HISTORY OF HENRY WILLIAM DAVIS
(Written by Jennie Priscilla Davis Cowley, a daughter)
Henry William Davis or Davies, was born on July 20, 1862 at North Ogden, Weber Co., Utah, a son of John Johnson Davies and Maria Davies. His parents joined the Mormon church in Carmarthen, South Wales. They were married in Carmarthen on Oct. 3, 1853, and on Feb. 4, 1854, set sail for America. Maria's parents accompanied them on this journey. A detailed account of their travels is given in the history of John Johnson Davies, so will not be repeated here.
From 1856 to 1862 this family lived in North Ogden, Utah, where they endured many of the same hardships common to the early settlers of Utah. Moving on south, they settled at Monroe, Sever Co., Utah for a few years. When Henry was five years old, the family went on farther south to Kanarra, Iron Co., Utah to make their home.
Henry attended school in Kanarra. There were no schools above the elementary grades at that time, so his education was limited. But he learned much from the every-day experiences of life and took advantage of every opportunity afforded him to increase his knowledge.
It was in the little town of Kanarra that Henry spent his boyhood days Whatever he told his children of his early life has been forgotten, as it was not written down. So there is not much to be told of his growing up years. It was here in Kanarra that he grew to manhood and met and married Annie Isadore Roundy. They were married in the St. George Temple, on Feb. 10, 1886.
Henry and his bride lived in Kanarra until 1901. Here seven of their ten children were born; they were, Henry Adelbert, John Lorenzo, Jennie Priscilla, Clarence Murdell, Florene and Clorene, (the twins), and Wilmer Parrish. While living in this area, Henry would take his family to a ranch in the nearby mountains to spend the summers There they milked cows, churned butter, made cheese and sold these products to the families in town. The children looked forward to going to neighboring ranches to play with the children there. Although they had to work hard they enjoyed the days spent in the mountains.
On June 14, 1901, Henry moved his family to Venice, Sevier Co., Utah. It took them ten days to make the trip in a covered wagon. A few cows, brought along to supply milk for the family, slowed down their speed somewhat. Of their arrival in Venice, a daughter Florene, had this to say, "We moved to Venice when we (the twins) were five years old. We came by wagon. When we first arrived in the valley we went to the home of John Ford, a friend of ours who had come to Sevier Co. earlier than we did. They had the most beautiful home, and were so kind to us. Our brother, Wilmer, had the measles on the way out from Kanarra. Most of the others had them before we left Mother said, "Now, don't let any of the Ford children get into the bed Wilmer slept in." Mother had occasion to go to the wagon for something later on, and found all the children in the bed where Wilmer had slept"
They stayed with Fords for awhile and then bought a home and farm east of Venice, called the "Cuddahback" place. The older children grew up here, and three more children were added to the family. They were, Stanley Heber, LaVerda Mae, and Faye Belle. About this time Ray (Cowley) was courting Jennie, and he would ride a horse out to their farm to bring her into town to mutual and dances. The Davis home was a gathering place for the young people of the town, for they were always made welcome.
Some years later they bought the old Henry Jakeman home, located back of the present Venice Store. At this time Henry Jakeman was the Postmaster and had the post office and a little store in the front part of his house. When he sold out to Henry, J. C. Cowley became the Postmaster and moved the post office into his little store on the corner of the same lot, where the Jakeman home stood. Henry and his family lived in this house until all their children were grown and married off. The old house was enlarged and remodeled, adding two bedrooms and an upstairs. When their children were all gone, they built a smaller home near their son Stanley's home, and spent their remaining years here. Their son John L. bought the old home back of the store, and it is now owned by his son Reed.
Henry William Davis was a farmer all his life, but worked at other jobs in order to make a better living for his family. For many years he carried the mail from Venice to Richfield and back again, in a one-seated, black-top buggy, drawn by one horse. He also hauled milk to the creamery in Monroe for a number of years. In his later years he was janitor for the Venice School house, and the Church house. He always had a good garden, which fed his own family as well as many relatives and friends. He was very generous with whatever he had, and many times he carried flour, vegetables and meat to his children, and anyone else who needed help. He was very good to Aunt Lydia Reeves, (his wife's sister) after her husband died. He helped them in every way he could.
One incident which portrayed his generous character, was the time his youngest sister, Maggie died. She died following the birth of twins, who also died at the same time. Her marriage had not been too successful and Henry had helped many times before her death When there was no one else to make funeral arrangements, he took over this responsibility, and made at plans for the funeral and burial, paying all expenses himself.
He was interested in civic affairs and was a member of the Sevier County School Board for many years. He was always willing to work for the good of the community and the people in it. "Our Own Sevier", by Irvin and Lexia Warnock, gives account of his association with the first thresher in Sevier Co: "Henry William Davis and Charles William Cowley, Sr. were first to purchase a threshing machine in Sevier County. They were partners and threshed for the farmers of the county for 20 years. Ray Cowley and Ras Jensen of Sigurd, ran the steam engine which we used after the horse-powered thresher was discontinued. Other men who worked on this thresher in those early days, were: Myron Roundy, Henry Buchanan, Willard Brugger, Sam Gurr, John L. Davis Varsall Cowley, Bert Davis, Charlie Cowley, Jody Kane, Jim Jakeman, Frank Wall, and perhaps others. Ike Colby, and his wife Tory, cooked for the thresher crew, along with Lydia Reeves and Jennie Cowley, who cooked as they traveled around the county. The firemen had to start firing up at three in the morning in order to have the steam up by daylight, and then they would run till ten or eleven at night. Sometimes they would keep going until February to finish up all the threshing jobs." (Page 468). On page 470 of this same volume it states: "During early times justices of the peace were appointed or elected to serve. Henry Davis acted as a Justice of the Peace for Venice," (along with other men, at various times)
Since they had a big house, and Annie was a good cook, they boarded the school teachers who came to teach in Venice, as long as they were able. Among those teachers who stayed at their home were: Elna Froyd, Clifton Reese, Lavon Davis, Orville Watts his wife and children, and Allie Davis, a daughter of John Henry Davis. Also, Jessie McCallister and Clara Johnson.
Clara Johnson of Redmond, Utah and Jessie McCallister of Kanab, Utah, boarded at the Davis home at the same time, and were being courted by two of the town fellows Melvin Wall and Ren Reeves. Clara recalls that one night Melvin came to see her, and Ren came to see Jessie. They stayed quite late, and at 12:30 A.M., Brother Davis got up and dressed and came out into the front room. He said, "If you're going to sit up at night, I'm going to sit up with you." He sat in the room with them until the boys went home. Clara and Jessie have a good laugh over this whenever they get together and talk over old times (Clara married Melvin Wall and Jessie married Ren Reeves).
Clara Johnson Wall, remembers how good they both were to the school teachers. She said, "On many cold winter nights Brother Davis would pop popcorn for us. He used a wire popper and an old coal heater for the heat. He would open the stove door and put the popper inside, over the coals. It tasted mighty good to us. On many occasions Bro. Davis took us to Richfield to do our shopping, in an old two-seated Model T. Ford. The highway at that time ran past Boyd Buchanan's home west of Venice. We enjoyed these rides very much."
In those early days dancing was a favorite pastime. Many evenings were spent in dancing, where Henry "called" for the quadrilles, (now called square dances ). The music was furnished by Charles W. Cowley Sr., with his violin, and Jennie Davis played the organ. Henry loved music and singing and would sing to his children and grandchildren by the hour. One of the favorite songs that always brought peals of laughter, was one called "the Old Sow." He sang it with great enthusiasm and sound effects. He liked to write songs and the music for them.
Henry and his family made many trips back to Cannonville to visit with his brother John's family. Both John and Henry had good singing voices, and the evenings were spent in singing. Everyone enjoyed listening to them sing together, and then the whole family would join in and sing until late in the night. When John and his family came to Venice to visit the same thing happened. It was such a delightful experience that the children still remember these occasions with pleasure.
His children were aware of their father's good qualities. Florene wrote of him: "Dad was a good, honest, hard working man. He was most generous. If he saw anyone in need, especially widows and children, he would be there to help. He was always interested in the needs of his own family, and we always had a good home and plenty to eat. He always encouraged us to be active in the church. Dad gave mother an his support in her church activities. It takes the combined effort of both husband and wife to make a success of church work and raising a family. Dad never liked to go in debt. I remember hearing him talking with mother about paying off the mortgage. I wasn't very old, but it seemed that they were both so concerned about it, and they never were in debt very long".
Henry was active in the Mormon church, and served as chorister of the Venice ward for seven years with his daughter Jennie as organist. He was second counselor in the Venice Ward Sunday School with Henry Buchanan, and George F. Jackson, Supt.
Henry and Annie did a lot of Temple work in their later years and could always find time to go to the temple, whenever they had the opportunity. They taught their children to be good Latter Day Saints, and they all served in various positions in the church as long as they were able.
At one time, perhaps during the time Stanley was on a mission, Henry put up a little stand in front of his home, where they sold home-made ice cream. This was done mainly on special holidays, such as the 4th of July, and the 24th of July. They also sold hot dogs. This was a real treat for the young people of the town, as there were no "drive-ins" then, and not many cars to take them out of town. This was discontinued after a few years
His sense of humor came to his aid in many situations but he could also be firm when the situation demanded it. His children knew that when he spoke he meant it, and they knew enough to mind him. He was very good natured and never cross or mean in any way with his family.
A grand daughter, Maurine Cowley Breinholt, in recalling memories of her grandparents, said: "Many of the older grandchildren remember the happy times spent at the home of Grandma and Grandpa Davis. It was a real treat to sleep overnight at their house. There was an old wash house back of the big house, where the washings were done, which made a wonderful play house for the grand children. The apple orchard back of the granaries, the plum trees along the fence, and the pear trees provided treats for all who stopped by. There were also gooseberry bushes and rhubarb plants and just about anything that would grow they had on their lot. Those days are gone now, but the memories linger on in the minds and hearts of their numerous descendants."
Henry William Davis died on July 2, 1936 at his home in Venice, Utah, of kidney trouble. He was buried in the Venice, Cemetery.
Scanned by Joseph F. Buchanan - April 1996, updated 1/14/97
Histories of my ancestors (index)