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02 April 2014 @ 02:46 pm
My Grandpa  

Jonathan George Davis

Jonathan Davis died Sunday evening, March 30, 2014 at the Bonnie Bluejacket Memorial Nursing Home south of Greybull, where he had been a resident since last August. He passed away just six days short of his 99th birthday. He was a member of the First Baptist Church in Greybull. A memorial service for Jonathan will be held during the summer.

Jonathan was born in the family home on Germania (now Emblem) Bench on April 5, 1915. He was the youngest child of John and Osie Anna Davis. Except for living and working briefly in Greybull during the early 1940s, he was a farmer and rancher who lived at Emblem all his life.

Living next to the main road from Greybull to Cody and Yellowstone for almost a century gave Jonathan a unique perspective on all the changes that took place during those years. He loved to tell stories, and just the stories he told about that road would fill many pages. His earliest memory of that two-track road is waking up on winter mornings to the sound of wagon wheels squealing through the snow as farmers hauled wheat or oats to Greybull. He remembered rushing to the window, which was covered with frost on the inside, and blowing a hole so that he could watch each farmer pass by; walking beside his wagon with the reins tied around his waist, and swinging his arms to keep from getting too cold.

Jonathan could read some and had a pretty good grasp of “numbers” before he started attending the one-room East Emblem School in 1921. In 1922 he moved to the new building, a mammoth two-room structure. His mother warned him never to accept rides from strangers as he walked to and from school, but one afternoon he was just starting home from school when a big Lincoln touring car stopped and the driver offered him a ride. The second Jonathan got in the car he said, “My mom told me not to ride with strangers.” The driver looked startled and said, “Oh dear, you don’t know me.” The first grader replied, "Of course I know you. Your license plate is ‘Wyoming 1.’ You’re Jakie Schwoob!” Mr. Schwoob roared with laughter. He was the owner of the Cody Trading Co., and the State Highway Commissioner; before the governor of Wyoming appropriated the number, the highway commissioner always got the “Wyoming 1” plate. For several years, the commissioner would hold the Lincoln’s horn button down each time he passed the Davis farm.

Jonathan attended Basin High School where his sister was teaching school during his freshman year, and graduated from Greybull High School in 1932. He married Melba Turner in Greybull on December 29, 1937. The couple had enjoyed 69 years together before Melba passed away in 2007.

He served on several boards, and especially enjoyed his twenty years as a district supervisor for the Greybull-Shell Valley Soil Conservation District. Always an avid reader, he was very interested in local and regional history; in 1976 he and Melba were part of a group under the auspices of the Wyoming State Historical Society, which published "Re-Discovering the Big Horns." In 1987, Jonathan and Melba compiled and published They Called it Germania-The History of Wyoming’s Emblem Bench-1893 to 1937, a book based on interviews with many of Germania’s early settlers. Jonathan served as president of the Big Horn County Historical Society from 1970 until 1979, and resumed the office again for nearly a decade in the 1990s. He always said he resigned as president, but his resignation was ignored and he had to serve three more years.

Jonathan loved photography and won many ribbons, including “Best of Show,” at both the Big Horn County Fair and the Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site photo contest. He loved playing the harmonica, and until very near the end of his life greatly enjoyed playing tunes for people—“Little Brown Jug” and the hymn “Whispering Hope” were his favorites.

Jonathan was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Claude of Basin, and his sister Lucille Doty of Signal Hill, California. He is survived by his three children: Philip (Gina) of Oceano, California; Thomas of Emblem; Susan (Chuck) of Chester, Pennsylvania, and five grandchildren.

Finally, in Jonathan’s best tradition, there always has to be one more story: Late one cold evening after holding a service at the East Emblem Schoolhouse, Rev. Hopton, a Baptist minister who traveled throughout the Big Horn Basin, pulled into the Davis farmyard in his old Model T; it had a brass radiator, straight fenders and no top. Hoping to keep it as warm as possible, he parked it as close to the house as he could get it--then drained the radiator before spending the night. In the morning, Jonathan’s dad and big brother went out with the preacher to help start the Ford—they jacked up one hind wheel, then one poured hot water into the radiator and on the engine block while the others took turns and cranked and cranked. The Reverend had come inside to warm up when finally the old Ford went “chug.” Dad always remembered the pastor excitedly saying, “She’s a talkin’.” At last the Ford spluttered to life, and Dad’s eyes would sparkle as he told how the minister said, “Hallelujah—now she’s singing!” Such stories are the legacy of Jonathan Davis. His stories and the sounds of his harmonica playing “Whispering Hope” will echo through the minds of his family and friends for a long time.
A Girl with Stories and Memoriestigerinvaseline on April 2nd, 2014 07:01 pm (UTC)
This is a beautiful remembrance. It is evident through just these few paragraphs your grandfather was a man whose memory will not fade. Sending love your way.
Valya Dudycz Lupescuvalya_dl on April 2nd, 2014 08:06 pm (UTC)
What is remembered, lives.
It is a beautiful tribute, Trillian.

I'm so sorry for your family's loss, your grandfather sounds like he lived a full life and touched so many people, and how wonderful all the stories you have to share and remember. That is a gift, and I truly do believe that what is remembered, lives.

Sending so much love to you and your family.

oracne - Victoria Janssenoracne on April 2nd, 2014 08:13 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry for your loss.
Fighting Crime with a Giant Dandelion Since 2013: Libellula juliapameladean on April 2nd, 2014 08:46 pm (UTC)
I am very sorry for your loss. Thank you for the stories. I will remember your grandfather, because you told them.

Lois Athena Buhalis: Blue Moonlois2037 on April 2nd, 2014 11:20 pm (UTC)
You make me wish I could have met him. He sounds like a perfectly wonderful man. I'm so sorry for your loss.
lawbabeaklawbabeak on April 3rd, 2014 01:23 am (UTC)
What a grand adventure through life. A man full of stories and music. You are fortunate to have had him for so long.
wyyknotwyyknot on April 3rd, 2014 05:41 am (UTC)
I love the stories - and I wish I could hear him playing Whispering Hope. I like hearing harmonica music, and I love that hymn. Thanks for sharing such a marvelous man with us.
Mousethemouseketeer on April 3rd, 2014 05:58 am (UTC)
How wonderful that you have such a stock of stories about your Grandpa. I am sorry for your loss, but thank you for sharing him with us. He may not have travelled far himself, but his story is now round the world.
Jill Knapp's Other Boyfriendshellefly on April 3rd, 2014 11:32 am (UTC)
Thank you for sharing these wonderful stories about your grandfather. You make me wish I had met him. I am so sorry for your loss.
Lady Celialadycelia on April 3rd, 2014 02:02 pm (UTC)
He sounds like a marvelous man. You're lucky to have had him in your life. I'm sorry for your loss.
debby: saddeb_artist on April 3rd, 2014 02:36 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry for your loss. He sounds like a man who lived a long and storied life.
softcore pixiepixink on April 5th, 2014 11:27 pm (UTC)
Hugs for you.