Archive for the ‘Sanpete Messenger’ Category

House Articles Aug. 2013 120By Emily Olsen
November 14, 2013

GUNNISON—A pair of historic homes stand as prominent pillars of Gunnison’s historic roots and open windows to memories of yesteryear.

The homes, standing on the north end of Main Street, were built by two brothers, Lafayette and James Bown.

The brothers built their homes a year apart. Lafayette, who his friends called “Lafe,” built the Bown Villa at 132 North Main in 1898, and James built his home at 168 North Main in 1899.

Both homes have different styles, but they were designed by the same architect from Nephi, whose name is unknown today.

The Bown Villa features many elements of Victorian Eclectic styling, including “an unusual if not unique double-roofed corner tower, a formal entry through a portico of paired columns [front porch], multiple roof forms and a tall, stately overall appearance,” according to a description on www.Sanpete.com.House Articles Aug. 2013 130

The James Bown home, also a Victorian Eclectic, has a large portico and entrance hall, front parlor and dining room. It was built with red sandstone from a quarry near Fayette. The foundation is oolite limestone extracted from the same rock quarry used for the Manti LDS Temple. Its dark red bricks were manufactured in Manti.

The Bown brothers tended 10,000 sheep on the open range in Utah, Idaho and Colorado. Two hundred sheep usually grazed in a pasture behind the two homes. Before Main Street was built, a large canal ran in front of the two homes. A small indentation in the gravel driveways is all that remains of the canal today.

Because of their large outfit, the brothers hired staff to assist them with the herd. A sheepherder named “Brooks” lived in James’ home. He disappeared for long periods of time with no explanation. He was “a large frightening man with bad table manners,” reports Sanpete.com. “It was later discovered that he was bank robber, among other things.”

James, whose home is still owned by his family, was financially successful and played an important role in building the community of Gunnison. Lafe, although he lived in Gunnison for decades prior to building the Bown Villa, was forced to move north within 10 years of completing the home, says Marie Sanders, great-niece of Lafe and current owner of the James Bown home with her husband Kent.

Another family inhabited the Bown Villa for almost a century before passing it to its current owners, Bill, Charlotte and Shawn Christiansen.

The Bown Villa
Lafe Bown’s home was purchased by Payton and Bessie Alexander in 1929 shortly after they were married. Payton accepted a job in Gunnison as a high school coach and later served as the high school principal for many years.

Bessie Alexander was born in 1908 to Hyrum and Julia “Jule” Hatton in Provo, where she attended Maeser Elementary School and Provo High School. She also attended BYU, where she majored in physical education and dance and met her husband. Bessie lived in the Bown Villa throughout her married life. Only in the last 10 years of her life did she move to California to live closer to her daughters. She died in 2009 at the age of 101.

Payton and Bessie boarded school teachers in their home, including Wanda Welling, Faye Hills and Jenny Duke.

The Alexanders had three daughters, Jewel, Patsy and Joann. Jewel vividly remembers her happy childhood in the Bown Villa. “Patsy and I played on a small bed [on the front porch] with our girlfriends. We played with paper dolls, colored, read and played board [games] and card games. This would continue until one of the dogs would leap on the bed and disrupt everything,” she recalls.

“Christmas was the only time we had a fire in the fireplace,” Jewel says. “During the rest of the winter [the front room] was closed off to keep the heat in the dining room, bedroom and kitchen.”

“There was a ‘heatrola,’ a coal-fired heating stove in the dining room and the cook stove in the kitchen for heat,” Jewel continues. “The ceiling above the heatrola had a vent about a foot square which took the chill off the south upstairs bedroom.”

Charlotte Christiansen, a long-time Gunnison resident, knew the Bown Villa only as “Bessie’s House” before she purchased it with her husband Bill and son Shawn in 2002. Charlotte Christiansen’s real estate office was around the corner from the house for decades, and she knew Bessie well.

When Bessie moved, she sold the house to Charlotte. “She knew we would maintain it,” Charlotte says.

Shawn Christiansen spent the last decade restoring and updating the home. He painstakingly stripped the walls of seven or eight layers of wallpaper and restored the baseboards. He added central air and updated the electrical wiring. He also restored the main stairwell and the roof’s original wood-shake shingles. Shawn added a bathroom to a bedroom upstairs and modernized the kitchen.

Payton and Bessie Alexander had used what now is the dining room as their bedroom, which had a separate door to the bathroom and kitchen in the back of the house. Bessie painted the bathroom bright pink and adorned it with lace drapes. Charlotte and Shawn Christiansen have maintained the bathroom as Bessie left it.

Shawn also found an original stained glass window in the chicken coop and placed it in the front room.

Today Charlotte and Shawn Christiansen use the Bown Villa as the offices of their real estate brokerage. They also hold family reunions and permit visiting family to stay there.

The James Bown Home
James and Lafe were two of the 10 children in the William Bown and Jane Ann Metcalf family (only six sons lived past 1900). Many of the offspring lived in Fayette where a fort providing shelter from the Indians was located. Some of the Bowns tried settling in St. George, but a flood one year ruined their crops. The Metcalf family rescued the St. George Bowns and brought them back to Fayette.

James and Lafe were able to settle in Gunnison once challenges with the Native Americans had subsided, but their successful sheepherding business was compromised when landowners began fencing their properties. Sheepherders couldn’t lead their sheep across various properties anymore.

When James’ and Lafe’s sheepherding business folded, Lafe moved to Provo, but James maintained his residence in Gunnison and changed his profession to banking. A room upstairs in his home was used as an office, says Marie Sanders, a granddaughter of James Bown.

James Bown helped organize the Gunnison Telephone Company as well as the Citizen’s Bank of Gunnison and Centerfield.

“My grandfather had the first telephone in Gunnison and had enough stock in the phone company to control it,” Marie says. “Even today, there are only 60-70 stockholders.”

Both of Marie’s parents also worked for the telephone company. The phone company is now managed by Kent Sanders and his son, Jim.

James and his wife, Florence Bartholomew Bown, raised five daughters in the home. James told Florence she could have either an indoor toilet or a fireplace in the home.

“She chose the toilet,” Marie says. “The home now has a chimney that goes nowhere.”

Marie, the only child of Howard and Vera Jane Bown Norman (Vera Jane was a daughter of James and Florence). She lived in the home as a girl.

“The bathroom upstairs used to be my bedroom,” Marie says.

There was a vent in the dining room that heated the upstairs, Marie recalls. The north room in the home was the music room. An archway in the music room separated it from another room that James and Florence used as their bedroom, which had blue and purple drapes.

When the Sanders moved in, they “got rid of the drapes and changed the bedroom into a TV room,” Marie says.

Today there are three bedrooms upstairs, one big room and two smaller rooms. One of the rooms still has the original furniture. They cut one wall to make drawers and cupboards. What used to be the large downstairs bathroom with a claw-foot bathtub is now a smaller bath with a shower only and a separate washroom.

Is there a connection between Florence Bartholomew Bown’s family and Byrd Bartholomew, who married Jewel Alexander next door?

Byrd Bartholomew’s grandfather (George Marston Bartholomew) and Florence Bartholomew’s father (Joseph Bartholomew) were brothers—both sons of Joseph Bartholomew and Polly Benson.

The Christiansens have heard that the wives of James and Lafe were sisters, but the truth is they weren’t (since Lafe was married to Clarissa Jane Dack—not a Bartholomew).

However, the oldest brother of James and Lafe (William Bown) was married to Elizabeth Almira Bartholomew, a daughter of the same Joseph Bartholomew and Polly Benson.

And even though the wives of James and Lafe weren’t sisters, they treated each other like sisters: “The brothers didn’t get along, but the wives were good friends,” Shawn says.

It is clear that both Bown homes have been well loved and treasured through the years, continuing to memorialize those who have gone before, along with providing those in the present with pleasant places for memory making—and reminiscing.


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Editor’s Note: This is another in an intermittent series of articles about historic homes in Sanpete County and the people who have built, restored and lived in them, past and present.

By Emily Sanderson Olsen
September 16, 2013

MANTI—In 1903, fire erupted with a loud boom in an upper northeast room of the Bench Hotel on Main Street in Manti.

A Mr. and Mrs. Stuttz, who were staying at the hotel and who ran a theatrical company,  had been preparing something to be used as lights in their show that evening. They forgot an essential ingredient, and the mixture exploded.

Mr. Stuttz was able to escape and then returned to the building to try to rescue his wife. He severely burned his hands as he opened the flaming hot doorknob. His wife was badly burned and in shock. She died a few days later.

“The hands of Stuttz were so severely burned that it was weeks before he was able to feed himself or join his (theater) company,” says Jennie B. Cox in a four-page typed history of the Bench Hotel written in 1960.

Jennie Cox was the daughter of George Edward Bench and Jane Hortin. After their marriage in 1863, the couple built a two-room adobe cabin on the northwest corner of 300 South and Main Street.

Bench added onto the home in stages. Two rooms were built with hand-cut stone bricks above the adobe cabin to provide room for the Benches’ 10 children, seven girls and three boys.

The couple started the Bench Hotel as a means of making income for their large family. Ultimately, eight more bedrooms and a bathroom were added.

Today, the house only has three bedrooms. Most of the portion of the house that burned was never rebuilt, so no one knows what the structure looked like in its full glory, says Donna Birk, who purchased the home with her husband, Doug, in 1990.

Birk knew the house was meant for her when she first toured it and she has loved it ever since. “We’ve never been spooked,” Birk says. “We have only felt good vibes in this house.”

Today the home includes the two original upstairs bedrooms and a third bedroom on the main level. A smaller room at the top of the stairs was once a closet, but the Birks converted it into a two-level playhouse for their children.

The original two-room adobe home is the Birks’ living and dining rooms, boasting 12-foot ceilings. The 2-foot thick walls are apparent in an arch with original oxblood stain that was cut out to connect the adobe rooms with the rest of the house. Behind the dining room are a kitchen and the mudroom, which the family uses as a TV room.

When the Birks moved in, the hardwood floors were covered with light blue shag carpet. They have restored the floors in the front rooms.

“We raised four girls here,” says Birk. Now the bedrooms in the home are used to house Birk’s visiting grandchildren.

One of the home’s unique features is a large attic above the back of the house that can be reached through a door in an upstairs bedroom. Birk believes the attic space housed some of the bedrooms in the old hotel.

Faded wallpaper covers the lathe-and-plaster walls of the attic. The attic floor is not strong enough to walk on, and the sky peeks through some of the roof’s shingles. Birk plans to restore the space as a family room.

The Bench Hotel opened for business in 1887 or 1888 and ran for 17 or 18 years, according to Cox’s history. Patrons included boarders who lived there for years and guests who stayed only while they were visiting in town.

Some of the more famous guests were George Albert Smith and Joseph F. Smith, who later became presidents of the LDS Church.

“[The hotel] provided work for the older ones of the family, keeping them at home instead of their having to find employment elsewhere,” Cox writes. “And as the older girls married, the younger ones took their places, so we all learned to work and cook.”

“The two older boys, George and Frank, ran a livery stable in connection with the hotel,” Cox continues. The stable took care of horses, including some that pulled a “hack,” or a three-seated buggy to providing patrons with transportation to and from the train station.

“The rooms in the hotel were all neatly furnished,” Cox writes. “The office contained a table, chairs, couch, an organ (the first one in Manti) and a stove to supply heat in the winter. There were no furnaces at this time.

“At the windows were blinds and curtains, and on the walls hung beautiful…pictures painted by my sister Ella, who began painting when she was 11 years old,” Cox continues. “One of the boarders offered my father $50 for one of the pictures, but he refused to sell it.”

Each bedroom contained a double bed, chairs, and a small table that held a kerosene lamp. There was also a washstand with a pitcher and bowl, as well as soap and towels. A commode was kept in a drawer of the washstand.

Floors throughout the house were covered with homemade rag carpet with straw underneath as padding, typical of homes in Sanpete County because fashionable rugs were too expensive. But some guests felt rag carpet wasn’t good enough.

“One evening, a traveling salesman came to the hotel intending to stay,” Cox recalled. “When he opened the door and looked in and saw a rag carpet covering the floor, he said, ‘<Expletive>, rag carpet!’” The salesman left immediately and stayed at another hotel.

“I suppose, in the meantime, he must have gotten used to rag carpets because the next time he came to Manti, he came to the Bench House and was a very nice guest,” Cox writes.

Other prominent guests included H.R. Kerr, superintendent of the Sanpete Railroad; James W. Cherry, an attorney; L.A. Lauber, publisher of the Sanpete Democrat, a weekly newspaper; H.C. Jacobs, who later managed the Jacobs Mortuary in Mt. Pleasant; as well as a number of educators.

The hotel closed within a year or two after the fire in 1903. During the 1900s, the house passed through a handful of owners, including Jay and Laurie Olsen and Thera Lou Hickman. It served as a dentist’s office for a time.

This year marks the home’s 150th anniversary. Many memories are associated with the structure. Just one example: The late Betty Anderson, who was Birk’s neighbor in her elderly years, remembered jumping from a second-story window onto a mattress in the front yard one hot summer day with a number of other children, probably when parents home were away. And the covered patio on the south side of the house is a place to rest after a long day at work.

Unquestionably, the ivy-covered edifice will remain a Manti icon for years to come.

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By Emily Sanderson Olsen

A new live radio show debuted to a full house in Spring City’s Victory Hall on Saturday night with screaming success. “Life Under the Horseshoe” aired at 7 p.m. on KMGR Radio’s 95.9 and 102.7 FM.

The sky is the limit for host Mark Allen and director Lawrence Gardner, who live along Main Street in Spring City and who are now seeing years of planning come to fruition. Allen is a professional singer and has been the member of a rock ‘n roll band, and Gardner spent his career in Hollywood working on films.

The show begins and ends with the music of Dave and Carla Eskelsen, a couple from Farmington who write and perform exquisite folk guitar duets. Their songs were stories about living in Farmington when the weather change in the fall, the harsh east wind and Carla’s experiences growing up in Native American communities where her father was a doctor.

Three skits were the main features of the evening including “Bummer Bench,” a true story about Charlie Beck, a local man who had suffered from typhoid fever in his youth and never walked without crutches again. He spent the rest of his days parked on a bench in the middle of town on a wooden pew whittling wooden toys for children and offering advice to teenagers and adults.

Charlie’s bench will remain as a cornerstone on the stage and will be where Allen will tell a story each week.

“Invasion of the G-Men,” is a humorous story from around the turn of the century about polygamous men who mistake a man in the local train station as a “government man” who had come to arrest polygamous men. They discover that they had nothing to fear when they learn that the young man, who was dressed like a man from the city, was coming home from an LDS mission in London.

The story was acted out by about 10 people, including two volunteers from the audience who provided a dog bark and baby cry sounds. A live organist provided old-radio accompaniment to the skits.

“Elmer’s Icy Plunge,” is humorous true story about a boy in the 1870s who got baptized in ice-cold water against his will. A young paperboy begins the skit with a yell from the audience, “I have a story!” he says. Allen then invites him onstage to tell the story about the boy who ran home after being forcefully dunked under the cold water, something that would never happen in the LDS Church today.

Allen and Gardner combined their performance talents with local resources to create the show. Snow College donated its used sound and lighting equipment from one of its old auditoriums, and local members of the community perform for free.

The radio show also relies on local sponsors, including Zions Bank, Terrel’s Thriftway, Krikorian Art Gallery, Horseshoe Mountain Pottery, Spring City Arts and Sanpete County Travel.

The show continues to look for additional sponsors and plans to syndicate the program on radio stations in Salt Lake City and beyond. They are also looking for family history stories and writers, and at some point plan to feature a live band. For more information, go to LifeUndertheHorseshoe.com.

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By Emily Sanderson

MT. PLEASANT — It was the Fourth of July, a day full of celebration and fireworks. But some of the fireworks that day weren’t planned. An historic building at 65 Main Street experienced fire damage in the attic and belfry.

That was in 1918 in a Wild West town dominated by the LDS faith. The building known as Liberal Hall was originally built in 1875, but more than 40 years later, the wood-framed, wood-sided building was stucco-ed and lost its bell tower. No funds were available to repair the building any further.

Charred remnants of the fire could still be found in the attic for almost a century. The small, one-room structure with a small foyer has been used for all kinds of purposes, most recently as a second-hand store.

However, earlier this year, Wasatch Academy, a local private, nondenominational junior high and high school with students from all over the globe, began taking steps to renovate the structure. The project is presently in the demolition stage, and the school has set aside an undisclosed amount of money to restore the belfry and the rest of the building. It has plans to use it as a museum, says Donna Glidewell, the school’s historian.

First Home
Why is Wasatch Academy interested in the structure? Liberal Hall was the first home of the formerly Presbyterian-based school. Presbyterian minister Duncan McMillan, the school’s first headmaster, purchased the structure below-cost the year it was built by members of the Liberal Party who used it as a social hall — hence the building’s name.

The Liberal Party was a statewide group that opposed the Mormon church’s political control. McMillan found that he and the Liberal Party had much in common. He would become a prominent anti-Mormon activist on a national level for the rest of his career. In particular, McMillan was a critic of polygamy and played an active role in getting the practice outlawed in the United States, according to R. Douglas Brackenridge, who wrote “Duncan James McMillan: Missionary to the Mormons.” The text can be found on the website of Monmouth College, a Presbyterian school in Illinois.

Duncan McMillan
Duncan J. McMillan is characterized as one of the most colorful, charismatic, and controversial recruits of Sheldon Jackson, a prominent leader of the Presbyterian church in the late 1800s in the Western United States. McMillan was born in Giles County, Tenn., in 1846. As a 15-year-old boy, he accompanied his father, a Presbyterian clergyman himself, while he served as the chaplain of the 32nd Illinois Infantry during the Civil War.

After his father’s death, McMillan enlisted in the war, serving until its end. He was ordained to the Presbyterian ministry in 1872 after paying his way through college.

McMillan suffered from a chronic throat and bronchial condition after he had rescued some young women from a building fire, and he chose to move to Utah became of its milder climate, according to Brackenridge.

Sheldon Jackson introduced him at the inaugural session of the First Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City in the fall of 1871 with the following words:

“We read in St. John’s Gospel, ‘there was a man sent from God and his name was John.’ There came to Salt Lake City a man whose name is Duncan J. McMillan, a genuine Scotchman and full of the spirit.”

McMillan was gracious to Sanpete Mormons — to their faces — but he wrote inflammatory remarks about them in the “Rocky Mountain Presbyterian” early in his ministry there, which Salt Lake City ministers confiscated and burned in order to prevent it from reaching readers. He described the Mormon people as:

“… poor, ignorant, deluded, degraded, priest-ridden serfs. The men stand about their customary loafing places with their hands up to their elbows in their pants pockets, their old hats on the backs of their heads and their mouths open, utterly incapable of comprehending intelligent thought; the women are literally servants of servants, and the children are legion.”

McMillan left Utah in 1883 when his position as district superintendent wasn’t renewed. The Presbytery “did not see their way clear to recommend his reappointment to the position” because “there (was) such a lack of harmony between his views and feelings and the views and feelings of the Presbytery in regard to the proper method of carrying the work within its bounds,” states the minutes of the Presbytery of Utah.

McMillan moved on to other posts within the church, but more than 15 years later, he would play an important role in helping to secure a benefactor to underwrite Westminster College in Salt Lake City. Although he helped found other schools in Utah, Westminster College and Wasatch Academy are the only ones that remain today.

McMillan’s early confrontation with Canute Peterson, an LDS bishop from Ephraim, was memorialized in McMillan’s eulogy in 1939. Peterson warned him upon his arrival into Ephraim that if he tried to preach there, he wouldn’t come out alive.

McMillan is said to have responded:

“I have half a pound of lead here (exhibits his revolver), and I can pull a trigger as quickly and put a bullet as near ti the mark as any man in Ephraim. I’ll be ready for you.”

The New York Times said that McMillan had traveled “to the heart of Mormon Utah, where no missionary had ever ventured, and where he often preached with his pistol on the pulpit.”

Presbyterian Mission
While McMillan was appointed by Sheldon Jackson to evangelize members of the LDS faith in Utah, he quickly discovered that traditional evangelistic strategies, such as building churches, holding revivals and organizing Sunday Schools, were ineffective in Mormon country. Providing a religious-based educational program was the way into the homes and hearts of local residents, he decided.

“Influenced by successful local day-schools already established by Episcopalians and Methodists in Salt Lake City, McMillan envisaged a network of Presbyterian day and boarding schools in Utah that would provide high-quality education at a minimal cost,” states Brackenridge.

“With no free public school system in Utah Territory, McMillan reasoned that denominational schools would bridge cultural gaps and attract Mormon children who in turn would draw their siblings and parents.”

The school, which opened on April 19,1875, was received well by the community. It was even endorsed by local LDS Bishop W.S. Seely, who had befriended McMillan on his arrival to Mt. Pleasant.

“Some day-school students also attended a Sunday School where the curriculum focused primarily on Biblical studies and doctrine, but many Mormon parents, wary of Protestant indoctrination, refused to let their children attend,” Brackenridge writes.

Brigham Young, president of the LDS Church, disapproved of the school and forbade local members to attend it. However, by early summer, enrollment had reached 109 with more on a waiting list.

Liberal Hall
The Presbyterian Church used Liberal Hall as its primary meetinghouse and school for 15 to 20 years. In the 1890s, the First Presbyterian Church, also with a bell tower, was built on the corner of 1st South and 1st West to fulfill the growing religion’s need for a larger center of worship. A new school building was also built to provide additional classroom space.

Some time after the fire in 1918, Liberal Hall began getting leased out for other uses.

This year, the restoration team has located the original bell used in Liberal Hall and plan to reinstall it in its rightful place. The bell was a welcomed sound upon its first ringing in 1875, even bringing some Scandinavian immigrants to tears because it had been so long since they had heard a church bell. LDS Church meetinghouses do not typically include belfries.

In 1972, Wasatch Academy became a nondenominational school when the Presbyterian Church stopped promoting its secular educational programs. Joseph Loftin, the head of school today, began pursuing the school’s international approach in the 1990s. Unlike its early years, the academy has reached out to local causes to better integrate the school into the community.

“It is a community within a community,” says Glidewell, mostly because its populace is so unique. Its international students speak many different languages and come from a number of countries, but they all contribute to a supportive and friendly culture.

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The FC Jensen Home, shown in its current state. The front of the house is shown on the right side of the picture.


F.C. Jensen, a Danish settler, built this Victorian home on 200 South and 200 West in Mt. Pleasant in 1891. The Jensen family ended up leaving the LDS Church and joining the Liberal Party, which offered a political and educational alternative to the LDS culture.

“If Walls Could Talk” Series

By Emily Sanderson

MT PLEASANT — The Frederick Christian (F.C.) Jensen home is one of Mt. Pleasant’s standouts. What makes it more remarkable is that Jensen built it not for his own family but for his mother, Maria.

Jensen, a prominent Danish settler, Sanpete County businessman and Presbyterian, built the majestic two-story home on the corner of 200 West and 200 South in 1891.

It was added to the National Historic Register in 1982.

The hose is a beautiful example of Victorian architecture with its Eastlake porches and Carpenter Gothic  gables, according to the building’s registry with the U.S. Department of the Interior Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service.

The superior architecture reflects Jensen’s craftsmanship. Among his many business ventures, Jensen owned what was considered one of the finest furniture stores in the region.

The exterior of the home features four main gables decorated with alternating bands of diagonal and fishscale shingles. The two main porches have flat roofs with columns decorated with scroll brackets at the top of each column and fancy balusters.

The north parlor, one of two in the home, featured a half-octagonal bay window.

Painted bright colors

In the Danish tradition, the porch columns and balusters were originally painted in bright colors, according to the registry.

The woodwork throughout the home and the ceilings in both parlors were once intricately painted by a Danish artist, recalls Winifred Steadman Colwill, F.C. Jensen’s granddaughter. The home also features a very large kitchen and dining room in the back of the home, as well as a very large back porch.

“They entertained a lot of visitors,” Colwill says.

Upstairs were three bedrooms and one very large bathroom, which was the only original bathroom in the home. The home was filled with Danish furniture including tall, hand-painted bureaus.

Colwill visited the home frequently during her childhood and lived there with her grandmother as a high school student and in the summers during her college years.

One parlor was used as a music room, and it housed a beautiful grand piano. The room also features an Italian tile fireplace, which is still there today.

Sadly, one of the painted ceilings was destroyed when a pipe burst in the music room during a very cold winter. During the 1940s and 1950s, the family closed up the home during the winter because it had no central heating, and they would live at another residence in California. The water damage had become substantial before the family discovered it later in the spring. The ceiling had to be completely replaced. Gratefully, the grand piano was preserved by a plastic cover, Colwill recalls.

The family sold the home to Wasatch Academy in 1954 for a very modest price, says Donna Glidewell, the school’s historian, who also lives in the home for a period in 1991. The home is used today as a private residence by a member of the school’s faculty.

Pioneer Roots

F.C. Jensen and his twin Peter James were born in 1858, They were named after the King and Prince of Denmark. In all, Maria had five children. Their family ran an inn in Odense, Denmark, until F.C.’s father passed away. He and his brother were the youngest in the family and were grade-school age when Maria converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The family immigrated to Utah in 1862.

“They throught they were coming to live a better life,” Glidewell says. However, Maria broke her hip during the wagon ride and never fully recovered. She became dependent on her children to take care of her.

In addition, Maria spent the family’s entire life savings to pay for their travel and those of 19 other early Danish saints. She was promised by church leaders in Denmark that she would be reimbursed for the travel costs of the additional saints when they arrived in Utah.

Colwill says that when Maria Jensen arrived, authorities told her they considered the money she spent “a gift” to the saints. But Maria and her family fell away from the LDS Church for another reason, says Glidewell, who has read the family’s history book.

“It’s probably the fault of the bishop at the time,” she says. “No one liked him.”

The bishop quarantined F.C. and his brother for having smallpox one winter. It was normal procedure for them to hang a white flag outside their home as a warning of sickness to others. However, the bishop extended the quarantine through the spring, even though the boys were well again.

Against her bishop’s orders, Maria directed her sons to pursue the spring planting, while posting a white flag nearby as a compromise. She felt she had no choce, as the spring planting was the only way that the family would be able to provide for themselves that year.

Glidewell says the bishop confiscated their horse as punishment for their disobedience.

The family returned to the Lutheran faith they had practiced in Denmark before converting to the LDS Church and they joined a movement called the Liberal Party, Glidewell explains.

Prior to 1896, when the State of Utah instituted the public education system, children were schooled privately through religious programs. The Liberal Party provided an alternative education program outside the LDS Church, in addition to pursuing other political activities.

F.C. Jensen was mentored by Duncan McMillan, a Presbyterian minister who arrived in Mt. Pleasant in 1875 and who later founded the Wasatch Academy, originally a Presbyterian school.

Never pursued ministry

However, Jensen never pursued the ministry.

“F.C. loved McMillan, but he couldn’t follow in his footsteps by going to college because he couldn’t leave his mother,” Glidewell says.

Instead, Jensen married a local woman of Swedish descent named Edie Elizabeth Nielsen and pursued a number of local trades. In addition to running a state-of-the-art furniture store, he was a sheep herder and ran a successful freighting business throughout Utah.

“He was honest in his dealings and had a good reputation,” Colwill says of her grandfather. And he built businesses through trial and error.

Colwill describes a heartbreaking business delivery that illustrates the odds Jensen was up against.

Jensen won a contract to transport a heavy air compressor for a mine from Omaha to Salt Lake City. The machinery required a special wagon and yoke. Jensen had purchased a large team of extra fine blue Texas steers to carry the load, but four of the seven oxen in his team died along the trail, and Jensen had to trade the remainder for a team of horses. He was able to complete the trip to Salt Lake, but he and his brother were robbed in Salt Creek Canyon and came home penniless.

“He had determination,” Colwill says. “It was a matter of survival. I guess there was a bishop’s storehouse, but they weren’t part of that church.”

Later in his life, when his determination paid off, Jensen would hold titles such as vice president of the Utah Banker’s Association, president of the school board, and member of the Board of Directors of the Sugar and Livestock Association.

Jensen was a prominent member of the Presbyterian Church. Colwill has also been a member of the Presbyterian faith her whole life, but one of her best friends at Wasatch Academy was LDS, and she has remained friendly to the LDS Church.

Colwill moved back east with her husband as an adult, but they have maintained a cabin in Fairview Canyon that they visit each summer. “We love to go to the mountains. We like to camp in the national forest near there,” she says.

Although F.C. Jensen never went to college, he played an important role in providing a quality education for his children and grandchildren. Colwill was a member of the first graduating class as Wasatch Academy.

“My parents wanted me to be educated,” she says.

Colwill studied education in college and chose to become an elementary school teacher.

Jensen died in 1928. “I never knew him,” Colwill says. But she says his hard work and sacrifices provided her and her family with a good life, for which she is grateful.

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By Emily Sanderson — Oct. 21, 2009
RUIAN, China — Three teachers from Wasatch Academy are teaching at Ruian High School in China this school year as part of the partnership between Ruian and Mt. Pleasant.

The teachers are Phillip VanDenBrink, David Brackett and Timothy Lesotho.  Recently, VanDenBrink emailed responses to a list of questions from the Messenger.

“I taught for four years at Wasatch Academy, so Chinese students are not new to me,” he writes, referring to the fact Wasatch attracts students from around the world, including China.

Before teaching at Wasatch Academy, VanDenBrink gained experience teaching in Paris, France and Germany.  “Teaching in a foreign country is not entirely new for me, but the Chinese culture is far different from European cultures,” he says.

Ruian students are not used to being around people from the United States, so they are shy and are afraid to speak in English.

“Socially and culturally, they have a strong group mentality,” he says. “Students want to learn about the United States and are excited when I do group activities in class, something the Chinese system does not often use.”

The students are very advanced academically, he says.  The curriculum for the course is college level.

VanDenBrink and the other teachers are getting accustomed to Chinese customs and cultures.  One major difference between China and the United States is that the parents take care of school faculty.

“We just finished an eight-day break for the National Day and Harvest Festival, and parents took the new teachers to see some of the local attractions — Buddhist temples, mountains, rivers, an ancient block printing press, etc.,” he says.  “They really make the new faculty feel welcome.”

VanDenBrink and the other staff from Wasatch Academy live in a western-style apartment complex that the high school provides.  They also have access to good food.

“The school cafeteria is good, another similar aspect to Wasatch Academy.  Teachers must pay for every meal, but a good meal can still cost less than $1 USD,” he says.  “Outside of the school there are various restaurants, even western places like KFC and pizza places.  This city has three KFCs. No McDonalds, but something tells me there might be one in the future, as western culture is seen as modern.”

The students in Ruian will be receiving diplomas from both Ruian High School and Wasatch Academy.  They will be attending school in Mt. Pleasant during the summer to student such classes as AP U.S. History, a course they are not able to take in China, says Jules Hartley, assistant communications director at Wasatch Academy.

The academy anticipates housing 85-90 students from Ruian next summer for about six weeks, but they may need to extend the time, Hartley said.

In exchange, a teacher from Ruian will teach Mandarin Chinese to students at Wasatch Academy.

Wasatch Academy is seeking to offer the same program to schools in Shanghai and Beijing, China.  Such a program could potentially support 1,200 Chinese students, says Joe Loftin, head of school at Wasatch.

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Ephraim Elementary School
Red Ribbon Week is Oct. 26-30.

Ephraim Middle School
An orchestra concert will be held thursday at 7 p.m.

Students will Run 4 Life on Friday.

A band concert will be held Thursday, Oct. 29.

Fairview Elementary School
Bus safety assemblies for different grades were held Monday in conjunction with School Bus Safety Week.

School picture make-ups will be held today.

Frank Cole, author of The Adventures of Hashbrown Winters, will speak at an assembly at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Walk to School Day will be on Friday.

Fountain Green Elementary School
Red Ribbon Week is Oct. 26-30.

Frank Cole, author of The Adventures of Hashbrown Winters, will speak at an assembly at 9 a.m. on Thursday.

Gunnison Valley High School
Gunnison Valley High School drama teacher Mark Lyons and 24 students participated in a “Shakespeare” Tuesday, Oct. 13, in Cedar City.  The group is sitting in the Adams Memorial Theater, which was considered the closest replica of the original Globe Theatre where Shakespeare plays were originally performed, until the London Globe Theatre opened a few years ago.  Students also participated in a theater workshop, went on a backstage tour and watched two plays, “The Complete Works of Wm. Shakespeare Abridged” and “Tuesdays with Morrie.”

Manti High School
A texting and helmet safety assembly will be held on thursday at 9:30 a.m.

Dead Poets Night will be held Oct. 28 at 7 p.m.

Mt. Pleasant Elementary
Red Ribbon Week is Oct. 26-30.

North Sanpete Middle School
The Halloween Dance will be held Oct. 30.

North Sanpete High School
The FBLA Dance will be held on Friday.

Gunnison Elementary
Lunchroom workers Patty Westenskow and Charlotte and Nadine Hansen are dressed in baseball caps with puppy paws painted on their faces as they serve Lisa Burrell and her daughter, Aubreyann, during National School Lunch Week at Gunnison Elementary School.

The theme for the event, which ran from Oct. 12-16, was “An All-Star School Lunch.” Each day’s menu was named after a famous NBA coach.

The week was proclaimed in 1962 to raise awareness of the role a nutritious school lunch plays in children’s lives.  School lunches are required to provide a third of the recommended dietary allowance of protein, vitamins and minerals. They must have limited fat and satuated fat, and be served in age-appropriate portions.

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