Welsh Mormon History Logo





Davis, Thomas John - Biography

THOMAS JOHN DAVIS FAMILY

Thomas John Davis and his wife, Elizabeth Williams Davis and four children came to Samaria, Idaho to make their home in the spring of 1869. He was born 17 March 1820 near Neath, Glamorganshire, Wales and she was born 15 April 1832 in Ystradgunlais, Breckonshire, Wales. Thomas joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 15 May 1848 at Monmouthshire, Wales. He was an Elder in the Church and had charge of some supplies. He could read and write the Welsh and English languages. Elizabeth joined the Church 13 October 1851. They were married in 1852 and lived in Swansea from 1852 to 1855 where Elizabeth gave birth to three stillborn children.

After they joined the Church they had a burning desire to come to America and then to Zion. They worked hard and saved every penny they could to pay for their passage in 1856. They went to Coaldale, Pennsylvania where they lived while he worked in the mines with other Welsh friends and relatives to earn money to pay their way to Utah.

While living in Pennsylvania four children were born to them: John William 13 October 1858, Mary Ann, 10 December 1860, Samuel Williams, 24 December 1864 and Marintha Altheria, 3 May 1867. When Marintha was a few months old they came west to Evanston, Wyoming, traveling by train with two Mormon missionaries returning from the Eastern States Mission. From Evanston they traveled by ox team to Ogden, Utah where they lived for about a year and a half.

Their first home in Samaria was a dugout but soon Thomas built them a two-room log house. On 10 September 1869 Elizabeth gave birth to another son, Thomas Williams, the first white boy born in Samaria. Two more sons were born to them, Edwin Griffith, 9 February 1873 and Ephraim Rees, 11 January 1875.

Elizabeth had not had the privilege of going to school and so could not read nor write, but both she and her husband were very anxious that their children should have the opportunity for an education and so they encouraged them to study and improve themselves. They homesteaded land in Pleasant View where their grandson, Walter M. Davis now lives. In the winter Thomas went to Rock Springs, Wyoming where he worked in the mines in an endeavor to earn enough money to help support his family and to buy needed machinery for the farm.

Elizabeth and Thomas were very hospitable and they were glad to share what they had with their friends and relatives. She always wore a black sateen apron and kept herself and family neat and clean. She liked close neighbors, so she let the girls go to the ranch in the summer time as soon as they were old enough to cook for their father and brothers.

Elizabeth was a devout Latter-day Saint and taught her children by example. In 1878 she and Thomas went to Salt Lake City where they had their endowments in the Endowment House.

Mary Ann and Marintha learned much from their mother about managing a home. Elizabeth had been a servant in Wales and had been taught many household skills by her mistresses. She made clothes for all the family, knitted socks, stockings and mittens and was a good cook. Her grandson Walter can remember the delicious raisin bread and biscuits she always had on hand. She often shared her bread with the Indians who frequently hunted and camped in the valley.

One day while they were living in the dugout at the ranch, a buck Indian demanded some biscuits. As she went down into the dugout to get them, he followed her down, and stepping inside, he closed the door. Divining his intentions, she grabbed up a hatchet, and holding it above her head and advancing toward him, ordered him to leave. He opened the door and went up the steps laughing to himself and saying words that meant brave woman.

The children attended school in Samaria. Hugh Morris, a close neighbor of the Davises and a student of Oxford University, England, took an interest in the Davis boys, especially Edwin and Ephraim, and taught them much and encouraged them to go on to school. John, Edwin, and Ephraim attended the Brigham Young College at Logan, Utah. John graduated in 1886, and Edwin in 1894. The date of Ephraim's graduation is not known.

While Edwin and Ephraim were attending college along with other boys from Malad Valley. [sic] Marintha cooked and kept house for them, as her father thought a girl didn't need to go to school. At night she would study the boys' books and when she came back to Samaria, she took the State Teacher's examination and passed it. Then she taught school in Samaria until a law was passed in Idaho forbidding Mormons to teach because of the practice of polygamy.

Thomas John Davis passed away 16 May 1891 at Samaria following a long illness of dropsy and asthma and was buried in the Samaria Cemetery. Elizabeth survived her husband twelve years passing away 3 February 1903 at Samaria and was also buried in the Samaria Cemetery.

John Williams Davis never married. In his early life he was active in the church, working in Sunday School, M.I.A., and as Ward Clerk. His handwriting was beautiful and the records he kept are easily read from microfilm. He took an active part in dramatics which provided much entertainment for the community in those days. He taught school in Samaria for several years. He later was interested in politics and served as county treasurer for one term. He loved to read and study and would often read into the wee hours of the morning by candle or lamplight. He had a store in Samaria in partnership with Elias Morris for several years, but the store closed because too many creditors did not pay their bills. He sold one hundred sixty acres of hay land to pay off the indebtedness of the store. He lived with his brother Thomas and family at the ranch in Pleasant View for many years before his death of natural causes on 18 October 1935 and was buried at Samaria Cemetery.

Mary Ann Davis married Thomas Williams 20 January 1881. Their daughter, Maude, born 10 March 1887 at Samaria was the only one of five children who lived to maturity. Thomas taught at Samaria, Henderson Creek, and Portage. He was called on a mission to Wales. Before going to Wales he married Agnes Bowen. Mary Ann did not have very good health and while her husband was away, her family looked after her. She died 13 June 1895 and Maude went to live with her grandmother Davis. Except for a couple of years that she spent at West Point, New York, she lived at Samaria. Maude worked in Ben Waldron's store and then for Daniel Williams when he took it over. She was a very active worker in the church and taught in Sunday School, M.I.A., and Relief Society and served as Young Ladies' President of the YWMIA for several years. She was a member of the Ward Genealogical Society and did a lot of Temple work. She was clerk of the Samaria School Board of Trustees for many years beginning in 1925. At the time of her death, 18 July 1937, she was President of the Samaria Ward Relief Society. She was buried at Samaria Cemetery.

Samuel Williams Davis married Mary Ann Martin 19 February 1890. He engaged in farming at Pleasant View, owning land adjoining that of his father and brothers. He sold his land to Nephi Ipsen and bought sheep in partnership with Billy Price. But this venture did not turn out to be profitable and he returned to Samaria where he continued to live until the time of his death.

He and Mary Ann were the parents of seven children, two of whom died as children. Their children are Anna Davis Thomas Harris, Alvin who lived one month, Eliza Davis John, Melvin Martin Davis, Thomas Martin Davis, who died 3 January 1968 at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, and was buried in the Ogden City Cemetery at Ogden, Utah on 6 January 1968, Sarah who lived until 8 years of age and died of appendicitis, and Mary Davis De Young Stevens. Anna, Alvin, and Melvin were born in Pleasant View and the other children were born in Samaria.

When Anna was a baby, Samuel had the misfortune of losing his right hand in a threshing machine. He was standing on a platform and was feeding by hand bundles of wheat that had been tossed up to him by a man on either side of the platform, when his hand became caught in the machinery. It was removed just below the wrist. He learned to do many things with his arm. He could harness a team, cut down trees in the canyon and chop wood as dexterously as a man with two hands.

His wife was a very good cook. She made ice cream and sold it to anyone who came to her home on Saturday and Sunday evenings for a time. Then she had an ice cream parlor just north of the spring for several years and the young folks congregated there - the girls in their white embroidery dresses with sashes of pink or blue ribbon and the boys dressed up too. Many hours were spent there by the young and old alike.

Sam carried mail for many years on horseback to Pocatello Valley from Samaria. No matter what the weather the mail was delivered. He also drove the Samaria school wagon. Mary Ann passed away 10 November 1935 and Sam on the 14 December 1942.

They are the great grandparents of the famous 0smond Brothers who thrill large audiences with their various talents.

On the 6 January 1892, Marintha Davis married Andrew Allen, a widower from Rockland, Idaho, who had four children and operated a general merchandise store, the U.S. Post Office and had some farming land. She was a good step-mother to his children and they had four more. Irene, Leonard, Lloyd, and Aida. Andrew died in 1904. Marintha stayed in Rockland until 1914 when she moved to Logan where she kept a hotel for years, and then built a house where she continued to board and room students. Many students from Malad and Samaria have lived with her while they attended school. She found time to be active in the church and was a worker in the Logan Temple. She passed away at Salt Lake City, 10 September 1925 and was buried at Rockland, Idaho. Marintha's great grandchildren are as talented in the field of art as Sam's great grandchildren are in the entertainment field.

Thomas Williams Davis who later became known as Thomas S. Davis, the "S" standing for Samaria, married Ann Morse 25 August 1895. A newspaper clipping tells the following about the wedding: "Sunday evening at the residence of the bride's parents, Miss Annie Morse was married to Thomas Davis, Bishop J. W. Dudley officiating. The relatives of both parties were well represented and a most beautiful incident of the occasion was a vocal serenade by friends of the young couple. This was a most pleasant and agreeable surprise as the noisy, senseless chivarri is the usual demonstration at weddings. The serenaders continued for

over an hour and the singing was exquisite. It is hoped that the happiness attending the ceremony will follow the bride and groom through life." They had the wedding solemnized in the Logan Temple 26 June 1917. They were the parents of the five still born and two living children. Walter Morse Davis, born at the ranch in Pleasant View and Esther Davis Pennington born in Samaria. The first part of their married life was spent living in Samaria.

Tom was away much of the time herding sheep. Then they moved to the ranch at Pleasant View. Ann passed away 9 October 1926 and Thomas died 23 September 1938 and they were both buried in Samaria Cemetery.

Though Thomas and Ann had only two children, many children could be found in their home. It was a haven for many of Ann's family. They cared for her parents before they passed away. Many of her nieces and nephews were given a home, Velda Wilson Brass and Emma Morse Errett for a much longer time than any of the others. Velda and Emma still call Walter "brother", and there is a closeness between them that reflects the good care and affection they received.

After Edwin Griffith Davis graduated from the Brigham Young College at Logan he married Elsie Poll, a University of Utah graduate and a teacher in Salt Lake City. They were the parents of two children, a girl who died as an infant in Boise, and a boy who is a government scientist in Washington, D. C. and is a concert pianist also.

Edwin went to West Point Military Academy in 1896 and graduated in 1900.From 1900 to 1903, he served in the Spanish-American War in the Philippines. He was a Lieutenant and served in the Eleventh U.S. Infantry under Major Davidson. From 1903 to 1907, he was instructor of history and Constitutional Law at West Point. The lack of a suitable textbook for such a course as he was giving, led him to the preparation of a textbook of Constitutional Law, which was published by Franklin Hudson Publishing Co., Kansas City, Missouri, in 1906.

He resigned from teaching at West Point and came to Boise, Idaho, and became interested in politics and practiced law. He was Assistant Attorney General for Idaho and the first native son to become a candidate for Governor of the State. During World War I, he served in the army in the Judge Advocate General's Department drafting legislation; 1921-25, District Attorney of Idaho; from 1925 to 1929, he was a lawyer with the Department of Justice in Washington, D. C.; from 1929 to 1934, he was a lawyer with the National Surety Corporation in New York. He died in Atlanta, Georgia, 24 July 1934, in a federal court room after winning his case. A newspaper clipping from the Salt Lake Tribune states, "A heart attack struck Colonel Davis as he was leaving the witness stand after testifying in connection with a real estate receivership in which he was serving as trustee. He fell to the floor in front of the judge's bench and was dead before a doctor arrived. The body was taken to New York for funeral services, and he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery."

Ephraim was a talented man. He could play the piano and sing very well. He attended Harvard University after graduating from the Brigham Young College. Not too much is known about him after he left Samaria. In 1911 he married Anna Goodwin and they were the parents of one daughter, Gwendolyn Davis, born in 1912. They lived at Santa Barbara and then at Modesto. One summer he and his family lived in Logan with his sister Marintha when she had the hotel. Gwendolyn graduated from the college at Santa Barbara. He died in California and his body was shipped to Samaria for burial in November, 1929.

If Thomas and Elizabeth could see their descendants today and know what they have accomplished along educational lines and in activities in the church they would realize that many of their dreams had come true, and the many sacrifices they made had not been in vain.

--Walter and Marguerite Davis, Grandson and wife

Immigrants:

Davis/Davies, Thomas John

Williams, Elizabeth

Comments:

No comments.