Thursday, Feb 02, 2023

Joseph George Arbon

Joseph George Arbon and Edna Kerr Bailey Arbon

Joseph G. Arbon was born 2 August 1907 in Arbon, Oneida, Idaho. (The part of the valley where Joseph G. was born was not in Power County until 1913.) He was the son of Joseph Nicholas Arbon and Lizzie Davis Arbon, their second child and first son.  He was also the grandson of George Dennis Arbon, for whom the valley was named.

He grew up farming in Arbon Valley with horses and witnessed the rapid transitions to tractors and other automated farm implements.  1928 was a banner year, the year the Arbon family purchased their first gasoline-engine Caterpillar tractor.  Joe G. was careful to see that its various parts and pieces were always well greased. According to those who knew him, he had very few problems with his equipment because of his meticulous care.

Joe was always mechanically inclined. The family’s first car was a Model T Ford.  When his grandfather George Arbon died in 1921, he was only fourteen, but he drove the family in the Nash car all the way from Arbon to Willard, Utah, winding their way over the dirt roads for the burial.

Joe married Edna Kerr Bailey 26 December 1929 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Edna was the tenth child of other Arbon homesteaders, James Bailey and Annie Kerr Bailey.  She was eventually one of thirteen siblings in the family.

Edna was the teacher at the one-roomed, eight graded Valley View school (in the vicinity where the LDS Church is), so they got married over Christmas break. She had taught four terms already and wanted to continue to teach for a while. After the wedding, the new couple spent some time sightseeing in Salt Lake City, and returned to Arbon in – of course – a raging blizzard.  As planned, Edna moved in to her in-laws’ home, which was handy because their home was right up the road from the school. Edna and Joe shared the home with Joe’s parents for about ten years, until the parents bought a home in Pocatello.

Joe and Edna became the parents of Ronald (1932), Robert (1940), and JoAnn (1946). As was customary for the times, Ronald’s birth ended Edna’s teaching career.

Married life did not start out smoothly.  The Great Depression was looming and hit the farmers first, and the hardest. Crops were poor and prices were low. The Citizen’s Bank in Pocatello went belly-up, and the young couple lost almost a thousand dollars they had saved.

The Depression years were followed by the war years.  Many Arbon men went to war, despite the exemptions for farmers (among these were neighbor boys, Harold Arbon and Paul Payne, who were in the Air Force). Prices improved and crops were actually good, but hired men needed to harvest the abundant crops were hard to come by. Edna learned to drive the tractor during harvest and she worked as hard as her husband.

They loved Arbon and especially enjoyed working with Joe’s father, Joseph Nicholas. Father Joseph passed away in 1972, two days short of his ninety-seventh birthday; he was greatly missed by his family and neighbors.

In the meantime Joe started having health problems, especially in his foot from when he had an accident falling from a ladder in 1971. He had broken the bone between his heel and ankle which never healed properly and made movement very painful. In addition, Edna started having heart problems.

Joe and Edna lived at their Arbon Valley ranch until May 1974. With mixed feelings, they decided it was time to sell the Arbon property, and Richard Bermister became the new owner.  They moved permanently to their winter home in Pocatello, where they enjoyed a large garden and many grandchildren and, eventually, great-grandchildren.

Joseph G. passed away at age ninety-two on 27 January 2000.  Edna died that same year, in August. They were interred in Pocatello at Mountainview Cemetery.


Call, Laurie Jean, Bannock Valley (Providence, Utah: Keith Watkins and Sons, 1982).

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