(Editorial Note: Part 142 of a series of further development in the early days that impacted Franklin County. Sources: Franklin County Citizen, 1922, 1940; Hometown Album, compiled by Newell Hart; Mink Creek History, compiled by Viola Barlow Larsen)
The Franklin County Democratic Party had their candidate, incumbent Sheriff Bill Head, on the ballot once again in 1940. A popular man and a good officer, Head had been routinely elected to that office since 1922. The Republicans were searching for a suitable opponent, someone with a good reputation throughout the county and with past experience in the enforcing of law. Their choice was Elias (Lee) Hansen.
A life-long native of Franklin County, Hansen was then employed as a state patrolman for the State of Idaho. He had been in the public-eye since he was a teenager due to his love of horses, where he participated in local horse shows. Lee Hansen won the election.
Elias (Lee) Knudsen Hansen was born in Mink Creek in August of 1894, a son of Hans Christian Hansen and Gjertrud Maria Hansen. This Danish couple had migrated to the United States and Utah shortly after they were married in 1879 in Denmark. They came first to Box Elder County, then moved to Cache Valley in the Providence area. By the year 1885 they were claiming a homestead among other Danish people in the farming village of Mink Creek, Idaho.
“Lee developed an interest and love for horses at a very early age. During his life, he trained some of his horses to perform. “One, in particular, he had trained to buck, count, lie down, and about anything else a horse was capable of doing.”
Lee always told the story of taking his horse named Patty to the rodeo in Preston. This was a long time ago, the chutes of the rodeo grounds on the east side of the park and not many bleachers for seating.
“Lee would ride into the arena and at a signal, Patty would buck and Lee would fall off. A rodeo clown came running out, asking Lee if he was hurt. Lee said, ‘Get the h- — out of here, my horse is coming back.’ Sure enough, Patty came back. Then Lee told him to lie down. Patty did. Then Lee got hold of the saddle horn and told Patty to get up. Patty got up and carried Lee out of the arena.” His was a precursor to the shows we see at the local rodeo each year.
As a youth Hansen helped his father on the farm. In his teenage years he lived in Tremonton, helping his eldest sister and other family members. When he was 19, in 1914, his mother asked him to return to Mink Creek due to his father’s ill health. The Hometown Album features a photograph of Hansen as a member of the Mink Creek basketball team in 1915. The following year he married a young lady from Pocatello, Clara Ella Payne, and continued farming in Mink Creek.
When the world-wide influenza epidemic of 1917-18 came on the scene, Lee lost three of his siblings to the disease. Perhaps because of this, he felt the need to help other families who were at the mercy of the flu. The doctors were short on professional help throughout the county and Lee took it upon himself to serve as ‘nurse’ to many of the families of Mink Creek.
It was said that because he had managed to escape the contamination within his own family he felt it was safe for him to go to other homes needing assistance. The fear of catching the flu was very real all around the globe. At this point Hansen had two young children and Clara in his own home.
Lee worked as a forest ranger to supplement their farm income from 1918 to 1934. He also traveled a beautiful stallion around the area for stud service to help with finances with his growing family. Lee and Clara had five children. In 1937, Lee got a job with the state police force. The Hansen family moved to Preston and leased their farm, but Lee continued his passion for horses, receiving first place for one he owned in the Preston Horse Show of August, 1940, in the Ladies western pleasure horse division: “First, Keno, owned by Lee Hansen, ridden by Ardis(his daughter) Hansen.”
The Franklin County Citizen reported a case while he was working as a state patrolman. One E. A. Vincent was arraigned in court for allegedly practicing medicine without a license. “Judge levied a fine of $100 and 30 days on Ideal Club Manager Dunn after a guilty plea was entered to the charge of ‘illegally selling liquor.’ The plea came as a result of a raid on the club by Preston city officers assisted by state patrolman Lee Hansen.”
State Patrolman Lee Hansen also reported only one automobile accident had marred holiday driving in Franklin County — no serious injuries, happening a half mile south of Banida on Hwy 91. When the Republican party leaders came seeking a candidate in 1940, Hansen had the qualifications they sought.