by Charles Walker from stories told by Pearl Cobbley Rodebuck
Grandma Davis was born 17 October 1861 in Pleasant Grove, Utah in a little adobe house. She was born of pioneer parentage. Her Father, Joseph Davis, and her mother Harriet Shoell were converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They accepted the gospel in England and they crossed the ocean in a ship chartered expressly for the saints. In the year 1856, Harriet Shoell crossed the plains, straining at heavy-laden handcarts. Their company was one that was caught in the icy blasts of winter by the time it had reached the Sweetwater River.
Grandma had two brothers, Joseph and Fred. When she was only four years old, Emma Louise was bereft of her father. So at an early age she became accustomed to work and learned to practice self denial, to be thrifty and resourceful and these attributes proved to be of inestimable value to her in her womanhood, as a homemaker and mother of a large family.
When Grandma was small she said that both of her playmates were deaf. She had to learn the language of the deaf and dumb in order to play with these two girls.
Grandma was doing house work for some people. She was staying there at the time. She had a habit of walking in her sleep. She had to carry water from the river. The river just had a plank across it. The people said she would get up in the night in her sleep and carry water from the river. So they locked the door and hid the key under their pillow. She came and got the key and went after the water as usual. One night when she went after the water she spilled some on her foot. This broke her of her habit of walking in her sleep.
Grandma and Grandpa knew each other from their babyhood days. They were neighbors and playmates. The friendship they formed in early childhood still existed as they grew to manhood and womanhood. They fell in love one night at a dance in a two room rock home that belonged to Harris’s. Grandma was just a girl of sixteen when she and Charles A. Cobbley were united in marriage in the Endowment House on the 28th of June in 1878
Charles A. Cobbley was not only born of pioneer parents, but was one himself. His parents crossed the ocean in the same company on ship which carried the Shoell sisters. Harriet Shoell helped Charles’s mother take care of him while they were crossing the ocean.
The Cobbley’s did not continue their journey to Utah immediately but sojourned in Pennsylvania for a few years. When Charles was six they joined the train of emigrants and he helped to drive his father’s ox team across the plains.
Prominent in Grandma’s life was her interest in her husband and children.
Grandma and Grandpa both loved the outdoors. They took many trips in their wagon up to the canyon to hunt, fish and get wood.
To the union was born ten children; Idella (Walker), Sarrah (Ash), Charles, Harriet (Harris). Pearl (Rodebuck), Laura (Hill), Herman, Ira, Ione (Gehrke), and Reed. It was constant work being a mother of ten but she looked upon motherhood as a privilege and a blessing. Her activities in rearing her children and the pleasure and development that motherhood gave to her were all the compensation she asked. She had little time for the tinsel and bubbles of social life but she had a zest for genuine fun and the companionship of friends.
At the time when eight children were clustered about her knees, her husband received a call to go on a mission. She might easily have looked upon his prospective absence and added burdens it would bring to her as too great a trial and hardship but even though she foretasted the sacrifices, the toil and the troubles that would likely be her lot. She faced the future bravely, assured her husband she could manage all right, dispelled his doubts and urged him to go. And this in spite of the fact that they were ninety dollars in debt.
And so for the next two years she added to her innumerable household tasks and duties that came from tending and training her children, the job of being the bread winner of the family.
Grandma kept cows, raised chickens, geese, turkey, milked cows and churned fresh sweet butter for which there was always a ready market. She took her butter and eggs by horse and buggy to Provo two or three times a week and her children waited with eager anticipation for his or her turn to go with mother. She went into homes about the town and housecleaned; she did not hesitate to tackle any tasks whereby she could earn money to feed, clothe and shelter her children and now and then to send a little of her earnings to her husband against possible sickness or want. She paid off their indebtedness.
She did not stop to consider the measure of her strength or the size of her tasks; all she asked was honest work and wages. With grim determination and unfaltering courage she rounded her shoulders to her work and rejoiced in her independence. She then asked if she was in need her answer was always, “I guess we can get along.” Her independence had a dignity that was always respected.
Grandma was an outspoken person, frank to a fault. Her words were never a pose. She valued sincerity as a priceless quality of the soul. She never worried about the impression she might make, but spoke as she thought and took care to be that which generally accompanies an independent spirit, pride in a well-ordered home, scrupulously clean within and orderly and attractive without, pride in her self-reliance, pride in a neat and well-kept appearance, pride in her flowers and in characters of the occupants therein. It was a beautiful pride because it was centered in the right things.
Grandma’s acts of helpfulness were not confined within her four walls or to her family alone. She seemed to have a natural bent for nursing and was never too busy to help out where there was sickness in a home. Many and many a time she was called to care for sick folks and in her capable way she carried many a hope and health to many a household.
Grandma did not occupy places of prominence in church organizations. She felt that mothers place was in the home, especially a mother of ten. She attended her Relief Society meetings with regularity and filled the humble capacity of teacher for many years.
As one time Grandma was very ill and the doctor told Grandpa that he could not promise him anything. Grandpa went into the room where Grandma was. She said to him, “You are very worried about me aren’t you?” She continues, “You don’t need to be, I have seen this all through and I am going to get well.” And she did.
When Grandma’s mother, Harriet Shoell Davis, became advanced in years Grandpa Cobbley built her a little log cabin on his lot and Grandma tended and waited on her for years with all the devotion of a faithful daughter. The last seven years of Grandma Davis’s life she was invalid and required constant care.
Grandma’s hair was outstanding. She had beautiful gray hair. It was so shining and clean all of the time.
Grandma and Grandpa moved to Salt Lake City after their children were all grown. Grandma became a member of the quilting committee in the Wandermere Ward. Her fingers were work-worn but nimble and for sixteen years Grandma served in that capacity. During these years Grandma made many friends because of her congenial personality, her willingness to serve and her uncomplaining ways.
In late years, Grandma had to nurse Grandpa Cobbley through long, long periods of sickness and she did it thoroughly and lovingly.
Grandma was seventy-two years old when she became ill. She had to be brought to Lindon, Utah, to her daughter Harriet Harris to be taken care of. Pearl and Harriet cared for Grandma for three months and one week. It was four o’clock on Saturday morning when Grandma passed away.
Those among us who may find one or a few of her fine traits etched into our own characters may lift up our hearts in thanksgiving and we all should pray for courage such as hers to carry on
(From the files of Mary Jean Caldwell.)