James and Hannah Matilda Cheney Anderson
Contributor: irvineguardie Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago
(Archibald Anderson History Book)
Written by Emel L Anderson
James Anderson was born the ninth child in a family of ten, to Archibald Anderson and Agnes Adamson on the third day of October 1842 in Gartocher (a small community between Shettleston and Baillieston), Lanark Shire, Scotland. He played the usual games of youth and attended school with his fellows in the small town of Baillieston, but life to the Andersons then must have held little promise, for James to his dying day, thanked the Lord that they were able to come to America.
When he was only four years of age “Mormon” elders began holding meetings in the vicinity of his home. James was baptized in 1850 at the age of eight.
At age ten James quit school to work in the mines with his father and brothers in order that they might be able to lay aside funds to “gather to Zion”. His job was to run out the loaded cars of coal from the mine for which he received about fort-six cents a day.
In March 1856 at thirteen James with his mother and two brothers left Scotland to join their husband and father in America. During the two-month voyage he became acquainted with a number of prominent men—Daniel McArthur, Truman Leonard, Spicer Crandall and others with whom he later had much association.
During the trek west herds of buffalo were a common sight and numerous Indians were observed by the company along the way. Perhaps at this time James’ young imagination was stirred by the character and custom of the redmen, it is certain that a knowledge of Indian character proved of value to him later even to gaining him some measure of renown.
After a brief stay at his grandmother’s home in Salt Lake City the family moved to Union Fort. During that winter and the next summer James earned his board working for a man affectionately called “Old Grandfather Fawbush” whom he learned to love and respect. In the autumn of 1857 they moved to Spanish Fork.
Following three years of crop failures the very disheartened family moved to North Bend (now Fairview), Sanpete County. Here they were assigned city lots and James helped to build homes and erect a fort for protection from the Indians who were becoming troublesome to the new inhabitants.
In 1861 James went with a company of men to escort President Brigham Young from Sevier to Thistle because U.S. soldiers then at Camp Floyd had threatened the life of this great leader.
Indian troubles took a more serious turn for the Sanpete settlers in 1865 with the massacre of the Givens family at Indianola. James rode to give assistance at this time and was called upon many times in the succeeding years of Indian depredations to stand guard, route the marauders, recover stolen horses or cattle and as a member of the militia. He held the rank of Private in the Captain John F. Sanders Company, Utah Territorial Military Cavalry, during the Blackhawk War (1865-1867). For his participation in the Blackhawk War James received a medal and his widow received a pension until the time of her death.
In April of 1865 James was called with a company of men to Salina (where hostilities were very pronounced) to protect the persons and property of the settlers of that area. In July he rode to Green River to recover cattle and horses which had been stolen by Indians but to no avail.
At about this time a neighboring band of Indians made a raid on the North Bend settlement driving off their horses, all except one large stallion belonging to James. This particular stallion, a high spirited fellow, had early learned a contempt for Indians (whom he could smell at a great distance). The Indians had left him behind because to them he was unmanageable and they supposed him to be possessed of a demon. Because he was the one remaining animal and the only chance left to the settlers to recover their stock, James mounted the stallion and pursued the Indians alone. He found them camped in the hills north and to the west of town. Riding boldly into their camp, he confronted the leader of the band, and demanded the return of the stolen hoses (but remaining astride the stallion the while). The tribesmen were greatly surprised at this daring but they refused to give up any animals. In the ensuing exchange the savages, taking courage by reason of their stronger position, started, as if to drag the white man from his horse, when the stallion lashed out with his hooves, delivering vicious blows to all within range. One of the tribe, a man of some authority among them, received a mortal wound. The superstitious natives, in great fear and consternation, returned all the stolen horses and entreated James and his devil horse go and spare them further harm.
Sometime later a company of soldiers encamped at Indianola had many of their horses stolen by Indians. Desiring someone familiar with the surrounding terrain to act as guide in pursuit of the Indian band, they inquired of the local people and were given the name of James Anderson. They immediately sent for him, requesting his aid. James agreed to assist them only upon condition that they comply in every detail with his instructions. To this they readily agreed and together they started rapidly in pursuit of the marauding Utes, James astride his big stallion. The Indians were headed up the steep trails into the east mountains. When the party came in sight of the Indian band, James made the soldiers promise to remain where they were, keeping out of sight, and let him ride on alone. This they very reluctantly consented to, fearing for his life. James rode on alone and returned shortly with all their stolen animals, apparently without incident, to the complete amazement of the soldiers.
Many Indian depredations occurred during the spring and summer of 1866. Residents of Sanpete and Sevier Counties received the brunt of these hostilities. Indianola was a favorite summer campground of the Utes and they were not going to give it up graciously to the pioneers of North Bend. It was during these times that James endured the grueling hardships of long, cold, sleepless nights standing sentry duty, fast hard rides to recover stolen animals, sleeping out in the elements with insufficient covering, and hour after long hour in the saddle: vicissitudes to which he attributed the breakdown of his health in later life.
During the summer of this same year a large number of Indians surrounded seventy-five soldiers at Indianola. This company of soldiers was sent from Salt Lake City for the protection of the Sanpete people. Upon receiving word of the situation James with twenty-five others from North Bend and Mt. Pleasant rode to their aid. An Indian sentry stationed on the highest promontory nearby, seeing the huge cloud of dust arising at Hilltop from the little band of twenty-five and being unable to determine the number of horsemen approaching, gave the alarm and the Indians hurriedly withdrew. The soldiers were greatly outnumbered by the Utes and would surely have all been massacred except for the prompt action of this little group of men.
In 1864 when Indian troubles were beginning to mount, James had met a very pretty young girl named Hannah Matilda Cheney who with her parents had just moved to North Bend. She was just fifteen, James was twenty-one. During the winter they attended dances together held in the one-room log meeting house which stood where the Fairview Merc store now stands. In the days that followed they were often seen dashing about the countryside in a sleigh pulled by a beautiful team of high-spirited white horses owned by James. Despite Matilda’s natural shyness of animals she delighted in taking the reins and driving wildly about town in company with James.
Following a courtship of two years duration, the couple was married on the first day of January 1866 in the home of James’ father by Bishop Peter Peterson. James’ mother prepared a lovely wedding dinner. That evening a dance was given in their honor and the entire community came out to celebrate. Later in 1868 they were sealed to each other for time and eternity in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. No Utah temple had been completed at that time.
Hannah Matilda Cheney was born to Elam Cheney and Hannah Compton on the sixth day of February 1849 in Salt Lake City, Utah; just two years after her parents arrived in Utah. Her only sister (also named Hannah) had been born and died in 1847 at the time of the Mormon exodus from Nauvoo. Matilda’s mother had three children by a former marriage—Edmond, John, and Henry Wattis. Henry died some time previous to Matilda’s birth.
Elam Cheney was personally acquainted with many of the early leaders of the Church and had married Hannah Compton Wattis, a widow, at the suggestion of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
About the year 1850 Elam bought a farm in Centerville and moved his family there. After only a few months, however, he was called with five other families to settle Springville. During the Walker War (1853-1854) the Springville settlers had to be on constant alert against Indian attack. At sunset a drum would sound and Matilda’s mother would take her brothers and her to the “Miller home” where they would spread their bedding on the floor to sleep while the men stood guard outside.
While they resided in Springville Elam took three other women in marriage.
In 1858 at nine years of age, Matilda was baptized in the waters of Hobble Creek near the present city park. In 1862 when she was thirteen her father sold his farm in Springville and moved the family to a ranch four miles north of Mona. But Indian troubles were increasing and the education of the children was an important consideration, so in 1864 they moved to North Bend, Sanpete County, where Elam set about building a mill just west of town.
Matilda learned early to wash, cord, spin, and weave the wool that came from the family sheep. She was able to spin forty pounds of yarn her first summer. After her fourteenth birthday she did all of the spinning, weaving and sewing (by hand) of all the clothing for the family as well as assisting with the many other household duties.
James’ and Matilda’s first year of married life was in a rented log cabin on the corner of second south and first west in Fairview, across from the old Tucker Hotel site.
In June 1868 James received a call to go with a company of forty Sanpete men under the leadership of Captain William Seely to Laramie City, Wyoming to meet immigrants and help them on to the valley. James drove a six-horse team and things went well for the company until they reached Green River. The river was raging at its highest point and it was impossible to make the animals enter the water. It became necessary to ferry animals and equipment across the river. In loading the ferry the cattle were placed facing down stream. As the ferry proceeded into the turbulent stream the sound of the rushing water at the lower side of the boat frightened the cattle, causing them to back away to the uppers side. The extra weight on the upstream side caused the ferry to tilt, the water rushed over the side and it capsized, throwing men, cattle and equipment into the swift, icy waters. Six men were drowned. Many cattle were lost. Only a part of their equipment remained. James, being a good swimmer, was able to drag himself out of the river a mile and a half below the accident scene. The men were so chilled from exposure that few of them were able to talk above a whisper. But in their minds there was only one course open to them. They renewed their courage and continued on the journey of service they had been called to make.
The song “We The Boys of Sanpete County” immortalized this event. It was sung often by James. He would always become so affected when he sang it that his voice would tremble and tears would well up in his eyes.
During James’ absence grasshoppers came in hoards and cleaned away every leaf and blade of grass until the earth looked scorched. Where before had been fruitful fields now lay barren ground. It was not a cheerful sight to greet the returning company of men. As the winter storms came on, the future looked bleak indeed.
But James’ faith was unshaken; “The Lord will provide.” he said and surely the Lord did hear their prayers and sent aid. The Union Pacific Railroad was pushing west through Echo Canyon at this time and James was given a job. From the first day of October until Christmas he graded railroad, receiving ten dollars per day for himself and team.
There was very little wheat to be found in the valley but Bishop Peterson of Ephraim had stored some from former years and though he was offered as high as ten dollars a bushel for it by California immigrants passing through, he chose to make it available to his own people for $2.50 per bushel. James and John bought enough of this wheat to sustain the Andersons through the winter with enough remaining to seed a few acres in the spring.
Their second home was a log house, which was located where the granary once stood on the old family property.
In the summer of 1869 one of the final events of the Indian wars was enacted. Two Utes stole a band of Fairview horses. James, William Cranny and Joseph Nelson were detailed to follow and recover the horses. They followed the thieves for a long distance. The horse, which James was riding, was a rather high-strung fellow and soon wore himself out. James was forced to drop behind while the other two men rode on ahead. Both Indians were killed in the skirmish that followed and the horses were returned to their owners.
Mining activities in Pioche, Nevada, at this time provided a good market to Utah people and in the fall of 1870 James headed for Nevada with a load of oats and some butter which Matilda sent along. On this first trip James received three dollars per hundred pounds of freight, forty-five dollars for butter, besides netting fifty dollars on a horse trade.
James rigged up a four-horse team and made a second trip to Pioche the following autumn carrying oats for the Fairview Coop. On the return trip he carried a load of bouillon which he delivered to the nearest railroad terminus at York (located on the Union Pacific Railroad about two miles southwest of the present town of Santaquin). He made several other trips to Nevada loaded with flour and other foodstuffs. He netted as much as four hundred dollars on one of these expeditions.
On one occasion James had secreted his gold in a barrel of flour. He was not long on his return journey when two desperadoes stopped him and demanded he turn over his treasure to them. When he declined they ransacked his wagon from top to bottom. Failing to discover the hiding place they finally left him but rode away very much exasperated.
In 1872 a two-room adobe house was built on the northwest corner of the lot to which the family now moved.
Although James had now been in America for eighteen years, had helped to colonize this part of the west and had served his nation as soldier in the Blackhawk War, he did not yet hold U.S. citizenship. But in 1873 he completed the legal formalities and the ninth day of September became an U.S. citizen.
During the summer of 1877 James took his family to live on a thirty-acre farm along the Sanpitch River, south and west of Fairview, which he had just purchased from Henry Mower. He was able to procure this property with savings he had accumulated from his freighting operations to Nevada.
During the winter of 1878 James was engaged in hauling coke from Dry Creek (near Milburn) to Springville.
In the year 1882 James and his brother John yielded to the persuasions of their sons, James Jr. and Archie R. and withdrew their sheep along with the sheep of their father and brother Archie, from the Fairview Cooperative Sheep Co. This community herd was the only herd in Fairview at the time. Altogether there were three hundred sheep which the two boys (then sixteen years of age) cared for at Birch Creek. This small herd increased very rapidly until in not many years it reached nine thousand in number. When the herd became large and unwieldy the brothers dissolved partnership and divided the sheep. James Jr. and Archie R. each continued to manage a herd under the counsel and advice of their fathers.
Though they prospered in the sheep business, there were many lean years when Matilda would suggest selling the sheep. Once in order to find sale for lambs James found it necessary to ship them to Kansas City. The best price he could get for them there was fifteen cents each, which was barely enough to pay shipping costs. But through it all he insisted that one must consider the entire period in forming a judgment and not be blinded by a bad season. He had a favorite saying: “Your hindsight is always better than your foresight.”
James was ordained to the office of Seventy by Henry W. Sanderson in 1884. The following year he was elected City Councilman and he continued in this capacity for ten years.
At about this time James took up the Lower Mud Springs claim and purchased the Upper Mud Springs from Jim Rigby. Corrals were erected on these claims and they were used for spring grazing. There was a log house a Upper Mud Springs where every two weeks James took his family for a few days while he was proving claim.
The intervening years were happy ones for the Anderson family in the little adobe house. The kitchen was on the south side, the old-fashioned parlor on the north and a wooden cased-in stairway between that led up to two rustic bedrooms just under the roof. These two rooms contained old-fashioned wooden furniture (saved from the old log home) and Matilda’s old spinning wheel. There were big openings around the cornice where sparrows built their nests. The younger members of the family could lie and hear the overtones of older brothers or sisters in the parlor below entertaining friends on Sunday evening, fall asleep to the pleasant dreams of youth and be awakened early by the busy chatter of birds in the eaves.
A new frame addition was constructed on the east and connected to the adobe. It contained two rooms and a fireplace. Here the family would gather when the evening chores were completed to sing, tell stories, and pop popcorn or eat pinenuts. They would circle ‘round the fireplace, remove their shoes and place their feet on the warm hearth. James had a good voice and dearly loved to sing. He would lead out with “My Darling Nellie Gray” or another old favorite and everyone would join in. He especially enjoyed singing hymns for everyone knew the words to these. James liked everyone singing. He was a good storyteller and held everyone’s interest with the tales he would relate. But everyone took part and the family would tell of their best times while waiting for the last member to return home from dating of fulfilling some required task, then evening prayer was held and all headed for bed and pleasant dreams.
May twenty-second 1888 James attended the dedication of the Manti Temple.
John William at six years, very eager to see the first train to pass through Fairview in the fall of 1890, contracted a cold and rheumatic fever, which caused his death, a severe blow to the family.
On Tuesday the eleventh day of April 1890 James and Matilda were in attendance at the dedication services of the Salt Lake Temple (morning session).
At the beginning of 1893 James became President of the Fairview Coop store in which position he continued to serve until the late summer of 1897 when the store burned to the ground. He also served as a delegate to the Republican County Convention that year and a number of times thereafter.
At about this time Fairview was one of the richest little towns in the state owing to its thriving dairy industry. The natural mixture of wild grasses in the vicinity of Fairview, Indianola, Flat Canyon and Upper Gooseberry was ideal for milk production. There were many herds in Fairview, and the cow camps in the mountains to the east were busy places during the summer. At one time there were three creameries in Fairview and business was thriving. James became president of the North Creamery, which was located on some springs in the meadows north of town. During his administration speculators came from out of town and offered to buy the creamery for a good price. Many stockholders were tempted and desired to sell the business but James convinced them that the creameries should be kept under local control. The temptation was too strong for the owners of the South Creamery; however, who after a time leased their business to Nelson Ricks. Ricks’ first move was to pay more for cream than his competitors could stand until he had wooed away many customers from the other two companies. The others could not match his tactics and were forced to close shop, whereupon Ricks drastically reduced the price of cream and from that time on Fairview’s dairy industry declined.
In the summer of 1899 James began to rebuild their home. The family lived in the frame addition, which had been built onto the east side of the two-room adobe house while the adobe part was torn down and a new two-story brick structure was built in its place. With this new addition it became a beautiful home and looks much the same even today.
James had contracted rheumatism through his many exposures to the elements, which began to seriously afflict him, and from this time forward his physical activity was curtailed to some degree. He leased his farm and animals but kept his mind occupied and did many smaller tasks, which his condition would permit him to do.
Though he never learned to write, he could read and enjoyed reading the newspaper, church books and various others. Teddy Roosevelt must have been an idol of his for he owned a large volume relating Roosevelt’s travels and experiences in the “dark continent” of Africa.
He attended church meetings regularly and was ordained to the office of High Priest in the Melchizedek Priesthood.
Matilda loved to travel and she insisted that James take her to General Conference in Salt Lake City twice each year. They also made a trip to Old Mexico to visit Alzada and her family, returning by way of California. They traveled to Yellowstone Park and spent a week on one occasion. They would also travel periodically to the home of one or the other of their children who lived out of town and spend a few days. They delighted in their family and were overjoyed when any of them would come for a visit, not matter how brief it might be. James and his son Loren purchased an automobile to facilitate their travels but James never learned to drive.
Asthma and a bad heart came to plague James in his last years. He would spend much of his time in his black leather armchair reading, singing his favorite songs or merely dozing. He loved to eat some of Matilda’s home made vegetable soup with Danish dumplings, raisin filled cookies, pies, a bowl of salt rising bread and milk or some of Deseret’s starch cakes.
James was known in his community and by his family for his honesty. He made a practice of always doing a little more than he was asked to do and paying a little more than his obligations called for. He was in debt only once, a $500.00 bill at the store. This circumstance so troubled him that he sold sheep enough to clear the debt at the ridiculously low price of $1.15 per head.
He didn’t believe in spanking children but rather preferred a kind work, reason and understanding in teaching them.
He loved the song, “I Know That My Redeemer Lives”, and all of the Church hymns. The Church was very important to him and he counseled his children, “Never find fault with the Authorities of the Church”, and “Listen, you stay on the side of the majority of the Authorities of the Church and you’ll never go astray.”
He believed strongly in education and wanted his sons and daughters to be well educated.
James loved fine horses and desired to possess and drive the highest spirited, fastest, and most beautiful horses to be found and he usually did. He took pride in his animals, harnesses and equipment, and in his wagons, sleigh and buggy. He owned a very fancy one seated surrey, which was his pride and joy to drive. He possessed a high sense of order and liked to have things right and proper.
In January 1916 James and Matilda celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary at the Eclipse Pavilion with a banquet, program and dance in the evening. More than one hundred and fifty people, descendants, relatives and friends were in attendance.
On January the twenty-seventh 1922 James left this mortal sphere and went to rejoin his parents, brothers, and sisters, the last of his father’s family to die and at the good age of seventy-nine.
In company with a daughter- in- law Matilda traveled to New York to meet a grandson who was returning from a mission to Germany. Together they visited the White House, Nauvoo, Carthage jail and other historic sites. Later she traveled to California, Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Yellowstone Park and Zion Park. She much enjoyed traveling even to the end of her life.
A family reunion was held on the occasion of Matilda’s eighty-sixth birthday in the Fairview South Ward Chapel. It consisted of a banquet and a program. Over one hundred descendants were in attendance at this celebration.
She was able to get along very well on the $30 per month Blackhawk War pension she received; only rarely dipping into her reserves (five-dollar gold pieces, which she kept in a large trunk in her bedroom). Her wants were very few. She spent considerable amounts of money on genealogical research in order that her family might do temple work for their dead kindred.
She continued to bake bread, pies, and cookies and do light housework. She dearly loved pickled pigs feet and would send to any townsman who happened to be butchering a pig a request desiring the feet of the animal.
Occasionally she and her neighbor Stena Hansen (who was near her own age) would get together for an afternoon’s visit or to go traveling.
She was always very kind and considerate to the sick and would send food to neighbors or friends who were ill.
In her last few years one of her great grandsons would stay with her overnight and half a day on Saturdays to make the fires, carry in wood and coal, run errands, dust and care for her flower garden. But she remained active to the last and her mind and memory were as clear as a bell.
In December 1940 she took a heavy cold which turned to pneumonia. She died on the twenty-seventh day of December 1940 only days before her ninety-second birthday.