James G. Willie Home
James Grey Willie was one of the early settlers to take up farmland and make a home in Mendon, Utah. The lady in the picture above, could well be Elizabeth Ann Pettit Willie, wife of the late, James G. Willie. As times passed and means increased, the porch on the front was added, the picket fence constructed and additions to the back of the home made. Building up one's property in early times was much more a dedicated effort of resources. Everything was made by hand, each cut and angle, every piece of trim work was made by hand. At this time water was taken from either a well or from the streams that flowed through the town. Electricity would not be available for at least another 17 years from when this photograph was taken about 1900, clean water from a spring above town would take about the same amount of time to be installed in the city homes. Even then the home owner had to make the required connection and install the first indoor plumbing these homes would have, lights did not burn brigthly in all of the homes of Mendon, until the late twenties. These homes were not laid out for “bathrooms” as we now do, there were rooms or rather spaces to sleep and others to cook, a few might have what we call a living room. The number of children, in addition to the parents, placed the number of persons per foot at a very high value, compared to current times, where children often have a room for themselves. The outline of a whole rock house could sit in the floor space of a few rooms, as they are currently laid out. The well-to-do had a fireplace on each end of the home, perhaps more, others got by with just one and a few warmed rocks to keep your bed warm at night. Our lives are night and day different than theirs…
While at the old and now gone, Merrill Library, on the campus of Utah State University, July 16, 2004, while working on the Matthew McCullough Forster collection, I found these three pictures of the James G. Willie home, in one of his photo albums. They were just uniditifineid photos at the time… but of course now anyone can see they are of the James. G. Willie home, in Mendon, Utah. These three were taken prior to the addition of the porch on the front of the home, so they will date prior to 1890’s. For providing an identification and correcting a mixup in the Forster Family bewteen Matthew A. and Matthew M. Forster, the University let me have the use these three older photograhps of the James G. Willie home in Mendon, Utah.1
1- James G. Willie Home, Photographs by Matthew Forster, used by permission of U.S.U. Special Collections.