Sunday, June 17, 2012

Joseph Matthew Davis

Joseph Davis  Mathews
written by Altha Mathews Dial and rewritten by Lea Stevenson Radmall (both granddaughters)
The year of 1819 was a notable year, for Victoria, England's queen was born. Royalty is born in fame and splendor; others in love and tears.  So it was with Joseph Davis Mathews. He was my grandfather who was born September 20, 1819 in the coal district in the Parish of St. Davids, Treboth, Glamorganshire, Wales.

Thomas and Mary Davis Mathews were very humble parents of meager means.  Joseph was the third child of a family of eleven.  Although children of poor circumstances very seldom attended school, Joseph was privileged to go to school until he was eight years of age. Shoes for such a large family were an impossibility.  Grandfather told his children that he used to borrow one shoe from a friend so that he could slide on the ice. At the age of eight he went to work in the coal mines.  As he grew to manhood he could not get interest in any of the churches of his locality. So he and a group of other young people organized a Bible class and studied the scriptures.  Near Josephs' twenty first birthday, he married Ann Roberts in September 1844.  During this period the Mormon's teachings became very unpopular.   Joseph and others who had joined the Church lost their jobs. Grandfather became very active in the Church and in December 1844 was ordained to the Priesthood by Abel Evans. He then was sent out in the ministry to preach the gospel and became the President of a large and flourishing Branch of the church in the town of Swansea.

In February 1852 he decided to emigrate with his wife and two children, Thomas born 29 May 1841 and Anna R. born 8 Jan 1846, to the United States.  They left Liverpool, England on the ship Ellen Maria. This was the first company sent forward by the P E Fund Co via New Orleans, up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, Missouri to Council Bluffs, Iowa, and overland in the Captain A O Smoot's Company to Salt Lake City.  Joseph , Taylor Jones and another man were the hunters who furnished the meat for the company.  Grandfather said that while coming across the plains in Nebraska and Kansas, they arose one morning and saw a herd of buffalo migrating. They traveled all day and never saw the end of the herd of buffalo.  Many trials and hardships were suffered by this company of Saints.

On September 1852 their company arrived in Salt Lake tired and dusty but in good spirits.  They camped at the old fort between 2nd and 3rd West and 4th and 5th South, where the Pioneer Park is now located.  Later they moved to the 19th Ward, 335 North 4th West. This was a story and half house, built of adobe.  The 19th Ward was that part of the city located North of 2nd North from the hill to the River Jordan.

The first year or so Joseph worked as a laborer doing anything he could to support his family.  He later worked as a stone-mason on the construction of the Tabernacle, Assembly Hall and the Temple which covered a period of some 30 years. While working on the Assembly Hall a fellow worked, Sylverter Grow, who was wheeling a load of rocks above Grandfather tripped and the load of rocks fell on Grandfather's head. They thought that he had been killed.  Picking him up they found he was still alive. After taking him home he was administered by the Elders of the Church and became instantly healed.  He returned to work the next day. He also helped to build the St. George Temple, at St. George, Utah.

The coming of the Johnston's Army to Salt Lake caused great fear for these peace loving people who had traveled so far to find what they thought a have in the desert.  The authorities of the church were accused of the murder of Captain Gunnison, the sudden death of a Judge Shaver and the killing of Secretary Babbit along with the destroying o f the records of the Supreme Court.  This was untrue, but a letter of denial sent by Brigham Young was received too late. Brigham Young sent work back that the Mormon people would defend their homes and families.  Grandfather was stationed with Lot Smith's group in Echo Canyon. The distance between the Johnston's Army and the Utah State Militia was not too far so guards could watch the movements of Johnston's Army.  My uncle, Nephi P. Mathews, says his father told him that the Johnston's Army outnumbered the Utah Militia's 1250 men so they formed a circle giving the appearance of many more soldiers to the enemy.  The winter was very severe and the Johnston's Army ran out of supplies so they had to kill some of their cattle and mules for food.  The Mormon leaders feeling sorry for them sent them a wagon load of salt, but they refused to use it for fear it was poisoned.  The next summer when the Army was allowed to come into the valley, grandfather was one of the guards left to watch the city.  All of the Saints moved South. He was stationed at Pugsley's Old Mill located on 2nd West and 5th North.  AS the Army drivers drove the cattle through the streets they would crack their whips on the backs of the bulls and say, "Get along Brig. Get along Brig."  This certainly shows the uncouth manner and feeling of resentment these men had for a great man and leader.  Brigham Young is known today as one of the foremost leaders and colonizers in American History.

On 5 October 1867 Ruth Perkins, a girl of 17 years, arrived in Salt Lake Valley with a company of Saints from Swansea, Glamorganshire, Wales. She was his niece, a daughter of his sister Jane Mathews Perkins.  Ruth worked in homes helping with the housework for her board and keep. On 7 March 1868 Joseph took Ruth as his second wife.  Ruth told that she had had offers of marriage to younger men but she had chosen a plural marriage with Joseph because she truly loved him and admired his sterling qualities. Joseph was 30 years her senior.

Joseph and Ruth's union in marriage gave life to 16 children, 6 sons and 10 daughters. They raised 3 sons and 4 daughters to maturity. This shows the heavy death rate in those early days. Seven died with diphtheria, one with whopping cough and one with convulsion.

Joseph raised a large garden of all kinds of vegetables, planted apple, pear and plum trees and had his own cows and chickens. This was in accordance with the teachings of the church for each family to provide their own food. He was very fussy about his garden and never allowed anyone to help their selves without asking him first.  He was very thrifty and if the family had meat for dinner he did not see the need for butter on their bread.  The bacon rinds were saved to grease the bread and cake tins with. These were habits brought with him from the old country of Wales, for the conditions there were very poor. Joseph and Ruth were very strict with their children.  My Uncle Nephi Mathews, tells this story.

He and some of his friends were over to Pratt's playing with some pigeons. They noticed that Knight's had some corn shucked and standing in the next field. The boys asked my Uncle to go over the fence and he did and returned with two ears of corn. When he returned home his mother asked him if he had took some corn that did not belong to him. When his answer was yes, he had to return the two ears of corn and ask forgiveness. This truly shows the respect the pioneers had for the rights of others.

He tells another experience of two neighbor boys who used to take eggs from his father's chicken coop. These boys were asked  to return the eggs and ask for forgiveness.  They refused.  A few years later these boys asked for recommends to be married in the temple. Their Bishop refused them until they had asked forgiveness and made up for the loss.

In 1904, the family moved to Pleasant View, Weber, Utah, arriving there March 10th. Joseph was in his 85th year and an invalid. He passed away on 27 August 1904 leaving Ruth at the age of 55 years with four unmarried children.  His funeral was addressed by Apostle John Henry Smith,  Joseph E Taylor and another, who had known him for half a century.

Here was a noble character who had given 50 years to a cause of truth and in doing so had suffered many hardships for he saw service in the Indian Wars and uprising. By living in the light, he learned to go through the darkness. Let us all live in the light, and strive to bring others into it. As a tribute to him, may his memory live on forever and ever.

Joseph Davis Mathews born Sept. 20, 1819 in Treboth, Glamorganshire, Wales.
1st wife Ann Roberts, born Feb.  26, 1818 in Treboth, Glamorganshire, Wales.
Thomas Mathews, born 29 May 1840 in Treboth.
Anna R Mathews, born 8 Jan 1846 in Treboth.
Joseph R Mathews born 1 Nov 1853 in Salt Lake City
Mary Ann Mathews born 24 May 1863 in Salt Lake City

2nd Wife- Ruth Perkins was born 3 Sep 1849 at Treboth.
Martha Jane Mathews, born 16 Jan 1869 in Salt Lake City
William Mathews, born 17 Apr 1870 in Salt Lake City
Louise Mathews, born 16 Oct 1871 in Salt Lake City
Nephi Perkins Mathews, born 10 Jul 1873 in Salt Lake City
Daniel P. Mathews born 29 Mar 1875 in Salt Lake City
Namonia Mathews born 10 Dec 1876 in Salt Lake City
Hyrum P Mathews born 3 Sep 1878 in Salt Lake City
John P Mathews born 10 Mar 1880 in Salt Lake City
Sophia Mathews born 21 Nov 1881 in Salt Lake City
Daisy Mathews born 14 Sep 1883 in Salt Lake City
Caddie Mathews born 26 Mar 1883 in Salt Lake City
Ruth Mathews born 30 Aug 1886 in Salt Lake City
Kate Mathews born 10 Feb 1888 in Salt Lake City
Leonard B. Mathews born 25 Dec 1889 in Salt Lake City
Maude Mathews born 3 Mar 1892 in Salt Lake City
Mazy LAlle Mathews born 11 Jul 1895 in Salt Lake City

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