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Andrew Theodore Anderson, Lover Of Nature


Tim Somerville

Sixth Grade

February 20, 1899, was a very cold day. Blizzard conditions were present in the Red River Valley. In a small shed that leaked snow, where there was only room for a stove, bed, and table, Andrew Anderson was born.

Andrew was the son of Anders and Anna Anderson, who were immigrants from Europe. He was the first child born in the family. As the years passed, he was blessed with four brothers and two sisters.

In the year 1900, the Andersons built their house. This is the same house that Andrew is still living in. The house has been added on to and remodeled several times to accommodate their needs as the years went by.

Andrew grew up as most young boys in those days. He attended school at the Grampion School, which was located where the Humboldt sanitary landfill is now located.

Andrew knows that his education was not as complicated as it is today. He maintains that education is good if it is used for the right things. He claims that education should be used for the benefit of mankind, such as, medicine and inventions that will bring a better way of life for people, instead of bringing about confusion and unrest to the world. The school was a typical one room schoolhouse to which Andrew walked three miles every day. In the winter, he sometimes took horses. They never worried about the weather in those days, because the horses would always find the way home, blizzard or not.

Andrew attended this school until he reached the eighth grade. By this time, Andrew being the oldest, had the responsibilities of the farm, since his father had passed away. This was a big burden for a young boy, but Andrew labored each and every day working to support and raise his brothers and sisters.

Each morning, before breakfast, they would milk ten cows for their milk and cream products. From the milking process, which was done by hand, he would leave for the fields to labor at getting the fields ready for planting. He did this with a gang of ten horses. The horses would pull the harrows and the plows that worked the ground. This was very hard work. It was hard on the man following the horses, and it was equally hard on the horses.

When the field work was finished each day, it did not mean that the day's work was done. When Andrew got home in the evening, he had to milk cows and take care of the other livestock. After this was done, he usually had other chores with one hundred fifty sheep, about 23 horses, hogs, and chickens and 35 head of cattle.

Finally, he went into the house for supper and a short evening of being with the family before retiring for the night for a few hours of rest. He had to get up early in the morning to begin another day.

Andrew's younger days were not all work. He always found time for relaxing and having fun. Sometimes neighbors would get together to play their instruments. Andrew played the fiddle which he really enjoyed.

Another pastime was playing baseball. Friends and neighbors would often get together for a hearty game.

Andrew also enjoyed just walking in the fields and observing the wildlife there. He was always very interested in the habits of the small creatures that lived on the prairie.

Andrew's hobbies included making tools that would make his work easier. He invented devices that made better use of the plows and other machinery.

Andrew took sick in the early '20's and was told he would never be able to work again because of the condition his heart was in. During this time, he attended the Crookston Technical School for two years.

The school heads soon discovered that Andrew was a very good blacksmith. Since it was during the First World War, and teachers were hard to find, Andrew was asked to teach other students in the art of the blacksmith. Along with his regular studies, he was kept pretty busy.

After completing school here, he once again returned home where he simply took up where he had left off. He was healthy and strong once more, and he has been working hard all these years.

One of Andrew's greatest moments in life was when he bought a tractor in 1915 to use for field work instead of horses. He remembers, with much gratitude and accomplishment, when he could retire the horses. It always was a burden for him to make the horses do the work for man.

He also recalls when he got his first car. This was in 1917. He bought a Ford which had steel spoked wheels. It clanked and rattled, and he often wondered it it was going to fall apart.

He has fond memories of his first airplane ride in the 1930's at the Hallock Fair. It was about a five minute ride which was very bumpy. The plane was a simple double wing type which made him wonder whether or not he would get back on the ground safely.

On November 28th, 1935, Andrew met and married Ardis Alseth. They had three children; one boy and two girls. He raised his children in the same house that he was raised in. A few years ago Andrew turned the farm over to his son, who is presently running it.

The depression years were discouraging and a hard time for everyone. They lived from hand to mouth for five or six years, wondering if it would ever get better. Times were hard and the depression took its toll of many farmers who just couldn't keep going. It was at this time that many neighbors left this area for other work. There were many small farms here which are now one large farm.

Andrew was one of the more fortunate farmers. He managed to make ends meet and kept going until times were better for them. He looks back on these times as times of learning and growing in his life.

Andrew and his family always attended church at the North Star Church. They went there because it was the oldest church. He recalls his first Sunday School teacher as being John Turner's mother. In the winter, they put jugs of real hot water in the sleigh to put their feet on to keep warm while going to and from church and other places. They would dress real warm and wrap in blankets.

They got electricity during the depression when they had their own plant for producing it. They have enjoyed this luxury for many years.

They preserved all their own food by smoking the meat and drying it. Most of the meat was canned, because no one had heard of freezing anything yet. They raised all of their own vegetables and canned them. Andrew would take his wheat in to the mill and have it ground into flour.

He raised all his own beef, pork, and poultry. He would use his own cream to churn butter. The only thing they ever bought was sugar and salt.

When it came harvest time, he used a machine called a binder. This machine would cut and tie the grain. Then, they would go along and pick the bundles of grain up and put about ten or twelve of them in a shock with the heads up[ so they would dry. After the grain dried, they could thresh it.

He had only three hundred and twenty acres, but it took so much longer to accomplish the necessary work, that this was all he could handle.

When it was time to sell the grain, he would pout it in bags with his name on them. He would haul these to Humboldt to the elevator, where the railroad was. From there, the bags of grain were shipped to the proper destination. The bags were bundled and returned to the farmers for re-use. After a week or two, they would receive the grain checks in the mail.

After nearly 76 years, you can still see Andrew, in the fall of the year, getting up early and mounting a tractor for a day of plowing. A day's work on the tractor is much different now than when he first began. Now, he rides in the comfort of an air-conditioned cab with a radio and heater, when needed.

Andrew has a great concern for his fellow man. He wants to be able to help a friend or neighbor out when they need it. He would like to be of help to young people, to show them how to deal with living things, how to enjoy the land and leave nature in good shape for the people who are left after he is gone.


Anderson, Andrew, St.Vincent, Minnesota, Interview, February 2, 1975