James G. Willie Home Restored
The north side of the James G. Willie home and fallen out and the roof was soon to be gone, when Paul Willie, a great-great-grandson of James G. Willie, made arrangements to purchase and restore this Mendon pioneer home. It was painted over in a what I suppose you would call a green paint scheme. Paul spent a lot of his personal time restoring the exterior as well as the interior of this building. I think they have created a most wonderful gift to the people of Mendon, preserving a part of the heritage that is Mendon. This is one of those projects of which one could be proud to have been part of, thank you Paul and the Willie Historic Foundation for loving your heritage and sharing it with Mendon and all whom would enter.
Restoration of the James G. Willie Home Sign Text
Originally built around 1865 the one story rock home of James G. Willie is typical of the over forty stone homes that were built in Mendon prior to 1880. Brigham Young encouraged early settlers to use native rocks for home construction as he felt that stone represented a more substantial and better looking building material than homes built from logs. shortly after the Shoshnie Indian massacre on the Bear River in 1863, the fort in Mendon was dismantled and the log cabins were slid onto the lots surrounding the square. The log cabins were soon replaced by rock homes which eventually stood on nearly every lot surrounding the town square.
James G. Willie, a pioneer of 1847, led the 4th Mormon Handcart Company to Utah on his return home from a mission to his native England in 1856. He served as Bishop of the Salt Lake 7th Ward and moved to Cache Valley in the spring of 1859 where he helped settle the town of Mendon. He served as mayor and postmaster and ran the co-optative store in Mendon. He was trained as a leather tanner and operated a small farm in Mendon. His wife, Elizabeth Ann, served ten years as the first Relief Society President in Mendon. They lived in this home for over forty years. they are buried in the Mendon cemetery two blocks west of here.
In 1906 the home was sold to Herbert B. Whitney, grandson of Newel K. Whitney, Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Other owners of the home have included Fred and Colleen Hardman and Eufrosina Kuntze and Carl Kuntze. The home is currently on the State and National Historic Register.
We kindly thank the Mendon Historical Society, the Utah State Historical Society, the LDS Church Historian’s Office, Mendon City Officials and many community and family members who have assisted in the ongoing restoration effort.