From the Journal of Thomas Davis Giles
This journal is kept at the Church Historian's Office in Salt Lake City. The following extracts are copied from the original which was a translation by at least two men. The first part gives no indication as to the penman. The largest portion is translated and written by Wm. Lewis Junier [sic] who was his secretary during the period recorded in the Journal when he was blind. It consists of three sections:
I Synopsis of the History of Thomas Giles Davis;
II Autobiography to year 1850;
III Daily Journal for three years 1850-52;
The first two sections are copied in their entirety but the last is only a brief beginning portion and a paragraph at the very end. Where no punctuation exists, it has been added.
I-Synopsis of the History of Thomas Giles Davis:
"Concerning my ancestors, I can say but little. My grandfather's name was Thomas Giles Davis. His wife's name was Leah Giles and lived in Pembrockshire. My father's name was Thomas Giles Davis and was born in Pembrockshire in the year 1784. My mother's name was Maria and was born in the same county, 1791. Their first child was Ebbenezar Giles Davis, born at Blanavon, Wales, June 1815-died June 1815. 2. Mary G.D. born at Blanavon, March 1817-died July 1817. 3. Mary G.D. born at the same place July 3, 1818. I was the 4th--Thomas Giles Davis was born in Monmouthshire, Wales, Nov. 28, 1820. 5. John D. Giles born at same place 1823-died1834. 6. Davies D. Giles born same place, June 1825- Died 1826. 7. Davied Giles Davis. Same place--born June 1827. 8. Sarah Giles Davies--born at the same place 1830. 9. Edward Giles Davis, born in Llanvabon, Wales, April 27, 1833. I married Margaret Thomas Giles Feb. 28, 1843--daughter of John and Ann Thomas. John was the first child born-Dec. 1843--died March 1844. 2. Thomas Giles--Born Jan. 1845-- died 1847. Margaret Giles--born July 1846--died June 1853. Joseph Giles, born March 1848. Hyram Giles--born Dec. 3, 1854--died May 1856. Elizabeth Giles--born on the Plains Oct. 1, 1856--died Nov. 1856."
II - "I Thos. Giles do commence to write an history of the particular circumstances that have occured to me during my life. I will at the first place state that my father and mother, Thos. Giles and Maria Giles, lived at Blanavon in the Parish of Slanover in the County of Monmouth and that I was born in the year of our Lord 1820 on the 28th day of November and continued to live with my parents there until I was eleven years old when my father removed to Llanvabbon in Glamorganshire and I accompanied him thither where we experienced many difficulties. About this time I obtained a situation as servant to my uncle who was a farmer in this Parish. His wife being my father's sister and although they were rich I did not experience any benefit of them. I continued with them for about three years when I left them and returned to my father again.
My father being a collier by trade, I went to work with him underground. (I had worked with my father under ground for about twelve months before I went to my Uncles to live.) I remained with my father working with him under ground for about five years more. I always had a desire to live an honest and upright life and do my best to assist my parents.
Certain circumstances occured which caused us to remove to Merthyr Tydvil. I continued to live with my parents for about three years in Merthyr during which time I felt a great desire to serve the Lord if I knew how. I was no scholar--having worked at something or other since I was 8 years old. My father and my mother belonged to the Baptist and I used to attend their Sunday Schools and was taught somewhat in their traditions. After I had lived in Merthyr for about a year, I joined their society and was baptized. I was then about twenty years old and I continued with them for 3 years during which time I conducted myself to the entire satisfaction of the Society--keeping all their laws and was considered by them blameless.
After the age of 22, I was married to my wife Margaret, (Feb. the 28th, 1843) the daughter of John and Ann Thomas of Merthyr. I now left my father's roof and dwelt with my wife and in process of time, my wife brought forth a son. He was born in the month Dec. 1843 and we called his name John. About this time, certain men came to Merthyr calling themselves Latter-day Saints and began to preach in Merthyr what they called the Gospel of Christ which caused no small stir to be made by the Society I belonged to as well as other professed religious denominations--many of them openly declaring that such men ought not be allowed to live in that place and possitively sought how they could devise means to have them (the Saints) driven from the town. However, a meeting publicly announced by the Saints to take place in the house of one, Wm. Phillips where I and my Father and my Father-in-law went to hear them preach. The Doctrine which they preached appeared very strange to us. After the meeting closed, there was much persecution and some cryed out for a sign or a miracle but I, myself, felt no disposition of this kind nor could I sanction the proceedings of my associates. I pondered upon the subject and asked myself what if they should be right--woe to them that persecute them for so it was in olden times. Nevertheless, I did not for sometime again go to hear them. In a short time after this, my Father-in-law joined the Saints and in something about
9 months as I was going to my meeting I met my Father-in-law as he was going to his. He very pressingly invited me to go with him to hear the truth. I did not understand much of the principles he advocated. I went again the Sunday evening following and again the evening following when when [sic] I became a little to understand the principles which caused me entirely to abandon my old associates. This was in Oct. 1844. On this occasion, once whose name was Thomas Pugh, preached and also testified that the gifts and blessings were to be received by the believers in this our day as there were in the primitive apostalic [sic] age through obedience to the ordinances of baptism and the laying on of the hands of the Elders of the Church for the gifts of the Holy Ghost. This testimony made a great impression upon me and I afterwards resolved to be baptised accordingly. I went to one of the Elders named Abel Evans and informed him I wanted to be baptized who baptized me the same night, it being the 1 Nov 1844. On the Thursday night following, I was confirmed by Elder Evans and Pugh. They layed their hands on my head and prayed when the Holy Ghost fell upon me. After they had taken their hands off my head, I instantly stood up and bore my testimony to the truth. I felt to have experienced more joy on that night than I had ever done during my whole life before. From thenceforth, I feared God and gave Glory to him and continued to pray unto him and I
received the gift of the spirit to speak in tongues--to interpret and prophecy and also to sing in the spirit. I was much respected by the society I formerly belonged to and I expected that my testimony would be favorably received by them. Consequently, I went to them and testififed unto them but they would not listen to me but treated me with the greatest derision and they told me I had embraced the doctrine of the Devil.
Notwithstanding, I was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ because I had witnessed the power of God in casting out devils, healing the sick. I next went to my Fahter and testified to the whole family. My father listened to my testimony and came with me to hear the Gospel preached. After he heard, he left the Baptists and commenced to search the scriptures. My mother was greatly opposed to us and declared I was deluded by false Prophets but we prevaded upon her to come and hear the preaching and shortly afterward was baptized and also my brother David and my sister Sarah and in about 12 months after my Fahter was baptized--also my brother Edward. About this time, my wife Margaret was baptized.
I was ordained a priest and I continued in Mrthyr [sic] preaching and baptizing for about three months. I was then counseled to go into the county of Monmouth, leaving my wife and family in Merthyr. I went first to a place called Blainavon where I stayed for about five months and preached around the neighborhood. While I was here, I was called and ordained an Elder. I was accompanied in this mission by James John. We endured much persecution in this place and neighborhood. I left this place and came to Nant-y-glo which is about 4 miles from Blanavon. I commenced preaching the following week. There was one came over with me to Nant-y-glo and he took a friend of his from Nant-y-glo the same night to Pen ca. to have him baptized and he again took one of his friends to Pen ca. to have him baptized on the Thursday night following. I now commenced preaching and baptizing the wives of these two brothers. I baptized a good many men here and persecution began to rage. We baptized some from the Baptist, the Wessleyans and Independants. Those parties persecuted us much--crowding around our meetings and anoying us greatly--throwing stones and bre aking our windows but in the midst of all this we had great joy for the spirit was manifested amongst us with great power in the gift of tongues, interpretations and prophecy. In about six weeks from the commencement, we succeeded in getting a room wherein we held a conference and a branch was organized with
19 members. I was appointed the President. Some officers were called in the conference to take part in the work. Many in the neighborhood came to listen to our proceedings and to hear the preaching. We had present with us, Captain Dan Jones, who explained the simple truths of the Gospel with much plainess which caused many shortly to be added to our number. We continued meeting together oft and in breaking bread in the name of the Lord--teaching, preaching, cohorting which caused unity of feeling to exist amongst the sains and the whole place.
Much disturbed, we continued baptizing until seven months had passed away when we held another conference and our numbers had now reached 100. This confernce was held in April, 1847. We had the honor to be visited by Captain Dan Jones and Franklin D. Richards. This was the 2nd conference in this county. Many people congregated together to hear the principles advanced by these brethren. I was appointed to the Presidencey [sic]. Again a number of good men were called to office and from that time forth the Gospel spread greatly all arond the country and in a short time after, good men were sent in different parts of the county and 7 or 8 branches were organized. We contineud to increase until Christmas, 1848, when I was called upon to preside over the Monmouthshire Conference. About 6 months prior to this, I met with a serious accident (while following my employment to obtain my livelihood being a collier). While at work, a large piece of coal fell upon my head and knocked out both my eyes and otherwise crushed and injured me. But through the mercy and power of God, I was speedily restored to health and strength. I have no eyes, therefore, cannot see but in about a month after this addident [sic] happened, I was again enabled to go forth and preach the Gospel.
During the two years that I presided overe the Nant-y-glo brance [sic], the power of God was manifested in a miraculous manner. I commenced the Presidency of the Conference, Dec. 31st, 1848. The conference consisted of ________. I entered upon the duties of this office under peculiar feelings being blind and I was almost without any learning and I felt that a great responsibility rested upon me having to watch over and care for so many hundred saints. Nevertheless, I was determined to exert myself to the very utmost to do the will of God and to endeaver [sic] to accomplish his purposes. I went forth--having faith in God--trusting that he would prosper my exertions and also the officers who united their efforts with me and the fruits of our efforts under the blessings of God soon began to manifest themselves by adding to our numbers continually. In the month of July following, the cholera raged very much in this part. Hundreds of lives fell a sacrifice to this dreadful malady and the people ran with fear to the various religious denominations to shelter themselves but in vain while the power of God was manifested with the people in saving their lives through the ordinances of God.
I will here insert that my wife had given birth to 4 children since I was baptized--two of which are deceased. I have 3 now living. After the cholera left us we still preserved in our duties in publishing the principles of the gospel and many were added to the Church. This closes the year 1849.
In commencing the year 1850, I am still remaining in the same office and coutinuing preaching to the people repentance and baptism for the remission of sins. We had much to encounter with because of the power of darkness and the blindness of the people which caused not so many to be added to our numbers in the early part of this year as heretofore but in the latter part of this year the people began to be a little more enlightened. We again began to draw in the honest and free them of their bonds so that our Conference, before the close of the year, we had to rejoice that we had not laboured in vain but that a goodly number had been added to the Church during the year. This conference was held in Tredegar, the place of my abode and I rejoiced greatly to have the privilege to record that our beloved brother, John Taylor honored us with his presence and also President Phillips and his counselors, Davis and Pugh which made quite a stir. The largest room we could find we engaged for the purpose and it was crowded to excess. We are expecting that much good will result from this conference. When our beloved brother, Elder John Taylor took his departure from my residence, he left his blessing with me which was as follows:
He laid his hands on my head and in the name of the Lord he blessed me and he told that inasmuch as I was blind that I should see visions and dream dreams and that my bread and water should be sure and that the Saints would look up to me for teachings and that they would repose their confidence in me and that I should receive wisdom and knowledge sufficient to be enabled to instruct them right.
Thus have I written a brief account of the most particular events which occured in the year eighteen Hundred [sic] and fifty and thus endeth the said year.
In the year eighteen hundred and fifty-one, I continued my labours. Conferences were held every three months and many were added unto the Church in this year. A correct account of the number is kept. Towards the close of this year we were favoured with the presence of Lorenzo Snow, one of the twelve apostles and thus endeth the said year.
In the commencement of the year 1853, we were visited by Doctor Levi Richards, one of the American elders. On the 10th of January, my wife brought forth a son and called his name Moroni and blest him in the name of the Lord and I continued my labours visiting the branches which were twenty in number, teaching and exhorting them to keep the Lords [sic] commandments, walk upright and cleave to the Holy Prieshood of God. Baptizing this year was rather at a stand and the Saints were united together and doubled their exertions to build up God's kingdom and the business had increased so much that Brother G. W. Davies was appointed to be clerk of the conference and released from leading me, and William Lewis jr. appointed to read, write, etc. for me and to lead me about. I now commenced writing a journal in Welsh which gives an account of my travels sc. and sc. giving an account of what had past so far as I could remember well. The time I commenced writing my Welsh journal was May 7th beginning at __________.
Part III--extracts from the daily journal continued on page 4.
April 4th 1852: Sunday, I spent this day among my brethren in Brecknockshire conference held at the Blacklion large room, Bryurnaur, and the following week among the Saints in my conference.
April 11: Sunday, the Monmouthshire conference was held at the Talbot Inn L.R. Tredegar. Present, Elder J.R.Davis, printer from Merthyr with myself and we had a very good conference. I spent the following week to transact conference business.
April 14: A general council was held in Brother Jones room at two o'clock and we had the honour to have Elder Campbell present. A meeting was held again at 7 o'clock in the Talbot Inn. l. v. And brother Campbell taught the Saints upwards of two hours several principles which proved beneficial to them.
April 21: I went in Brother Campbells [sic] company to Merthyr and I had the pleasure of meeting two fo the Apostles there vvx________ Erastus Snow and Franklin D. Richards.
April 22: I returned home. 24th went to Merthyr.
April 25th Sunday: I was this day in the conference at Merthyr Tydvyl in the evening. Pres. Pugh called upon me to speak a little to the people which I did.
April 26. In the council where was presenet, Pres. Phillips, and the greater part of the presidents over the Welsh conferences. The council was spent in transacting the concern or cases of the various conferences.
April 27th: Council held again. Rested over the night in sister Mary Llewellyn's home.
April 28th: Returned home (i.c. to Tredegar) and spent the remainder of the week among the Saints.
May 2nd: Sunday: I went to Nanty-glo--r miles from Tredegar and spent the day in the meeting among the brothers and sisters and the next day in the Saints service.
May 7th: This day, I started from Tredegar with the intent to visit the various branches in our Morgan Ree's cart 8 miles to a place called Argole where I rested over night. I was blessed with food by Morgan Rees before I went to meeting at seven o'clock which was held in the house of Sister Jane Thomas, where the Saints used to meet together. The meeting was commenced through singing and prayer. The president then arose and called upon me to instruct the Saints which I did and taught several principles i.e. that it was necessary for them to keep the word of wisdom and come to know the kingdom of God better and receive his word in its proper weight (in effect) I taught them upwards of an hour and a half. We had a good meeting and the Spirit of God amongst us. I then called the meeting through prayer beseeching God to bless them. I rested over night in Elder Evans.
May 7th:[sic] Next day. I visited some of the Saints and in the afternoon I went to Flower de Luce calling on the way at some of the brothers housed and I taughty them in their duties. I reached Flower de Luce at 5 o'clock and was in brother Thos. Jarman's house and administered the ordinance on him and his child that they might receive health. I slept over night at brother Morgan Davies.
May 9th: Sunday morning. Went to the school at 10 o'clock to the Chapel where the Saints used to meet together above brother Edmund Lewis's house. At the conclusion of the school, I had the opportunity to address them to be diligent in learning to read and write etc. I was invited to take dinner with Brother Edm. Lewis. In the afternoon, I went to the Saints meeting which was begun in order by the Pres. He then called upon me to address the Saints which I did in Welsh and English for an hour and a half. We had a good meeting and the spirit of God was among us. I preached in the same place at six o'clock and rested over night at Morgan Davies's house.
May 10th: I was cheering some of the Saints and went to Pong Llanfraith to Elder John Watkins's house where a prayer meeting was held and I had the opportunity to pray with my brothers and sisters and instruch [sic] them in the principles of the Kingdom of God. (May 1852)
-. . . . Journal continues in above fashion for several pages.
Last page: Joined church in 1844- Mission to Monmouth where I organized Nantyglo Branch and presided for two or three years and on the last day of December, 1848, I was appointed Pres. of Monmouth Conference over which I presided until the 1st of Feb. 1856. There was baptized during the time that I presided the Monmouthshire Conference 1391 [sic] and while I presided Naty-glo Branch about 250.