ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin

Rev. Rachel Davies

[ Rahel O’Fon ]

1847 - 1915


Rev. Rachel Davies was reportedly the first woman minister ordained in the state of Wisconsin, serving the Welch Congregational Church in Ixonia for several years and resided in Watertown.  In some circles, she might be better known as the mother of Joseph Davies, the U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union under President Roosevelt.



04 04       Letter from Mrs. Davies.

The editor is in receipt of a letter from Brynsiencyn, Wales, from Mrs. Rachael E. Davies, mother of Joseph E. Davies, in which she says:


I am very well, excepting trouble with one of my eyes.  I was very much surprised to read in Gazette of Mrs. Knight's sudden death at Madison.  I could not believe it at first that it was she, as she was so well when I left Watertown.  It is well for us all to be ready when the call comes.  Please state through The Gazette that I send my sympathy to all my friends in sorrow in Watertown — so many dear ones have been called by death since I left home.  I thank you very much for promptness in sending Gazette.


Love to all in Watertown.   WG


09 26       Letter from Wales, G. B.

Editor Gazette, Watertown, Wis.

It will be received with great sympathy by many of your readers to hear the sad news of the death of Mrs. Evans, Cefudderwen Farm, Anglesca, sister to Mrs. Rachel Davies, Watertown, better known as Rahel o Fon.


Mrs. Evans had been under a severe illness for many months past.  She had undergone a very severe operation at one of the Liverpool, England hospitals, but she did not recover.  She had been laid up ever since and passed away last Friday morning, Sept. 13, 1912.  She was buried the following Tuesday, a very large crowd of people, among whom were the foremost men of the country who had come to pay their last tribute to the deceased.


Mrs. Davies has been over here several months, and she has been most faithful in her attendance upon her sister.  She has passed through very trying times.  She has been complaining herself, but now she is greatly improved, although she is not what would be desired.  She wishes to thank all her numerous friends for their kindness in sending her letters, and she wishes to be pardoned for her delay in answering them, but her eyesight is not at all good and with the worry and anxiety of the past month she has had no time or opportunity to do hardly anything. She wishes to be kindly remembered to all her friends, and acquaintances.  She will be pleased to receive letters from her friends as she would like to know how they all are – though she is far away from them, she thinks a lot about them. Her thanks are also due to the Editor of the Gazette for past kindness.


Mrs. Davies has decided to seek a quiet place where she can get a quiet rest, which at present is absolutely essential.  She has not decided where to go yet, but she intends leaving the neighborhood early next week. She will be pleased to receive any letters her friends might care to send, and she wishes them to be addressed to my care and I shall be pleased to forward them immediately.  She is now looking forward to returning and is anxiously awaiting the time when her son, Mr. Joseph E. Davies, shall get an opportunity of coming over to bring her home again.


She wishes to be kindly remembered to all her friends.  She is sending them all her kindest regards.


Yours etc.,

for Mrs. Davies,

Rev. D. C. Herbert,

Brynsiencyn, Anglesen, North Wales.


Dear Sir: Mrs. Davies wishes me to write to your paper, I hope you can find space for this in your next issue, as by doing so you will be doing Mrs. Davies a great favor, I remain

Yours truly,

D. C. Herbert.   WG





Body of Mrs. Rachel Davies Laid to Rest In Oak Hill




Mrs. Davies Spent a Busy Life As An Evangelist and Missionary Worker

Was Greatly Loved by Her People


The body of Mrs. Rachel Davies was laid to rest beside those of her husband and daughter in Oak Hill Cemetery this afternoon, with all the honors due the memory of a noble woman whose life was one of active service from her earliest years until her declining years forced a retirement from active work.

The pall bearers were Edward Davies, Chicago; John L. Davies, Dix, Illinois; Morgan Lloyd Davies, Daniel S. Throne, Chicago; Morgan S. Throne, Cleveland; Victor M. Stamm, Milwaukee.  There were ten honorary pall bearers as follows:  C. A. Skinner, Dr. F. C. Werner, Owain T. Hughes, W. D. Sproesser, James W. Moore, William F. Voss, Frank E. Woodard, Ellis G. Humphrey, Oconomowoc; David Evans, Milwaukee.


Among those here from out of town to attend the funeral were Postmaster Devine, John A. Aylward, Mr. and Mrs. William Westerman, Miss Marian Davies and Mr. Ponny, Madison; Mrs. H. E. Evans, Clark Knight, Ashland; Percy M. Cochran, Elkhart, Indiana; Postmaster Frank Schultz, Mrs. H. E. Evans and Mr. Sawyer, Milwaukee; Mrs. J. R. McGlade, Princeton, Illinois; and Postmaster Cunningham, Janesville.


There were many beautiful floral designs, the offerings of friends.  Two large but simply designed casket pieces of purple and white chrysanthemums, which covered the top of the casket, were the gifts of President Woodrow Wilson and his daughter, Miss Margaret Wilson.  A large wreath was the gift of Mr. Davies’ fellow members on the federal trade commission.


Rahel o’ Fon, as Mrs. Davies was known among the Welsh people, was for many years recognized as one of the most powerful of woman evangelists.  Rahel o’ Fon is the Welsh name for “Rachel of Anglesey”.  And Anglesey is an island close to the coast of North Wales where Mrs. Davies was born, and where she began her evangelistic work.


The island is also the birth place of Owain T. Hughes of this city, who though a few years younger than Mrs. Davies, watched her career with interest from the time she first became interested in religious work, at which time she was about fourteen years of age.  When she was seventeen years of age, Mrs. Hughes heard her preach before one of the largest audiences every gathered in a religious assemblage on the island.  The largest church on the island was placed at her disposal for the meeting and the young girl’s sermon was most impressive.  Not only had she a fine voice and presence, but great dramatic ability, which she used with effect.  Her meetings in Wales and other parts of the British Isles were uniformly successful, Mr. Hughes declares.


The young evangelist was greatly influenced in early life by one of the greatest of Welsh preachers of that day, the Rev. Henry Reese, from whom she received religious instruction while a student at Liverpool.


Her work in America was also wonderfully successful.  From the eastern coast to California she traveled to every large and small settlement of Welsh people.  She was a delegate to nearly all religious conventions of the Welsh people, and even in her later years, when she was widowed and burdened with a growing family, she freely answered calls to the pulpit wherever she was needed.  She often spoke at the little Welsh church in North Washington Street, though it was not of her own denomination.


She was renowned for her works of charity, even though but few of her charitable acts became public.  An exception was the presentation of a church building to a small and struggling congregation at Niles, Ohio, the congregation being too poor to build.  Their gratitude was expressed in the dedication of the church in her honor.


As Mrs. John Throne, her niece by marriage, pointed out, Mrs. Davies was alone in this country, having no immediate relatives here.  But she won the hearts of all her husband’s people, who accepted her and loved has as one of themselves.  A fact evidenced by the fact that all of them who could possibly come were here to attend the last sad rites, many of them traveling from distant points.


Her religious work, which included effective temperance work, was carried on almost entirely among the Welsh people, who she loved as if united by ties of blood.  It was only on rare occasions that she would consent to speak in the English language – it was always in the Welsh tongue that she preferred to state her message.



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