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George Daniels Sr.

George Daniels was born 23 July 1875 in Malad, Oneida, Idaho, the son of Thomas and Jeannett Thomas Dives Daniels. His father was a widower with five living children when he married Jeannett, who was a widow with six children (five living).  Together Thomas and Jeannett had eight more children. So George grew up in a large family with eighteen full and half siblings. The family was so close and harmonious that two of Thomas’s sons married two of Jeannett’s daughters. George would later explain with typical humor, “When anyone asks me who my sister Gertrude married, I tell them she married my brother Dave, and my sister Sarah married my brother Tom.” (Both Dave and Tom became Arbon homesteaders).

George learned as a young man to always give the Indians whatever they wanted. He never forgot that he was once chased around the kitchen table by an angry Indian man brandishing a butcher knife while his mother was absent and he was charged with taking care of his younger sisters. This was a story he related often.

At age seventeen George, along with two companions from Malad, herded a large horse band to Butte, Montana to sell in that mining district where horse flesh was getting premium payments at the time. This trip was not without excitement. One of the first nights out, they bedded down in a farmer’s field, close to the town of Blackfoot when a train went by, blowing its piercing whistle and stampeding the horses. The young cowboys were not able to catch up to them for twenty miles, not until the horses had run back south of Pocatello. Another time, George’s horse shied at a snake and knocked him into a barbed wire fence, badly cutting his leg. One of the other boys herding horses was a doctor’s son, so they felt that was good enough qualifications. The doctor’s son wrapped up George’s wounds and he continued to carry on his end of the venture. The trip took over two months. Finally in Butte, they were able to sell the horses for $80 a head, a very good price for that time. The only horse George wasn’t able to sell, he traded for a gold watch which he kept the rest of his life.

George had his share of accidents throughout his life. One Fourth of July he crawled through a fence and his gun went off, shooting himself in the leg. For a while the doctor thought he would have to amputate it.  George was friends with many Indians, and they recommended using sage tea to heal his infected leg, and it worked. Another time, George jumped into a pig pen to fix a trough when he landed on a board with a nail sticking up out of it. People helping him had to pound the nail out of his foot with a hammer. George was laid up for the whole summer while his foot healed.

George, along with his older half-brothers Dave and John (“Donum”), settled in the Bannock Valley in the area known as West Fork. George lived in a one-room cabin close to the West Fork spring where the water bubbles up, creating a small pond, at the foot of what came to be known as George’s Mountain.

While living at American Falls, George helped his older brother Dave, feeding cattle through the winters in the Snake River bottoms (before the dam was built).  While there he met a school teacher who also had connections with Arbon: Miss Mary May Bolingbroke, daughter of another Arbon homesteader, Charles Edward Bolingbroke and Margaret Roberts Bolingbroke.  George and Mary were married 27 January 1897 at Malad when George was twenty-one and Mary was twenty.

The couple had eight children together, six of whom lived past infancy. The couple’s first child, Estella, was born in 1897.  Their second child, Leon, was born in January 1899, but passed away in May of that same year. George Jr. was born in August 1900; Ethel, 1903; Merle Elizabeth, 1906; Lorin Bolingbroke, December 1908; Margaret Orlean, 1911; and finally a baby girl in August 1921 who died the same day.  Four days later, Mary died of complications of the birth at age forty-four on 22 August 1921 in Malad. George was lost and heart-broken. Six years later, in November 1927, George tied the knot again with Emeline Ann Mecham Evans, a widow with seven children.  George shouldered full responsibility to rear and educate this second family.

Later on, George sold his ranch in Arbon Valley and filed on ground in what came to be known as the Daniels area, north and west of Malad. The family spent their summers in Daniels, while winters were spent in Malad so the children could attend school.

Emeline died in February, 1963 at age seventy-six.  Even though George was twelve years older than she was, he outlived her by fifteen more years.

George was known for his affability – in his later years, to everyone he was known as Uncle George or Grandpa George. He always kept peppermints in his pockets to share with others, especially children. When he turned 100, he was excited to visit with and be feted by relatives and neighbors, even though he was hard of hearing. Death came after only three days of serious sickness. When he died at the Oneida County Nursing Home in Malad, George was Oneida County’s oldest residence at age 102 – in the same town where he had been born over a century earlier. He lived in remarkable times – from the age of homesteading on the frontier, with cowboys and Indians, to the jet age.

Sources:

Ward, Laurie Jean, Bannock Valley (Providence, Utah; Keith Watkins and Sons, 1982).

https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/KWZ3-1SJ

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/57083564/george-daniels

The links above will lead to links for other family members.