Jane S. Davidson Autobiography.

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Jane S. Davidson

Jane S. Davidson

In cleaning out my mom’s house, I also came across a copy of Grandma Davidson’s history which she wrote out in 15 pages of long hand writing. Her mother died when she was 12. She left home when she was 14 and lived in no less than 20 (and counting) different homes as a nanny before she married at age 26 in Salt Lake City. Read about her conversion to the Church and how her sister Jessie called the police in Vancouver to get them to keep Jane from going to Salt Lake City with Daniel Davidson to investigate the Mormons. Even after they married they had to keep on the move looking for work. Read how Willard was born while they lived in a tent in McGill Nevada where Daniel worked at the smelter. It’s not a long read and having read it, I’m sure that none of the early pioneers were her equal in faith and perseverance in hardship. This woman, my Grandmother is truly an amazing lady. Here’s her story in her own words….

History of Jane S. Davidson written by Jane S. Davidson.

Davidson home in Hopeman

Davidson home in Hopeman

Born in Hopeman on Mill Street, Morayshire Scotland. Jan. 29th 1879. Daughter of William Sutherland and Elizabeth Hepburn. Hopeman is a small village on the Moray Firth between Burghead and Lossiemouth.

William Sutherland

My grandparents were Daniel Sutherland and Margaret Davidson. They were just plain fisher folks. I had a very happy childhood. There were seven children of us, four girls and three boys. My mother died when I was twelve years old. I left home when I was fourteen and went to Glenferness in Nairnshire to live with a family that kept the post office in the village. Their name was Donald McKenzie and his wife JeanUrqhart. They had two small boys Charlie and Donnie that I had to look after. I stayed with them three years. Then I went to Nairn to live with a family named Murdock, a mother and son. I stayed with them eighteen months when Mrs. Murdock died. Then I took care of an old lady Mrs. Mackintosh by name. I stayed with her six months. Then I stayed with a family Chapman by name who kept summer boarders. I worked very hard there from early morning till late at night. My sister Maggie had gone to New York about a year after mother died and she came home on a visit after five years. I decided I would go to New York with my sister Maggie. We sailed on the ship “State of Nebraska” from Glasgow Scotland and landed in New York ten or twelve days later. We went 2nd class. When we landed in New York, some friends met us and took us to their home. Mr. And Mrs. Mason from Findhorn Scotland were real nice people. They had three children, two daughters Maggie and Bella and one son John. After a day or so my sister took me to Long Island and I stayed with Mary and Fred Shaw for a week. They were friends of Maggie’s. I went to work for a family by the name of Griffiths in New York and stayed with them six months. Then I went to work for a family by the name of Beck. They had a small baby and I helped care for the baby and also did house work. I stayed with them until I left for Scotland. All in all, I was in New York for two years and two months spending summers at Moores Mills Duchess Co. with the Beck family at a boarding house owned by Miss Susan Moore. I was taking care of the Beck baby at the time as a nurse maid. My Brother Jimmie died in October 1899 and my father wrote and asked Maggie and I to come home as he was feeling bad over Jimmies death and felt that we were too far away from him. We sailed for home in November on the same ship that we went over to New York in, S.S. State of Nebraska.

My sister Jessie was living in Glasgow and her second child William Main was born in December just after we went to Glasgow. I stayed with my sister to help her. Maggie went on home to Hopeman. My father and grandfather Hepburn came to visit us in Glasgow. I went home in the spring and took Jessie Main my sister’s little girl home with me. She was two years old. I stayed home for one year then went to Glasgow to work. I worked in Glasgow for three years. Part of the time with a family named Robertson, then with a family Spencer by name. While I was with the Spencer family, the oldest girl Mamie took Scarlet fever and they sent me with the other two children to Greenock to stay with Mrs. Spencer’s brother and his wife. We stayed there two months then Mrs. Spencer came and took us to Brodick, in the Island of Arran for the summer months.

Daniel Davidson

Daniel Davidson

While I was in Greenock, My sister Jessie’s husband Jimmie Main and Dan Davidson sailed from Greenock to Canada bound for Vancouver B.C. I told my brother in law that when he sent money for Jessie to come, that I would go with her and help her with the three children Jessie & Willie & Dan. Jessie was six years old, Willie was three and Dan 18 months. While I was in Glasgow I joined the Church of Christ. I was staying with the Spencers when my sister wrote to me saying she was going to Canada so I wrote to her telling her to get my ticket on the same boat. I went to Hopeman for two weeks and left with Jessie for Glasgow to sail for Montreal on our way to Vancouver B.C. in September 1903. When we arrived in Vancouver B.C. we were met by aunt Ellen Innes and taken to her home as she was boarding Jimmie Main and Dan Davidson. She had fixed up several rooms for Jessie & Jimmie and the children and they stayed there until the got a place of their own. I got a job with Mr. & Mrs. Marshall taking care of their three children. I stayed with them nearly one year. When I arrived in Vancouver, Dan Davidson gave me a Mormon tract and asked me to read it. I asked him if there was a Church of Christ in Vancouver. He said “yes” but not the Church of Christ that you belong to. Then he told me the story of Joseph Smith and the Mormons. I cannot describe the feeling that went through me as he told me the story and I just said “Mormons” as if I was disgusted and didn’t care. After I read the tract, I started wondering and said to myself, “Did the Lord really come to Joseph Smith?” and I found myself wanting to know for sure. So I prayed to the Lord that I might find out for myself and two missionaries from Canada came to the Marshall home and left me a Book of Mormon. I read every word of it from beginning to end with a prayer to the Lord to guide me. I read it with faith in the Lord that he might make the truth known unto me and before I was through I knew it was the truth written by servants of the Lord to the American Indians to be sent to all nations of the earth. I studied every book that the missionaries brought to me. I studied for 10 months and no one knew that I was studying until I was thoroughly converted and wanted to be baptized. When my sister and brother in law found out that I was reading Mormon books, they were simply furious and did everything they could to make me unhappy. My sister even went to Mrs. Marshall and told her all sorts of stories about Dan and myself and made me feel so uncomfortable that I left the Marshall’s and went to stay with a Mr. and Mrs. Russell. I got sick with worry I guess and had to leave there and went to the home of Brother and Sister Edward Niel who were converts from Australia living in Vancouver until they could make enough money to go to Salt Lake City. 

My sister didn’t seem to want me around so when I went to the Niels place I didn’t tell her and then she went to the police and asked them if she could prevent me from going to Salt Lake City. She told me he said to her, “Poor Lassie, I am sorry for her.” Anyhow, I told them I was going to Salt Lake and Dan said, “If you are going, I am going with you.”

Daniel Davidson

Daniel Davidson

So we left on the train for Seattle early one morning in November 1904 and didn’t let my sister know. Sister Niel and her daughter Beatrice, a fourteen year old came to the station with me and Dan was there with our tickets. We arrived in Salt Lake around Thanksgiving time. There had been snow on the ground and it was very cold when we arrived at 7 a.m. with no friends and no place to go and very little money. We walked around the temple block until it opened and then went to the Bureau of Information. A Brother Pratt was there and asked if we were Mormons. I told him I wasn’t but he said you look like one. I told him I had been investigating but wasn’t baptized. Dan Davidson had been baptized that year in Seattle and came back to Vancouver. Bishop Clawson came to the Bureau and asked me if I would come and help his wife for a few days as she was giving a party and needed some help. So I went with him to the Clawson home on State Street near the Eagle Gate. Then Brother Goddard got me a place with R. Leo Bird and I stayed there for three months. Then I went to the Joseph F. Merrill home on 21st South and 8th East and stayed there until June when we were married in the Temple. While I was in Brother Bird’s home, I wanted to be baptized so Brother Goddard arranged for me to be baptized on the 12th December 1904. Brother Bird was there also. Brother Bird confirmed me in the 1st Ward in Salt Lake. We had quite a time getting a recommend as Brother Davidson didn’t hold the Priesthood. The lady he was boarding with told him and went to her Bishop and he was made a Teacher in December or January.

Jane and Daniel Davidson - Wedding Photo - June 21, 1905

Jane and Daniel Davidson
Wedding Photo - June 21, 1905

He was made and Elder by special permission just before we were married. We were married on the 21st of June 1905 in the Salt Lake Temple by Brother John R. Winder.

When we were in Seattle on our way to Salt Lake City, we stayed over Sunday and met with the Saints there and one Brother Workman from Hurricane Utah who was working in Seattle and gave us a letter of introduction to a friend of  his living in Salt Lake a Mrs. Xenia Thompson who lived on Almond Street. She was very kind to us and told us to visit her often. Brother Workman’s wife came to Salt Lake and lived at Sister Thompson’s house. It was with Sister Workman that we spent our first Christmas. After we were married we lived on 4th Ave. near the 27th Ward meeting house. Bishop Maxwell was Bishop and his wife was the Relief Society President. We stayed in that house for only two months. We then moved to 29 N Street in a small house owned by Brother Westwood who owned a store on the corner of 1st Ave. and N Street. We stayed there for nearly two years in the 27th Ward. We moved to 160 West 3rd North in the 19th Ward where Roland was born on the 30th of  March 1907.

Jane and Roland - One of her favorite photos.

Jane and Roland
One of her favorite photos.

After Roland was born Brother Davidson left us to find work in McGill Nevada at the smelter there as a carpenter. Roland was one month old and we felt very lonely. He wrote to us every day and in July we went to him. We stayed in a tent in McGill all summer and the company built houses and we got into a house before winter. We stayed at McGill Nevada until February 1909 when we went on a visit to Scotland. Willard was born at McGill Nevada on November 7th 1908. We left Salt Lake City on February 12, 1909 with a company of missionaries going over seas. We didn’t tell the folks at home that we were coming so it was quite a surprise to them when we sent a telegram from Liverpool saying we would be home the next day. Hopeman people were all out to meet the Mormons as if we were something special. My father was at the station and sisters Maggie and Libbie and Dan’s grandmother Main and others. Dan’s father had been in Elgin and came home on the same train with us but we didn’t see him until we were at Alves when we had to change trains. I don’t know how he felt. He was quite bitter about us being Mormons, but he did shake hands with us. We stayed in Hopeman four months at Grandfather Davidson’s house. We had a room to ourselves upstairs with a fireplace. We stayed in Scotland four months visiting with friends and relatives. We were not able to convert any of them. Grandfather didn’t even want Mormonism to be spoken of in his house. My father just said, “Well, if it is of God it will stand. If not, it will soon go.” But none of them ever investigated. We went to Lossiemouth and visited with Grandfather Hepburn and his wife before we left again for Salt Lake City. We arrived in July and the weather was hot. We stayed with the Thompson’s for a few days and went back to McGill Nevada. Work was scarce so we went to East Ely to live. We stayed there for one year then came back in 1910 when Dan got work on the Hotel Utah that was just starting to be built. He worked there for two years for James Black & Co. from St. Louis. We lived in the 19th Ward at 160 W 3rd North whereRoland was born in 1907. Willard was born in McGill Nevada and

Jane and her father-in-law William Davidson during his visit to Salt Lake

Jane and her father-in-law William Davidson during his visit to Salt Lake.

Grandfather Davidson came to visit us there after Helen was born and stayed just a few weeks. He had been up in Vancouver Canada visiting a brother John Davidson and his daughter Annie Cormack and came to Salt Lake on his way home. In 1913 we moved to where we are now staying at the southwest corner of Mansfield Ave. & 7th East when war started in 1914 between Britain and Germany. We felt very bad. That summer we went to Nephi for a visit with Brother Broadhead and his wife at their farm on Lovan Ridge. Each night Dan would get on his horse and go to Nephi seven miles away to get the Deseret News and find out about the war.

Daniel, Helen, Roland, Willard, Jane Front: Jennett, Laura

Daniel, Helen, Roland, Willard, Jane
Front: Jennette, Laura

We had five children then, Betty was the baby and was born on Feb. 2nd 1914 and died Nov. 1914. We felt very bad. Then Dan wanted to move but we stayed here. When America entered the war we felt very bad. Then the flu came and many died in Salt Lake and all over. We were all sick with it in Nov. 1918 just after Armistice Day.

The old home - Jennette, Laura, Roland, Daniel, Helen, Willard

The old home
Left to Right: Jennette, Laura, Roland, Daniel, Helen, Willard

We were living in a small house that Dan built in 1913 when we moved down here. We stayed in it until after Pearl was born. Betty, Laura, Daniel & Pearl were born in the little house. It had a living room and a bed room and kitchen in back with a small porch and we had a coal shed and storage shed outside where we left our potatos and fruit. We stored our flour above the ceiling in the little house. We had a large clothes closet and a soiled clothes closet. We were very comfortable and the children were happy. We had a nice garden and a few chickens and rabbits. When Daniel was hurt with the street car, we all felt terrible. We took him to Holy Cross Hospital. He was there for two months. I went there every morning and stayed all day ’til nine at night.

Daniel, after he was sick, shortly before he died.

Daniel, after he was sick, shortly before he died.

At times someone came and looked after the children at home. I sent my clothes to the laundry and did the rest of the work late and early. Roland was 12 years old and looked after the other children. The neighbors were very kind. Papa was never very strong after he had the flu in 1918. He seemed to get a bad spell every winter after that. Daniel got hurt in the summer of 1918. It was a bad time for us all. Daniel was 16 months old when he got run over.

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3 Responses to Jane S. Davidson Autobiography.

  1. nancy anne stewart says:

    i have just came acros your familys story and we had the great pleasure of meeting your family many years ago when they came for a visit to our branch in elgin and it was a great pleasure to hear there story which we have so often told to so many church members only last week we told our missionary couple abought the davidson family we had one of your sons serve a mission here in elgin also you had family member who was a minister who lived in maisondieu road here in elgin if memory serves right he was anti l d s they were so hardy people we will never see the likes again a chosen people ityou must have so much love and pride in your heart for all that they did, to go to new lands and face what they had too they had each other and ther family so there was no looking back there hand was firmly set to the plough we thank you for putting the story to the website we have enjoyed reading it please if you nephew lives near please tell him that we are asking for him and wish him well

    nancy anne stewart
    elgin scotland

  2. Berit says:

    This was wonderful to read again. I read this story in our hard copy over a year ago and was astonished to find that not only had my husband Daren’s dad (Daniel Davidson) grown up in Burns OR where I had resided after the passing of my 1st husband, but his great grandparents had emigrated from Scotland to my hometown of Vancouver BC where I lived for 33+ years before marrying in the SL Temple and moving to Philly. I loved hearing that they had immigrated to Vancouver and converted to the restored gospel there! My own grandparents came from Norway and converted with their 6 kids in Canada. My mom loved joining the LDS church as a young 13 year old girl and thought the 13th article of faith one of the most beautiful passages, that it could only have been divinely inspired of God! I’m so grateful to connect my heritage with the Davidsons as the Lord has orchestrated my history in with theirs! So grateful they had the courage to never look back, their “hand firmly set to the plow” as Nancy Anne aptly wrote, their choices have richly blessed our lives! Now I have the joy of being the mother to one of their beautiful great great granddaughters, Camille Karin Davidson!

  3. James A main says:

    After having read a newspaper article on James Davidson away back in 1962 I commented to my father that Congo Jeemie (as he was known in Hopeman) is quite an achiever, my father’s response was “don’t you know that he is your mother’s cousin?” My mother’s maiden name was Maggie Davidson Ralph.
    The photo of the Davidson’s home at Mid street is exactly the same type of house I was born and raised in at 10 Mid street. There is no Mill Street in Hopeman.
    I must confess I became very emotional reading Jane’s story.Tremendous courage of a young woman travelling around the world in that era. Hopeman people were of the opinion that everyone who emigrated became very well off.
    I recall listening to James Davidson in the Hopeman Baptist Church when he gave a talk to the Sunday School on life in Africa .That was about 1939. As a youngster I was enthralled.

    James A Main
    Perth. Australia

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