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Peters, David and Laura - Biography

Life Sketch of David and Laura Peters

David Peters was born 10 March 1810 at Llanfair, Merionethshire, North Wales. He was the son of Peter Hughes and Elizabeth Morris. He was of medium height, had blue eyes, and in his childhood, although not robust, he learned the trade of cording, spinning and weaving. At the age of twenty he went into this business, and had his own factory at Ffestiniog, about twenty miles from his birthplace.

In his thirtieth year he married Laura Jones Davis on 11 April 1840 at Llanfrothen, Merionethshire, North Wales. They lived in Ffestiniog.

Laura was born 8 February 1817 at Llandecwyn, Merionethshire, North Wales. She was the daughter of John Davis and Laura Jones. Her father was a land owner, and she was brought up with every advantage that children of land owners had. She was dark-complected with dark, sparkling eyes and well-balanced features. She was firm but kind and had a loving disposition. A very suitable companion to her manly husband. She lived with her grandparents--the name of their home was "Wern".

The Peters' home at Ffestiniog was situated on the banks of a picturesque river that furnished the power to operate David's factory at Rhydsarn ("Stone Way") where they manufactured woollen goods. His business was very successful, providing comfortable circumstances for them.

At Ffestiniog three children were born to them: Sarah, 6 February 1841; Laura, 16 March 1842; and Elizabeth, 21 June 1845. Elizabeth died 2 October 1846.

While working at his woollen mills David Peters heard the news that a new church had been founded in America by a man named Joseph Smith who claimed that God and his Son, Jesus Christ, had appeared to him. After a thorough investigation David and Laura were ready to accept these truths and baptism. Laura, spiritual by nature, was one of the first to receive a testimony, and when Abel Evans, the great Welsh missionary, was ready to perform the baptism Laura was the first to step forward to be baptized. David, however, realizing that a man should always be first, stepped forward into the water, clothes and all. So David was the second, and Laura was the third person to be baptized in that area of North Wales. This baptism was performed 21 June 1846. All meetings were held at their home during the time they remained in Wales.

From the time they were baptized David had the spirit of gathering and wanted to leave for America. Laura was of a more practical nature and thought they should wait a while until they were better prepared to meet conditions in a new country. David was persistent, so they began to pack their things. He thought they wouldn't need to take much luggage, as they were going to "Zion, the land of milk and honey". Laura insisted they were going to a new, unsettled part of a country, so she packed and prepared two steamer trunks, filled with blankets, shoes, and other things. She also packed a bolt of white material not knowing for what purpose. The material was later used for making temple clothes.

When the time came for their emigration Laura hesitated, for she was not quite sure it was the right time for them to go. Being a prayerful woman and one of great faith, she sought out her Heavenly Father in prayer. One night after she had retired the answer to her prayer came. She had fallen asleep; suddenly she awoke and saw three personages surrounded by a beautiful light; the one in the center was taller than the other two, and all were dressed in white robes. The one in the center spoke, saying, "It is right you should go, and you will arrive in safety". They then disappeared. With her prayer answered Laura was now ready to make the journey. David sold his factory. Then they had their two daughters, Sarah and Laura, baptized in February 1849, shortly before their departure.

David and Laura, their two daughters, Peter Edwards (David's nephew), and five others whose passage David had paid to America then started for Liverpool. On 5 March 1849 they sailed from Liverpool for America in the sailing vessel Hartley. The company consisted of 238 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all bound for Utah under the leadership of William Hulme. They landed in New Orleans 28 April 1849, having been seven weeks on the ocean. They then went up the Mississippi River to St. Louis on the ill-fated Mameluke on which an epidemic of cholera broke out; many bodies were left buried along the river banks.

Laura's extra blankets and clothes proved a blessing as many a mother and child were kept warm with them. She was ever busy on the trip, caring for the sick and preparing the dead for burial until finally she herself was stricken with the disease. However, because of the message given to her by the heavenly messengers just before starting--that it was time for them to go to America and that they would arrive in safety--she never lost faith and knew she would be healed by the power of the Lord. She had others help her to keep walking, as so many had died in their sleep. Elder Scoville wrote in his journal, referring to Laura Peters' condition, that through administration she was immediately healed; thus the promise given her by the heavenly messengers was fulfilled. They landed at Council Bluffs, Iowa, and crossed the plains in the George A. Smith Company, arriving in Salt Lake City in November 1849, after a journey of nine months by sea and land. They had traveled about seven thousand miles.

The first year in Utah the harvest was scanty. Bread stuff and other provisions were scarce. Many of the people were compelled to dig sego and thistle roots, but the people who had provisions shared with those who did not, so extreme suffering was avoided.

David Peters lived in the old Fort but was given land outside the Fort on or near the current location of the Denver and Rio grande Depot.

In 1853 when David was called to go to Brigham City he sold his property for a yoke of oxen and a keg of molasses and left to make a new home. Laura had brought lovely china dishes with her from Wales. And they lived in a dugout it got so cold that the china could not hold up, and grandma would lie there in her bed and hear the dishes crack with the cold.

The Indians were numerous and dangerous, and the entire country north of them was inhabited by Indians only. They were instructed to build a fort just north of the Third Ward meeting house at Brigham City. They lived there until it was safe to move. They took up some land in Three Mile Creek, now named Perry. Here they build a home, and although David had been trained for factory work, he became a very successful farmer and a very active citizen in the community. He was aided on the farm by his five sons who were born in America--John, Morris, Thomas, Peter, and Richard. Two others died--David when he was one year old and William when he was nearly eleven.

The Peterses had two experiences with the Indians while they were living at the Fort in Brigham City. They knew a camp of Indians was near and getting ready to make trouble. The Saints prepared to defend themselves. The men got shotguns and took turns standing guard. About 4:00 a.m. they knew the time for action had come. As the Indians came quietly nearer the men stood ready with their guns, and the women stood in the openings of their covered wagons with pitchforks in their hands, their little children clinging to their full skirts and peeking out. When the Indians saw them all in readiness they called out, "Just going hunting, going hunting". They moved on past the fort while the Saints thanked their Heavenly Father for their deliverance.

Even after David and Laura moved to their farm at Perry the Indians continued to scare them. One evening when David had gone to Brigham City, Laura heard some Indians at her front door. She threw herself against the door, but as she did so she felt the weight of someone from the outside pushing against her. In spite of her efforts Laura was forced back slightly, and a bronzed arm shot through the opening. Laura called "David", but the Indian answered, "Buck gone to Brigham City". The table was near, and Laura managed to pull it against the door. Picking up a butcher knife that was on the table, Laura ran the back of the knife along the arm of the Indian and then struck him roughly with it. The Indian withdrew his arm, and they left her alone.

Laura was a shining light and a comfort to all in the home as well as the community. She died 14 December 1899 at the age of 82 years and 10 months. One year later David Peters died. Laura was noted for her integrity, her implicit faith in the gospel, her sympathy for those in distress and need, and she was ready to go to any sick bed whenever she was needed.

She was a mother not only to her own four living sons and two daughters, but to Mrs. Parry's two sons and two daughters, and to Peter Edwards, David's sister's boy. Having been brought up on a farm Laura was able to give David some really practical help. She was the real farmer!

David was a good manager and liked to keep everyone busy. When the boys ran out of work David would tell them to "put dirt on the potato pit". One year they put so much dirt on the potato pit that the potatoes all rotted. When the boys wanted to play ball they would all go but one, and he would stay to ask his father if he could go. David would say, "All the others have gone so you might as well go."

Laura did not get to church often, as she had too many home responsibilities. David would go and then come home and relate to Laura all that had happened. David never learned to milk cows, but Laura was very good at it. The story is told that when Laura had a baby and could not walk out to the cows David would carry her out so she could milk them. However, they had a good home life and a wonderful companionship.

David was a very active citizen in the community, and his honesty and integrity were unquestioned. It was said that if David owed anyone money he would walk to Brigham City to pay them. He died 12 June 1898 at the age of 88 years and 3 months, respected and loved by all who knew him.

[Written by a granddaughter of David and Laura Peters.]

 

Immigrants:

Peters, Sarah

Peters, Laura

Peters, David Hughes

Davis/Davies, Laura

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