Niels Ole Anderson House
Located at 308 S 100 E in Ephraim, Utah.
This Greek Revival style house was built c. 1868 for Niels Ole and Josephine Overglade Anderson. While the color of adobe, the brick is apparently fired – a very early example of this improved technology. The rear, two-room addition was constructed c. 1881 by Soren Jensen, a local mason while Niels was serving as a Mormon missionary in his native Sweden. The house has remained in the Anderson family since construction.
The significance of the Niels Ole Anderson House relates to its builder and principal occupant, Niels Ole Anderson, an early settler of Ephraim, Utah. Anderson played an important role in the pioneer settlement of his community. His journal accounts of pioneer life and Indian encounters in particular, are a valuable local history resource, The Anderson House is representative of local pioneer architecture and craftsmanship and features the unusual use of fired adobe brick, a transitional, homemade building
material used before the advent of commercially made brick.
Niels Ole Anderson was born in Sweden in 1845 and immigrated to Utah in 1854-55 with his family who became converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After crossing the plains with Captain Noah T. Guyman’s company, the Andersons arrived in the Salt Lake Valley of the Territory of Utah. As was customary, the family received instructions from, their religious leaders and was sent to Fort Ephraim, Sanpete County,
where Niels resided the rest of his life.
By necessity, Niels Anderson quickly became experienced in the rigors of pioneer life. At the age of ten he helped build the “outside fort” where his family lived until 1860. Niels’ father, Ola, died in 1857, after which Niels assumed more than normal responsibility for his family. Ephraim, like almost all other early Mormon settlements, had an economy based primarily on agriculture. Thus Niels spent his early manhood plowing, planting and harvesting for local farmers.
While in his teens, Niels had many experiences with the local Indians, even before he took part in the Black Hawk War in 1865. He carefully recorded his various encounters with the Indians. His written accounts are now valued as an important, local history resource, particularly because of his detailed descriptions of Indian skirmishes. He collected and recorded the events of October 17th and 18th, 1865 when Indians ambushed, tortured and killed in different attacks, seven loggers and farmers from Ephraim.
Anderson also obtained and recorded an account entitled “Skirmish at Ephraim, Battle at Rock Lake,” in which settlers and Indians maintained a day-long battle over the possession of a herd of horses. Anderson also recorded a number of Indians encounters in which he was personally involved. Largely because of his long-standing acquaintance with many of
the Indians, he was never harmed by them. During his life, Anderson personally knew several chiefs, including Black Hawk, Arrapean, Sanpitch and Tabby. In his later life, Niels Anderson became known as a folklorist who liberally shared his stories with newer generations.
Niels O. Andersen’s pioneer experiences continued to broaden after the Black Hawk War. In 1866 he went to the Missouri River as a Church Teamster and helped bring a company of immigrants to Utah. He again served in a similar capacity for Captain Lewis Larson’s Company in 1867.
Niels married Josephine Overglade on November 2, 1867 in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. Shortly thereafter, the first part of the present Anderson House was built. The Andersons became parents of nine children and the house was expended to its present size while Niels was serving as a Mormon missionary in Sweden from 1880 to 1882. The two-room addition was built by Soren Jensen, a local mason.
Two years after returning from his mission, Josephine Anderson became ill and died. In 1885, Niels married Matilda Nielson. They had one child, Niels Henry.
After becoming a family man, Niels O. Anderson took active part in community and church affairs. He served several terms as a member of the Ephraim City Council. He also headed various leadership positions in the Mormon church. He was director and part owner of a sawmill which produced lumber for the Manti Temple. Anderson eventually took charge of the “temple sawmill” and was thus instrumental in the construction of this
Anderson became expert in many crafts, including marksmanship, braiding, puppet-making, knot-tying, teaming and ox training and livestock raising. His leadership abilities were widely respected and he was a popular local figure.
The Niels Ole Anderson House has remained in the family since its construction. In style the vernacular building with Federal/Greek Revival detailing is representative of early Sanpete County architecture and craftsmanship. The original part of the home is built of an unusual handmade, fired adobe brick, a brick which was apparently a
transitional material used after the sun-dried adobe period but before the commercially-made kiln-fired brick was available. Andersen’s brick has the color and texture of adobe but has sharp edges and a hard, dense exterior, showing evidence of having been baked in some kind of kiln. As commercially-made brick did not become popularized in Sanpete County until after 1870, the Anderson House represents one of the region’s earliest
attempts to make and use fired brick, a fact which underscores Anderson’s role as a pioneer leader and innovator.