Andersen Elementary Namesake Video

The Andersen Family

  • The Andersen family is one of few that can trace its history back across five generations in Chandler. 
    Johannes Marinus Andersen, 18, emigrated to Tempe from Denmark in 1898 and was hired by A.J. Petersen, an established farmer also of Danish origin.
    In Denmark Andersen had worked on his family's dairy farm and soon gleaned Arizona farming techniques as well.  He received $1 a day for his labor and learned English from Mrs. Petersen.
    Andersen obtained United States citizenship in 1906, Americanized his name to John, and returned to Denmark a year later to marry his sweetheart Karen Christine, who also had the surname Andersen.  The newlyweds initially resided in Tempe but chose to homestead land north of Chandler because the less alkaline soil there had better drainage.
    By 1912 the wood-framed Andersen home stood at what is now the northeast corner of Dobson Road and Galveston Street and remained ranch headquarters 73 years.  The second generation Andersen's were reared there.
    In 1913 a Chandler Arizonan newspaper article headline boasted:  "JOHN ANDERSEN NETS $55 AN ACRE OFF 200 ACRES OF ALFALFA; RESULT OF CAREFUL MANAGING."  Listing his season profit at $11,000, the article described Andersen as "one of the finest farmers in the Chandler district."
    Over the years Andersen raised cattle, hogs, and horses, in addition to crops, and acquired several ranches in Arizona, peaking at 2,500 acres with 14,000 head of cattle.
    His business ventures branched out to include the position of vice president of the Bank of Chandler when it formed in 1914 and, in 1917, vice president of the South Verde Consolidated Copper Company with mines 50 miles north of Chandler.
    The same year Andersen was elected trustee for School district No. 57, a position he held for 12 years.  While on the Chandler school board he made a trip to Redlands, California, to obtain plans for Chandler High School, completed in 1922 and still in use today.
    After his father's death in 1941 John Andersen, Jr., 36 decided to phase out the livestock and concentrate on farming during the post-depression era.  The quality of the alfalfa he grew soon gained him a reputation for having the best hay to be found and enabled him to contract with buyers prior to harvest.
    In 1942 Andersen, Jr. married Zola Follet who was born in the tiny settlement of Pima, located between Globe and Safford.  During the Depression Mrs. Andersen's family moved to the Valley where her father secured work as a carpenter and eventually helped build Willams Air Force Base.
    After Mr. Andersen died in 1979, Mrs. Andersen ran the farm for six more years with the help of her son and Jack Henry, a ranch foreman for 50 years.  Since 1985 Andersen farmland in Chandler has given rise to Andersen Springs planned community.  Two schools have been built on the land, one bearing John M. Andersen 's name, the other a junior high memorializing his son.