Archibald Adamson Anderson & Sarah Jane Rees


One of the distinctive elements of the inheritance that fell upon the shoulders of Archibald Adamson Anderson at the time of his birth to Archibald Anderson and Agnes Adamson, was that he would live as the eldest son of this couple – a fact which in and of itself, often means a unique relationship with parents and brothers and sisters. Two boys – William Young and Robert – were born before Archibald A., but both had died before this time. (1)


This age factor undoubtedly placed Archibald A. in a position of added responsibility as he entered the mines with his father, as the family contemplated the separation from the father when he left for America in 1855, in acting as the man of the house during the year of separation, in planning the trip to America with his mother and brothers, and in teaming with his mother in pulling the handcart from Iowa City to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. This, by no means, diminished the role of the younger brothers in this family, but a certain mantle of responsibility rested upon Archibald A. as it does with most eldest sons, and he responded magnificently to the demands of this calling at all times.


Born on March 27, 1836, Archibald A. was just approaching his twentieth birthday in that early March of 1856 when he, his mother, Agnes, and his brothers, John, age 15, and James, age 13, sailed down the Clyde River from Glasgow bound for America. The story of that voyage and the trip across the plains has been told earlier and will not be repeated here.


The unique story of Archibald A., apart from that of his family, might logically be considered as beginning with his courtship and marriage of Sarah Jane Rees.


These two families, although their paths may have touched briefly at Iowa City during the outfitting of the handcart companies, (2) met and became acquainted while both were living in Spanish Fork.


The story is told that during the courtship Archibald said he would not marry Sarah Jane until he could buy her a nice wedding dress.  Finally, to keep his resolution regarding this event, he drove a team of oxen which he had acquired to Salt Lake City where he sold them, purchased the dress for his intended bride and walked back to Spanish Fork. (3) The young couple were married there on August 23, 1859. Archibald A. was then twenty-three years of age and Sarah Jane was fifteen.


It appears that Archibald A. and his bride decided to make their way with his family. Just where they lived that first few months of their marriage is not known, but they did make the move from Spanish Fork to North Bend the following March with his father’s family. The Rees family left Spanish Fork and moved to Wales, Utah sometime during the fall of 1859. (4)


It is reported in several of the available writings that the Andersons arrived in North Bend (Fairview) on March 6, 1860, and that they planted and harvested a fine crop of wheat and potatoes which provided a source of food for the following winter.


The arrival of the Andersons followed by only a few months, the first settlement of this little community. The initial meeting regarding the settlement, following the granting of permission to proceed from President Brigham Young, was held in Mt. Pleasant on October 1, 1859. A second meeting a little later was held on the new townsite. (5)


Within ten days of the Andersons’ arrival in North Bend, work began on a fort, as there was evidence that the Indians might give trouble. The Andersons were undoubtedly involved in this event as is recorded in the Daughters of Utah Pioneers’ publication:


“With about thirty men on hand, labor was commenced March 15, 1860, on the fort, situated on the south half of Block 19, the block where the Fairview Mercantile now stands. A rock wall two and one-half feet wide at the base, tapering to a width of one and one-half feet at the top, with a height of ten feet, was constructed on the north, east, and west sides and completed in 1860. The south side of the enclosure was made of log houses placed close together to form the fourth side. Entry by wagon could be gained in the center of the south and west sides. There were two passageways through which one person at a time could enter, one a small gate on the east, and the other a space between two of the houses on the south. As settlers increased, houses were built around the inside walls, a row also extended through the center from north to south. Others were built in open spaces of the fort.”


“Community effort did not end with the building of the fort. Community corrals, city ditches, and a new community school house were all completed with cooperative efforts.” (6)


It is only reasonable to believe that under these circumstances the first home of the Anderson family was within the fort.


During the winter of 1859-60, the trip to North Bend, and the flurry of activities related to establishing a new home, Sarah Jane was expecting her first child. Archibald A., as well as other members of the family, must have been especially concerned about preparing a home where this infant could be born. How well they succeeded is another of the unknowns, but on May 25, 1860, a little daughter, Margaret Ann was born to Sarah Jane and Archibald A. – the first child to be born in the new community. (7)


The new settlement was known as North Bend until 1864 at which time Archibald Anderson, Sr. made the suggestion to Orson Hyde, then President of the Sanpete Stake, that the name be changed to Fairview. The suggestion was acted upon favorably and thus the community received its permanent name. (8)


The anticipated Indian troubles did materialize, and became so severe that Brigham Young warned the people of Fairview that they should move to the larger forts in the area. In the Spring of 1866, the settlers moved to Mt. Pleasant, with some of the men returning at times to look after the crops and homes. Additional work was done on the fort during late summer and fall of that year so that most of the setters returned to Fairview by late fall.


The Indian problem came to an end with the close of the Blackhawk War in 1872, and the people were free to build their homes, farms, and community, unmolested.


An interesting account of early life in Fairview is given in the D.U.P. publication:


“Life in Fairview during the early days was good. In spite of the fear of the Indians, the people grew in numbers. Discouragement did not enter into the lives of these hardy people. There was no frustration, for the people were as one. Trials brought humility and a feeling of kinship with one another that hasn’t been entirely forgotten today.


“In response to their pledged word to obey the chosen leader, the settlers, with tradition of equality in mind, accepted the first division of land by Bishop Jones. Each man in the community who contributed to the erection of the fort was given twenty acres of land in the ‘Big Field’, which was fenced, and also a city lot. The wild hay land in Thistle Valley was divided among them also. There was but one dissenting voice to the division made by the bishop. Within his twenty acres, a man might plant and harvest how and what he chose, providing that harvesting was over by a specified time, so that the town cows might be turned into the ‘Big Field’.


“As no individual had a title to his twenty acres, one man of a group would take out a Homestead of one hundred sixty acres. Upon receiving a clear title the homesteader in turn deeded it to those whose previous ownership had been acknowledged. Titles to land at the ‘School Section’ were not secured until statehood was granted in 1847. (Error in copy, should be 1896.) The title was then available by a purchase from the state.”


“As the community grew and became more complex, in direct proportion waned the authority of the Bishop. Individuals began filing claims without his approval. Others fenced their parcels within the ‘Big Field’. Farming on a large scale made many desirous of obtaining greater acreage. Companies were organized and a new life began in the community.” (9)


As this new life was taking shape for the community of Fairview, so was a new life becoming a reality for Archibald A. and his family. Initially his fortune was intimately linked with those of his father and mother and his brothers, John and James. But as the years moved on, the boys became more and more independent of one another as the course of events made the life of each uniquely his own. Each is known for the fine home and family life which they generated as well as for the rich contributions they made to the community life of which they were a part. Archibald A. took a general farming on his Birch Creek property, while the sheep business attracted John and James.


To Archibald A. and Sarah Jane there were born, between 1860 and 1878, a total of ten sons and daughters, two sons and eight daughters, all of whom grew to adulthood and entered into marriage. Maria, the seventh daughter, married A. U. Miner, but died just shortly over a year following her marriage. She left no children. Neither did Grace, the eighth daughter, have children. The other daughters and the two sons all raised families of their own.


In the late 1870’s Archibald A. and Sarah Jane moved from the Fairview home into a two-room log cabin which he had built on his Birch Creek property. Here Archibald Henry, the youngest of Sarah Jane’s children was born. Following this birth Sarah Jane contracted pneumonia – an illness which took her life on April 10, 1878. Her death took a devoted wife and a loving mother from her wonderful family.


In May of 1864, Archibald A., in response to the Church’s doctrine on plural marriage, was married to Caroline Johnson, a Swedish convert to the Church – a daughter of Jonas Gustan Anderson and Johanna Katrina Johnson. Five children were born to this couple between 1865 and 1875. Four of these grew to adulthood, married and raised families. Archibald, the fourth child, died at the age of six. Caroline lived to be eighty-one years of age. She passed away in Fairview on January 9, 1911.


Following the death of Sarah Jane, Archibald A. married Bertha Carrine Peterson, a widow with two children, on February 28, 1879. She moved into the Birch Creek home to take care of Sarah Jane’s motherless family. The youngest daughter, Flora, grew into young womanhood and then passed away before marriage. The first daughter and child, Bertha, died at seven years of age, and one of the twin boys, Joseph Smith, born in 1886, died in the first year of his life. Bertha Carrine, the mother of this family, lost her life in a railroad crossing accident just west of her home on Birch Creek on February 1, 1899.


It is quite remarkable that in these early pioneer days, preceeding all the marvelous advances in medicine, twenty of the twenty-three children born to Archibald A. and these three noble mothers, reached adulthood, nineteen of them married, and seventeen raised families. Only one died within the first year of life, and two died in early childhood.


Archibald A. was loved not only by his family, but also by his neighbors and his fellow citizens of Fairview. He was elected Mayor in 1877. He served also as Justice of the Peace and as City Councilman. “He was Watermaster for 30 years on Birch Creek, and was school trustee there until his death”. (10)


An interesting description of Archibald A. is given by his son-in-law, Charles A. Terry:


“I have been asked by some of the A. A. Anderson children to write some of the labors, advice and teachings of our beloved Daddy. I feel very fortunate to have had the privilege of marrying his oldest daughter, Margaret Ann, who was a very dutiful wife and mother, who was taught to love God and to keep all of His commandments and to love and obey her parents in all things. Our Daddy always taught his children honestly and truthfulness, and to live a clean and pure life, and to always pray to our Heavenly Father and place confidence in Him.


“I remember him as my Sunday School teacher and the nice way he had of explaining the Gospel. We could understand it and I always loved to hear him speak for he was so sincere and meant every word he said, and always felt thanks to the Lord for His kind and merciful kindness that He had shown him in times that had passed . . . I never heard him profane or use any bad or vulgar language, and he had the Gifts of Faith in healing the sick, and he told me one time when Eliza R. Snow spoke in tongues in a meeting in Fairview (I was there and heard her) that he could have interpreted the tongues but he held back and she had to interpret it herself.


“Oh, if only he could have lived longer to impart of the intelligence that was in his noble soul, but let us children profit by his wonderful example of faith and good council.” (11)


The closing years of Archibald’s life were characterized by failing health which lead to some discouragement and despondency. He had to give up all forms of work and was then confined indoors for some weeks before death came to him December 5, 1892 at the age of 56.


His life was somewhat short, but it had been filled with the good things the world had to offer in his day. He had immigrated to the new country, pioneered in the building of a community, and reared a large family of fine, intelligent sons and daughters. He loved the truth and devoted every possible moment to seeking and incorporating it not only into his own life, but also into the lives of his family members. No matter how long one may live this still remains the ultimate task.


Some of his feelings are expressed in a brief letter he wrote to James William, who was attending school in Provo, just two or three weeks before his death:


Birchcreek Sanpete Co.

Friday Nov. 18, 92


Mr. James W. Anderson

My dear son  Your most welcome letter was duly received  I was glad to hear from you again  But I have not been feeling very well and I don’t see any prospect of being better  My swallowing has been getting worse right along and now I can’t hardly swallow anything  I have had three doctors but all to no purpose  I am glad you are feeling so well and improving so fast and I trust you will be a good boy and never never sin  I don’t know what course of study you are pursuing  but I think a school teacher is by far the best

as the days are short and only five days a week  I hope you will do the best for your own good.  I had letters from John and Albert today written from Round Valley  They are

well and feeling well  I have seen all the folks lately  I Believe they are all well  The weather is fine here now but I can’t enjoy it much as I have to stay indoors nearly all the time  Well I hope you will continue to enjoy yourself and I pray that God will bless you and prosper you and keep you from every appearance of evil that you may secure a salvation in His kingdom.  I will close for this time and would fain hope it is not the last time I can write you.

from your loving father

Archibald A. Anderson (12)




(1)               See family group sheet for this family.

(2)               See Handcarts to Zion by LeRoy R. Hafen and Ann W. Hafen, published by The Arthur H. Clark Co. of Glendale, California, pp. 57-58.

(2)               This story is among those collected over the years. I do not know its source nor have I been able to confirm it.

(4)               The move of the Rees family in the fall of 1859 is recorded in History of and Events in the Lives of Thomas Davis Rees and Elizabeth (Rees) Rees, published by Dr. Don Merrill Rees of Salt Lake City (Lithographed) August 1965.

(5)               Daughters of the Utah Pioneers of Sanpete County, These. . . Our Fathers. A Centenial History of Sanpete County, 1947. p. 121.

(6)               Ibid., p. 122.

(7)               Ibid., p. 121.

(8)               Lever, W. H., History of Sanpete and Emery Counties. Ogden, 1898. p. 351.

(9)               Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. Op. cit. p. 123.

(10)           From the Family publication for the 1947 Reunion in Flat Canyon. Written by A. H. Anderson and Matilda Peterson.

(11)           From a letter written by Charles A. Terry to Archibald Henry Anderson, this writer’s father, from Wyoming in 1937.

(12)           The original letter is in the possession of A. Owen Anderson, a son of James W., of Salt Lake City.


Anderson, H. Reese. These We Honor: Archibald Anderson Family. Archibald Anderson Family Association, p. C-1.

Excerpts copied 17 Jul 2006 by J.F.