(by Sara Belle Thomas)
Benjamin Thomas, son
of David and Hannah Thomas, was born February 25, 1820 in Camarthenshire, Wales. He had one brother,
Daniel Thomas. He migrated from South Wales to Salt Lake City, Utah in
the year 1849 in company with 249 Welsh Saints and was six weeks on the ocean. They
sailed across on the ship called the “Buena Vista.” They crossed the
plains in the George Smith company.
He married Letitia Davis
several years before leaving Wales, and one child was born to them
there. By the Missouri River on the trek westward Letetia gave birth to a baby girl May 13, 1849. Her
name was Hannah Maria. They had seven children, viz:Daniel D. Thomas, Hannah
Maria Williams, Sarah Ann Anderson, Mary Jane Jones, David D. Thomas, and
Joshua Davis Thomas.
On March 9, 1857 in
Salt Lake City he was married to Susan Roberts by Brigham Young, and to this
union 14 children were born, viz: Robert R. Thomas,
William R. Thomas, Margaret Jane Graham, John R. Thomas, David R. Thomas, Letitia R.
Richards, Rachel R. Thomas, Thomas R. Thomas, Susannah R. Price, Edward R.
Thomas, Mary R. Thomas, Joshua R. Thomas, Martha R. Thomas, and Joseph R.
Thomas respectively. In the year 1858 he and his family moved from Salt
Lake City to Brigham City. Later that year they were
compelled to move ”South” by order of the Church, as
the Indians had become bad at this time. On this move Letitia gave
birth to a baby boy, after which she passed away, and was buried in San Pete County. The
family soon moved back to Brigham City where the baby died.
In April of 1864 they
came to Malad Valley, its first early
settlers. Four men and four boys were the first to begin the work of
reducing the wilderness and lay the stepping stones which made this valley what
it is today. Benjamin Thomas was one of these hardy and energetic
pioneers. They took up land claims and began the work of reclaiming
the valley and transforming it from the vast wilderness to a community of
farmers and substantial business concerns. May of 1864 the first
crops were planted which consisted of wheat, oats, melons, potatoes and a few
garden vegetables. In the meantime Benjamin Thomas was preparing a
place to bring his family to. He constructed a one room house, the
sides being built of braided willows, and the top of a few poles covered with
wheat grass. In the winter they added one more room to this
house. This house was located in the neighborhood of the former
William Evans, (treasurer) home, and the OneidaHospital,
or what is now known as Bannock Street. By June of this same
year he moved his family from Brigham toMalad, which
included his wife Susan and eight children.
On September 30, 1864
Susan gave birth to a baby boy, David R., who was the first white boy to be
born in Malad. Benjamin and Susan, along
with the other members of their family, were always very proud of the fact that
they were the first family to settle in Malad,
and that they gave to Malad its first born. This same David R. Thomas
passed away April 14, 1951 at the age of 86. This family remained
here continuously after their arrival, thru the hard winter of ‘64 and ‘65.
The family like many
others of the early settlers, had encounters with the Indians. On
many occasions “Chief Pocatello” and other Indians would come to their home
demanding something to eat, with large, threatening knives in their
hands. Food was often times surrendered to them to keep peace, with the
hazard of food shortage always staring these brave pioneers in the face.
The stage coach
passing from Corrine, Utah to Montana carried numerous
passengers. On one occasion a gentleman, who was overcome with heat
and fatigue, stopped at the home of Benjamin Thomas and asked for lodging for
the night. Mrs. Thomas immediately began to prepare for her strange
visitor, and cooked him a delicious supper. On her bill-of-fare
among other things, she served green peas, which, of course, at that time were
a great luxury. The man ate the meal with relish, and declared it to
be the best he had ever eaten. The next morning before he made ready
to continue his journey he showed his appreciation of her hospitality by
pouring on a plate some real “gold dust.” When this was weighed it
amounted to fifteen dollars. Mrs. Thomas felt happy and considered
she had been well paid.
The first religious
meeting in Malad City was held in the
fall of 1865 in the Benjamin Thomas home. It was conducted by Latter
Day Saint missionaries from Brigham, Utah. The first
Bishopric in Malad consisted of Bishop
Daniel Daniels with Henry Peck and Benjamin Thomas as his counselors. In
the year 1866 Benjamin Thomas was ordained the first counselor to Bishop
Mr. Thomas played an
important part in the early development of Malad City.
He died August 16,
1887 in Malad City at the age of 67,
and was buried in the Malad City cemetary.