A SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF PETER ANDERSON

(Born Peder Andreasen on Falster Island, Denmark)

Peter Anderson, born 18 Feb 1840, was the son of Caroline Vest Pedersen and Andreas Rasmussen. His father was a farmer, a weaver and a fisherman by trade, but the profession he loved was weaving. Carrie Jensen, a granddaughter, has in her possession a book of patterns dated 1828, which is now yellow with age. She also treasures a tablecloth in which he wove "The Lord's Supper". For his own family use in the home in Denmark, he designed a tablecloth with Biblical pictures woven in, a scene for each plate. He so excelled in the art that he wove linens for the King and Queen of Denmark. He was a stern man though, more interested in his weaving than his family.

We know very little about father's [Peter] early life except it was unhappy. When he was twelve years old, his mother died, so he ran away to sea. The Captain's son, lonesome for someone his own age, hid Father behind some whale oil barrels and cautioned him not to let anyone see him until they were well out to sea. Father had attempted to run away twice before, but had been discovered before the ship sailed. The Captain, a good man, had once been a schoolteacher, so he taught the two boys; mathematics was their chief interest. Father was always very studious and eager to learn.

His very first adventure took him to Russia, Norway and England. He often told many thrilling adventures of his "shipping before the mast". At one time he was shipwrecked off the coast of Norway. He followed the life of the sea for seven years. He sailed much of the Baltic and the North Seas, where his Captain traded in Swedish, Norwegian, English and German ports. He went into the interior of Russia for wheat, floating it down the Volga River, but he didn't like Russians. On one occasion, he was gone from his home port a year to the day. In 1858 he ventured upon a fishing expedition. At that time, the fishermen went in small vessels and remained at sea until they finished their catch. On one trip, a large trading vessel signaled the fishing schooner he was on. It happened to be pirates in need of provisions, and two sailors - Father and another young chap - were taken captive. They were informed they would receive nothing in compensation, except the roughest form of treatment; also that when a captive refused to obey orders he was thrown into the sea, hence their need for two sailors. Father was placed under the command of the cook, the most brutal man he ever met. When he never saw his companion again, he knew that his only chance to live and escape was to win the friendship of the cook. This was very difficult and trying, as the cook, in answer to his helpful and friendly advances, would kick or club him and use the most profane language. As often as the cook would knock Father down, he would come up more determined to please him. Once when Father was swabbing the deck, the pirate captain came down to confer with the cook. Pretending indifference, Father listened carefully. The captain informed the cook that piracy on these waters was becoming too restricted, and that the Pacific would be more peaceful, and that perhaps the Chinese waters would be the most lucrative with the least chance of capture. A considerable distance from New York, the pirates dropped anchor to prevent their enforced seamen swimming to shore. The cook was commissioned to take a small sailing vessel to go ashore for supplies. The cook, knowing Father was shrewd at figures, ordered him to go with him. Father was inwardly happy, hoping he could make his getaway. Fortunately, the back door to the store was open, but Father at first stayed close by the cook. As the cook became more involved in his transactions, Father wandered farther and farther about the mammoth warehouse, critically looking at the smoked cod, sifting the beans and rice through his hands, often returning to the cook's side. When his hopes that the cook would get into an argument materialized, Father saw his opportunity to escape. Slipping out the door, he dashed to freedom, turning at the first corner and ran for his life. He was soon lost in the crowded streets, but ran until he reached the farm country. He knew he had out-distanced pursuit, so he knocked on a farmhouse door. As he couldn't speak English and the farmer had no understanding of Danish, the man pointed to a neighbor who did. The neighbor told him that he could shuck corn and rest a few days, and Father accepted. He was always a hard worker, and a willing one. After a few days, the farmer said to him, "You are a good worker. You need clothes and an education. I will fit you out and send you to school with my boys."

This Danish-American family was very kind to him, but he thirsted for the water. The following spring, he found employment as a fresh-water sailor on the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes. He was sailing Lake Michigan when winter set in. It became bitter cold and the water very rough, so his ship docked at Racine, Wisconsin. Father never could be idle and he got employment as a cooper, in a shop several miles inland for the winter. He liked the country, the high wages, and the chance for owner-ship of land, so he wrote to his two younger brothers to come to America. Before he could hear back from them, he contracted a fever and had to leave Wisconsin, so he worked his way on a ship back to Denmark. He reached home to find he had passed his brothers, Christian and Hans, en route. He secured work on the next ship back. On his return to Wisconsin, he met two Mormon missionaries who converted him to their faith. His brothers ridiculed him for sitting up so late studying the new religion. Unable to convert his brothers that winter (1862-63), come spring he decided to work his way west to Utah. From Omaha, he engaged himself as a teamster to a Norwegian family bound for the West. On the plains, a stampede occurred. Their wagon was broken and the oxen were killed in the catastrophe, so Father became a teamster for Grosbeck, a man bound for Springerville, Utah. Father went on to Manti to join his cousin doing carpentry work.

He married Anna Georgine Jorgensen on December 30, 1864. They lived in Manti until the latter part of March when they moved to Salina. While they were there, they experienced many of the dangers, and the horrors of the Black Hawk Indian War. The evening of 13 April 1865, two men were killed in Salina Canyon. One was Barney Ward, an old Indian Scout Hunter, the other a young man from Payson. Father was one of the men sent to recover the mutilated bodies. He made a coffin for West, and Pete Silder made Ward's. They were to be paid in chickens; Father received an old setting hen and her nest of eggs - his first poultry possession. The white men, unused to Indian warfare, followed the redskins up Salina Canyon. The Indians fired from am-bush, killing Orson Karna and a man from Ephraim, and wounding Warren Snow and Fritz Nielson. Nielson was a cousin of Mother's, and was brought to her home for first aid.

Father and Mother lived in a one-room dugout, standing at the mouth of Salina Canyon. The following spring, the friendly old Indian Topaddy, a frequent visitor in our home, came for breakfast. He seemed unusually disgruntled, and Mother became uneasy, fearing that a battle was brewing. The men, always ready for an attack, seeing old Topaddy leave at that inopportune moment on the run for town, followed by 30 or 40 yelling, warpainted Indians emerging from the mouth of the canyon mounted on ponies, assumed that Topaddy was their leader and laid him low. The Indians, in turn, shot at anyone in sight, but due to their speed, their aim was faulty. Only one white man, a sheepherder, was killed a short distance from the mouth of the canyon. The Indians were surprised to have their gunfire returned so they did not massacre the town as they probably had planned, but turned to the herds, across the river, which were guarded by two brothers, Christian and Emil Nielson. Emil saw Christian run toward the river, before he himself was felled by an Indian arrow. Not losing consciousness, he heard one of his attackers yell "Bullet". Another dissented "No, save". They shot several arrows into his body and left him for dead in the brush. His escape and recovery was a miracle. That night he crossed the river in the flood waters up to his neck. Father helped pull one arrow from his neck, another from his arm, and three from his head. He lived, but no trace of his brother was ever found, except a shoe by the river's edge.

Father and Joshua Sylvester were two of the six men sent with the best guns and horses to recover the herds. White men and red maneuvered around the milling herds of cattle all day. Bullets passed through my father's hat, his coat, and one barely marked the skin of his thigh. His gunstock was shot off, and his horse was shot in the shoulder but was not felled. When the whites were finally forced to retreat, Father's horse was shot again, but did not drop dead until that night within a mile of town. During the skirmish, Father saw Chief Black Hawk in the underbrush getting ready to fire. Father slipped from his horse and the bullet burned close to the horse's withers and through Father's hat, cutting off a little of his hair. The guns were slow loading in those days - now it was Father's turn to shoot. He wounded Chief Black Hawk, who never stood straight again. After that, the Indians tried hard to get Father, and he had many narrow escapes, but he seemed to be able to outwit the Indians.

That summer, Father rode express and often stood guard. On one occasion, the Indians were lying for him at the Willow Bend, knowing a message was certain to go through that night. The wild mule he rode scented the Indians at a distance, so mule and rider left the road and skirted the riverbank. The Indians did not give chase until they heard the mule hit the road on the run. The Indians, delayed by their indecision and by being big men on small ponies, were unable to catch him, although they came very close before he reached the safety of Manti. That fall Father was called to build the Birch Flour Mill at Nephi. In September of 1867 they moved to Payson, where he worked to finish the Hancock Flour Mill. The fall of '68, they were called by President Brigham Young to help settle the Muddy. They sold their property, bought a wagon, a yoke of oxen, two cows, a stove, and enough food to last a year. The food was turned in to the tithing office at Payson, to be drawn out at Cedar City. They left in late November, and the trip was hard and cold. Little Hans died of exposure and was buried. Mother was seriously ill and grew steadily worse. President of the State, Erastus Snow, seeing Mother's condition, bade them to settle in Bellevue. Father purchased some lots from Jacob Gates, built a home and established a store. He became an agent for the Deering Company and later for many years was agent for the Consolidated Wagon and Machine Company. He has helped many a poor man get farm implements or a wagon by taking his note. Many times he lost his commission, but he always said that it helped the other man more than it hurt him. When he gave up the agency, the company gave him a buffalo robe in appreciation of his services. He was also agent for the Wrought Iron Range Company. His own stove as well a one other "Home Comfort" is still in use today and is still in good condition.

Father felt that he and his sons could do better with more land, so the moved five miles south to Sandy, later called the Anderson's Ranch, and took up a homestead of one hundred sixty acres. Father realized that with much work, they could make a fine place, so they cleared the land of sagebrush and rocks and built fences. They had to make five miles of canal in order to cultivate the land that they set out into orchards and vineyards. Due to the hot dry summers and lack of water, they went to the Pine Valley Mountains where they raised excellent summer gardens and milked many cows. Father took the surplus cheese and butter and fruit from Bellevue, later from his own ranch, north to buy their winter supplies. He was always a good provider.

He was industrious and progressive. He stocked his ranch with the best cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry. He built a sulfur plant, drying facilities, sheds, tracks and flat cars to care for his surplus fruit and invited others to profit from his industry. He built and owned the first telephone line in this part of the state, a private line between his home and that of his daughter Emma in Toquerville, and for added convenience, he even installed a telephone in his barn. He installed the first water system in the country in his old home. In those pre-refrigeration days, he also ran irrigation ditches the length of his large pantry room, both on the ranch and at Mill Creek. Father had a keen sense of enduring worth. At the time the Silver Reef closed down, he bought two grand pianos, but these as well as a priceless old coffee mill used to grind wheat and corn in winter time when the roads were impassable, hand carved chairs, the first gas lights in this part of the country, all eventually were cast by the women into the "Glory Hole".

He maintained a private road between Anderson's Ranch and Toquerville that was kept in better repair than the public road. He seldom rode, except on Sunday, but walked in advance of his wagon, ever throwing out the stones and improving the road. He owned the first surrey in Washington County. Every Sunday, he brought his family to church in his elaborate surrey, drawn by a span of fine brown horses, "Dick and Dock". When automobiles were placed on the market, he was the first man in the county to own a car, a 1915 model T Ford.

He never idled his time away. Brother John L. Sevy said of him "He did the work of seven men". When he wasn't working hard, he was reading. He was a diligent student of history and the Bible. He delighted in Josephus. Nothing pleased him more than to converse with people from all walks of life. His knowledge of history, the Bible and the news of the day, coupled with his travels with people of the Old World made him a very interesting conversationalist. I have known of his talking far into the night with travelers who called and became so interested that they refused to go to bed. He was as interesting as a fascinating novel. The last eight years of his life were spent in comparative luxury and comfort in one of the most modern homes, attractively designed and built by his son Albert. Father was always very hospitable and welcomed to his home the most weary traveler as well as the well-to-do. When President Harding, Utah's Senator Reed Smoot, and many other government officials visited Zion National Park, their home was the only private home they were entertained in on the entire tour. This was also true of the Princess Ingred and Prince (later King) Gustaf VI Adolph of Sweden. These last few years Father and Mother spent the winters in St. George working on the Temple records.

On January 9th, 1921, Father slipped and fell from a load of straw, cutting his ankle on the doubletree of the wagon. He was taken to St. George and given the best of medical aid and attention, but he died February 15th, and was buried in the St. George Cemetery on his eighty first birthday, February 18th, 1921.

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Copyright 2002 by Anderson Family


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