Thomas was born January 1 1860, to Morris Thomas and Eleanor
Stephens in Emlyn, New Castle,
the oldest of 4 children. The other 4 children were Stephen, Margaret, Morris, and Evan.
David's father died in 1866 in Wales, as did two of his siblings,
Morris and Margaret, in less than four years. Eleanor brought her three sons,
(David 7 years, Thomas 4 years , and Evan, an infant)
to America, leaving Wales on June 2, 1869, on the ship Minnesota. Mormon missionaries had told them about the opportunities in America and had
tells of coming on the ship, which took 11 days. A terrible storm came up and
nearly sank the ship. He went below and prayed for protection and asked God to
spare the ship. They arrived safely, so his prayer had been answered. The ship
was condemned as a passenger ship and on its return to England, it sank.
on the New Transcontinental Railroad. It also took 11 days. They settled in Willard, Utah,
thinking it was good farming land, but found out that the water was bad and the
farm land was very rocky. They were disappointed with the situation, but stayed
on for a few more years and tried to eke out a living. They wanted to stay true
to the religion of which they had become a part.
moved to Cherry Creek, Oneida,
Idaho in 1869 and lived in an
existing house that had one room, a shingled roof and a board floor. They felt
themselves lucky because many of the people lived in "dugouts" (a pit
with a dirt roof).
David attended school for three months in the winter for a couple
of years and that was all the schooling he ever received.
David's Mother married Moses Dudley. The marriage didn't last too long, and the
couple divorced because of Moses' cruelty to her. However, they had one child
together, a daughter they called Mary Ann.
In 1878, the family moved to St.
John, Idaho, where
David did logging. He supplied the materials to build the old Elkhorn Dam in
1878-79. The dam would never hold water and a cloud burst washed it out. A
concrete dam was later built that didn't hold the water any better.
went to freighting. His two routes were to Blackfoot and Challis and to Wood River. He was a generous man and helped many people
in trouble on his routes, never accepting any pay.
Anna Martina Larson (daughter of James and Annie Larson) at one of the many dances
that were held. David loved to dance. They were married on December 16, 1885.
He then gave up freighting to be near his wife and family. Then, he started to
grow hay and raise cattle with his brother Tom. When David's first daughter,
Jane, was one year old (1887), the family planned to move to Spokane, Washington
where they heard of good land and plenty of water. If they had settled there,
they would have become rich, as the land was sold for city property. Instead,
they settled in Montana.
The men drove the cattle and the women drove the wagons. They got as far as the
Big Hole Basin
near Dillon where the country appealed to them. There was wild grass that was
waist high that they could feed the cattle. They took up ranching and lived
there for several years. The women became very home sick for St. John and their relatives. Finally, David and
Tom sold their ranches to Frank Pendleton (Mary Ann's husband). Frank later
became a wealthy man.
to St. John
where David started raising sheep, being the first to practice winter lambing
in the area. When David got older, he was janitor in the old red brick school
They were a
very special couple, the salt of the earth-very hard working and loving
died when I was only six years old, but I remember him speaking Welsh and I
only know one word-"Mungee" which means
Grandma. He ate most everything with his knife and we were amazed when he ate
peas. I remember he always wore blue bib overalls.
youngest son, Thomas Franklin married, he
and his wife, Maude, moved into the family home and took care of Grandpa
and Grandma until their death. He passed away October 24, 1939, and, Martina on
August 14, 1952, in St. John,
Idaho. Both are buried in the St. John Cemetery.
Submitted by: Sharon Hess, Great