(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
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 Oneida Hospital, or what is now known as Bannock Street. By June of this same year he moved his family
from Brigham to Malad, 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 Daniels.
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.