A light snow falls outside this 110-year-old home on the corner of 200 South and 100 East in Manti. The house was the dream home of Parley Christian and Miranda Jensen Madsen. It is now owned by their granddaughter, Kristine Frischknecht Evertsen.

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Pearl Ahlstrom (right) is loved by her friends and neighbors who enjoy spending time and chatting with her. One of her good friends is Mike Dickinson (left) of Manti who visits her often and loves hearing her crack jokes.


Cheery Manti lady enjoys

hobbies and joking with visitors


By Emily Staley

Staff writer

Mar. 8, 2018


MANTI—Pearl Ahlstrom of Manti turned age 93 on February 26, 1925 and has begun her 94th year of life.

Over the years, Pearl has kept busy with her many hobbies and visitors, and she does it all with a smile.

Although she lived through the Great Depression, everyone was poor during those years, so she didn’t realize they were poor at the time.

One thing Pearl enjoyed growing up was playing marbles with the boys. She said that one time she found a “steely” ball and bothered the boys till they let her play.

“Once they let me in, I just took ’em to the cleaners,” said Pearl with mischief in her eye. “I was quite the tomboy.”

Up until 13 years ago, Pearl taught kids how to play marbles.

In addition, Pearl has been a jokester her whole life.

When she was little, she had a dime and decided to go to the dime store. She bought some red nail polish and painted her dad’s toenails while he was asleep. Although five girls were in the house, her dad knew exactly who did it.
Pearl has a sense of humor that could put a smile on anyone’s face.

All her friends know her as Granny Pearl, and she is known for cracking jokes. She could tell joke after joke and has recently developed a talent of writing humorous poems.

Pearl Ahlstrom’s jacket is the newest part of a line of clothes she created.

Pearl is also a talented seamstress who started sewing when she was 11 years old.

“I’ve done it for so long I can do it without even looking at it!” Pearl said. “I’ve sewed everything I’ve got on.”

Pearl has sewed a wide variety of things: “I can’t tell you how many bride’s dresses I’ve made.”

She has sewed for missionaries, and when she worked at the Manti Temple, she sewed clothes for the temple workers. Pearl sewed her children’s clothes too.

“The biggest thing I’ve ever made was a slip cover for a two-seater airplane,” Pearl said.

Knitting is another of Pearl’s talents. She has knitted a total of 48 cardigans.

And don’t forget her crocheting.

While she worked at the Manti Temple, Pearl was asked to make doilies for African and South American temples. She crocheted the doilies and created beautiful patterns on them.

Pearl also collects temple pamphlets. She has a binder full of pamphlets from as many temples as she can get, near and far, and continues to expand her collection today.

She gets her pamphlets from friends, neighbors and missionaries who visit the temples and bring the pamphlets back to her.

“Every time someone brings me another pamphlet, a new temple is built!” she said.

She loves that she can keep collecting.

Pearl is dearly loved by her friends, who enjoy visiting and chatting with her. She can cheer up anyone’s day with her stories, smiles and jokes.

She has grown from being a mischievous tomboy to being a savvy seamstress without losing her sense of humor along the way.

Jason Mardell, owner of Corner Station deli, holding a homemade sandwich.

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In the winter of 1948-1949, a group of selfless Utahns, including members of the Barton, Hansen and Mellor families of Sanpete County, braved subzero temperatures to deliver hay to starving sheep and cattle herds stranded and freezing in remote grazing areas.

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Crowd listens to stories about sheepherding at the 15th Old Sheepherders Gathering held Jan. 19-20 at the Border Inn on the Utah-Nevada border.

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Mei Chi Sorensen and her husband Jerry stand beside a bookshelf in their Manti home. The books have been bought and gathered by the couple to send to the Philippines to help accomplish Mei Chi’s dream: Having a library for the underprivileged children from her foreign home.

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Beckie (left) and Clyde Bailey of Manti enjoy their time together as they hold meaningful memorabilia from their LDS mission to Denmark.

Manti Couple share talents,

serving far and near


By Emily Staley

Staff writer

Jan. 25, 2018


MANTI—A Manti couple has traveled to many places, sharing their talents.

After meeting, having a whirlwind romance and getting engaged just 10 days later, Clyde and Beckie Bailey of Manti have been on a good amount of adventures together.

The couple has spent their lives since then sharing their talents and blessing the lives of those around them with service.

Clyde always enjoyed performing. He performed several musicals in the Point Theater when they lived in Texas. His first lead was in “Something’s Afoot,” which his grandson is participating in at his high school this year.

After moving from Texas to Ephraim, Clyde was on a search for a way to continue sharing his talents.

Clyde explains that President Gordon B. Hinckley of the LDS Church “had asked us to use our talents, so I did a lot of research on Hyrum Smith and developed a fireside where I played him and told about his life and testified of the restoration.”

After doing so, he was then recruited to tell fairytales in the Scandinavian Heritage Festival for several years.

The couple then moved to Rhode Island where Clyde had the opportunity to perform as Hyrum Smith in Pennsylvania.

While in Rhode Island, Clyde served as a bishop of the LDS Church and did temple service in Boston.

Clyde then wrote another monologue to portray the father of Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith and performed that for a youth conference in 2016.

Together, Clyde and Beckie served an LDS mission in Denmark, digitizing records for the Denmark Archives.

“Basically, we had a table with a glass lid that we would put the books in. The camera was above it, and we would take pictures of each page,” Clyde recalls.

They gave presentations once a month to explain why they were there and what they were doing and were even put in several news reports.

He said, “They treated us like rock stars there. The work we did would have cost them a lot of money, but the LDS Church did it for free.”

The couple thoroughly enjoyed their time in Denmark and getting to know the language, culture and people there, and they blessed the lives of the people they worked with in several ways.

Clyde and Beckie continue to bless the lives of those around them with their service.

Dr. Darrel Olsen in his office at the IHC Ephraim Clinic. He retired a few months ago.

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Lily, the Clydesdale mare, and Kathy Roberts, the carriage driver, share their love and cheeriness with another newlywed couple in Manti.

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Is that really Willie Nelson’s ranch?


By Randal B. Thatcher

Dec. 14, 2017


I like to keep an eye out whenever I go traveling around Sanpete Valley for those big, iconic ranch gates that dot this agricultural county. I love to read the names of these sprawling ranches on the big gate-signs that hang over the entrances—names like “Lazy 8 Ranch” or “Hill Top Ranch” or “The Double-D” or “Choice Acres.”

While spotting all these ranch gates and reading their respective gate-signs, however, one particular sign on one particular gate has always intrigued me more than all the others.

This gate can be seen along U.S. 89 at mile marker 298 as you pass through the tiny, unincorporated community of Birdseye, which is about 10 miles north of Indianola.

As ranch gates go, it’s pretty simple—lengths of pipe and wrought-iron welded together and painted white.

But it’s the ranch insignia that has always captured my attention and my imagination.        Just two letters: W.N.

Not long after moving here, I was told those letters stood for the initials of the famous country music singer, Willie Nelson. Subsequent inquiries confirmed that this much of the local lore was true.

I then heard that this “WN” ranch was, in fact, owned by Willie himself. Also true.

I subsequently learned that Willie had been obliged to sell the ranch, some years ago, to raise money to pay some back taxes. An internet search quickly revealed the sad proof of this part of the story, as well. (Which means, I suppose, that I can finally stop looking for Willie’s trademark red bandanna at the local grocery store.)

But then came the most disappointing rumor of all—that Willie never even visited his ranch and that it was merely a financial transaction on paper, arranged by some clever money manager.

This part of the story was more difficult to resolve. No one seemed able to conclusively refute or confirm the claim.

But in my dogged desire to know, I finally discovered the one person who was able to persuasively settle the question.

I happened to ask my cowboy neighbor, recently, what he knew about the history of that fabled “WN” ranch, and he promptly introduced me to his longtime friend, Kal, a resident of Mt. Pleasant, who proceeded to give me the following firsthand account, which I paraphrase:

Kal had once been a horse trainer and occasional stunt double for the actor Robert Redford, who introduced him to a friend who was looking to buy some horses. Kal said this would-be buyer did not have the look of a traditional horseman, with his scruffy, white beard, and his dingy, red bandanna tied around a head of long, strawberry-blonde hair.

The buyer turned out to be none other than the famous singer, Willie Nelson.

They instantly hit it off, and before he knew it, Kal was looking for property for the famous singer somewhere in the Central Utah area, where Willie could keep his newly acquired horses and bring friends to visit.

Kal crisscrossed the state from St. George to Spanish Fork looking at over a dozen available properties before finally settling on the 95-acre ranch in Birdseye.

When Willie’s Learjet landed at the Salt Lake International Airport, Kal was there to meet him in his mud-spattered pickup truck, squiring him down I-15, along U.S. 6 (stopping for a cheeseburger at “Big-D’s,” which, sadly, is long gone), then turning onto U.S. 89 and down those few more miles to Birdseye.

Willie approved immediately, declaring the surrounding countryside to be every bit as scenic as that of his beloved Luck, Texas.

Kal took up permanent residence, as the caretaker of Willie’s new ranch, where he soon undertook to build the white-brick ranch house in 1983 you can still see on the property, and to assemble, paint and install that simple, white ranch gate with those two prominent letters—WN—at the top.

Willie owned the property for nine years, during which time he visited the ranch on three separate occasions, always aboard his signature tour bus and accompanied by various members of his band.

During one of these visits, my neighbor had stopped by the ranch to see Kal and wondered aloud, “Who is that old hippie standing out there in the stalls?”

I asked whether Willie had ever considered the prospect of actually living on his WN Ranch during part of the year, and Kal said he likely would have done so at some point if he hadn’t been forced to sell it and that he really had come to love this scenic mountain valley.

Willie’s old ranch gate has become such a significant local landmark for me that it would’ve been heartbreaking to learn he’d never actually been there.

But, as it turns out, I now watch even more eagerly for that familiar “WN” every time I drive through Birdseye.

And, in fond tribute, I never fail, as I pass, to belt out his most famous refrain: “On the road again!”


Comments welcome at ahalfbubbleoffplumb@gmail.com.

Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus

visit Spring City as part of KSL

Quarters for Christmas drive


Scores of children came out to see Santa as he landed during the Spring City event on Saturday. Spring City Events Director Yvonne Wright said the participation was amazing, and the final total of money raised in donated change is still being counted, but she says she already knows it’s better than they expected.

The KSL news helicopter brought Mr. and Mrs. Claus to pick up donations made towards KSL’s long-running Quarters for Christmas fundraising program, which Spring City Hall and many members of the Spring City community participated in this year.

Ephraim Christmas light parade

During the Ephraim City Christmas Light Parade on Saturday, students from Ephraim charter school Athenian Academy passed out Pop Rocks to parade attendees.

This float in the Christmas parade was sponsored by the Kammy Mae Foundation, a newly-formed nonprofit dedicated to spreading awareness of domestic violence. The float’s purple lights are the official color of domestic violence awareness.

Now in its third year running, the Ephraim Christmas festivities, which were held on Saturday, had a full complement of stunning fireworks, firing off to the sound of Christmas music.

Jordan Rittmeyer of Ephraim and his colorfully-lit pooch made their way down the Ephraim Christmas parade alongside the bright floats and cars decked with Christmas lights.

Guardsmen from Manti prepare themselves, even on city streets, before shipping off to the Philippines.

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Jessica (L-R) and Kyra Durfee and Sophia and Deana Lebaron, a pair of North Sanpete sisters and their children, paint positivity rocks—decorated rocks with a message of kindness. The pair of moms and their little sidekicks hide the rocks around the community as small gestures of kindness toward strangers. With their Facebook group “Positivity Rocks (SCU),” Jessica and Deana have harnessed the power of social media to recruit more participants. The group is only two months old and already has nearly 300 active members spread countywide.

[Read more…]

Ruth Kjar with two ceramic pilgrims she made and painted.


Ruth Kjar of Mt. Pleasant

is woman of many talents


By Emily Staley

Staff writer

Nov. 23, 2017


MT. PLEASANT—Ruth Kjar is a woman of many talents.

Ruth Kjar was born in Provo, Utah on September 23, 1919 to Eric Olaf Bylund and Sophia Johansen Bylund. On her 98th birthday this year, she wished only to “live to have another birthday”.

While growing up, Ruth lived in many homes around Provo and Orem. During her teenage years, the Great Depression (1929-1939) impacted her family. She remembers her father working very hard to provide for them.

After graduating high school, Ruth worked her way through Brigham Young University for two years, and then moved to Salt Lake City to be close to her new job at an insurance company.

Here Ruth met the love of her life, Ben Kjar, who was staying at the same boarding house. The two were married on Halloween; October 31, 1941. Ben and Ruth had many adventures together. One of which consisted of following a bandit and getting kidnaped, then miraculously returning home safely.

The Kjars had twins, Curtis Bylud and Maxine. Later two daughters Maree and Lila Dee and a son, Steven,were added to the family.

Ruth worked at a parachute plant for a couple of years until she landed a job at the Manti City Bank (now Zions First National Bank), working as a bookkeeper, teller, secretary and Operations Officer. She worked for about 30 years until retiring in 1986.

Throughout her life, Ruth has brightened the lives of those around her. She has served as president of the Ladies Literary Club, as the president of both Relief Society and Young Women’s programs in her church, and countless more leadership and altruistic activities. She loved genealogy and spent many hours searching her family lines, as well as helping others do theirs.

“She could never be idle and sit without doing something” her daughter Lila Ericksen recalled; “After she got off work and the kids got out of school, we’d run to Provo to buy material. Then we’d come home; she’d cut it out and sew all night. We’d wake up and she’d have us a new dress for school. We always had Christmas dresses and birthday dresses, and they were very pretty; a lot better than store bought dresses.”

Ruth used her talents to make her own wedding dress. Later she sewed her daughters’ prom and wedding dresses too.

Ruth’s talents don’t stop with designing and sewing clothing. She crocheted, tatted lace, and loved to play around with ceramics. “We made lots of ceramics and painted them and everything.” Ruth says. Some of her interest in painting came from her mother who was also a talented painter.

When asked about her yard, Ruth’s eyes would light up; “Oh my goodness! We had such a big yard! We had deer that stayed in the back yard a lot. We had peonies and roses and everything!” Daughter Lila said that her mom could “grow anything.”

Ruth kept up her beautiful yard by herself up until she was in her 80’s.

“There were good times and bad times.” Ruth explained. “It was a good life.”

Ruth lived in her own home until 3 months ago, and now lives happily in Mt. Pleasant. Her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and one great great grandchild love her dearly. She is looked up to and admired.

Her son, Steve Kjar explained in a simple statement; “She is the most perfect woman.”

The cover of author David Mackey’s new book “Temple Light and Train Tracks: The Almost Forgotten History and Lore of Sanpete” shows the Manti Temple. The book focuses on the temple’s construction and the following decades until 1929.

‘Temple Light and Train Tracks’

is coming to local book outlets

By Robert Stevens

Managing editor

Nov. 23, 2017


Author David Mackey has released his second volume of Sanpete history, Temple Light and Train Tracks.

In his first volume, Rattlesnakes and Axe-heads, Mackey uncovered the county’s beginnings to about 1879.

In this second volume, Mackey zooms in on details and historical nuggets usually overlooked in broad-brush community histories dealing with the five decades from the building of the Manti Temple to 1929.

The book, he says, will help people come to understand the contributions and sacrifices made during these significant years.

What these people labored and sacrificed for sometimes is no longer visible and can only be seen when placed in the spotlight, such as Sanpete’s ghost towns and abandoned farming communities.

Mackey said, “These are incredibly significant decades in this area—as they were for much of the country, but the contributions and personal sacrifices people made for this place at that time, not only for their own families but their towns and the county at large, warrants study by people living here today.”
According to Mackey, Sanpete was a booming place from the mid-1890s well into the 1920s. Railroad trains ran not only to and from Nephi and Thistle but connected with Salina, Richfield and Marysvale.

He said, “By the early 1900s, five trains arrived at Manti on a daily basis, as it was the main hub along the line for both the San Pete Valley and the D&RG railroads.”

Mackey said he initially believed it would only take him two or three years to adequately deal with these fifty years of Sanpete’s history. Yet he came to realize he would either have to end with the year 1900 or be willing to give more time to adequately cover topics involving the later decades.

He admits, “The work has taken me a lot longer than I had expected. This book is basically two volumes in one, but it is full of stuff that I not only found fascinating but I feel and genuinely believe is extremely relevant for our time.”

He said a primary focus of Temple Light and Train Tracks has always been centered on the construction and early years of the Manti Temple.

Yet the book also provides an overview of Sanpete’s political and railroad history for these fifty years and deals with a wide range of topics, such as the area’s connection to bandits and the Outlaw Trail, ranching, farming, mining, inventions, industry, area education and schools.

Mackey says he was surprised by how intrigued he became with material for other chapters, including those dealing with Sanpete’s military history, athletics, drama, and the county’s changing natural environment.

“The chapter I least wanted to tackle ended up being one of the most interesting to me personally, and that was the one dealing with plural marriage,” he said.

In his view, “the pot simmered and boiled over” with so many “strong-willed and determined” individuals involved in plural marriage in the county and beyond.

Mackey says he also enjoyed discovering accounts about early residents and their interactions with wildlife, including remarkable tales involving everything from grizzly bear to magpies.

He adds, “Between 1885 and 1910, a considerable number of newspapers surfaced in Sanpete’s towns that dramatically increased the amount of written information that has been preserved about the area.”

In addition to ransacking newspapers for nuggets and detailing the political persuasions and editorial predilections of each county newspaper, Mackey also conducted oral interviews and pored over primary records, books and photos.

Copies of Temple Light and Train Tracks will soon be available at Anderson Drug and the Co-op in Ephraim, Skyline Pharmacy in Mt. Pleasant, the Corner Station in Fairview, the Conoco in Moroni, General Store in Fountain Green, Gunnison Family Pharmacy in Gunnison and at Harmon’s and Lindel Book & Gift in Manti.