BLANCHARD, Amelia Jane Davis

AMELIA JANE DAVIS BLANCHARD

In the spring of 1860, May 19th, a new baby came into this world. She was the second white girl born in Logan, Utah. She must have been a pretty baby, with a very pleasant disposition because her personality in later years showed such characteristics well developed. Her name was Amelia Jane Davis. She was the daughter of David W. Davis and Ann H. Davis. Having two staunch Mormon pioneers for parents, Amelia Jane had a grand foundation on which to build. Young people received little formal schooling in the crude schools of the day. But Amelia got almost enough schooling to be prepared to teach. The school she attended stood at the comer of 1st East and 2nd North in Logan. Here she grew to womanhood.

The home of her youth played a big part in her life. It was a one room log house with a willow and dirt roof and a dirt floor. The door was made of braided willows. A piece of factory or cheese cloth hung over a hole in the wall for a window. A quilt was draped over the willow door to help keep the cold out. The Davis family lived here four years before building a log home on the comer of 5th West and 2nd North.

Amelia Jane was baptized at the age of 8 years, She along with her siblings Mary Ann, Elizabeth Ann, and twins Henry and Catherine, were sealed to Ann H. Davis and her first husband, David Davis, (not David W, Davis) in the Logan’ Temple.

The Davis family, being among the first settlers to Cache Valley, suffered untold privations and hardships. Amelia remembered the trials they had with the Indians, and how frightened she was. They would come to the door begging for food and no one dared to turn them away. As Ann H. fixed food for them, the Indians would play with the white children. When coming out of the house with food one day, Ann H. discovered the Indians had exposed her children to the black smallpox. The twins soon came down with the illness. The settlers were all so frightened of the deadly disease that a log shelter was hurriedly built a short distance north of the Logan Cemetery. The Davis family, including the stricken twins, moved there in isolation.

Amelia told of rats, mice, and snakes so thick that the healthy children took turns with willows, brushing the snakes from the beds of the sick children. Their beds located on the floor were made with a straw tick. The weather was severe coming through the open cracks of the shelter. The family was badly neglected and almost starved to death. Remarkably, the twins recovered from the smallpox epidemic, but after being home only a short time, diphtheria struck, taking the lives of both twins, Henry and Catherine.

Childhood days were very strenuous and hard. These early settlers had lots of troubles, yet they had some thrilling and good times too. Amelia often told stories of the exciting sleigh rides, dances and house parties they enjoyed. How she loved her church activities! Amelia’s greatest desire was to do good for others and scatter sunshine wherever she went.

Amelia’s mother, Ann H., was a beautiful seamstress and tailor, so it was quite natural for Amelia to inherit her talent. At age sixteen, Amelia began her sewing career, going to different houses to sew. She joined the first Tabernacle Choir in Logan, and sang with them until she married. Amelia was counselor to President Ellen Nibley of the YWMIA for the first Mutual in Logan.

Growing to womanhood among the pioneer traditions of the times, Amelia learned industry and patience that were necessary to survive such rugged living. She must have learned early in life how to take care of a home and gained the love and respect of those who knew her. When she met, then married Thomas Blanchard on 11 December 1879, she was well prepared to take her place as a wife and homemaker. Amelia Jane Davis and Thomas Blanchard were married in the Endowment House on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Immediately after their marriage, the newly weds moved to the west part of town. They lived in a humble one room log cabin approximately 16×16 feet for several years. The first five of their children were born there. Thomas and Amelia were the parents to a total of eight children, five boys: Thomas Henry, Asael Davis, Eli Davis, Alonzo Davis, David Davis, and three girls Amelia, Gwennie, and Ella. They all grew to be stalwart pioneers, and steadfast faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Later, they built a two story, full basement, red brick house at 595 West 2nd North, which still stands in good condition.

On the 23rd of January 1884, Amelia’s father, David W. Davis, sold to her, in consideration of $50.00, a lot. This lot included the house and a few other structures. On the following day, he deeded to the same daughter, in consideration of $1.00 another approximately twelve acres signed by his mark.

AMELIA’S HOME It was a humble little home, modestly furnished. A black iron stove, stood on four legs against one wall, just as proud as any queen. It seemed to feel its need in that little house. It was a wood burning stove, with a reservoir on the back that held three or four flat irons. It kept one person busy filling the tea kettle and emptying the ashes. Each day the coal oil lamps were filled and the chimneys washed and shined. A wash stand was up against another wall, with the water bucket, a long handled dipper to drink out of. The wash basin and soap were there too. A rod across the top of the stand held the towels and wash rag. Above the wash stand hung the mirror, comb case, and tooth brushes. The table was drop leaf, with not many chairs. When all eight children came to eat, some of them had to stand. A homemade cot stood in one comer, with a dark wool pieced quilt draped over it. The cupboard was also homemade. The bottom shelves were always full of four-inch deep flat pans of milk. This allowed the cream to rise easily to the surface. The Davis’s cows really produced thick yellow cream, which Amelia would skim and make into ice cream and butter. The butter was made every other day and sold all over town. The children would go on foot to deliver it. In the summer, the milk and butter were cared for in a little cellar off the kitchen. From a row of black currants berries in the yard, Amelia made the yummiest currant pies.

An industrious Amelia tore and sewed rags for her carpets. There were always layers of straw under the carpets. All sweeping was done with a broom. The ticks on the beds were filled with straw. When house cleaning time came, fresh straw was put into the ticks and also under the carpets, which were always homemade.

In early pioneer homes, the father and mother would have equal but different responsibilities in caring for the physical, intellectual and spiritual welfare of the family. The basic purpose of the family unit was to provide the proper environment and righteous development of the children. They worked together in unity and love. Love, being the greatest force in the family unit.

Thomas and Amelia also homesteaded a dry farm in Arimo, Idaho and helped to colonize that area. There they spent the summer months. Their winter months were spent in Logan. Later, their son David, bought their Idaho farm.

Amelia cared for her family and her home. She made just about all of the children’s clothes such as shirts, overalls, socks, mittens, and dresses. She was a good cook and housekeeper. With a jolly disposition, she enjoyed having friends and relatives call in for a snack and some homemade ice cream. She would send one of the kids with a five pound bucket of flour to the neighbor in exchange for a bucket of live yeast from which she would make a delicious batch of bread and biscuits. She made all the family quilts and carpets. She had her children helping her shell beans out in the old shanty one time, and as she went into the house for something she said, “Now you kids quit putting those beans in your mouths. ” When she returned, each one of the kids had a bean in each ear and one in each nostril. They sure did look funny, especially little Ella. She was so tiny the older kids had had to hold her down to put the beans in her ears and nose.

Amelia was a genuine mother and nurse to her family as well as others. No matter how sick, just the soft touch of her hand on a fevered forehead made the afflicted person feel much better. She rendered her services wherever needed and was admired for her fine ideals, courageous spirit and reverence to God.

During World War I, the Relief Societies were called to buy Liberty Bonds, and do Red Cross work. They stored grain to help the poor. How proud and happy she was to gather the family’s Sunday eggs and give them to her Bishop and church. She would walk to the Logan Temple to do ordinances for the dead. She also sewed many sets of temple clothes.

Amelia served faithfully as President of the Relief Society for sixteen years attending numerous meetings and making many calls on foot. Doing her job also required caring for the sick, laying out the dead, making the burial clothes, dressing the dead, and sitting up with the dead. At that time, dead bodies were not taken from their homes until burial. What a wonderful faith promoting example. Amelia and her counselors worked together with love and charity, knowing full well the blessings in store for those who serve the Lord.

Reserved, yet always ambitious, Amelia was honest, dependable, sympathetic and kind. She taught all these principles to her family. Many a sad and lonely heart she comforted and cheered, giving of her means as well as her service.

Amelia joined the Thomas Tarbet Camp of Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, when it was organized July 1915. She was one of the first five daughters to get her membership papers filled. She was a faithful member holding several offices. On her 78th birthday, the Thomas Tarbet Camp honored her with a lovely program and presented her with a birthday cake.

• On 20 August of the next year, Amelia had a severe gallstone attack. She never fully recovered. Then around dusk one October evening, she and Thomas were returning from daughter Gwen’s in Newton, traveling west on 3rd North in Logan. Thomas, who was at the wheel of their automobile, was blinded by the lights of an on coming car. He swerved. Their vehicle careened off the canal bridge, and tipped over, resting on the passenger side. Their oldest son, Henry, just happened to be driving home from work and was following in his car right behind them. Stopping to help out, Henry was not expecting it would turn out to be his own father and mother. He pulled them up out of the car and chilly water. No ill effects were felt until the following Saturday, 30 October, when Amelia had a stroke (probably a brain hemorrage), leaving her paralyzed and bedfast for the remainder of her life. Despite her misfortune, she was a cheerful and patient person to nurse. She never complained and was always sweet to those helping to take care of her. Amelia died 29 April 1940.

Although Amelia and Thomas were youngsters in the valley when pioneer faith in God saved Cache Valley crops, they later recalled the incident vividly. Amelia described great droves of grasshoppers had come into the valley and were threatening crop extinction. There seemed nothing the farmers could do to save their food source. Then a Prayer and Fast Meeting was called. Everyone gathered in the Assembly Hall and knelt at the rough hewn benches. They participated in prayer and supplications. Someone prayed aloud. Then different groups sang, followed by more prayer. Everyone fasted for the occasion. After the meeting had ended, the Saints walked outside. They noticed people looking skyward and pointing. A spectacle appeared as a great black cloud nearly blotting out the sun, as it hummed towards the southwest. It was the grasshoppers! In huge droves, they were sweeping out of the valley. The crops were saved.

CHILDREN:

  • Thomas Henry Blanchard, Born 16 May 1881, Married Cora Mae Stoddard Hill, Died 21 Dec. 1944
  • Asael Davis Blanchard Born, 24 Jan. 1883, Married Durscilla Roskelly, Died 17 Nov. 1968
  • Eli Davis Blanchard, Born 30 Apr.1885 Married Hazel Wheeler, Annie Armstrong, Died 2 July 1968
  • Alonzo Davis Blanchard, Born 10 Apr. 1888, Married Stella Fisher, Died 1 July 1976
  • David Davis Blanchard, Born 8 Mar. 1890, Married Madeline Armstrong Died 10 Feb. 1965
  • Amelia Blanchard, Born 28 Aug. 1893, Married Don Parker, Died 26 Apr. 1924
  • Gwennie Blanchard, Born 2 Mar. 1896, Married LeRoy G. Salisbury, Died 14 Apr. 1982
  • Ella Blanchard, Born 8 May 1898, Married Parley Petersen, Died 25 Oct. 1999

 

DIED: Amelia Jane Davis Blanchard

29 April 1940 in Logan, Cache, Utah

In 1939, Amelia and Thomas Blanchard

ESTEEMED LOGAN COUPLE TYPIFY WESTERN PIONEER SPIRIT were interviewed by a newspaper reporter from the Logan Herald-Journal

The home and personalities of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Blanchard radiate the very spirit of the Western Pioneer. To talk. with this higly¬esteemed Logan couple and to be shown around their residence, is to appreciate the hardiness, devotion to duty and religion, faith and optimism that characterize those great builders of a nation. Sixty years of married life, and nary a disagreement. “We see no sense in scrapping,” explained Amelia with a smile. Wisps of gray hair strayed across her forehead but her eyes sparkled and at age 79. she was many years from doddering. “Patience, sympathy and understanding are fine traits, we believe. I sometimes think people today would do well if they would cultivate more patience and understanding. ”

Mr. Blanchard new Chief Washakie intimately, and at one time carried mail from Logan. His route was from Logan to Oxford, Idaho. Mrs. Blanchard was one of the first white children born in Logan. Both new the hardships of pioneer life, saw the growth of Logan and Cache Valley and grew up with the great Mormon Empire. “I heard President Brigham Young state on one occasion that many of us would live to see these western hills out by Petersboro and along the range covered with golden grain. You can look out from our doorstep right now and see that very thing, ” mused Mr. Blanchard “This valley has certainly changed in sixty or seventy years. When one looks back at conditions as they were in 1860, he can hardly conceive such change is possible.” He paused to reflect for a moment, then continued, “The people have changed in many Ways, too.” It is often that the younger generation is described as not having the stamina., resourcefulness and will-to-do of the pioneers. Wondering if this was what Mr. Blanchard meant when he said the people had changed, we queried, .. How have the people changed?”

“To most everyone now day”s, life is a matter of making money or having a good time,” he countered. “It seems. that such things as faith in one’s religion and marriage vows are not taken seriously. They were very important to the pioneers.” When asked about the Cache Valley crops being saved through pioneer faith, Thomas is quoted as saying, “I imagine many people today would think that it was our imaginations. But it was fact and the pioneers’ faith was that strong. I don’t think there is evidence of faith that strong today.” The pioneer couple is active today. Mr. Blanchard, having retired from active farming, keeps busy about his lot, and in the words of his daughter-in-Jaw, “digs holes and fills them up just to be doing something”. “Mrs. Blanchard, charming and sweet in her seventy-nine years, active mentally and physically, does her own housework. washes on a scrubbing board and sews presents for her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. “Well, when a person is used to working, it’s hard to just sit around and not .do anything,” she explained. So, as Utah prepares to honor its pioneers – its builders and enterprises and all that they stand for-Logan honors its own pioneers. Among those still living are Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Blanchard. A grand and serviceable couple, they typify the fine ideals, the courageous spirit, and the reverence for God that are honored in the Mormon pioneers.

 

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