I was born on June 12, 1891, at West Fork Grouse Creek, now known as Etna, in a log house on the Death Creek Ranch. The ranch at this time was owned by my father, Valison Tanner Sr., who had purchased it from Charlie Smith, who had squatter’s rights.
At the age of six I started school, beginning in Chart Grade. My mother (Amanda Morgan Barlow Tanner) kept my brother Ralph, who was eight years old, out of school until I was six years old, so we both could go together.
My first teacher was Elizabeth Barlow, wife of my half brother Joseph S. Barlow.
The second year of school was called first grade and my teacher was Henry Blackburn, who was also my second grade teacher.
Mabel Warburton taught me in the third and fourth grades, Mirinda Freebairn in the fifth grade, Charlie Olsen, sixth grade, George L. Johnson, seventh grade and R.D. Peters in the eighth and final grade. I finished school at the age of fourteen, having finished two years of High School as it was graded at that time.
It was during my school years, from the age of six to fourteen that I remember a tribe of Ute Indians, Grouse Creek Jack, Capt. Jim and Indian George, who lived in Washakie, Utah, who would come here every summer and fall to hunt deer and gather pine nuts. They would camp close to the ranch and help Dad dig potatoes and help with the farm work. I often went with my dad to the Indian camps to buy buckskin gloves and they would give us venison and pine nuts.
The winters would be bad and the feeding of cattle was difficult because the snow would get so deep. Wood was hauled out of the rocks on horse drawn sleighs and the cattle were fed this way on sleigh racks, because the snow was so deep.
Before we started to school, we would visit with Grandma Tanner (Ann Newman, wife of Thomas Tanner Jr.) who lived with Allen Tanner in Grouse Creek. This was always a treat which we looked forward to, as she would tell us nursery rhymes and stories.
When I was fifteen years old, my father met with an accident. He was unloading hay with a Jackson Fork when the rope broke and he fell backwards breaking his neck. We took him to Ogden, Utah for treatment, but nothing could be done for him, so he was brought home where he died two months later. We didn’t have money to buy a casket for our father, so he was buried in a coffin. To my knowledge I know of no other buried in the Grouse Creek Cemetery who was buried in a coffin. The coffin was made of wood and varnished. It cost only $40.00.
My mother was left with three children, Ralph, who was seventeen, myself, age fifteen, and Olive, almost ten. This left the responsibility of taking care of the ranch to Ralph and myself.
We were helped a lot by Joseph and Jesse Barlow, although they had ranches of their own. From the time my father died, I did all the irrigating by myself and am still doing it on the same ranch, which I really enjoy.
My best friend was Sidney Paskett. He and I would go over to the mines and Delno Mountains to run wild horses. After we caught these horses, we would break them and make good saddle horses of them.
In 1909, we leased our ranch to Dell Hart, husband of my half sister, Alice Barlow Hart, and I went to work for the Winecup Cow Outfit, as a cowboy and Ralph went to work in the mines in Park City, Utah. Joe Stewart was the foreman of the Winecup Cow Outfit, the property previously owned by Sparks and Harold of the State of Nevada. The year which I went to work for them, it was sold to the Vineyard Land and Livestock Co. of Ogden, Utah.
In 1910, during the year that I was working for this company, Hailey’s Comet appeared. We lay one night at the Badger Creek Camp Ground and watched it stretch from the east horizon to the west.
1909-1910 was a very severe winter. Cattle died by the hundreds. After the snow had gone cattle were found high upon the ledges, hanging from them, where they had gone in the snow to look for food. Horses would be found in tops of trees where the snow had drifted. They would be caught in the branches where they would go for food, so starved they couldn’t get out so they would die there.
I had a very interesting experience while I was riding with the Vineyard Land and Livestock. A band of wild Indians were camped on Gollaher Mountain, which is adjacent to San Jacinto Nevada, in the winter of 1909. During the winter they were stealing horses from the range. They became frightened and killed the horses, and made two large graves and buried them off the mountain in the cedar trees, hoping they would never be found. We came upon these graves of horses. Each grave contained fifteen to twenty horses with various brands on them. When we came up there to ride, the Indians left Galhier Mountain and went over into the Shoshone Basin, west of San Jacinto, on the Salmon river. Some time later they murdered a white boy near Hot Creek, Nevada. A posse hunted these Indians down and killed them all except one Indian girl named Snake, who as I remember, was sent to a white school for education. I remember seeing this Indian girl at the camp and whenever the cowboys would come around, she would run and hide. Her brother was employed by the outfit a year before I went there to work. A book was written about this incident and published in Elko, Nevada, in recent years.
I rode with the outfit all that summer of 1910. When they sold the beef that fall, they were shipped to San Francisco. I went with a train load of these cattle, along with an Indian who also worked for the outfit, by the name of Dan Gray. We were both around the age of nineteen years.
We were shipping the cattle from Tacoma, Nevada and were camped at Rock Springs, Nevada. On our way to the railroad with the cattle, Joe Stewart, Burly Crone and myself were night herding. There was a wash about twenty feet wide and fifteen feet deep, and served as one side to hold the cattle. Joe Stewart lit his pipe, and when he lit the match, the herd stampeded. I was riding the south side trying to head them off when they crowded me into the wash. The horse fell into the wash and threw me off. I lost my hat, but wasn’t hurt. The horse ran away and I had to walk into camp. The cowboys kept their horses tied ready for emergencies such as this, and they jumped on them and ran to head off the stampede. I didn’t find my hat until the next day where I had fallen into the wash.
While I was in San Francisco, I saw many ruins as a result of the big earthquake and fire. We hired a guide to go through China Town, which was partly in ruins.
After I returned from San Francisco, I went back to work on my ranch. Ralph and I built the ranch up to where we had 2,300 acres of land and 400 head of cattle.
At the age of twenty-six I married Margaret Harriet Douglas, daughter of James and Mary Elizabeth Douglas, on October 4, 1917, in the Salt Lake Temple. We had been married just a year when I received a call to the U.S. Army during World War I. At this time the flu epidemic was rampant, thousands had died and nothing could be done for it. We were required to wear gauze masks on the train and wherever we went. My wife made a dozen of these for me. On November 11, 1918, was the day we were to leave by train to go to Brigham City to the place of induction. George E. Ballingham, Edward Frost Jr. and myself were to report. I had bid my wife goodbye at Grouse Creek, but before we boarded the train, word was received by mail that the Armistice was signed and we did not have to go.
In 1919 we were living at the ranch in a little log house where our first son, Mervin LaMar Tanner was born on August 5, 1919.
In 1921 we purchased a ranch known as the Hales Place from Tom Thomas and here in a log house my second son, Max V. was born on March 20, 1923. We lived at the Hales Place until 1924 when we turned it back to Tom Thomas because of breach of contract, and we moved back to the home ranch.
On January 8, 1927 my first daughter was born in the old Hart house on the ranch and we named her Fern. Two years later a second daughter, Eva, was born in the Gregory Apartments, 21st and Washington, Ogden, Utah (1929).
Shortly after this time, we sold our 400 head of cattle and bought 600 sheep and nine more sections of ground located on the Grouse Creek Range from the Southern Pacific Railroad, which we operated four years. We sold the sheep in 1929 and bought 800 head of cattle from William Jones, Almo Idaho. At the end of five years we had increased our herd of cattle to 1,700. We wintered these cattle on the big ranches in Clear Creek, Utah, and Summered them on the range in Utah and Nevada and on the Spanish Ranch in Tuscarora, Nevada, owned by Stan Ellison.Between 1929-1930, during the depression, I worked for my father-in-law feeding cattle at the Douglas Ranch in Grouse Creek for $1.00 per day and three year old steers were sold for $24.00 a head. These years were lean for a lot of people.
When we sold the cattle in 1934, I took twelve carloads of cattle to San Francisco. We paid the mortgage, we had made when we bought the cattle, and my brother Ralph and I dissolved partnership and divided the property. The home ranch was my share and also half of the range ground. I bought thirty head of cattle and went back into the cattle business by myself, and increased my herd to 200 head.
On July 27, 1935, my third son Delmar Lamont was born in the Dee Hospital, Ogden, Utah and six years later my third daughter, Margaret Fae, and last child was born on March 17, 1940.
My two oldest sons and myself operated the ranch until World War II, when my oldest son enlisted in the Air Force in 1941, then Max V. my second son and I continued with the ranch.
In 1944 a co-op store was organized and I served as the first president. This office I held for five years.
I retired from ranching in 1954 and I sold the ranch to my second son Max V., who has the ranch at the present time.
I lived in Ogden, Utah for one and a half years, and not caring to spend the rest of my life there, I came back to Grouse Creek in 1956, bought a little home from Mrs. Joseph A. Kimber, where I am residing now.
I have been in very good health all my life. I have been in the hospital only twice, once with a broken shoulder, having been thrown from a horse, and the other time a cyst was removed from my knee cap.
In regard to my religious activities, I served as YMMIA counselor during the 1940’s for two years, and have been a ward teacher for the past forty years.
Given personally to Eva Tanner Davis, daughter, on June 14, 1963.
Val’s health began to fail him and he and Hattie moved to Salt Lake to live with their daughter and son-in-law, Eva and J.D. Mortensen.
Valison died on December 17, 1973 and was interred in the Grouse Creek Cemetery.