Sarah Anne Cundall
by Jacque Garcia
The Times-Independent
May 24, 2018 | 642 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sarah Anne Cundall
Sarah Anne Cundall
The oldest living member of the Holyoak clan, Sarah Ann Cundall remembers Moab as a small cowboy town. Now, she reflects on the swiftly changing and growing city as her childhood home is about to be torn down.

Cundall was born and raised in a brick house on old Holyoak Lane, which is now covered by Hwy 191.

“They used to have just dirt roads down there,” she described. “We had to cross both creeks. There were no bridges there, and there were floods all the time, and then we couldn’t get across.”

To get to town, she and her family mostly walked, but Cundall preferred to spend as much time as possible in the cliffs behind her childhood home.

“We’d be up in the hills all the time playing,” she said. “It was a great place to grow up.”

Her father, Albert Daniel Holyoak, was one of Moab’s pioneers, a cowboy who came through the Hole in the Rock with some of Utah's original settlers. Though Holyoak died shortly before his daughter’s first birthday, his legacy lived on in the stories told by his wife to his children.

“He was a cowboy, he had cows,” Cundall said. “I’m quite disappointed in Moab now. It wouldn’t be what he wanted at all. He would’ve wanted it to be a cowboy town like it was.”

Some things in the area still resemble the Moab of Cundall’s childhood, though, She used to play in the area now known as the Hidden Valley trail.

“We used to scramble up to the Indian fort,” she described. “One time we even brought our bedding, and scrambled up there with it.”

Little did she know Moab would soon become a popular camping destination for travelers from all over the world.

“Now you don’t know where you are,” she said of the town. “I ride around and I can’t see anything that looks familiar. Everything’s changed so much.”

Though Moab was much smaller then, while Cundall was a young adult, it was a popular destination for film crews and movie stars. She even once dated Hugh O’Brian during one of his movie shoots. Though what was really memorable was the time she met John Wayne.

“When the movies were here, I was working at the hospital, and a trick rider had been hurt,” she explained. “Someone came to visit him, and it was John Wayne. We started walking down the hall, and he put his arm around my shoulders. That was really something.”

Cundall later married Frank “Curly” William Wagner.

“He was a handsome one,” Cundall remarked. He and Cundall built a life in Moab, and Wagner began the Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter. He also served as a deputy sheriff in town. Cundall worked in the hospital as an aide and later drove a paper delivery route. Wagner and Cundall raised three children in Moab named David Wagner, Holly Peterson and Frank “Butch” Wagner, Jr.

After Wagner’s death, Cundall remarried John W. Cundall, and the two traveled together before returning to Moab in 2004. After John Cundall’s death, Sarah Anne moved in with her son, Frank “Butch” Wagner, Jr., where she currently resides. Having recently had hip surgery, Cundall finds it harder to get around Moab than she used to, but she is motivated to return to her house one last time before it is torn down. “My mother and I used to go sit on the porch and I’d play the mouth harp, and she’d sing,” Cundall reminisced. “I want to go and sit on the porch for a little while for the last time.”

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