Vernal Arnold Andersen

Vernal Arnold Andersen

Hyrum, Cache County, Utah, USA
Death 13 Jan 1937 (aged 35)
Cima, San Bernardino County, California, USA
Burial Lewiston, Cache County, Utah, USA
Memorial ID 36844841 · View Source
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Son of Niels Cooper Andersen & Anna Maria Olsen, both born in Norway

Married May Neilson, 26 April 1920, Hyrum, Cache, Utah

Cause of Death: Union Pacific train wreck


Fingerprints Identify Man as Frank Gibson, Long Hunted Slayer From Minnesota


Last to Elude Arrest of 16 Who Fled Prison Pays Kindness of Foreman With Life

Among the eight men whose lives were snuffed out when a Union Pacific locomotive struck a section worker's car in a blinding snow storm early on the morning of Jan 13 far out in the desert near Cima was one of the nation's most widely hunted characters – Frank Gibson an escaped murderer.
Gibson, the lone criminal to elude arrest of the 16 who escaped in a wholesale prison break from the Minnesota state insane asylum in June 1936, died as he paid a debt of gratitude to a kindly section foreman, Vernol A Andersen, who too, died in the worst tragedy in the history of railroading in San Bernardino county.

Cold Drives Him to Home at Cima

Fearful of every man he met and, like the hunted, moving frequently from one place to another, Gibson was alone in the desert on the blustery night of Jan. 12, making his way along the Union Pacific toward Southern California. Bitter cold and hunger drove him to stop at Anderson's home at Cima. He asked food and shelter from the storn, offering to repay Anderson with labor.

Andersen, anticipating a call for his section gang to clear the railway of the drifting snow, took Gibson in for the night. Alone, the wandering stranger ate and retired, talking to Anderson and his family but little. Unlike other transients, he didn't retrace his travels nor did he ask any questions.

Foreman Calls Him With Crew

Shortly before 4 a.m., Andersen was called to shovel the snow from the tracks on the summit of the range of desert hills, over which the limited trains are routed. Andersen called his section workers—and the transient who offered labor for food and shelter.

Their caps pulled down and their coat collars turned up, the section workers and Anderson started out through the storm on a motor-propelled car—a journey to death for the entire party. Hardly a mile away, they were killed when a locomotive, backing up the hill, struck their light car. The mangled bodies were strewn along the track for nearly 400 yards.

Of the eight mangled bodies, five could not be identified definitely at the inquest conducted in Barstow by Coroner R. E. Williams. Somehow, the coroner learned that the "new man in the gang" was "Frank Day." But the identity was doubtful and the coroner ordered fingerprints taken.

Sent to Washington

O. W. Bottorff, chief of the bureau of identification of the sheriff's office, took the prints and Sheriff Emmett L. Shay forwarded them to the Federal bureau in Washington. Then the past, from which the itinerant "Frank Day" had attempted to hide, was revealed. The hungry wanderer who volunteered to help the section boss was Frank Gibson, a murderer, an escaped convict under a life sentence, a man for whom thousands of officers kept up a search, day and night.

For a year, he had escaped the search, only to die in perhaps the loneliest section of the country through which he fled, always fearful he would be recognized and returned to a cell.


Gibson's body is being held at the White & Platt mortuary at Barstow. If it is not claimed, the Union Pacific railway will finance a burial in return for Gibson's proffered help during the storm.

Sheriff Shay was informed by the Federal identification bureau that Gibson had frequently been in jails and prisons, his last the Minnesota penitentiary, to which he was sentenced to life for murder in 1927.


(By Associated Press)

ST. PETER, Minn., Feb. 1 Frank Gibson, fugitive from the state insane asylum here, killed in a San Bernardino county railway accident, had confessed two murders, the state bureau of criminal apprehension said tonight.

He escaped June 7 from the state criminal hospital with 15 fellow inmates, all of whom have subsequently been accounted for.

Gibson, a Minneapolis man alias "Slim" and Tex McFarland confessed the killing of H. H. Peterson, cashier of the Citizens bank of Wheelock, N.D., during a holdup Nov. 12, 1926.

The fugitive also confessed with Jack Northup, now serving a life term in the state penitentiary, the slaying of Frank Dahlin, marshal of Isanti, Minn., in December, 1927, during an attempted robbery.

Gibson was sent from the Stillwater state penitentiary with several others to St. Peter for mental observation.

(These articles were discovered in the records of White & Platt mortuary, Barstow, California)

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  • Maintained by: SMSmith
  • Originally Created by: Bill E. Doman
  • Added: 7 May 2009
  • Find a Grave Memorial 36844841
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Vernal Arnold Andersen (14 Jul 1901–13 Jan 1937), Find a Grave Memorial no. 36844841, citing Lewiston City Cemetery, Lewiston, Cache County, Utah, USA ; Maintained by SMSmith (contributor 46491005) .