George Jenks and Anna Christina Anderson

So far little has been learned about the lives of George and Anna before they came to Stillwater.  Census and other records state that George was born in New York State on October 8th, 1832. His parents were also born in New York state, probably meaning his family arrived in this country before the Revolutionary War. In the 1850 Federal Census for New York state there is a George Jenks, age 18, residing in Esperance township in Schoharie county. He was in the household of John Magee as a farm laborer. Additionally, there are two other Jenks residing in Schoharie county that are believed to be brother and sister to George. Their names were Joseph and Selia (Celia). Both were in Fulton Township in separate households. In the death notice for Joseph Jenks his parents are named. Names given are Benjamin Jenks and Elizabeth Arnold. In an index to the 1840 Census there is Benjamin Jenks listed in Cayuga county. This has not been investigated yet. It is also believed there were two other brothers, Dennis and Henry. Anna was born in Sweden on August 20th, 1839 or 1842. There is a conflict about the dates. The headstone in Fairview Cemetery and county death record say 1839. However, when asked by the census enumerator in 1870, 1880, and 1900, she was always ten years younger than George. Her Civil War veteran's widow's pension file states that her birthplace was Nexio, Sweden and the 1900 Census states she arrived in 1857 and was born in 1842.

The 1857 Minnesota Territorial and 1860 Federal censuses show George Jenks as a boarder in the home of Albert Stinson. His profession was lumberman. He must have decided that the outdoor life was not for him because the Stillwater prison records list George Jenks as cook from 1861 to 1864. The report for 1864/65 has no employees names listed. His name reappears in records from 1866 through 1869. His time as a cook was interrupted for six months military service in March 1865. He served as a private in Company L, 1st Regiment US Veterans Volunteers Engineers. He gave up the higher paying job as prison cook to enlist for one year entitling him to an enlistment bounty of $100, a third of which was paid upon reporting.

He enlisted on March 25, 1865, and reported to Fort Snelling in St. Paul on April 11, 1865, and served in Chattanooga, Tennessee. There is no way of knowing what he actually did there, but research revealed that the Engineers did construction and engineering projects including rebuilding of railroads destroyed in the war. Muster records show that he was present but "sick in quarters" for June, July, and August. He was mustered out in Nashville on September 26, 1865 and was paid an additional one third of the enlistment bounty, having served six months of the years enlistment. Soldiers not serving a full year were entitled to this amount if they served six months.

We'll probably never know why he gave up his prison job for the uncertainty of military life. He was sufficiently motivated to shave a few years off his age. He claimed to be 28 when he was actually 31 and gave his occupation as a carpenter when he was a cook.

George met Anna at the Stillwater prison's warden's house. Caroline Proctor, the wife of John Proctor, the warden, in an affidavit filed in 1915, stated that Anna was employed as a domestic in her house and George became acquainted with her there. As prison cook it is probable he supplied meals to the warden's family too. The warden's house was very close to the prison. The first official chronological record of Anna Anderson found was the "solemization" of their marriage. Reverend W.C. Shaw performed the ceremony in April, 1862. W.C. Shaw also appears in the prison records for 1861 as the chaplain. One can only speculate why the record shows the name Anna C. Smith. Perhaps she did not have her parents permission or the minister simply forgot her name when he entered the record at the courthouse. Their daughter Elida Ann was born four months later in August,1862. Anna's obituary in 1924 stated that she married in 1861. There is a statement from a fellow traveler from the ship she emigrated on that she was known as "Little Anna". A photo of her late in life confirms her small stature.

On the census of 1870 George listed his occupation as cook and his real estate was worth $2,800. Anna C. and Elida are listed in the same household. On July 4, 1875 their second daughter Alice Augusta was born. There are no other children known. Alice died in February, 1884 of diphtheria. The state census of 1875 lists a George and Anna Jenks but with incorrect ages and no children listed. Possibly no one was at home and neighbors provided this information.

The 1880 census lists George, Anna and their two daughters. He changed his occupation to baker. This census tells us he had strong roots in New York state; both his parents had been born there as well. Elida Ann married Peter Welander in November, 1881. They would have five children. Their first, born in 1885, was named Etta Alice, probably choosing to honor the younger sister that had died the year before.

The 1890 census was destroyed in a fire, but a special census of Civil War veterans still exists. In the portion of the census listing disabilities, George listed rheumatism, which was probably caused by exposure in the Army. In March of 1890, George filed a claim for a Civil War pension claiming that he contracted rheumatism, disease of the spine and developed a hernia while serving in Tennessee. Two affidavits are in his pension file stating that he was unable to learn his living doing manual labor after he returned from his military service. One stated that he was an unusually strong man before he was injured.

The 1900 census lists George and Anna living at 226 North Main. He gave his occcupation as retired property owner and owned his home free of any mortgage. Both could read, write and speak English. However, in her application for a Civil War widow's pension, Anna signed it with an "X". They had two children, one still alive. They shared the residence with three boarders: a husband and wife and a young woman, all from Sweden.

The 1910 census lists George and Anna as living at 1215 N. Main in Stillwater. He said he was a cook and had worked 52 weeks in the past year. Anna's age does match the official records, this time being only seven years younger than George. They had been married 48 years and again stated that they had two children, one living.

In 1904 George Jenks purchased 85 acres of land in Washington County from John Welander for $2,000. John was the brother of Peter Welander, George's son-in-law. This land was later inherited by Elida. George also owned several parcels of land on Olive Street in Stillwater.

As a Civil War veteran, George received a pension from the government. State pension records show his pension increased from $10 in 1904 to $22.50 per month in 1913 with intermediate increases. Anna's claim as a widow was hindered by the appearance of the name Smith on the marriage record. The pension records also mention a fire that destroyed all of her personal papers. Several persons provided affidavits stating that Anna Smith and Anna Anderson were the same person. She received a pension of $12 a month. Her age on the pension records indicates a birth year of 1839.

George Jenks died October 28, 1914 at his home at 1215 W. Olive in Stillwater. He is buried in Fairview Cemetery in Stillwater. Anna lived another ten years and died at her daughter's home on West Maple Street. She is buried next to George. She apparently lived for a short time at the farm in Grant Township because her mailing address for her widow's pension was RFD #4, Stillwater.

This page last modified on February 04, 2001.