MY GRANDFATHER, HANS THOMAS DAVIDSON
Son of Hans Christian Davidson
(brother to Amasa Davidson)
by Jeanette Davidson Hopkinson
Hans Thomas Davidson was born in Maybelli Alsen, Schlesvig, Holstein, Denmark on Oct 24, 1855. He was the son of Hans Christian and Anna Marie Jensen Davidsen. At the time of his birth he weighed two and a half pounds. He lived to increase his birth weight by more than one hundred times. He had a sister Mary who was two and a half years older than he. Hans parents joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and began to make preparations to leave their homeland. They wanted to be with the body of Saints in Utah where they could worship freely and become a part of the rapidly growing church.
The little family spent most of the winter of 1857-58 in preparation for their journey, mostly in secret in order to not arouse the suspicions of neighbors and those who were unfriendly toward the Mormons. By pre-arranged plan they gathered at a small port on the North Sea together with other saints and crossed by small boat to England. On March 22, 1858 they boarded the ship, JOHN BRIGHT, in Liverpool and became a part of a company of about ninety Saints, mostly Scandinavians, under the guidance of Iver N. Iverson. They set sail the same day and after a tortuous thirty one days under the most severe circumstances they arrived in New York on April 23, 1858. There were a few days of emigration procedures and additional preparation before they were ready to start their journey westward. They arrived in Iowa City on May 1st.
There were about fifty of the group, who by July had found means to travel on to Utah. The Davidson family were impatient to be on their way so arrangements were made that Maria would take the two children and a few possessions and necessities in a handcart along with a few other saints and accompany the few wagons which were making the trip. The father, Hans Christian had discovered that there was an army detail also going west at the same time and there was a job herding mules for which he could receive a small fee and his food. He knew very little English and nothing at all about mules, never having seen one before. However he was brave and applied for the job. The result was that in the little family, although they knew that each parent was bravely struggling toward their goal, each had to bear their own burden and anxiety. They left Florence, Nebraska in July and arrived in Salt Lake City September 20, 1858. Enroute Maria endured the many hardships of the road and grew weary almost beyond endurance. She had to swim the Platte River with the handcart containing the children floating, however many possessions were soaked and had to be dried out. Mary by now was five years old and Hans was nearly three.
The family was happily re-united in Salt Lake City and were shortly dispatched along with other Danish pioneers to the south. They first settled in Pleasant Grove where four brothers and sisters were born in the family. They were Elizabeth (Belle),Lorenzo, Amasa, and Sara, who died in infancy, aged six months. In 1865 the family moved to a farm near Mt. Pleasant in Sanpete County.
Hans grew to manhood on the farm and as his younger brothers grew up and could take over the work on the farm, he sought employment away from home to earn a living and help with the family finances. There were four more brothers and sisters born into the family in Mt. Pleasant, namely: Twins--Ephraim and Sarah, Lucinda and Joseph. His father opened a print shop in Mt. Pleasant and did job printing as well as printing the first newspaper to be printed south of Salt Lake City.
When Hans was about twenty years of age, he and some of his friends went to St. George to work on the construction of the temple. Hans was a large man, having grown to three inches over six feet and weighed well over 200 pounds. He was agreeable and friendly in Nature but because of his size a few men attempted to arouse his anger. One man at the temple construction site was Quarrelsome and provoked Hans to fight. This man attempted to gouge the eyes of Hans but the tables were turned when Hans quickly set his teeth into the man's thumb. This was the only altercation that Hans (my grandfather) ever related. His size continued to be a discouraging deterrent to contend with by any would-be trouble makers.
I'm not sure how Hans met Elizabeth (Lizzie) Robertson, who became his wife. About that time Lizzie was cooking at a camp in Cottonwood Canyon. I do not know if it was a logging camp or a quarry camp where stone was being cut for the construction for the Salt Lake Temple. Hans became acquainted with the dark-haired Scottish Lassie from Midway and they were married October 20, 1878 in Spanish Fork, Utah. Hans always introduced Lizzie very proudly as his first wife. They lived in Mount Pleasant until late in 1886. Hans worked away from home a great deal at various jobs and Lizzie, being a beautiful seamstress had a dress-making shop in her home. They had three children born to them while living in Mt. Pleasant: Emmery Hans, Elizabeth Maud and Mary Jennett (Jennie). Maud developed meningitis as a baby and became a deaf mute as a result of the disease.
When Hans and Lizzie and their three children left Mount Pleasant, they went to Frisco, a mining camp. It was here that Hans suffered lead poisoning and nearly lost his life. From Frisco they moved to the Cave Mine near Minersville in Beaver County. In the little town of Bradshaw, near the mine their youngest daughter, Dora Elsie was born.
Hans worked at the Cave Mine a number of years. He had the responsibility of drilling a tunnel into the face of the mountain and this tunnel remains today a testimony to his skill and engineering ability. Hans had meager schooling, he often told his wife Lizzie helped him to learn to read with the use of a newspaper and her bible. Lizzie boarded the miners and teamsters, often cooking for thirty men at a time with the help of her younger sister who came to live with them.
Hans became interested in sheep-raising while at the Cave Mine and acquired a sizeable herd. He really was a farmer at heart and eventually bought a farm in Greenville where he moved his family and gave up mining as a career. In Greenville they were faced with having to part with their oldest daughter, Maud who was badly burned when her clothing accidently caught fire. She died October 19th, 1894 when twelve years of age.
He continued to farm and raise sheep and cattle until 1902. He was destined for further pioneering. At this time a group of people he had known in Minersville were leaving for Wyoming to homestead in the Bridger Valley. In fact some of the colony were all ready settled and had promising crops. They persuaded him to dispose of his holdings in Greenville and move to Wyoming to build a flour and grist mill. By this time Emmery and Jennie were both married. Emmery decided to join his father in this venture. Hans and Lizzie with Emmery, his wife Lennie and their baby daughter Elizabeth along with Elsie the youngest daughter all began to make preparations to go to Wyoming.
Hans made a trip out to look over conditions in Wyoming and also make arrangements in Salt Lake City for building the Mill. (Years later Mr. Will Harvey who had a store in Mountain View and Later a store in Ft. Bridger told me of the time grandfather came to make preparations for living and for building the mill. He said everyone was saying one to another "Have you seen the big man who is coming to build a flour mill?")
The family left Milford with Emmery riding in a chartered freight car with a team of horses, a saddle horse, two cows and various needed articles of furniture, tools, etc. The rest of the family traveled in passenger cars. They arrived ar Carter, Wyoming, about fourteen miles from their destination on Apr 29, 1903. Del Watson who was to be their neighbor met them with a team and wagon to transport them to their new home. Del had a log cabin, dirt roofed and dirt floored which he generously let the family live in until their home could be erected.
The mill site was selected to be on the Black's Fork river, six miles south of Fort Bridger. Emmery filed on a homestead adjacent to the Mill site and property through which a mill race and spill-way was to be constructed. The home would be built on Emmery's homestead across a roadway from the mill. Later another house was built on the mill property.
Construction on the mill got underway within a short time. Rock was quarried within two miles of the site to the west near Three Mile creek, for the foundation. The mill, three stories in height was constructed of lumber and painted a deep red color. The Davidson home was built of Lumber and painted the same color as the mill. The power to run the three floors of machinery of the mill was obtained by a water powered turbine. The intake pipe from the pen-stock to the turbine was two feet in diameter. My father, Emmery who was the miller said there never was it necessary to turn on the full power. The officers of the milling company which was officially known as the Lyman milling company were: Hans T. Davidson, President; Samuel R. Bough, vice president; Emmery H. Davidson, Secretary and treasurer. The flour was called "Blue Ribbon Flour" with a picture of a big bow of Blue Ribbon printed on each sack. Other products were Ger Made, graham flour and bran and shorts.
Hans was a man who loved nature and growing things. He immediately set out to prepare and plant a garden and ultimately an orchard, the only orchard ever set out in Uinta County. Many homes in Bridger Valley were enriched by starts of currant and gooseberry bushes as well as Davidson peas from his yard and garden. It was an eventful year that saw the first apple produced in the orchard.
Before the construction of the mill, the area had been known at one time as Riverside. A branch of the L.D.S. Church there was known as the Bridger Butte Branch. With the operation of the mill there was the need for a post office so Hans made an application for one. The name selected was influenced by Lizzie's ancestry. Burn is Scottish for creek so thinking of the mill race or mill creek the name of Millburne was given the community and Hans became the first Post master. He continued in that position for many years.
Their daughter Jennie and her husband Will Barton with their three small boys came to Wyoming five years after Hans and Lizzie and the rest of the family. Will homesteaded near. There were many happy years for Hans with his family about him. Emmery's family enlarged to a total of seven, Jennie's family became eight and Elsie, now married had three children, making a total of eighteen grandchildren to bless him before he became ill and passed away at the age of 65 of Uremic poisoning. He died on Nov. 6, 1920 in his home in Millburne and was buried in Evanston, Wyoming. His wife, Lizzie was laid to rest beside him when she passed away on October 14, 1939.