Monday, October 31, 2016

"My Grandparents, James George Davies and Polly Williams"

"My Grandparents, 
James George Davies and 
Polly Williams" 
from book "Together Again", 
edited by Sophia Parker Stapeley

Born:November 6, 1831
Place: Llanelly, Carmarthen Co., South Wales
Died:April 3, 1909
Place:Kanarraville, Iron Co., Utah
Baptized: January 6, 1845
Endowed: October 21, 1880

Born: May 28, 1831
Place: Springfield, Illinois
Died: August 12, 1914
Place: Kanarraville, Iron Co., Utah
Baptized: July 10, 1851-7?
Endowed: October 21, 1880

Sealed to Husband: October 21, 1880

-Ordained teacher and Elder October 5, 1880
-Filled a Mission among the Indians

Married: 1855 or 1856
Place: Not Known
Children: 11, all born in Utah; the first three in Old Fort Harmony, the last eight In Kanarraville.

[Note: because the name "Davis" had been spelled Davies in Wales and mispronounced in America James changed the spelling of his last name to Davis so it would not be mispronounced.]

        As with our other grandparents, we have different stories about each of Grandfather and Grandmother Davies. Let me tell you my story of the both of them first, much which came from my mother and sisters, and then let you hear Esther’s story of them separately. Bear with us if some of the comments are repetitious. Esther and I shared many of the same feelings and experiences.

        James and Polly were among the first settlers in southern Utah, settling first at Kan Creek. Later, Brigham Young, President of the Church and leader of the settlers, had the people move to a settlement of Old Fort Harmony. The Navajo Indians often attacked them there, so they built a fort to defend themselves. The walls were several feet thick. The homes inside were built close together and along the walls. All the settlers were Mormons and they got along well together. The building material for the walls was sun-dried clay brick. They lived there for several years but in 1861 the rains were so heavy that the clay got wet and soft and the walls began caving-in. This forced people to move away from Old Fort Harmony. Some went to New Harmony; others, including James and Polly, went north to the town known as Kanarra.

        James and Polly were dairy farmers. Polly became the manager of the ranch, in effect, running it with her children, and producing the food products. James developed a freighting business, carting the food products by wagon to various mining camps in Utah and Nevada. They worked long and hard. Polly and the children had to hand-milk 50 cows twice a day, for milk, cheese and butter. They raised chickens for meat and eggs; pork for fresh meats, headcheese and scrapple; vegetables; and animal feed. James was on the road quite a bit, going back and forth, delivering supplies and returning for more.

        In those days, all merchandise was paid for in gold coins, and James often carried a great deal of money on his way home from his trips. Travel by wagon and team was not very fast either, and there was always the danger of being way-laid by robbers or bandits. One notorious gang leader of stage-robbers in the area, at the time, was one Ben Taster. James believed that Ben was close on his tail, on one trip. But somehow, by being very careful and using out-of-the-way trails and places to rest, he never was held up.

        They were very charitable people, and came to be known by every one as ‘Uncle Jim” and “Aunt Polly.” Many, many people stopped at their home on their travels through Kanarra, getting hot delicious meals with biscuits and butter and coffee, and staying the night. Polly was an expert at preparing jams and jellies, and she always had “bricks” of head-cheese and scrapple packed in crocks for quick cold lunches. No wonder people loved to stop in and visit! James and Polly developed a ranch in the “Upper Basin” part of the Kanarra Mountains, where they stayed and worked during the summers, and even there they had callers by the dozen. Polly, in particular, had a good sense of humor, and much genuine empathy for helping others with their sorrows and problems. They loved being around her and “Uncle Jim” as well. If wealth was measured in friends, James and Polly were very wealthy people.

        There was another fascinating part of Polly. She had a very deep appreciation for beautiful articles. China was her special interest, but she also had a keen eye for oil paintings, glass dishes and ornaments, and tea sets. Her only brother, William George Williams, was the owner of the Kanarra Co-op Store. Whenever salesmen, or “drummers” as they were called, came to the Store to wholesale supplies to George, as he was called, either he or they learned to call Polly to the Store to get her advice on the type of products to buy, and their quality. She had an eye for the finer things and for knowing what people wanted. There were lots of stories about how she would order the finer things, while her brother would order the heavier “more practical” appliances, and the shelves would soon be sold clean of her orders while his “collected dust.” They say that when the ordered, crated goods would arrive at The Store, Polly would get word to her friends to get there early in order to get the best choices, and that often her orders would be sold or spoken for before George could finish uncrating. When big orders were sold to the Store, the drummers would give Polly complimentary articles or gift sets. Her pantry shelves at home were filled with the beautiful china, glassware, and other gifts that had been given to her! Many years later, when she had passed away, her beautiful sets were divided among her children.

        Spending time with them on the Kanarra Mountain ranch, at “Upper Basin,” was a special treat for those of us who, as “grandchildren” of James and Polly, got the chance. My sister, Laura Parker Wood, enjoyed telling of how they would invite one a grandchild at a time to spend a couple of weeks with them during the summer. One event that everyone looked forward to was going with “Grandpa” on his trips up into the timber to get logs that he sometimes needed to fill orders. He drove his team with just the “running-gears” for this purpose. The children took their turns sitting on the running-gear as the teams hauled the logs along the long stretches of narrow dugways through the tall timbers -- with Grandpa singing at the top of his voice all the way! He was Welsh, remember, and just loved to sing. And when they got back to the ranch, Grandma was always there to give them a hearty welcome! How they loved it, when it was their turn to “go to the ranch.”

        One autumn in 1884 after the summers work had been completed at Upper Basin, James and Polly were on their way back to their home in Kanarra for the winter, with their wagon loaded with the harvested supplies and food. Polly was pregnant at the time, and went into labor while they were still on the trail. They delivered their own baby in the wagon, making the best of the situation. Everything turned out well. The baby was a beautiful, lovely girl. They named her Alice May and she was their last child. Alice May lived a full life and married Henry Pollock.

        There are many other stories which could be told about Grandfather Davies. He was called on to help protect the settlers against many of the Indian raids that were common in those days, but refused to participate in destructive, vengeful attacks against the Indians. Later, he was sent on a mission to work among the Navajos, in order to promote better relationships between the Indians and the settlers. He learned to speak Navajo and developed some close friends among them. Esther had some stories about this, so I won’t go into them here. James built a brick yard in Kanarra and produced the bricks that were used to build the homes in that day; and his sons Lorenzo and George took over the business when he retired. He is credited with having built the first bridge across the creek at Kanarra, and built one of the first homes. It was built in 1863 and still stands in Kanarra!

        The same with Polly -- many other stories to tell. She was a great story-teller, and never seemed to run out of interesting tales. She called faithfully on the homebound, usually taking a dish of their favorite food to them to make them feel better. In her last days, she was bedridden most of the time, but even then refused to have anyone help her with her washing -- which she liked doing. My sister Zina Ett Parker Pollock tried to help her, to no avail, and said, “I think no one could wash her clothes to look so white and clean as she could.”

Their children, and dates of birth, were: 1.Rachel Davies, April, 1857 2.Elizabeth Ann Davies, my mother, January 8, 1859 3.James Lorenzo Davies, February 14, 1861 4.William Rees Davies, March 2, 1863 5.George Alma Davies, February 14, 1866 6.Myron Thomas Davies, March 17, 1868 7.Rees Davies, February 4, 1874 8.Nora Davies, December 24, 1874 9.Eleanor Matilda Davies, January 26, 1877 10.Albert Davies, May 13, 1880 11.Alice May Davies, August 18, 1884

Ancestry Chain: TR, Lark, Kirt DeMar WOOD, Laura Elizabeth PARKER, Elizabeth Ann DAVIS, James George DAVIS / DAVIES and Polly WILLIAMS.

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