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Thomas Daniels

Thomas D Daniels

Thomas D. Daniels Jr. was born 29 August 1855 in Brigham City, Box Elder, Utah, to parents Thomas and Mary Davis Daniels.  He was the second child in a family that eventually contained seven children (five living).  Both Thomas Sr. and Mary had immigrated from Wales as teenagers with their families, as converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Thomas Jr.’s mother Mary’s father had died during the immigration. Thomas Jr.’s parents eventually settled in the new town of Malad. Thomas’ mother Mary and his newborn brother died in Malad from childbirth complications in 1866 when Thomas was just ten years old. Even though these sad events were common at that time, it did not make them easier to endure.  

After Thomas Jr.’s mother died, his father raised his family alone for over a year.  In July 1867, Thomas Sr. married Jannett Thomas Dives, a widow with six children.  Jannett too had been born in Wales. The marriage meant that thirteen family members sat down at every meal. Thomas Sr. and Jannett went on to have eight more children, five of whom lived to adulthood.

One of Jannett’s children who joined the Daniel’s family was Sarah Elizabeth Dives. Thomas Jr. and Sarah were step-siblings from the time he was eleven and she was eight, but sibling love soon developed into marital love for each other as they reached adulthood. They married on 15 September 1875 in Malad, Idaho.  They became the parents of nine children: Mary Jane, 1876-1877; Lavina, 1878; Thomas Veurlam, 1880; Dora, 1883-1887; Theodore, 1886; Diana, 1888; Raymond, 1891; Albert Clarence, 1895; and Sarah Ella, 1899. Typical of the times in which they lived, seven of their nine children made it to adulthood.

Thomas made a homestead claim in West Fork in the north end of Bannock (Arbon) Valley, proving up in 1908. Several of his brothers also settled there, including his full brothers David and Donum (John M.) and his half brother George, so they helped each other with the challenges of homesteading. They all worked hard. Thomas ran cattle and had a particular eye for good horseflesh.

In the fall when harvest was over the family headed south to Malad to get their winter supplies. The trip took at least a week, as they also visited with family while in town. When snow came, there were no more trips out of the valley until spring.

The Arbon homesteaders’ wives were legendary. The following was written by a daughter and granddaughter of the couple, published in the book Bannock Valley: “Sarah Elizabeth canned her garden produce. She cooked for her own family and for hay men who came to help with the crops…They butchered their own meat, made butter with wooden churns, stored potatoes and carrots in a dirt root cellar, and kept chickens for the meat and eggs. Their cows always provided plenty of milk. They made their own soap, heated all their hot water on the stove and hauled all their wood from up the canyon. They had no refrigeration nor electricity [or running water]. Their life was hard but they were happy” (p. 194). In addition, Sarah was known as “Aunt Sal” as she was the midwife to many of the young mothers in that end of the valley.  She and her husband experienced all the hardships of homesteading in Arbon Valley. Eventually the couple bought a home in Malad, but they kept the West Fork land until after Thomas’ death.

Thomas died at the young age of sixty-one on 11 August 1917 in Malad. He was buried in Malad. Sarah lived until 1939, outliving her husband by twenty-two years.  She eventually moved to Pocatello and lived with some of her children. Sarah died at age eighty-three on 19 August 1939 in Pocatello. She was buried in Malad next to her husband.

In the 1930s, the U.S. government bought back the land of the Big Meadows on the West Fork, and added it to the Bannock-Shoshone Indian Reservation.  Today, there are no official roads where once there were many thriving ranches with homes, corrals, barns, outbuildings, and a log school.

Sources:

Ward, Laurie Jean, Bannock Valley (Providence, Utah: Keith Watkins and Sons, 1982).

https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/K2WM-RZN

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/57467211/thomas-d_-daniels

The links above will lead to links for other family members.