Last July my family went to southern Utah to visit a number of places (gravesites, homes, etc.) that had a connection to our family history.  One of these places was Palisade Park.  I had heard many times the story that one of our ancestors, a man named Daniel Buckley Funk (his picture above), had created a lake.


On this trip my father brought a book of family history, compiled and edited by my grandmother, June Barton Bartholomew.  The book is titled “Musig Family Tree Roots and Branches.”

While on this trip I read a bit about this man, and found him to be quite an interesting person.

Daniel Buckley Funk was born on February 22, 1820 in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. He came from Pennsylvania Dutch stock, people who were Anabaptists and Mennonites.  His great grandfather, Bishop Christian Funk, had created controversy and a schism among the Mennonites, because he supported the American side in the Revolutionary War (the Mennonites believed in non-violence and wanted to remain neutral).

Daniel Buckley Funk was in Illinois when the Latter-day Saints were driven west from New York State. He joined the church in February 1843, baptized and confirmed by Newel Knight. While in Quincy, Illinois he married Mariah De Mill, daughter of Anna Knight (daughter of Joseph Knight, Sr.) and Freeborn De Mill.  He was ordained an elder by Lorenzo Snow and traveled with the Lorenzo Snow Company to the Salt Lake Valley, arriving there September 21, 1848.

Below are some extended quotes from the family history we have that describe the story of the creation of this lake:

“Daniel and family were called with fifty picked families to go to Manti, where Chief Arropine had asked the white men to settle.

While making a trip to Six Mile Canyon one morning, Daniel noticed a basin surrounded on three sides by mountains.  This basin was about two miles east of Sterling and six miles south of Manti.  Chief Arropine and his Indians were breaking their winter camp, to go to their summer home.  Daniel noticed that no water ran into this basin, but he thought that if it were possible to overcome that difficulty, it would be a wonderful place for a pleasure resort.  Surveying the land, Daniel found that if he made a ditch from the head of Six Mile Canyon along the side of the mountain, through rock and brush to the south side of the mountain, he could get water into the basin.

He got in touch with President Brigham Young, who said, “The people need a place to go where they can forget their work and problems.”  With President Young’s help, Daniel bought the valley and got a deed signed by Chief Arropine for this basin and surrounding land.  He sold his two homes in Manti, moved his families to where he intended to build the lake, and leased his farm to his son Ezra.”

Daniel and some of his sons worked on that ditch to bring water into the basin for a long time.  When they came to the rock ledge Daniel fastened iron hooks into the face of the ledge to which he hung a wooden flume.  Later, when the flume collapsed, he dug a ditch through solid rock.  The water kept breaking through and ran down the mountainside.  Daniel and his sons hauled straw, sandbags, and rocks to dam it.

While Daniel was working on the ditch, often Indians stood around laughing at the white man trying to make water run up hill.  They would say, “Water no go up hill; Dan Funk beeg [sic] man, but no can do.”  Daniel paid no attention to the scoffing of the Indians or the doubts of the white people.  With what tools he could get, he and his sons kept working on the ditch.

At last water ran into the basin.  Daniel and others rejoiced that this great task had been accomplished.  While they were rejoicing another problem raised its ugly head.  The water would run into the basin and immediately disappear.  It drank that water as fast as it came.  Daniel watched for weeks and months that water disappear.  That basin never had water in it except for rain and snow.

One morning Daniel’s son, Dan rode up on a horse from Sterling, where he was living.  “Well, Pa, I don’t see that your lake is running over!”  “Don’t worry Dan, I never started anything I didn’t finish.”  “It is your worry Pa, but I hate to see you work so hard when the water is going out of sight as fast as it leaves that ditch … that took so long to make.”  As Dan gave his horse a flip of the reign and was riding off, he added, “Yes, and that lake bed is like a sponge; I’ll bet that water is going clear through to China.”

Daniel kept busy planning, that as soon as the lake filled, he would surround it with thousands of trees, gardens of vegetables, cattle and horses in pastures, many chickens … everything to keep his family eating and make a beautiful resort, where hundreds of people could come for recreation.

One morning he came out of his house and looked down into the basin – “Could he believe his eyes?”  A thin sheet of water covered the bottom of the basin.  Days went by as the water rose higher and higher, lapping at the large levee that was holding the water back.

Soon after this, Daniel’s son Dan came trudging up the hill where his father was sitting in front of the house.  “Pa,” he burst out, “What is the meaning of this, my horses and buggy are mired in the mud at the bottom of the hill and I can’t get them out.  Why is water running down the road?”

His father laughed and said, “Dan the lake is full.”

The lake soon covered 75 acres of land and was twenty feet deep … Daniel stocked the lake with fish and built a rowboat for the coming crowds.  A willow bowery was made from gatherings, a dancing pavilion built on the broad levee.  The recreational park was called Palisade Park and was very popular with the people of southern Utah.  It was a beautiful place for picnics, swimming, boating, outings, and was used for many years.”

I am not sure why the text I am quoting utilizes the past tense, as it is still a beautiful place and is still being used by people for exactly the same purposes. There is also now an adjoining campground and golf course.

Below are a few pictures we took of the lake while there with my parents, my own family and my sister’s family.  In the bottom picture, in the upper left corner,  you can see where the surface of the lake meets up with the top of the wall/dam that is in place.

Here you can see that the site appears on the list of Utah State Parks, and see a list of the activities/prices that are associated with camping or visiting the area.  The about page at the same site offers a brief synopsis of this same history.

[Tracing the lines back to Daniel Buckley Funk from myself - my father Daniel Bartholomew, his mother June Bartholomew, her mother Mariah Musig, her mother Emmerett Funk, her father Daniel Buckley Funk.]

[In a previous post, titled “When Mormon History and Family History Collide,” I also explored a bit of my genealogy and Mormon heritage.]