Life History of Donald N. Anderson
November 18, 1995, Donald N. Anderson was sitting in his
favorite brown recliner in front of the television. The sun was shining through the window. He shared some memories about his life with his
oldest daughter Arvella Anderson Jenkins that are recorded below.
I was born in
My mother, Mary Wilson Anderson, was a small woman. When she got right heavy she weighed about 115 pounds. She was born in
Southern Utah. Her Aunt Annie Coleman and Uncle Alexander
lived in the area and she came to work in the store at Thomas. The country store had mostly groceries but
like most of the country stores of the day they probably had a few other
things. My dad went a courting with her
and they were married in 1908 in the . Manti
My father, Neils Anderson, came to
first came to Andersons ,
they bought 160 acres. The first year
they had quite a time because there wasn’t much hay in the country. They had to pay about forty dollars a
ton. It was when a dollar was a
dollar. What little hay they had, they
put netting around it. They would open a
hole to use it. The jackrabbits were so
thick that they would get in the wire enclosure and the next morning they would
kill the rabbits. They killed about 50
every day. They had to work on the
My grandfather’s name was Anders Anderson. That is a Swedish name. He came to
Grandfather was a big man. He was 6 foot or better. He worked hard in
The missionaries in
left a tract at
Grandfather’s and Grandmother’s homes.
Grandfather read it and he was later baptized. Grandmother was baptized at the same time. Sweden
I didn’t go to my grandparent’s house too often but just once in awhile. If you stayed there too long, Grandmother sent you back home. She had everything immaculate and I guess she thought our mothers should take care of us not her. Grandfather used to walk around and see his grandchildren. He generally had some peppermint candy to give us. I remember that very well. When we went to see grandma, she always had a little cube of sugar and some soda crackers with cheese to give you so that was pretty good.
When I was a young boy, mother had a five-pound lard bucket and we had a well 200 feet from the house. We had a reservoir on the stove and I had to go out and pump the water up. It took several strokes before the water would come out of the hand pump. I had to keep the reservoir full. We had a trough to water the cattle. I had to pump water for that too. They kept me busy because I was the oldest living child. We had a little wagon and I had to take my little brother, George, and my sister, Ingrid, and pull them around and entertain them. I wasn’t in trouble very often. I had something to do all the time.
We only had 5 or 6 cows at first. As soon as I got big enough that I could get some milk out of them, I started milking those cows. Dad did the milking most of the time, but he had a job as sexton of the Riverside Thomas Cemetery District. Sometimes he would have to go dig a grave. He was also a water master. Sometimes when he wouldn’t get home, mother would go out and help us milk the cows.
Father always had a pretty big garden. We had all kinds of vegetables and then he had quite a large orchard and then he had raspberries. That kept us busy when we didn’t have anything else to do. He had about 6 rows of raspberries and they had to be picked about every other day. There were always those weeds that came in the garden. We tried to keep them down. In the early spring, we had to spray the apple trees. He had all kinds and varieties. In the fall, when the apples got ripe, we had to pick them and put them in the room in the basement. There was a bin that must have held about a hundred-bushel. We sold apples to the community for about 50 cents a bushel. That was how we got a few extra dollars. There was a man in the community who sold out. Father bought a cider press from him. When there was a surplus of apples, we got to grind the apples up. One year we made two of those 60 gallon barrels full of cider. Father and mother put what they called “mother” in that cider and it turned to vinegar. It was really strong stuff. That was another thing we had on our farm.
My father did not believe in wasting anything. We got a few tin cans around so we had to beat them up flat and then put them between the rows of raspberries. That was to give the raspberries the iron they needed. We didn’t waste anything.
When I first went to school, we didn’t have any electricity. We had the good ole coal oil lamp. Father would have to trim the wick and keep kerosene on hand to fill up the lamp. You’d take a newspaper to put in the glass to clean it. Along about 1920, father paid about $600 to get the electricity from the corner to our home. He worked part of that out by cutting the trees off so the trees wouldn’t get onto the electric line. At first all that we had was one of those drop switches from the ceiling. It seemed really good to have light.
Mother used to boil the clothes and then she would use the old scrubbing board to get the dirt out. Later, we got one of those washing machines that had a stick you pulled back and forth to keep the agitator moving. In those days you didn’t have a dress for everyday. You wore your clothes about all week or maybe longer. My job was to fill the boiler, a big container they put on the stove to heat the water, with water. Mother made her own soap. She saved all the fat from the meat and put lye with it and made the soap. She cut it into bars and used her own soap to wash with. Sometimes, I would help boil the clothes and then mother would rub them out on the washboard. When we got the washing machine, I had to run the handle back and forth. I got a good work out on that. Mother would generally run the clothes through cold water and then run them through bluing. We had the outdoor clotheslines so we had to go outside and hang the clothes up.
day was a big
day. When there were small children, we
must have had to wash at least twice a week so we would have enough diapers. Wash
When you wanted to take baths, you got the good old tin tub and heated the water on the stove and put it in there. If you were too big you sat on a chair and bathed yourself off.
I went to District 12 to school. I started when I was six years old. They had just built on to the building before I went there. It was just a quarter of a mile from where I lived. In those days, I don’t know if there weren’t enough clocks in the community or not. But there was a bell on the school building that rang at . You were supposed to get there by .
Mother made bread. During World War I, we had to take substitutes. You could only get so much flour and then for the rest of it we would get corn meal. Mother wasn’t very good at making that up. Then we had salt pork. Father would kill the hogs and then he made very delicious ground up pork. He would take the hams and shoulders and soak them in salt for six weeks. We would then take them out of the salt and hang them up and smoke them for two or three days. We had meat all of the time but it was pretty salty meat. During the depression, generally we had all we could eat. We always had plenty of milk. We had beans and what we could grow in the garden. We had raspberries and apples. Maybe if you happened to go to the store you could have a banana or an orange at Christmas time. The other times you ate just what you had.
Father went on a short term mission in the fall of 1930. At that time, we didn’t have very much. The ward helped to finance part of his mission and then we milked the cows and that helped some. We had 800 or 900 sacks of potatoes and we sorted part of them up and sold them. We were pretty lucky that year; we sold all of the crops.
Then in 1935, they called me to go on a mission to
. I had quite a time to find out where that
was. I was 24 when I went on my
mission. Everything about Tonga was
pretty nice. You had all the fruit you
could eat and plenty of fish. The people
were very friendly. Tonga is called
the Tonga Friendly Islands. The Tongan language was hard for me to
learn. I got so I could take care of
myself. I didn’t convert too many people
to the gospel, I don’t know as I converted anybody. I converted myself. I learned a lot. I liked bananas to eat while we were in . I still like them. It wasn’t too big a job for my family to
support me while I was in Tonga . Mother wrote a letter to me every week and
she put $5.00 in the letter. When I came
home, I had about $200 to bring back with me.
That’s the cheapest mission in the world. The members took care of us and we lived off
the land. Tonga
When I got home from my mission, I went into farming again. I helped my dad some and then he bought a place for me. It took a lot of work to get that farm going. The first year, we made it so we could farm the land down below the hill. The next year father and my brothers plowed up the sagebrush on the top part and we stacked it up and burned it. I was pretty lucky because the weather was about right and I raised some pretty good crops.
Father was the architect for the barn. I just helped put a few boards on it. I took the equipment from Father’s farm and used it over there. We had an old M tractor that did most of the plowing. Russell came over there and put the old rooter in there and brought a lot of lava rocks up. We spent two or three weeks just hauling lava rock off from it. There was a place or two where the lava rocks were too close and we couldn’t plow over it so father dynamited those places off. We had some big rocks they took out with a bull dozer and father and I drilled holes in them and put dynamite in them and blew them to pieces. Then I had to haul them off. There was a rock assessment at the time. You could either pay so much money, or haul so many rocks to the river. Some of the neighbors around here came and got rocks and hauled them to the river. They needed the rocks in the river to dam it off so that when the river got low they could get the water out in the canals. The neighbors were glad I had rocks.
I took Mother down to
to see her Aunt Annie. She was running a boarding place down
there. Leona’s father and mother came
along and were trying to find a place to stay.
Aunt Annie had an opening so she let them stay there that night. Leo was there with Leona. They had gone down to the Logan . We went to the show and that was where I
first got acquainted with Leona. I went
down to Declo every two weeks and then World War II came along. I thought maybe I had better get married and
so we got married a month after Logan Temple Pearl Harbor. We drove to . The weather was terrible. We were married in the Salt Lake on Salt Lake Temple January 7, 1942.
I heard that a neighboring 80-acre farm was for sale. Leona and I had saved up quite a lot of money and we were going to build a house over on the farm that we had. Instead we decided to buy the farm so we did it. We paid around $28,000 for it in 1949. The new farm had longer water runs and so I could sleep at night a little more. Wallace, my brother, lived across the street. It made it nicer for the children to go to school. When they went to school there were quite a lot of children that got on the bus here between our kids and Wallaces’. My brothers and I did quite a bit to help each other. It was a lot of work to get all the farm work done. My brothers would help me for awhile and then I would go back to their place and help them so we got it done. Then we had cows to milk, morning and night, feed calves, and some pigs to feed. There wasn’t much time to lay around and to goof off.
I had a roan cow and she was kind of squirmy. I thought that maybe by hitting her in the side she would stop squirming. Instead she whammed off and broke both of the bones in my leg. They had to put a metal plate in it. I couldn’t be on it 3 or 6 months. I can’t remember for sure how long it was but that’s what you get for losing your temper with a cow.
In the spring of 1965, I had a two-way plow on an International Super-M tractor. I was pulling it and I came to a place in the field where I had white soil. I went to go through the spot. The tractor wouldn’t go through it so I had to stop. I revved up the engine and tried to go through it again. All of a sudden, the tractor rared up like you see pictures of horses when they ride them. It tipped over backwards. I do not know where I lit. The tractor must have got up on the plow or I would have been smashed. I don’t know how long I was under there. Mrs. Larson, a neighbor, saw the tractor was stopped and so she got her husband and Vic Cushman. They used Forrest’s jack and got me out from under the tractor. I woke up about the time we got to the river bridge. Dr. Miller set my arm. I had to stay in the hospital for awhile. It was about 3 weeks before I got over it. I always live dangerously.
One night I was trying to get the cows in the barn. I was trying to see who the boss was, me or the bull. He hit me in the middle of my body. He rolled me over a couple of times until I got back in the barn. I was bruised and battered but I didn’t go to the doctor. The bull could have trampled me to death. I got up and finished milking because the milking had to be done. I probably didn’t tell Leona because I was afraid she would faint.
I started driving the school bus when I was 52 years old. My son Neils talked me into driving school bus. I tried it out and I made it through that. They put me out in the backwoods I guess you could call it. It was out in the desert. At first I had quite a time remembering the route. Winfield wasn’t very old. I think he was about 3 or 4 so I took him along so he could tell me where I was. I finally got so I could master my route. I got to know almost every road in the school district. I did a lot of driving. When I was 72, they thought I was too old to drive any more so that finished my bus-driving job.
In 1986, I had another bullfight again as Leona calls it. I was walking in a manure pile carrying a stick and the bull charged me from behind and knocked me down. Luckily I was able to roll under a pole fence that we had in the farmyard. It must have cracked a rib.
I can’t say that I always wanted to be a farmer. Father was brought up in those circumstances. He thought it was a good way to raise a family and still be able to do the things he wanted to do.
Excerpts from the history written by Arvella Anderson Jenkins.
Leona Hurst Anderson and Donald N Anderson