Question: What country did James Davis Jr. and his family emigrate from before he joined the Mormon Battalion in 1846?
Answer: James Davis Jr. was born 26 May 1826 in llanfoist, Monmouthshire, Wales, the son of James Davis (Davies) and Elizabeth Sykes. His father was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in March 1842. James Jr. joined the Church the same month as his father. His mother, Elizabeth, and two sisters also joined the Church that year.
The family sailed to America on the ship “Metoka,’ which had 208 people aboard. The “Metoka” made the trip to New Orleans in seven weeks. From New Orleans the usual route was taken up the Mississippi River, and a majority of the emigrants landed in Nauvoo on 11 November 1843.
James and Elizabeth received their endowments 6 January 1846 in the Nauvoo Temple. It was in February 1846 that the great exodus west began. Most of the saints, including James Jr. and his family, went to Winter Quarters where they spent the winter.
It was during the time when the saints were in exile that the call went out for 500 men to join the U.S. Army. James Davis Jr., now age 20, enlisted in the Mormon Battalion on 16 July 1846, as a Private in Company D. He left on 21 July 1846 to begin a 2000 mile trek to the west coast, but due to ill health, he and other recruits were sent back to Santa Fe, New Mexico and made their way to Pueblo, Colorado where they spent the winter of 1846. They entered the Salt Lake Valley on 29 July 1847, just a few days after Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company. On November 5, 1850, James Jr. married Ann Jones Owens daughter of John Owens and Catherine Jones. Ann migrated from Wales in February 1849 in Captain Dan Jones Company.
Meanwhile back in Iowa, James Jr.’s father, James Davis, had died during the winter of 1846/47. His widow and two daughters Elizabeth Jane age 17 and Mary Maria age 13 were left alone. Peter Nebeker married Elizabeth Jane in the spring of 1847. The little family joined the Abraham O. Smoot Company, which arrived in Salt Lake Valley 24 September 1847. Elizabeth Jane Nebeker had two children and then died 10 March 1851. A year later 31 January 1852, Peter Nebeker married Mary Maria who was 17 years old. She had eleven children all born in Salt Lake City.
In 1850 Elizabeth Sykes Davis was living with her son James Jr. and his wife Ann in Salt Lake City. Elizabeth Sykes Davis died about 1855 and is buried there.
James Jr.’s wife, Ann, was sealed to him on their second anniversary on 5 November 1852.
On 22 June 1856, James was called by Church leaders to serve a mission in the lead mines (Journal History of the Church). On 28 October 1858, he was called to accompany missionaries to the Navajos and adjoining Indian tribes (Journal History of the Church). During these years of missionary activities, he served in the Twenty-fourth Quorum of the Seventy.
James Jr. Davis and Ann had nine children together, all born in Salt Lake City. One pair of twins and a son, Joseph, died at birth. James Davis died 3 August 1865 at age 39, leaving Ann to care for her six surviving children. She died two years later on 27 October 1867 at age 42. Her children, ages 4-15, were taken care of and raised by relatives.