DAYS 25-28 ......................................................................................................................................................... FROM LEES FERRY TO NEARLY TO CEDAR RIDGE

Thursday, May 12, 2016

A Surprise at Burraston Ponds(Mona)- Levan (Day 7)

Levan, Utah photo by Kirt Fairbank

September 8, 1884 - Mona to Nephi (nooned) and Levan
Day 7 of 44 - (Week 2)
Mona to Levan = 19 Miles (Trip Total = 140 Miles)

The purpose of this blog is to take us through territory we are aware of now with a late 1800s perspective.  It is the same route my great grandparents, Charles and Anna Anderson, followed in 1884 from Grantsville, Utah to St. Johns, Arizona. Although this journey is about them, I hope the readers of this blog won't mind when I insert my experience in finding out about their journey.  It is my desire that in doing this, the reader may also find clues to researching their own family history

In this and following posts, the items will be in green which can be clicked to find more information.

September 7 - 9, 1884

Original Journey Entry
"8 Sep. We left Mona traveled 8 miles to Nephi nooned - then traveled 11 miles to Levan camped at Rasmus Sorensons paid 35 cents per span it rained all night."

Final Journal Entry
"Sep. 8.  We left Mona for Nephi - nooned and traveled to Levan by night 19 miles - paid 35c for feed per span, rained all night."

Once again the price per span is mentioned.  This time it went up to 35 cents per span.  According to the inflation calculator  (click) 35 cents in 1884 would be worth $8.17 in 2016. This might buy ice cream for a family, or about three gallons of gas.

It was fun to see the lavender fields in the last post which today are near where the Andersons camped, but it didn't look like that then.  In fact the "news" in 1884 was it had "rained all day" the day before so they "could hardly travel."  Then on this day it had "rained all night," and the next day "it rained," and to say the least, "It was very muddy."  In fact back then there were probably no lavender fields at all.  The scene would have looked more like this:

It rained on September 7, 8, and 9
This certainly doesn't look like a lavender field

The journal doesn't mention Burraston Ponds and the Andersons may not have gone there, but this is historically significant.  It is only about 1/2 mile off the route leaving Mona.

Let's assume it had stopped raining and the area around Burraston Ponds looked more like this.  Of course the plaque had not yet been placed there yet.

I found  Fathers Dominguez and Escalante  were in Spanish Fork September 23, 1776, and here they were four days later. This isn't the last time the Anderson would follow their route. 

Black Hawk who is buried in Spring Lake which the Andersons passed two days ago used this campsite as a meeting place. We will hear about Black Hawk again up the road.

What else I read on the plaque fit right in with the trip I was taking today!

"James Burraston Managed a large cattle operation for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." My surprise came when I read "In 1878, over 1000 head of cattle taken from this ranch, provided funding for the Mormon Church's purchase of what is now Snowflake and St. Johns, Arizona." In 1879 Solomon Barth had agreed to sell land in St. Johns. My Great Grandfather in 1884 WAS ACTUALLY GOING THERE and just over a month later for $25.00 would purchase a city lot from the land possibly originally purchased from the cattle of the ranch near Burraston Ponds! 


Family Fun at Burraston Ponds Today

Perhaps the Andersons nooned near Old Mill Park in Nephi

They camped in Levan at Rasmus Sorensens

Perhaps they passed by this brick home built
 in Levan - 1871

Rasmus Sorensen

 Rasmus Sorensen (1831-1907). Mentioned in the journal. Born in Denmark. After Rasmus returned from a mission to Scandinavia in 1890. He was involved in "creating a campground on his property that fronted a much used highway. He played the accordion and harmonica to .......travelers staying in the campground (Missionaries to Scandinavia (click) -- 1872-1894). It was in what would become his "campground" where the Andersons may have camped  when they passed through Levan.  Later I found out more (see below)

1880 Census showing Rasmus and Mary Ann Sorenson in Levan, Utah

The Google map shows the distance from Mona to Levan as 20 miles.  
It shows Burraston Ponds which is about 1/2 miles off the route, or about a mile round trip to and from the ponds and back to the trail.  This would leave us at 19 miles. The Journal shows 19 miles from Mona to Levan. I'll take that anytime.  

Don't forget to ask the local residents for information

Gaydean's Sweet Art Bakery
15 South Main Street, Mona

A research tip I would include would be to ask the locals what would be of interest to see if they were only going to be in the area half an hour? In Mona there is a place to stop for BYU Creamry ice cream and other treats.  Never a lack of places to noon along this route (and ice cream is always there it seems).  I asked the question and didn't only enjoy a treat, but received very useful information.  I was told to go to Buraston Ponds.  I am glad I made this stop.  It was just off the road, and before I had just driven by it.

Levan - "The Old Store"

In Levan, the locals were also very helpful.  They located a history book of the area. I wanted to ask more questions but did not have the Journal with me at that time, and could not remember the things I needed to know.  If I had been prepared at that time I could have asked if they knew any descendants of Rasmus Sorensen, or where the camping place might have been that "fronted a much used highway."  Perhaps it is still there today. Don't forget to be prepared to ask questions when you stop to "noon" or "camp."  I nearly always find people are more than willing to help.  The name of this store just invites you to ask a question while you are passing through.

Sometimes you have to go back more than once to get what you need.

I had another chance to pass through Levan, and this time I went back to "The Old Store" prepared to ask question about things I had learned about Rasmus Sorensen.  The following book was still in "The Old Store."  I looked through it more carefully this time. 

I saw the map (below). I didn't have time to check the maps in the book closely, but Brent Aagard, the owner of "The Old Store," told me to take the book home.  After I arrived home, I saw the name Mary Ann Sorensen at the very bottom of the map.  She was the wife of Rasmus Sorensen!  The Livery Stable was next to her home, and would have been of use to the travelers as well. The Livery was also owned by the Sorensen Family (Page 2 of Early Settlers of Levan).  I'm not sure what year the map was made.  Perhaps Rasmus was off on his mission to Denmark, or had passed away by that time, but his wife was listed.  It also stands to reason that the camping place would be by the livery.  The above quote that he did have a campground that "fronted a much used highway." was accurate. It was right on Main Street!  The quote said this was after his mission in 1890, but he could have also had it before, and it likely would have been in the same location.  I never expected to find this.  

Bishop Niels Jensen Aagard at the time lived next to the Town Square (it is difficult to see, but Bishop Aagard lived just left of the rectangle on the map marked Town Square). Bishop Aagard was the Great Grandfather of Brent Aagard who so graciously loaned me the book.

Full Map of Early Levan Utah

Close up of the map above showing The Livery Stable and Mary Ann Sorenson home (wife of Rasums Sorenson)

Area of the Livery Stable
Area of Mary Ann and Rasmus Sorenson home
where the Andersons camped`
Grave of Rasmus Sorenson in Levan, Utah

Annie M - first wife of Rasmus Sorenson
"Remember me when you pass by.
As you are now so was I.
As I am now so you must be.
Prepare yourself to follow me.

Note:  See reply below from Amy Archibald:  Amy's 3rd great grandfather, George Henry Pierce moved to Levan in 1868.  This link about her family in familysearch.org is interesting.   From the link I also learned this trivia that "Levan is navel spelled backwards since Levan is very near the center of the state of Utah the name was appropriately given.  I also found a little more history of Levan in another  link

Levan, Utah photo by Kirt Fairbanks
The Journey Continues

Slagtown (not shown):  Fairfield (Day 2) to Levan (Day 7)

The Palmer House - Fayette (Day 8)

I am grateful for my great grandfather's original journal.  It told me of a house I wouldn't have known about.  It is still there today!    I hope he doesn't mind for history's sake that I included it even when he left it out of his revised journal.

Palmer House


Kathryn Sorbe - present owner of the Sorensen Home
After I had published this post, I had the opportunity to go through Levan again.  This time I  when the present owner, Kathryn Sorbe was home.  She does not usually live here so I was very fortunate to catch her.  Kathryn spent her childhood in this home and remembered it was purchased from the Sorensen Family, and the livery was next door.  Had a nice visit with a great lady who is serving in St. George as a missionary and is a retired High School teacher.  We even talked about which trees might have been there in 1884.  Thank You Kathryn for taking time to visit with me with I was just passing through on my way to Arizona.  I feel now I have come full circle from the time my ancestors were here in 1884 and probably met Rasmus Sorensen to when I passed by and met Kathryn Sorbe in 2016.  


  1. Another great post! Do you know the first name of Bishop Aagard?

    1. Bishop Niels Jensen Aagard. He served as Bishop from 1877 until his death in 1892.

  2. Do you still have access to the Early Settlers of Levan book? I'm looking for info on my Pierce family. Also, do you have a more clear image of the plot map?

  3. Hello Amy,
    I just posted a link to familysearch.org for Martin Riley Pierce on Day 7 of my blog. You probably know about the reference. It is just above the photo of Levan by Kirt Fairbanks. I had hoped I made a copy of the plot map but (if I did and I may not have) I can't find it. I enlarged the part I needed for the blog because it was difficult to read, but that doesn't help you at all. Sorry there is not a clearer picture of the larger plot map on the blog. I kept the book for awhile but finally returned it.

  4. It is actually my 3rd great grandfather George Henry Pierce and his family from his 2nd marriage that were in Levan.

  5. Amy, Thank you for the comment. I changed the blog to include your ancestor's name. I hope I got it right. It is interesting to find additional information for my blogs.