William Christmas was born at Llandilo, Carmarthen, South Wales on May 30, 1818. He married Elizabeth Roach on December 14, 1847 in Wales, and to this marriage six children were born – two boys and four girls. William Christmas’ family belonged to the Church of England. William was well educated and he always attended Church regularly. He was a Sunday School teacher for many years, teaching a class of boys as he loved boys and was very happy to work with them. It was the joy of his life and he often said it was not what he did for the boys but what the boys did for him. “They teach me many good lessons – youth is so wonderful,” he often said. William never came to his class but what he was very well prepared. He was a great reader and had a wonderful memory. He loved to read the Bible and had read the Welsh Bible through several times and could quote many scriptures. If a person would quote a scripture, he could tell you just where it was found. William Christmas was an engineer by trade. He liked this work very much and worked in the same factory for several years or until the family moved to America. In Wales, William got good wages. They owned four homes, three for renting, so they were fixed comfortably. They lived in a well-furnished four-room house. The furniture was very highly polished and was always kept that way. They had beautiful china dishes and when they sold everything before sailing for their new home in America, they kept some of their choice china which they brought with them. They also brought some very nice clothing with them. On June 1, 1869, the Christmas family left Liverpool, England on the Guion and Company’s ship “Minnesota” with 338 Saints under the direction of Elias Morris, father of Nephi L. Morris. They had a a very hard trip across the ocean as the ship was very old and in bad condition. The next year, this ship sank. They arrived in New York on June 14, 1869. When they arrived here, they were met by some of their Welsh friends who made them very welcome, and did everything they could to make them happy. They did not stay long in New York, however, but came on to Ogden, Utah on the first train, arriving Friday, June 25, 1869. Here they were met by Walter Roach, a brother-in-law of William Christmas. They were all very tired and homesick as the voyage had been a hard one, but Walter was so happy to see his sister and her family that he did everything he could to make them happy. He had his wagon and a good team of horses all ready to bring them to Spanish Fork. They arrived in Spanish Fork on June 29, 1869, and lived at the Roach home until they could build a home of their own. It was hard to adjust themselves to this new country and new ways of living. William had been a machinist and had run an engine for so many years, and there was nothing like this for him to do in his new surroundings. The country was new and farming was about the only industry. There were only Indians, sagebrush, little log houses, and the people were so poor without much food to eat. If you had the money, there was no food to buy. You could not buy clothes to wear, so they had some very hard times for a few years. The first two years, William said he did not have anything to eat except cornmeal mush three times a day. They grew their own corn, ground the corn into a course meal and made the mush. He often said the third year they had molasses to put on their cornmeal mush. After a few years, things changed – the children all got work and William went to the Tintic District and was employed there. He built the first engine ever built in the Tintic District and ran this engine for many years. He was prepared to do this kind of work and liked it, and always had a good job as longs as he could work. When his health failed, he had saved enough money to live comfortably. William Christmas often said he was glad he came to America for the children’s sake. They all had more opportunities here than they would have had in Wales, but he would often say how he loved his native land and how dear it was to him, but he was happy here. He thought if he taught his children to be good workers, they would always find opportunities for work here in America, and this he did. William Christmas died April 9, 1904, in Spanish Fork, Utah at the age of eighty-six, and was buried in the Spanish Fork Cemetery.
William Christmas was born in 1818 in Wales.
The family came to Utah under the leadership of Elias Morris, being the first company of Saints to come on the newly completed transcontinental railroad. They arrived in Ogden on 25 June 1869, making their final home in Spanish Fork.
The First Company
The first fruits of this year’s immigration from Europe reached Ogden last evening at five o’clock. They left Liverpool on the steamship “Minnesota” on the 2nd instant, under the charge of Elder Elias Morris, late president of the Welsh district, the greater part of the company being form the Welsh principality. A little more than three weeks has brought them the whole distance of the weary way that once took the best part of the year to travel. This being the first company, which has come all the way across the continent from the Atlantic to Utah on the Great Highway, their journey will long be remembered as inaugurating an epoch in our history. Early this morning the greater portion of the immigrants had found homes, numbers leaving to settle in the northern counties of the territory. (Deseret News, June 28, 1869)
Elias Morris, pioneer of 1852, was called by his church in 1865, to return to his native land as a missionary. In 1868 he was appointed to preside over the entire mission of Wales, a position he filled with honor for one year. After receiving his release in early June in 1869, he was placed in charge of over three hundred saints who were emigrating to Utah. Arriving at Omaha, June 23, 1869, President Morris telegraphed President Young as follows: “Will take the cars for the west at six o’clock this evening; we expect to be in Ogden on Friday.” This was the first company of Saints to travel over the newly completed railroad.
Following is a list of passengers in the Morris Company:
…….William, Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Luther, Jemima, Mary A. and Rosetta Christmas
William Christmas age 50
wife, Elizabeth Roach Christmas age 40
daughter, Elizabeth Christmas age 17
son, Luther Christmas age 14
daughter, Jemima Christmas age 13
daughter, Mary Ann Christmas age 10
daughter, Rosetta Christmas age 7