HISTORY OF DAVID EDWARD AND MARGARET REES WILLIAMS
Edward Williams was born at Llangallock, Carmarthensire, Wales on the 22 of November, 1822,
the son of David Williams and Margaret Edwards.
were of very humble circumstances and worked in the coal mines for a living at
an extremely low rate of pay. David’s father, David Williams, died when David
Edward was nine years old and his mother died when he was eleven. David had the
responsibility of providing for the rest of his family. David and his brothers
worked in the coal mines just as their father had done. Just how the family was
provided for, and the joys and sorrows they had, we may never know, but David
turned out to be a wonderful man.
days the children had little or no schooling. Whether or not David ever
attended school is not known, but he did go to work in the mines at a very
early age and they enjoyed no vacation those days. However, before David died,
he learned to read both Welch and English. He said, “This what the gospel did
At the age
of 22, David Edward married Jane Reese on Sept. 13, 1845. She was born 20 Aug. 1823 at Marthyr,
Tydfil, Glamorgans, Wales.
They became the parents of seven children, all born at Marthyr, Tydfil,
It is very
likely that the last two children died with cholera, as they both died in March
of the same year. Then add to the tragedy, his wife Jane died 11 May 1858 only two months
after the death of the children.
David Edward with the oldest son, David Jr., age twelve, and a daughter,
Lizzie, age seven and the youngest living, a boy Tommie, age three and a half
family and friends were very much opposed to him joining the Mormons and when
this tragedy came into his life, they said it was the judgement of God on him
for his actions. What a blow it must have been to him after loosing his wife
and family to be taunted by those who should have encouraged and helped him.
How he ever endured it will be left for you to imagine because he never told
us, but to his dying day, he prayed for his family and friends hoping some day
they would see the light and he asked God to be kind to them. After the death
of his wife and four children, David’s sister took the oldest boy, David Jr.
Life in Wales was anything but pleasant for David, so he
began to save and make plans to come to America with the Saints. His sister
Ann came and brought his little girl Lizzie with her. This made David all the
more determined to come to America.
On May 20, 1863, David and his
small son Tommy left Liverpool England
His relatives who had taken the oldest boy refused to let him come with his
father to be a slave for Brigham Young. They would rather he be a slave in the
coal mines, and he was.
with his baby in Salt Lake City,
Sept. 1863. After a short stay in Salt
Lake, he traveled on to
Beaver, some 200 miles south to join his sister and his daughter Lizzie.
arriving in Beaver County, David chose Greenville as the place to make his home and
living. Shortly after arriving, his son Tommy died. How much can a man endure
one will never know. He had buried his wife and five children and the sixth was
denied the companionship of his father by prejudiced relatives. He was an
outcast among his family and friends because he had accepted an unpopular
religion. Now here he was in a new world with new friends and new environment.
In short, it was a new way of life.
In this new
country where David found himself, the only way to make a living was from the
soil. A business he knew nothing about, but he was eager and willing to learn.
He took up a homestead on the banks of the Beaver River
and began to clear the land and plant crops. He learned easily and did well.\,
far better than most of his countrymen under the same circumstances.
while living in Greenville on his newly acquired
homestead that he became acquainted with a little Welsh girl by the name of
Margaret Reese, who had come from Wales about a year and a half
before. Though David and Margaret were both from Wales,
they were not acquainted with each other until they met in Greenville. Margaret Reese was the daughter
of David E. Reese and Mary Thomas. She was born 3 March 1845 at Llandllawdog, Carmarthenshire, Wales.
eldest of seven living children, she grew up through many hardships; never
having had a day of schooling in her life. She could neither read nor write, yet
when settlement time of the year came, she could figure in her keen mind and
give the correct answer quicker than those figuring with pencil and paper.
tender age of six, Margaret began working at the coal mines carrying water and
other such small jobs that a child her size and age could do. Though the wage
was only a few pennies a week, it all added to the family budget. As she grew
older, she did heavy manual labor around the coal mines and iron foundries. She
learned to balance heavy loads on her head as well as carry heavy buckets in
each hand at the same time, an art she never forgot. Many a time she filled a
large tub full of dishes and after placing it on her head; she would then pick
up two buckets hot food and carry them to the church. Another example of her
strength and ability through working in the coal mines was, she could stand
with both feet in a half bushel measure and lift a two bushel sack of wheat
weighing 120 pounds and set it on her head, a fete that very few men could do.
At the age
of sixteen, she was converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day
Saints. Like most other converts, it was her greatest desire to come to Zion, so she began saving
her money to pay her way. In May 1864, a group of Saints left the British Isles
Among them was a very dear friend of Margaret’s, Mrs. Eleanor Griffiths and her
three small children. Margaret decided to come with them. On May 19, 1864, she set sail
from Liverpool, England and was on the water for
six weeks. She was the first member of her family to embrace this new religion;
also she was the first one to cross the ocean and come to America. In the years that
followed, her father, mother, and all her brothers and sisters accepted the
Gospel and came to America.
company of Saints were at Winter Quarters only a few weeks, when Margaret and
her friend, Eleanor Griffiths, were fortunate enough to join the George G.
Bywater and Thomas E. Jeremy Company. This company provided transportation only
for their food and personal belongings. So Margaret and Eleanor had to walk
every step of the way across the plains (about 1,000 miles). Most of the way
they carried one of the three children on their backs.
has often told how the Indians lined up on each side of the road as the wagons
passed along but never once did any of them ever attempt to harm them. The
people were ordered to walk straight
along beside the wagons and mind their own business and never speak to anyone
or pay attention to the Indians and no one would ever be harmed.
arrived in Salt Lake Valley
on Oct. 26. 1864. After a few days stay in Salt Lake,
Margaret and the other Welch immigrants were assigned by Brigham Young to go to
Beaver, where there was a colony of Welch people. This journey of two hundred
miles was also made on foot, while their belongings were carried in a wagon.
Life in Utah was very different from working in the coal mines in
But she made adjustments to the new conditions very rapidly. She made her home
with various families in Beaver, Greenville
and Minersville. She learned general housekeeping, sewing, cooking, caring for
children besides learning to milk cows and raise gardens. For about one and a
half years, she did this sort of work before marrying David Edward Williams, a
widower who had come from Wales
short courtship they were married. The ceremony took place in Greenville on Feb. 8, 1866 with David’s brother-in-law William
Richards who was bishop officiating. Margaret was only nineteen and David was
forty-three, but the twenty-four years difference in their ages made no
difference in their happiness as a married couple. David was also kind, gentle
and thoughtful of his bride. Margaret had often been heard to say, “I would
rather be an old man’s sweetheart than a young man’s slave.” Together they
worked hard to make a living and make each other happy.
As soon as
they were married, they built a little adobe house, 14 by 14 feet with neither
windows, a door or a floor. A fireplace served for cooking and heating. A split
log in one corner served as a frame to the grass, straw and rushes that were
carefully woven into a mat for a bed on which were woolen blankets, most of
them home spun. As the years went by, the little adobe house acquired the
windows, the door, the stove, the bed, the table and chairs, and other conveniences
of the times. David’s home was always as good as the best in the community and
town people enjoyed coming there. Their farming operations were on the same
level as the home buildings. It was very meager to begin with, the land was
cleared, and the crops planted and harvested by hand. There were a few plows,
but it was seen to that everyone had his land plowed. David cut grain with a
scythe and Margaret bound it into neat bundles and it was carried in and
stacked carefully to await thrashing, which was sometimes months. Potatoes were
dug with a shovel and carried to the pit on their backs. They learned to cure
their own meat, preserve good from a time of plenty to a time of want. All of
this was entirely new to Margaret and David, yet they met each new problem,
solved it and lived happily.
As soon as
David and Margaret were married, they began to prosper. Although they did their
work by hand, they raised good crops. Beside the usual crops of hay and grain,
they raised garden produce and hauled it to the mines to “peddle” as they
called it. They also peddled their butter and cheese at the mines. This was
good deal for the miners and the farmers. The miners needed the fresh produce
from the farms and the farmers needed the cash market. David and Margaret took
full advantage of all these opportunities. They tried hard to supply this
market with exactly what it wanted when they wanted it. He was always honest in
his dealings, gave a little more than good measure and his produce was just as
he represented it to be. As a result, David always had a market for his load of
produce. The people would often place their orders
so he would know what to bring the next load. Often he could not supply the
produce needed but would buy it from the neighbors and supply his customers.
Through this business of farming
and peddling, David and Margaret made more money than they ever dreamed of
making in the old country. The living conditions were so much better and they
had all the butter, milk, eggs and meat they wanted. A thing that was a dream
They made good money but they did not waste it. They improved their home,
provided the best for their children, and contributed to the community welfare.
Besides liberal contributions to the church, school and the community projects,
they bought stock in the Co-op Store in Beaver; also stock in the Beaver Woolen
Mills. He also bought some sheep and kept them in the Beaver Co-op herd. The
latter proved a very good investment. It not only brought in good returns, but
it provided a business for his boys; and as they grew up they all became sheep
David often said, “I may not leave
my family rich in worldly wealth, but if I can leave them a good name and a
testimony of the Gospel, I will be happy.” And this he did. They all married in
the Church and went through the temple. All of his boys filled missions. John
R., James and George R. were bishops. Heber was a stake president. So David’s
wish was granted. His children all had strong testimonies of the gospel and
were outstanding citizens in the communities where they lived. They had a name
to be proud of.
Besides providing for their family
and home, David was a councilor to Bishop Lillywhite in the Greenville Ward for
ten years and Margaret was Relief Society President for seven years. Both of
these people had a remarkable gift of healing. Through the power of the
Priesthood which he had, David has laid his hands on the sick and they have
recovered, many times immediately. Margaret’s ability to analyze ailments and
detect diseases were amazing, as also was her ability to treat and cure them.
The services of Margaret and David were in demand all up and down the valley,
especially when there was sick to be cared for.
Though Margaret never learned to
read or write, she had a most remarkable memory. She could remember dates,
names and places correctly. She could quote scripture exactly as read to her.
She could figure in her head as rapidly and as efficiently as most people could
They both contributed their success
and happiness to living the gospel. David often said he enjoyed the blessing of
home, of peace and plenty, of love and contentment that his family in Wales
could only dream of. All of this was as a result of accepting the gospel. The
thing for which his family scorned him for.
One of the highlights in the lives
of the people in Greenville was conference in Salt Lake City. Though the
distance was some two hundred fifty miles, and had to be made with a team and
wagon and took two to three weeks to make the trip, most of them attended. As
soon as one conference was over, they began making plans for the next.
They would load their wagons with
produce to sell and buy supplies to last the family the next six months. Among
these supplies were cloth, shoes and medicine for the family, supplies for the
house and farm. The al would visit with their friends from various other
states. They would also learn about their loved ones they left behind from the
new arrivals from the “old country.” All this was heart warming and thrilling.
Few people missed this pilgrimage to Salt
Life in Greenville was no always pleasant. It had its
unhappy moments. One of the causes was Indians. It was not so much the tribe
that threatened the settlers as it was the individuals who molested the people.
At times they became a nuisance. Brigham Young always said it was cheaper to
feed the Indians than to fight them. The Indian was no fool and soon learned
the art of getting an easy living. The not only came to the house for a
sandwich, he wanted a sack of flour and a cured ham to take back to squaw and
papoose. David’s kind and diplomatic nature proved helpful in solving some of
the trouble. The Indians often referred to him as “Great White Bishop.” Though
Margaret was not so tactful in dealing with the Indians, her method was usually
as forceful. One day an Indian came and wanted something to eat, she prepared
not only a sandwich but a lunch to take with him. While standing at the door,
he saw several cured hams hanging from the ceiling. He demanded one of the hams.
Of course Margaret refused to give it to him. He said he would get it anyway.
She told him not to come through the door. He ignored her warning and came
through. As he did, she met him with a kettle full of boiling water. After
going through what might have looked like a war dance, the old Indian too off,
never to bother her for any more hams.
Another occasion, a drunk Indian
threatened to kill his squaw. She came to Margaret’s house for protection.
Margaret let her in and put her in the cellar. There was a door in the floor
that led to the cellar. After putting her down there, she replaced the rocking
chair, rocking the baby when the old Indian came. “Where is my squaw?” he
demanded. Margaret did not know. “No savy.” From the door, he could see all the
contents of the room and could see that she was not there. He looked all around
the house, the yard, the corrals but could not find any trace of the squaw, so
he left bewildered. She remained in the cellar until the Indian had gone away,
then Margaret let her out and gave her some food to eat. She kept her there
until the next day so the old man had time to sober up, then let her go. She
became a life-long friend of Margaret’s and always wanted to do things for her.
She was always giving her little things that she thought Margaret might like.
She said “white woman saved my life.”
While cutting wood in the hills out
David was struck in the eye by a small splinter of wood, which after months of
pain and torture, caused him to loose his eyesight. He went to the Manti Temple
and was administered to and promised his sight would be returned. It was,
limited however, but for five years he was able to see. Then he lost his sight
again, this time it was never restored. The last six years of David’s life was
spent in total darkness. Though he had to be led every place he went, his life
was far from useless. He continued to bless the sick and raise them from their
beds. Some of the most effective teaching in the principals of the gospel was
after he lost his sight. This handicap never darkened his spirit nor his home.
He had a wonderful voice and could sing in both Welsh and English. This he did
a lot. He would gather his grandchildren on his knee and teach them to sing.
David loved his team of horses and they loved
him. Old Charley would come on a run as far away as he could hear him call.
Even without the use of his eyes, David was efficient in building and repairing
fences. Through all his trials and sorrows, David was never a burden. He always
loved his wife and often told her so.
His life came to a pleasant close
on January 31, 1901
in the little home that they had worked so hard to make and where they had
raised eleven children, laid two more away in their graves while they were
still babies. He was buried in the little cemetery on the hill at the edge of
the town that he had helped to build and loved so well.
After the death of her husband,
Margaret was a widow for seventeen years. She always kept her own little home
and much of the time, had one of her grandchildren living with her for shot
periods of time. She died on January
6, 1917 at the age of 72 and was buried by the side of her beloved
husband in Greenville, Utah. Near the end, the last words she spoke
were “I want to go to David Williams.”
Margaret and David were unaware
that they spent their lives fulfilling a prophecy of Jeremiah, uttered
thousands of years before, “That the Lord would gather the children of Israel from among the nations and would bring
them to Zion.
That he would take them, one of a city, two of a family and bring them to the
tops of the mountains.”
To this union, thirteen children
were born, six boys and seven girls, all at Greenville,
Beaver County, Utah.
Submitted by Sadie Sydenham, Feb 1997
(Copy obtained from DUP
Museum, Salt Lake City, Utah)