Peter Harris Davis

Taken from “Legacy”, a Brimhall family history by David Jex Brimhall

Peter Harris Davis
Peter Harris Davis

Peter Harris Davis, the son of David Davis and Rachel Harris, both of Carmarthen Shire. South Wales was born August 1, 1831, in Gwmpenygarreg, Penboyr Parish, Carmarthenshire, South Wales. He never had the privilege of listening to the counsel of an experienced father. Before he was old enough to remember instances of any importance his father died leaving his mother with seven children, Peter being the youngest. For sometime she was successful in holding the family together with the aid of the older children but, as the years passed, the conditions grew more serious and the family separated. Young Peter, at an early age, was sent to live with a farmer, helping as best he could with the cattle and sheep or any odd job that was given him. He worked the number of years agreed upon by his mother for a place to live. At the age of eleven he associated himself with the coal mines and for years worked his way along as best he could on the wage that was paid at that time.

When he was about twenty years old he came in contact with the L.D.S. Missionaries and not long after joined the Church. He received the gospel with such earnestness that he was soon called on a mission to his own people and in his own country which he fulfilled in the Welsh language. His experiences as a missionary in the coal camps were numerous.

Margaret Thomas
Margaret Thomas

Desiring to gather with the Saints in Zion, when about twenty-five years of age he came to America, landing in New York. It was necessary for him to work his way along, his money was gone, and work was scarce, and he was handicapped with the Welsh Language. He found work however, in the mines and smelters of Pennsylvania. It was here that he met Margaret Thomas, a Welsh woman, who had immigrated from Rhymney, Mammouthshire. South Wales. They were married in the spring of 1859 at St. Clair, Scuylkill County, Pennsylvania, where they both lived at the time. The future for the couple looked prosperous and their hopes to come to Utah brighter, but trials came thick and fast and before the first ray of hope was realized two sad instances came into their lives that must have set them back botn financially and spiritually. Two of his brothers, who had immigrated and located in the proximity of Pittsburgh, both having wives and families, were killed in a mine disaster. This left him alone in the world as far as his knowledge, concerning his mother’s family. The second sad instance was the death of their first child, a son, Even, born February 11, 1860, and died September 25, the same year, and was buried at St. Clair.

The following year Peter and Margaret joined a company headed for Utah. Joseph A. Rees was a member of this company. While enroute to Utah their second child was born. July 9, 1861 in the city of Nebraska, Forest County, Pennsylvania, Angelina, their first daughter was born in a covered wagon bound for Utah. The company waited and rested for three days and journeyed on. This company arrived in Utah late in the fall of 1861.

During the winter, Peter became thoroughly saturated with the “Gold Rush” spirit, and the following Spring helped to make up a company which journeyed on to California. He stopped in Nevada for a short time in order to replenish his stock and then on to the gold field, but the gold fields were not as had been represented to him and so he returned to Dayton, Nevada where he again engaged himself in mining. While in Silver City, two children were born: Julia Ann, September 23, 1863 and David Thomas Davis, December 18, 1865.

To better family conditions they moved to Virginia City but misfortune again struck the family very forcibly. This time his good wife, Margaret, was stricken with pneumonia and passed to the Great Beyond, leaving Peter with three small children. She was buried in the little town of Empire, not far from Carson City.

About the year 1868, with three children to care for, Peter Davis wended his way back to Utah, settling in Tintic, another mining camp. He followed mining presumably because he was a good miner and in demand always being able to land a good job with fair pay. Settling in Utah, this time with a determination to stay, he took up the studies of history and astrology, becoming very efficient in both. Later on in life he gave a course of lectures on history in the Spanish Fork Meeting House. About the year 1870, with his three children, he moved to Spanish Fork where he lived the remainder of his life. Here he became very active both in church and civic affairs. Being talented in music he became a member of the first band and choir of Spanish Fork. He also was a member of the Jolly Boys, a group of Welsh Singers, who entertained the community at public affairs and who also gave concerts to finance the building of the Big Spanish Fork Meeting House, and other community undertakings.

During the time he lived in Spanish Fork he was engaged in farming, gardening, and raising bees. He was a great lover of music and nature, taking pride in producing beautiful flowers and trees. Later on in life the Bible and Book of Mormon became his constant companions and needless to say, he was very familiar with both. He acquired a very distinctive library, which became very useful to his many friends and the community. He was a pleasant, good-natured man without an enemy, a public worker and a good citizen.

Mining so many years both here and in Wales brought on an early death. At the age of fifty-three he passed away leaving a host of friends and an enviable record. Death occurred March 5, 1885, at Spanish Fork. Services were held in the Third Ward Meeting House and interment in the Spanish Fork Cemetery. Thomas Evans, a native Welsh countryman, preached his funeral sermon. The band of which he was a charter member marched ahead of the cortege all the way to the burying place, playing his favorite impressive numbers.

Additional facts taken from “Early Scenes in Church History” (Page 53, Chapter 4)
“The Lord Will Provide”

A rather curious circumstance occurred while Elder Evans was laboring in North Wales in company with Peter Davis. They were traveling as usual without purse or scrip, and had been two days without food, when they entered a village and applied at a store kept by a man named Jones to try to sell a few tracts with which to buy some food. On learning what kind of tracts they were, the storekeeper refused to purchase any, so they tramped on. The next place they entered was a shoemaker’s shop, where they asked the privilege of warming themselves by the fire, for they were almost frozen, it being extremely cold weather and the month of February. Some of the shoemakers became interested in their conversation, and one of them proffered to try and find a place for them to stay over night. He returned, however, to say that the Methodist preacher of that circuit was to occupy the spare bed which he expected to procure for them. He, therefore, recommended them to proceed some distance farther till they came to a farm house to which he directed them where he had no doubt they could get lodgings and food.

The Elders trudged along, but when they arrived at the farmhouse it was evident that the family had retired for the night for there was no light to be seen. They noticed a barn, however, standing conveniently by the roadside which seemed to offer shelter for them at last, and they entered it and burrowed into a heap of straw they found there. They laid in that position for sometime, shivering with cold and trying in vain to sleep, when suddenly they heard someone call out, “Hello! you men, come out here.” Their first thought was that someone had detected them while in the act of seeking shelter in the barn and informed the police, who were about to arrest them as vagrants.

They, therefore, remained as quiet as possible until the call had been repeated several times, when they concluded they might as well answer whatever might be the consequences. As soon as they inquired what was wanted, the person informed them that he would find a place for them to stay if they would come out. Thinking some treachery might be meant, they declined with thanks, and told him they could get along where they were. He, however, urged them to go with him saying he would take them to a place where they could have a good supper and a comfortable bed to sleep in. They accordingly came out and accompanied the stranger, whom they had never seen before, back to the village and to the very store where they had tried to sell the tracts. There they found a warm welcome, a good supper and a comfortable bed. But now the sequel.

A young girl who happened to be in the shoe shop where they called and who overheard the conversation, afterwards had occasion to call at Jones’ store and repeat it to the proprietor’s daughter. The sympathy of the girls was aroused at the thoughts of the two young and strange preachers seeking lodging and food that cold night. And when Miss Jones retired to bed she found it impossible to go to sleep. Her teeth rattled, and she shook and chilled all over, although she was in a comfortable bed and in a warm room. Nor could the family prevent her from chilling—although they did all they could to warm her. In the midst of her shivering, she kept bewailing the fate of the two young preachers whom she fell sure would suffer that cold night. Finally she prevailed upon her brother to go in search of them and bring them back to their house, that they might have supper and a comfortable bed to sleep in. As soon as her brother had started on his errand of mercy the girl ceased to chill, and in fact, got up and dressed herself and helped at preparing supper for the brethren before they arrived. It was not until the next morning that they learned the secret of the kindness shown them and saw in what curious manner the Lord had operated in preserving them from possible death of freezing and providing them with food which they needed so badly.

4 thoughts on “Peter Harris Davis”

  1. My name is Randy Demke.. g-grandson of Joseph A. Rees and my wife, Wendy is descendant of Ida Jane Brimhall daughter of Emer Brimhall… It was interesting that Peter H. Davis mentioned Joseph A. Rees and we are connected to these individuals

    1. Are you still here? I’m a descendant and still trying to nail down Peter Harris Davis and Margaret Thomas. I’m trying to figure out if Cwm Penygraig is different than Cwm Pen-y-gerrig. I can find the village (or farm) of Cwm Penygraig and can find Cwm Pen-y-gerrig as a dam and a road name, but not a place.

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