive natures — but no word was ever whispered against his honor or integrity. The Kansas Historical Society Collections said:
“George T. Anthony’s greatest usefulness to his adopted state was his work while editor of the Kansas Farmer and as president of the Board of Centennial Managers. The pioneer farmers of Kansas were negligent in the management of farm affairs. Corn was about the only crop produced, and at the end of the season, the plow was left in the furrow, and the mowing machine was left in the fence corner, while the livestock were left to shift for themselves. The Kansas Farmer taught diversified farming, economy in management, improvement in livestock, and higher regard for home and social life.”
Governor George T. Anthony suffered from diabetes and passed away on August 5, 1896. He was buried at the Topeka Cemetery. In the meantime, the Kansas Farmer newspaper continued to be published in Topeka until 1919.