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George Lionel Andersen

George Lionel Andersen was born in Mendon, Cache, Utah on 22 February 1887 to Andrew Andersen (Anders Jorgensen) and Sophia Larsen, as the couple’s seventh child.  His father, sister, and brothers had previously homesteaded in Arbon Valley.  When he came of age, he also took up homesteading near his family, filing on a quarter section north of his oldest sister Catherine Sophia.  

The following is from George’s personal history: “I went on my first trip out of Cache Valley with my brother John on our way to Bannock Valley (Arbon) when I was seven…We made it to Pocatello Valley the first day and then on to Bannock Valley the next day. We did not see anyone all day, just open country and today I think every foot of this ground is farmed.”

George continued relating his unique experiences in Arbon Valley when he was still a boy: “We raised some horses and quite a large number of cattle. We had not been able to raise enough hay to feed them through the winter so we had to drive them back to Utah to feed them in the fall and then [went] back to the ranch in the spring. Somehow, I went along every spring. Then they [his father and brothers] got into the sheep business and I fell into a steady job from early spring until fall.  When I went to school, my brothers would change off several times during the summer but I was a permanent fixture all summer, and as I look back at the things I did for the short time we had sheep, it seems like I was alone a good part of the time. Sometimes I didn’t see anyone for as long as two weeks. The sheep used to feed at night and when it would get warm in the daytime they would stay in the shade. I had a real good saddle horse and a burro to carry my bed and gear. We had to stay with the sheep at night to protect them from wild animals, but in the daytime I would ride my pony up to the different mountain peaks or look for a good place for the sheep to graze. I always got back to the sheep before they started to move in the evening. Whenever I go through that country now either in a car or by plane, I see the mountains and valleys where I spent my younger days.”

Later the family sold the sheep. “I [then] spent the summers at the ranch looking after the horses and cattle while the other boys were shearing sheep. I worked one season at the shearing corral when it was located on Dairy Creek, just over the mountain from the ranch. There was about forty-five shearers and [they] used to shear as many as 5,000 sheep in one day.” This was before electricity, and the sheep were shorn by hand clippers.

At other times, when George was staying at the ranch, “most all the time alone, I broke horses to ride. Most of the time it was bareback as I didn’t have a saddle so I used to get thrown off many times, but I never was seriously injured.”

Cash and jobs were hard to come by. “It was hard to find a job in those days as there was no industries of any kind except farming and ranching. Farmers were mostly young people just starting out on their homesteads and we used to help each other especially at harvest time. There was no large farm operations as there is today and there wasn’t very much money. I used to work for some of the farmers helping them when the threshing machine came to their farm and the wages were two bushels of wheat a day; some days I took home two bushels of wheat but more often it was one or one and a half bushel a day and I believe most of the wheat I earned was taken to the grist mill or fed to the chickens or pigs we owned at that time. Wheat was worth thirty or thirty-four cents per bushel but when we realized Mother would bake at least forty to fifty loaves of bread with the flour from one bushel, maybe the wages I received were not as small as they seemed to be.”

George was called on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Not feeling prepared, he enrolled in a short six-week missionary course at Brigham Young College (located in Logan, Utah), and was then assigned to the Central States Mission.  Missions at that time were three years, and he wasn’t sure if a homestead he had filed on would still be there, unclaimed, when he returned.  He was happy to find that both his homestead and his girlfriend were waiting for him. He completed his homestead claim in June 1912.

After receiving his mission call but before leaving for his mission, George had met his future wife at the baseball game in Cache Valley. George married Elizabeth (“Beth”) Shelton (1886-1962) in 1910 in Logan, Cache, Utah. They became the parents of four children.  George Lionel Jr. was born in 1912, twins Cleve and Cleo Shelton in 1916, and Don Shelton in 1922. 

Eventually George sold his land to his brothers and moved to Malad, Idaho, where they lived for the next thirty years. He worked for the lumber company and later the grain company, and later worked for the government coordinating the Japanese internment camp in Idaho. He spoke very highly of the Japanese-American people who were interred. As his children reached adulthood, they relocated on the West Coast. He and Beth eventually moved to Los Angeles, California, where Beth died in 1962, and he died in 1981. Both were buried in Inglewood, Los Angeles, California.

Sources:

Call, Laurie Jean; Bannock Valley (Providence, Utah: Keith Watkins and Sons, 1989).

Andersen, George L., “Life Story of George L. Andersen” available online at https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/KWZC-31V .

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/147852038/george-lionel-andersen

The links provided here will lead to information on other family members.