Aveson, Robert, "Reminiscences of the Long Journey from England to 'The Valley' in the Sixties ," Deseret Evening News, 3 Jan. 1920, sec. 4, p. 6.
Poor George Davis! Serious illness overtook his partner in life—an attack of dysentery, which only lasted a few days. The trial was hard when parting from their little child, but it was a sore trial indeed to see his beloved wife in the throes of death. He did all that was possible to aid and assist in her dying condition. Some of the sisters from nearby camp wagons volunteered their service, but she was too weak—too far gone for human aid.
What made matters worse, his youngest boy was also sick with the same disease, and the father little thought he was so seriously ill. The boy was laid down in another part of the wagon, and in a faint voice whispered as loud as he could:
The grief-stricken father went to his assistance and leaning over to him said:
"What do you want, Benny?"
Whispering in his father's ear, he said:
"I want some soup, Daddy."
"Lay still, my boy, for a little while, and Daddy will bring you some."
Brother Davis then turned his attention to his sick wife, who, in a low toned voice, said to him:
"I feel I am going to leave you, George: take care of the children."
"Oh, Nell, don't talk like that. What can I do without you? Let me pray with you."
He breathed a prayer to his Heavenly father to spare her life, if only for the sake of her children. At the close of his prayer, he turned toward his beloved wife—she was breathing her last breath. It was an awfully sad scene. George was broken-hearted; his other two children were present, the tears rolling down their cheeks."We have traveled long together,
Hand in hand, and heart in heart,
Both through fair and stormy weather,
And 'tis hard, 'tis hard to part."
We can imagine the feelings of a loving parent bereft of a faithful partner through life; far, far away on prairie land, a long distance from village or town.
That night George was so bewildered and confused through the death of his wife, that he almost forgot his darling sick boy. But just as daylight appeared next morning, he lit a fire and made some soup. And taking it to him, he said:
"Here, Benny, is your soup."
It was too late—to late; the child was in the throes of death.
"Oh Benny, Benny," said the broken-hearted father, "speak to me once more. Call me Daddy."
There was no answer; the little spirit had fled.
This was a double bereavement.
Almost overcome with grief, George bowed his head down and exclaimed, "What have I done that such awful trials should befall me!"
Some of the campers gathered around and tried to console him. On such occasions, however, words of sympathy, are comforting but inadequate to appease the grief stricken.
Preparations were made for the burial of wife and child. They were laid side by side, in one grave. The funeral service was very brief—no music, no flowers, no coffin; the bodies were wrapped in a sheet and covered with a blanket. It was an affecting scene—many eyes were wet—yes, even the eyes of stout hearts were bedimmed with tears.
My story is not yet completed. It was said that half the world is not aware, what trials and tribulations the other half has to indure.
Some days elapsed before Brother Davis began to feel in his normal condition. His two remaining children clung to him and they could have been observed marching along ahead of the train—the boy on one side of the father, the girl on the other, hand-in-hand.
They arrived in Great Salt Lake City the latter part of October of that year (1864), and it is supposed that they went to Provo. Brother Davis was glad to be in Zion. Figuratively speaking, he enjoyed "smooth sailing," but it was only for a brief period. . . .
We started on our long journey Aug. 3, 1866. From 10 to 25 miles a day was our rate of travel. We had good weather nearly all the way, but in the latter part of our journey, we some times awake to find our blankets covered with snow. Tramp, tramp, tramp, day after day, over the rough, dusty roads. It was an experience not easily to be forgotten. Camp life tried our patience. It was similar, as the saying is, "to the patience of Job."
There were murmurings in our camp life. It was an experience our immigrants had never passed through before, and the hardships they endured caused many to become cold in the faith. Before we reached the end of our journey over the plains, we met quite a number of discontented and dissatisfied members of our Church returning in wagon loads from the fearful valleys of Utah, to find, what appeared to them more lucrative fields of industry somewhere back in the eastern states, or in other parts of the world.
After living in old countries, where everything was so modernized, and then coming to a new country and finding it in such a crude state—over 1,000 miles from a railroad, such a change as this was the main cause of their discontentment and change of mind in regard to the gospel they had espoused.