This original log home was first constructed as a part of the Mendon Fort in 1859. It was owned by Ole Peder (Peter) Sorensen (from Denmark), one of the first settlers of Mendon.
The two rows of 25 log homes in the fort were built close together, facing each other. Peter with his wife, Fredrrika (Rikke) Andersen Sorensen, and three children lived in this home and then moved it to a lot one block south of here when the Mendon Fort was dismantled in 1864.
The logs came from the mountains west of Mendon and were hewn by hand, utilizing a 90 degree V notching system. Small wood branches were tightly wedged between the large logs, and the remaining gap was filled with a lime and clay daubing mortar. The top two logs on the east and west ends of the home were spliced with wooden dowels, as the constructors apparently ran short of logs of sufficient length.
Originally the home had a dirt floor and a sod roof. The home served for 130 years as the kitchen/cooking area for the Sorensen’s framed home. The last person to live in the log home was Peter’s daughter, Hannah (Ann), who moved out in 1964. In 1992 the home was dismantled and the logs were stored. In 2013 the original logs were carefully assembled in their correct order on the present location.
Three of the original logs had to be replaced, and a new roof was built to replace the earlier that had been altered over the years.
(Taken from: James Gray Willie, Man of Faith and Devotion By Glenna King Austin September 1997) James was born on November 1, 1814, at Murrell-Green, Southampton, Hampshire, England, to good parents who were industrious and had financial means. James was the seventh of eight children in the family; one older brother and one younger brother died in their youth. He lived in Taunton, Somersetshire with his parents, Mary and William, four sisters (Mary, Amy, Elizabeth, and Amelia), and a brother (John).
On June 1, 1836, when he was 21 years old he set sail for America, the land of adventure and opportunity. In New York City he found employment in the tanning business.
Five years later in December 1841 he was introduced to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was baptized a month later in January 1842 by Charles Wandell.
While living in New York City, James met a lovely young lady, Elizabeth Ann Pettit. She was born on December 3, 1818, in New Rochelle, New York, the daughter of Mary and William Pettit. James and Elizabeth were married in New York on June 13, 1846 by Samuel Brannan.
James and Elizabeth started across the plains on June 17, 1847, in Jedediah M. Grant’s company.
In a special conference of the Elders held at the Salt Lake Tabernacle on August 28-29, 1852, James was called and set apart for a mission to England. During his four-year mission, James kept a daily diary. He was diligent in making daily entries of his travels, meetings, association with the saints and presiding brethren, events, sightseeing, correspondences, health, feelings, and where he obtained food and lodging.
James was released as a pastor (Presiding Elder) of the Southampton and Dorsetshire Conferences February 1, 1856. When James was released from his mission, he was appointed president of the 764 saints bound for Zion on the ship Thornton. They left England on May 4, 1856, and arrived at New York on June 14, 1856.
The Saints proceeded by train to Iowa City, arriving there on June 26. In Iowa City, James was appointed captain of the fourth handcart company, consisting of 500 saints from the ship Thornton, 120 handcarts, 5 wagons, 24 oxen, and 45 beef cattle and cows. From James’ account, “On the 12th [of July] President [Daniel] Spencer appointed me as captain over the Fourth Handcart Company, consisting of the passengers of the ship Thornton, with Elders Millen Atwood, Levi Savage, William Woodward, John Chislett, and Johan A. Ahmanson respectively captains of hundreds.” An official account of their trek was recorded by camp clerks, one of which was William Woodward.
The Willie Handcart Company arrived in the valley of the Great Salt Lake Sunday, November 9, 1856.
James was ordained a bishop and set apart as the bishop of the Seventh Ward in Salt Lake City on December 27, 1856.
James served as bishop until the spring of 1859, when he and his family were called by Brigham Young to settle Cache Valley. James, his wife Elizabeth, and their four children settled in Mendon, on the west side of Cache Valley.
James served faithfully for many years in various calling in the community in Mendon, and on the 9th of September 1895, the earthly mission of James Grey Willie came to it’s conclusion. He died as he had lived a faithful Latter-day Saint.
James G. Willie is buried in the Mendon, Utah Cemetery.
Cache Junction is ten miles northwest of Mendon, near a spring. The site was initially settled by Sylcanus Collett in 1867. The town was established in 1890 as an outgrowth of Benson and it became an important railroad junction on the union Pacific Railroad. Originally this area was divided into Petersboro No. 1 and No. 2 became Cache Junction. The railroad no longer uses the stop but a cafe and a few local residents still remain.