Susan Kaziah Davis is my 2nd great grandmother. In 1915, at the age of 65, she wrote a brief sketch of her life. This manuscript was passed down to her son Claude Albert Ellis, and to Claude’s daughter Mary Margaret Ellis, and to Margaret’s son Blake, and then to me. Margaret is my grandmother and Blake is my uncle.
This brief sketch was used as the basis for a longer personal history written by Susan and her son Claude. That history can be found here.
The full resolution scans for this handwritten sketch can be found here. Smaller images of this sketch are presented here in order:
Transcription of Susan’s history:
April 28th, 1915
A Brief Sketch of the life, & happenings of Susean K. Ellis, Wife of F. W. Ellis. and Daughter of Sarah E, & Edward G. Davis, Born Jan 28th, 1850, Bath Summerset England,
My Mother and Father joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, about the year 1849, just a short time preceeding my birth, I being born with my
eye lids sealed together, but through the anointing with oil, and the faith of my mother, I was made to see,
I was blessed with a name by Bro Kendel.
My Father was made president of the Bath branch of the Church, and Counsel meetings were held at our home every monday evening,
Our doors alway’s remained open to welcome any of the servent’s
When about twelve years of age, I went to work at the Corset factory, where my Father was engaged as a presser, and two of my sisters as seamstresses,
A year later after my Father’s death, my Mother had to begin work in order that we might obtain a living, We continued working at this factory for five years longer, “And were greatly favored, & respected by our head Maneager”
When we decided to emigrate to Utah,
During our short stay in England as members of the Church, we rec’d great persecution from mob’s, which gathered to persecute the saints,
Many times my Father had to remain at the Poleace Station the greater part of the night, to avoid being mobed, and our windows were broken in with rocks from the hand’s of our enemies,
I was very sickly
the greater part of my younger life, and when we decided to come to Utah, A great many people tried to perswade Mother to leave me in England with them, as they thought it impossible for me to stand the voyage across the water, and told mother that she would barry me in on the ocean, but through the faith, & ambition of my mother, & the goodness of the Lord, I was permitted to come to Zion,
We sailed from England on the ship Colorado, Tues, july 14th, 1868, with a company of six hundred (600) saints, under the direction of William B, Preston,
After a voyage of about two week’s, we arrived in New York, July 28th, 1868, The Company continued on as far as Benton Neb, arriving Aug 7th, 1868,
We left Benton Aug 14th, 1868, for Utah, with an Ox team company, numbering 61 wagon’s, & 411 passengers, under direction of Capt. Daniel D. McArthur,
arriving in Salt Lake valley in Sept 3 1868,
There were six deaths on the journey, One being a young man by the name of Harry Popel, who was acciedently shot, “Also one birth”
Our journey accross the plain’s was very pleasant considering the mode of travel, The evenings were spent singing hyms, and listening to our brethern talk, We had not the hard-ships to indure which some companies had,
We were meet in Salt Lake City by Sister Irish, who took us to her home, that we might rest for a few days,
I went to work at the “Salt Lake House” as Chambermaid, with Mr Little, as owner, After two months service I went to live with a family by name of Foalsome, staying with them about four month’s, I then went to live with a family by name of George Alder, for two month’s, Here I took sick with Typhoid feaver,
and Erysipelas, and was under the care of Sister Polly Felt, for seven weeks I was very sick, but rec’d the best of care,
While in the City I took an active part in the seventeenth ward choir, under direction of F. W. Ellis,
In July 1869, I accompanied Bros James Ward, F. W. Ellis, & Miss Marry an Ellis, to North Ogden, and made my home with Bro. & Sis Ellis, at Plesant weiv [Pleasant View],
I also lived a short time with Sister Lizia Brown,
On the 6th, of sept 1869, three month’s later, I was married to T. W. Ellis [Frederick William Ellis], in the Endowment House at Salt Lake City, by Bro Daniel H, Well’s,
I joined the Relief Society in 1869, shortly after arriving in North Ogden, and with a number of other’s we used to walk from Plesant view, to North Ogden each week to our meeting, & choir practise, I acted as a visiting teacher until just about four years ago,
My Husband was asked to take charge of
the coaperative store, which then stood on the East corner of the old Dudman lot,
This necessitated our moving to North Ogden, which we did, and lived in one log room just behind the store, “which was used partly for a granery” Until four month’s after our first baby was born, When we moved to where we now live,
In 1881, My Husband was married to Sarah Jane, Barker, Both Family’s lived
together until the persecution started, and my Husband then built another home at Plesant view,
My Husband was taken to the Penitentiary Dec 13th, 1886, where he served a term of six month’s, and then again later, the 13th, Dec 1890, he was made to serve two month’s more, This was a hard trial for me, having such poor health at that time, and a large family to take care of,
In 1893, My Husband recd a call to the Australian Mission, which he accepted, and left Nov 6th, He was gone for 2 1/2 years, during which time we did every thing possible to support him, & ourselves,
Two of My boy’s also have filled mission’s of late, My oldest son “Freddie” spent two years in the Western States mission, and my youngest son “Claude” spent two year’s in
the Eastern States Mission, The oldest son, “William” of the second Family spent 4 1/2 years in the Japanese Mission,
I am happy to state that I have been priveleged to go through the temple a number of times, and do work in behalf of our dead relative’s,
I am the Mother of ten (10) Children, six boy’s, & four Girls, all “but one” of which are living at the present time, and all but
two have made their home’s in the Idaho Country,
I am now (65) years of age, and am enjoying better health than when a girl alout the age of 18 year’s,
There is something extra special about reading a sketch of someone’s life in their own handwriting. Even though there are more detailed histories of her, this one is my favorite. I feel like the items she chose to include on these brief 15 pages must have been the very dearest to her heart or the most painful.
I am grateful for Susan and her life. I’m grateful for the fine son she raised who grew up to be the father of my own beloved Grandmother. I’m thankful that this treasure found its way to me. And lastly, I am thankful for the technology that has allowed me to preserve and share this family treasure.
Happy Monday, I hope you have a meaningful genealogy experience today!
12 thoughts on “Treasures: Susan Kaziah Davis History”
What a treasure indeed. I have so many questions—I didn’t realize that (1) there were Mormons in England back then, (2) that Mormons were persecuted that way both in the UK and in the US, and (3) I was thrown by the second marriage until I remembered that Mormons believed in polygamy. What a hard life she had. You are so lucky to have her own writing about it.
Thank you Amy. Yes, there were Mormons outside of the US from almost the very beginning. I just did a quick Google search and it looks like the first missionary to go to England arrived in 1837. I don’t spend nearly as much time on this side of my tree (my dad’s side) because there are so many people working on it. I mostly do preservation work on artifacts, photos, letters, etc. So I’m not as well versed in some of the historical nuances, but I do know that among my LDS immigrant ancestors, they came from England, Denmark, and Wales. I know that my ancestors in both Denmark and England experienced persecution in their home countries, sometimes extreme persecution. My Wales LDS ancestors are just one tiny branch of my tree and I don’t know their history well. Sadly, the details on this family are sparse so I don’t know if they suffered persecution also.
Yes, in the early days of the church polygamy was practiced by some. I have two recent ancestors (and a few others that are further back) that practiced polygamy. What I find really interesting is that in this specific family’s case the remnants that passed down indicate that this was a happy family. They continued to hold reunions until the last of the 16 children had passed away. There is a beautiful family portrait of all of Frederick’s daughters together, from both families. This family was really close to me, generationally, and I have not heard one negative thing. My Grandma always spoke of her Grandparents with a lot of love, honor, and reverence. The other polygamous family that is closely related to me is one generation further back. The son-in-law of the wife I descend from was not impressed by his father-in-law. He actually wrote a bit of a diatribe in his own history directed at those who practiced polygamy selfishly. I could say a lot more about that, but I’ll spare you since my comment is already overly long. 😉
And yes, I do feel very fortunate to have this history. A real treasure!
Thanks for the insights on the LDS Church and its history. Why were they persecuted? Was it because their beliefs were different? I admit to great ignorance here because I never understood why people cared that Mitt Romney was a Mormon. But then I don’t understand prejudice of any kind. (I still remember the big to-do about JFK being Catholic and Reagan being divorced.)
I also didn’t realize that polygamy was not widely practiced among LDS families. I thought that at one time it was. It’s hard for me to imagine sharing a husband, but I can see some advantages. 🙂
You are welcome. On the persecution, yes because their beliefs were different. It seems like persecution is almost always about differences. I don’t get it either. In fact I think it’s a little bit strange that people are afraid of religious candidates. It’s my experience that, in general, devout members of any faith are very dependable, honest, and hard-working.
I’m not sure what the numbers are on how many members lived in polygamy, but I know that in my family, all of my dad’s lines were LDS pioneers, I counted 19 pioneer men and only 4 were definitely polygamists and 2 might have been (It would take too long to figure it out for sure just for this comment 😉 ). Additionally I have one female ancestor, Sarah, who was married to a man who was not a polygamist (from whom I descend) and then when he was killed she married his best friend who was already married.
Honestly, I am not super knowledgeable about the history of polygamy, but I have read in a few of my recorded family histories that you could not choose to be a polygamist (meaning you couldn’t just decide to have two wives), you were invited to take another wife by a church leader, and then still had the option not to. I would definitely not be okay with sharing a husband. But on the flip side, I am grateful that a woman was willing to share her husband so that Sarah had a husband to care for her and her four young children in a time when being a widowed mother meant severe suffering in the undeveloped desert of Utah.
Thanks, Amberly. There are so many myths and misunderstandings about other faiths. And that’s what leads to prejudice, fear, and persecution.
You are welcome. I completely agree. <3
I know polygamy was part of the Mormon life but I choked up when I read her husband took another wife. It is amazing that her story survived and was passed on until now. Is there a reason she wrote the names of the sons in quotes?
Thank you Cathy. I don’t know why she used quotes. She also used commas instead of periods which was hard to remember to transcribe accurately. Old habits and all of that.
I’m so glad you mentioned your emotions when you read about the second wife. I’ve known this family so well for all of my life that I don’t know that I’ve given it as much thought specific to her. I’ve certainly given it thought in general, but not as much specific to Susan. The oral history that has been passed down and the letters from his time in the penitentiary indicate a very happy, large family. I cannot imagine living that way. At all. But I have a lot of love and respect for Susan, Frederick, and Sarah (the second wife) for creating a very loving family.
Amy also mentioned polygamy in her comment and I wrote this to her:
“Yes, in the early days of the church polygamy was practiced by some. I have two recent ancestors (and a few others that are further back) that practiced polygamy. What I find really interesting is that in this specific family’s case the remnants that passed down indicate that this was a happy family. They continued to hold reunions until the last of the 16 children had passed away. There is a beautiful family portrait of all of Frederick’s daughters together, from both families. This family was really close to me, generationally, and I have not heard one negative thing. My Grandma always spoke of her Grandparents with a lot of love, honor, and reverence. The other polygamous family that is closely related to me is one generation further back. The son-in-law of the wife I descend from was not impressed by his father-in-law. He actually wrote a bit of a diatribe in his own history directed at those who practiced polygamy selfishly. I could say a lot more about that, but I’ll spare you since my comment is already overly long. 😉”
Thank you so much for your overly long comment. This only goes to show you that as an outsider looking in, we should not judge without learning all the facts. I appreciate your taking the time to tell a bit more than most would share Amberly.
You are welcome Cathy. Polygamy is definitely a complicated part of our past that is not well understood by many, even members or our church, even me. 😉
I should also add that I think you are so correct to say, “This only goes to show you that as an outsider looking in, we should not judge without learning all the facts.” I’m an outsider to this too as it ended in the 1800s. But when I read about the lives of my ancestors in this part of my tree, I am surprised by how strongly some of the women felt that polygamy was important. (Which seems really strange to me.) I wish I could talk to them face to face so that I could maybe understand them, their feelings, their understandings, and their intent more fully.
The one thing I do appreciate about polygamy is that in the early days of the church there was a lot of persecution which led to the Saints being driven from place to place. Often there were deaths, particularly among the men. Polygamy often helped widowed mothers to have a husband (even if he was shared) to help them get across the plains and/or survive the harsh desert of Utah.