Life lessons from the Andersons

Patty as a baby, held by her mother Annie, with her father Dallas Collins and brothers Dick and Joe.
Patty as a baby, held by her mother Annie, with her father Dallas Collins and brothers Dick and Joe.
Patty as a baby, held by her mother Annie, with her father Dallas Collins and brothers Dick and Joe.
Harold and Patty Anderson have been married 31 years. Harold and Patty were both born and raised in Meeker and Harold “has never gotten his mail anywhere else.”
Harold and Patty Anderson have been married 31 years. Harold and Patty were both born and raised in Meeker and Harold “has never gotten his mail anywhere else.”

MEEKER I Imagine if people learned at least one thing, if not more, from one conversation every day. That was the case in a conversation with Harold and Patty Anderson. They not only had history to share, as Harold is often referred to as “a walking history book,” the couple’s words and honest wisdom are lessons themselves. One example: “Kids learned by going with their parents. They heard them talk and worked alongside. Now there are no jobs left that kids can do and people can’t take their kids to their jobs,” Harold said.
The memories the two have of their own childhoods are priceless. Both came from families that have received the 100-year award for ranches that have remained in the same family for at least a century. Longevity and appreciation for teaching the next generation have played crucial roles in their lives.
Harold’s father, Carl Anderson, first came to Meeker to work on his uncle’s ranch. His uncle homesteaded the Powell Park ranch in 1886. Harold’s grandparents lived on what is referred to as “the Sloan place” near Carl’s great-uncle Olaf’s ranch. Eventually Carl acquired the ranch and added to it. Harold remembers helping his dad as they ran cattle and put up hay. The barn on the ranch was made to hold four teams (eight horses). One was tied outside to run the hay stacker. He could harness the team at an extremely young age with the help of a box to make him tall enough to reach up and put the collar on. Then he would move the box to the back of the horse to get the rest of the harness and straps where they belonged. He could drive the team to help in the hay fields when he was 7 years old.
Harold may be the last person who has lived in Meeker his entire life. He was born in Mrs. Lockhart’s house, as were so many children in town, and he “has never gotten his mail anywhere else.” He was the second of six Anderson children: Herb, Harold, Lewie, Gus, Marie and Doris. Harold grew up working on the ranch and leased it from 1979 until three years ago. He has run cattle all over this area, from Lost Creek to Smith Gulch. He knows the land as well as anyone and has handed down both his knowledge and his love for the way of life. He also roped and rode some bareback horses in area rodeos.
He attended the Powell Park School for five years and then attended sixth grade in town. He recalls the bus being so full that another bus would have to come part way up Highway 64 to get the last of the kids on the route. He was graduated from Meeker High School in 1958.
Patty (Collins) was born and raised in Meeker. She is the youngest of four children born to Dallas and Anna (Burke) Collins. Her father was a lifelong cowboy and worked on several ranches before the family’s 27-year stint on the Bar Bell Ranch. Now owned by Westlands and the Wix family, the ranch was once owned by Elliot and Minnewa Bell Roosevelt, son and daughter-in-law of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Patty was in the seventh grade when her family moved to the ranch, located about 20 miles up the White River. Her mother cooked for everyone and her dad was “a good cow man.” They also ran cattle and put up hay and she rode the horse that pulled the hay stacker when she was very young as well.
It was a job for the youngest kid, it seems. The kids that did it seem to remember never wanting to get off the horse because they couldn’t get back on and that usually got them in trouble.
Patty enjoyed her life growing up in the Meeker area and talked about driving a buggy to the Mesa School with her brothers when they were living on the “upper Wilber place.” They would cross the river below what is now the Wakara Ranch and go on to school, sometimes picking up other kids along the way. They did this every day that they could while attending school at the Mesa House. Their Marvine school had shut down by the time they moved to the Bar Bell Ranch so the kids rode the bus to town to finish school. Patty was graduated from high school in 1959.
Harold and Patty have been married 31 years. Combined, they have six children: Tracy, Travis, Edy, Jim, Jody and Tom; 17 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild with another one on the way.
They have helped embrace and cherish the history of our area. Patty serves on the board of the Rio Blanco Historical Society and they worked to fence two cemeteries on Piceance Creek and get more than 30 headstones installed.
“We have had a good life here,” they agree, and Patty adds, “Meeker is a special place, and a great place to raise kids, if you need help you just have to call.”
“I like that it isn’t on the way to any place,” Harold said.
Harold and Patty Anderson are two people who demonstrate purpose in every action and every word. They have an upbringing and a lifestyle that lends itself to an incredible lesson, not just on Meeker’s history, but on life in general.