History of Richard Jenkins Davis
Richard Jenkins Davis, son of William Jenkins Davis and Gwenllis Thomas, was born in Ystred Parish, Glamorganshire, South Wales, September 3, 1825. His father died when he was very young. He lived with his grandfather, Richard Thomas, doing farm work, later he worked in the coal mines. In 1849 while working in the mines at Llantwit Parish, he met and married Rebecca Morgan.
On January 23, 1851 he was baptized and confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was ordained a priest on April 11, 1851 by William Jones and was ordained an elder on May 21, 1851. Later he was appointed Counselor to the President of the Llantwit Branch of the Myrther Conference, where he labored until January 25, 1853, when he bid good-bye to his friends, relatives and native land and started for America with his wife and two year old boy. They left Liverpool on the ship Jersey, February 5, 1853. After six weeks on the Mississippi River, and landed at Keakenk, Iowa. They stayed here nine weeks preparing to cross the plains. After a hard trip and much suffering common in those days, they landed in Salt Lake City on the tenth of October 1853. They spent the winter with old Father Call at Bountiful, and in the spring of 1854, they moved to Willard.
He entered into the activities of this community, building one of the first substantial houses. In connection with Will Walker they opened the first road in the Willow Creek Canyon.
On February 3, 1859 he was set apart as one of the seven Presidents of Seventies of the fifty-ninth quorum, which was organized the same day. September 3rd he was called to act as counselor to Bishop Alfred Gordon of the Willard Ward, which position he held until April 6, 1865, when he was called to fill a mission to Wales. He left Willard May 19, 1865, arriving in Omaha July 1st. He then went down the Missouri on a steamer to St. Joseph, and from there he took a train to New York City. On July 16th he sailed from New York for Liverpool and arrived there July 28th. He was set apart to labor in South Wales. After an absence of 12 years he met his brother and sisters, aunts and uncles, and other relatives who treated him kindly but had no interest in his religion. From August 1865 to February 1866 he labored in Mommouth and Glamorgan Shire and from February 1866 to May 1868 he labored in the Carmarthin Conference, covering Carmarthin, Pembroke and Cardigan Shire, his headquarters being at Llanelley. On the 29th of May 1868 he was released to return home, sailing from Liverpool June 4, 1868 on the Steamship John Bright, with a company of 700 Saints, landing in New York June 14th. He left New York by rail, arrived in Laramie, Wyoming on June 23rd. On June 25th he left Laramie in Captain Chester Loveland's mule-team train for Salt Lake City where they arrived August 20, 1868. He arrived at his home in Willard on August 22, 1868, after an absence of 3 years and 3 months to the day, finding his family of two wives and nine children in good health, but destitute. In the spring of 1868 three of the best cows he had were poisoned on wild parsnips. Later on the only team he had died from eating joint rushes. Thus handicapped, but with unusual energy he started in to provide for his family.
In November 1868 he went to Malad Valley, entered 160 acres of land, built a log house and then returned to Willard for the winter. In the spring of 1869, in company with Moses Dudley and John D. Jones, each taking part of their families and their cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens, they started out to build up new homes in the Malad Valley, With him were his wife, Elizabeth, his sons, William M., Richard E. and his daughter Margaret. The writer of this sketch has a very clear memory of that April morning when we landed on a desolate, sage-brush flat to live in a log room with neither roof nor floor, and very little to interest us but rattlesnakes, coyotes and wolves.
He went to work building corrals and sheds, fencing hay land, and also running his farm at Willard. With all of this home cares he always found time for religious and civic affairs. He in company with four others built a good log school house and started the first school in that part of the valley. He organized a branch of the Church there, covering Willow Springs, Sherry Creek and Henderson Creek, over which he presided for several years. During these years he was till one of the seven Presidents of the 29th Quorum. He also organized a Mass Quorum in the Malad Valley by order from Jos. A. Young November 11, 1883 which became the 52nd quorum. He was called as the senior President, which position he held to the time of this death.
Mr. Davis died at Willow Springs, Oneida County, Idaho, October 5, 1892, and was buried in Willard, Box Elder County, Utah.