Saturday, Dec 03, 2022

Andrew “Otto” Andersen

Andrew “Otto” Andersen was born 10 March 1875 in Mendon, Cache, Utah Territory, the second child and first son of Andrew Andersen (Anders Jorgensen) and Sophia Larsen. (Andrew also had a daughter by his first wife.)

Otto was one of the earliest young men in the valley. The following information is paraphrased from the book Bannock Valley by Laurie Ward Call: In late June, 1892, Otto came with his father and brother John into the valley as early as the snows melted.  They came from Cache Valley, Utah traveling in a light covered wagon, pulled by two span of horses and leading two saddle horses, and loaded with provisions and bedding. Their route took them almost to Snowville, up the Blue Creek Valley, then winding north up through Arbon Valley. They camped near a spring where the meadow was rich and green with grass. Father Andrew decided to return to Utah and help his sons, Andrew Otto and John, return to the valley to homestead.  Land in Cache Valley had become scarce and the virgin lands of Arbon (then called Bannock Valley) looked very promising. The only person already there was George Dennis Arbon, located northwest of the land they had staked out.

The father and sons returned to the valley in the spring of 1893. Otto and his brother settled on Bannock Creek, John on the west side and Otto on the east.  “The days that followed were busy ones. With a hand plow they plowed up about fifteen acres. This was planted with wheat and oats. As soon as the plowing and planting was done, they went to Bull Canyon and cut logs for a house on Otto’s place, ¾ mile from John. This log house was twelve by sixteen feet, and was the first house in the valley,” as most others were still living in dugouts or tents. “This cabin had a door in the west and one window in the south. A few boards and poles served as the roof with about a foot of dirt to keep out the weather. A pole corral held the horses. A scythe kept the horses fed with meadow hay. More land was plowed with the walking plow on Otto’s place for spring planting. In the meantime, Otto and John went to Blackfoot to file on this land. John was not old enough yet, so only Otto applied at this time” (Ward, 29).

This original homestead land was right below the first road in and out of the valley, which was called Rocky Ridge. It was hardly more than an Indian trail made wider by the passage of wagons. This road was the way the mail went originally, and the way the farmers took their crops to Malad.

“Come fall with cold nights and short days they both headed back to Mendon, Utah.  Otto went to work for Denver Rio Grand Railroad, working on a tunnel in Parley’s Canyon east of Salt Lake. Otto worked until there was a cave-in in the tunnel. He was injured and spent some time in a nursing home until he could go back to Mendon where he went to work locally for fifty cents for a long day of hard work” (Ward, 30).

Otto married Ane Maretta (“Retta”) Hansen in Logan, Cache, Utah on 25 June 1902.  They were the parents of six children: Clara, 1903, Norma, 1905; Catherine Sophia, 1907; Andrew Otto III, 1908; Harold James, 1910; and Ruth, 1915. Young Andrew Otto died in February 1912 at the age of four after a lengthy illness, and was buried in Mendon, Cache, Utah.

Arbon Valley’s remoteness provided many unique adventures to the homesteaders. After Otto had livestock, he started staying in Arbon through the wintertime to take care of them. One day a disaster was narrowly averted. “One morning when Tom Davis [the postmaster] stopped to water and grain his team, a west blizzard began to blow in all its fury.” Residents of Arbon Valley both then and now know that any blizzard coming from the west is to be respected, even feared. “Otto wanted Mr. Davis to wait a while before he took the trail up the Rocky Ridge” to get the mail in Malad. Mr. Davis “promised that if the blizzard was too bad he would return. There was a lull and Otto looked out and was going to replenish some wood when he saw something up by the grainery. Donning his coat, cap and overshoes, out he went over deep drifts until he reached the grainery. To his surprise there was Mr. Davis about frozen. Otto took him to the house and then went to take care of his team. Mr. Davis always wore a big, long heavy fur coat. It was so full of snow that it took a couple of hours to get [him] out of it and about four days before it could be worn again. This blizzard lasted three days. When it was over, Otto and John with their four horses broke trail to the summit [and] Mr. Davis went on his way. This trip took him five days to get back to the Andersen ranch where he [again] spent the night” (Bannock Valley, p. 30).

According to the Bannock Valley history, “Otto, John, Ezra, and Magnus, along with [their sister] Annie [Pett] lived [in Arbon] most of their
lives” (Ward, 31).

Otto died 19 November 1960 in Pocatello, Idaho, and was buried in Mendon, Cache, Utah.


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

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