Robison Family Reminiscences

Stories from DeMar Stanley Robison, Janet Jares, Janice Moote, Gen Richardson,Bill Dearden, Pearl Heckethorn and Veva Robison Dekker

There is a wealth of stories about the Robison and Gandy families of the Snake Valley, both oral and written. Many descendants and friends of Isaac and Harriet have been kind enough to write down their reminiscences of life in the Snake Valley. Below are some excerpts – read the full account here.

DeMar Robison’s story, told to Janice Moote

DeMar Stanley Robison was born 7 April 1920 in Salt Lake City. He is the son of Stanley and Sophia Robison. They lived in Gandy, Utah at the time of his birth.

In Gandy his father’s parents lived on the north ranch, his grandfather lived in the center ranch and they lived on the south ranch. This is the road that goes up to the cave. Many years later his friend, George Simms, was herding sheep and found the caves, His brother, Tom, put the lights in it and when we were there for a reunion in the 1980’s he took us through the cave. They did not do anything with it and the government evidently did not want it.

He attended a one room school in Gandy and some years there were as many as 18 people going to school. His two years of High School were spent in Ely, Nev.

Living on the ranch he picked choke cherries and elder berries and Grandma would can them. He went to get pine nuts. They went to Shelbourne as they were big cones. They usually just shook the trees or waited until the cones opened if they took the cones home. One time his friend Ralph and DeMar got 5 gallons of pinenuts each,

Once in a while he would saddle a horse and take it out to the flat. Someone gave him a colt. His dad went to get it with his horse and buggy and the colt got away. He said that when you went into the fields and heard a rattle snake that is when you learn how fast you can run.

DeMar said his grandfather, James Henry Robinson, had a ranch, large garden, alfalfa fields and an orchard with apples, peaches, peas, walnuts and plums. A warm spring nearby provided the water for the orchards and garden. DeMar helped his father and grandfather with the garden and hay. When DeMar was a teenager, his father Stanley got a skin condition called dermatitis which prevented him from working on the farm. Stanley went to see a doctor in SLC but couldn’t get the skin condition to heal, so in 1935 the family moved to Ely, Nevada. In Ely, his father, Stanley worked hauling wood. DeMar often helped his father haul wood. Stanley was hit by a train and died on 13 May 1939.

Demar “Robbie” Robison passed away in May 2011.

Veva’s Story

Veva Robison Dekker, great granddaughter of Isaac and Harriet, story via Janice Moote

In the spring of 1911 a young couple traveled by covered wagon about 80 miles from Gandy, Utah to Oasis, Utah. He was a 20n year old farmer named James Stanley Robison, she was a 19 year old housewife named Sophia Wilhelmina Harder Robison. They had been married just over a year ago, on January 29, 1910 and were traveling to the home of Sophia’s mother, Mary Erickson Harder, in order to have their first baby. On April 5, 1911, the young couple had their baby, it was a girl, and they named her Veva Emma Robison.

When Veva was almost one year old her father, along with his father, James Henry, and brother Isaac Robison, sold their farms and ranches in Gandy and headed for California. Once in California they were able to find work at a dairy farm near Long Beach. However problems soon arose, because the people they had sold their land to in Gandy never paid them. This eventually led to the whole Robison group returning to Gandy. Things seemed to work out for the best and everyone was happy to be back where they felt at home, and it was in Gandy that the Robison family would stay.


Grandma Gandy used to take turns living with her three daughters. We were always happy when she came to take her turn with my grandmother and grandfather in Gandy.

She had suffered a stroke and was partially paralized on one side and always walked with a cane. Everyday she would lie down after lunch and rest awhile, and if any of us children were there we could lie down with her and she would always tell us stories about coming across the plains.

Gen Richardson’s memories of Harriet Gandy

Bill Dearden in Garrison has told me about the work done to maintain the Cemetery in Garrison, where many members of the Gandy and Robison families lie at rest, in particular Gen Richardson’s untiring service.

For many years Anna Gen (Genevieve) Richardson has cleared the weeds and placed plastic flowers on the Garrison Cemetery. My wife Edith and I moved back to Garrison in 1994 and she started helping Gen care for the Cemetery. Due to Gen’s age she can not do much of the work anymore, so my wife cleans the cemetery, places the flowers and whatever else is needed. Gen still cleans and arranges the plastic flowers, sends out requests for donations from known family members of those buried there, then sends out thank you cards. The money is used for the purchase of new flowers, vases, and some weed inhibitors. Gen has been caring for the cemetery for over 30 years at no pay, and is to be commended for her service.

Gen reminded me that she came to Garrison to take care of grandma Gandy (Isaac’s wife) who was sick. She said that she had to learn to play cards because that is what she liked. She said that her home was called the bed bug house because in those days they only had coal oil lanterns, and when they light them they could see the bed bugs run along the cracks on the plaster walls. She said that the home was located on an orchard lot and I remember that it was still standing until it burned down in the early 1990s. The family living there at the time was a cousin of mine on the Dearden side James Wheeler, a brother to Darwin Wheeler. I hope that she sends you the letter I think you will enjoy it. She said that she came from Bear River City Utah in her senior year of school and had to work on her schooling here. She returned in the spring and graduated with her class, and not long after she married Earland (Bud) Richardson. She has lived in Garrison since she married Bud who is deceased. He was the Deputy Sheriff and county road maintainer, and she was the Postmaster. His mother Blanch Dearden Richardson Yerson is a cousin of mine also.

Gen Richardson, who sadly passed away in 2008, wrote to me about caring for Harriet Gandy:

“When I was 17 years old E.M Smith and Molly needed someone to help them at their place. It was after Grandma Gandy had her stroke. She was bedfast at the time. I think her daughter Stella had been taking care of her and when she died it was then Molly took care of her. She loved to play cards for a pastime and she taught me how to play the game of Hearts. She had to be helped out of her bed and into her wheelchair. I spent the summer of 1936 down here. Then I went back to my home town. But it was while I was down there that I met my husband Earl Richardson and it was his mother that took care of her (Harriet) when she passed away. E. M. (Bob) Smith was the father of my older sister Margaret’s husband. That is how I came out here to help in the Smith home. Bob Smith taught me how to make Baking Powder Biscuits!”

From Bill Dearden, Garrison

My mother Vera Emma Simonson Dearden (1912-1988) Great-Grand-Daughter of Isaac Gandy told me this story;

“The headstone for Isaac was sent to the United States by ship from England. During the voyage the ship was shipwrecked and went down. At some future date the headstone was recovered and sent to its destination in Garrison”.

I realize that this is family hearsay but I thought you might enjoy it.

Read more Robison and Gandy reminiscences from the Snake Valley here.