John S. Davis
John S. Davis was an early church printer and publisher. He was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1846.
Davis completed his printing apprenticeship in 1842 and worked in several different establishments before settling at the press of the Reverend John Jones, in Llanybyther, Carmarthenshire, Wales. It was there that Davis began printing for the Latter-day Saints before his conversion to that religion in 1846. By 1849, he had saved enough money to purchase an old iron handpress and a case of second-hand type that allowed him to set up his own office, which he devoted almost exclusively to his work of printing for the church.
In a Deseret Book summary of Zion’s Trumpet: 1850 Welsh Mormon Periodical by Ronald D. Dennis, the following was shared about John S. Davis:
- When twenty-three-year-old John S. Davis received baptism into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 19 April 1846, he was employed as a typesetter by the Reverend John Jones in the village of Rhydybont, Carmarthenshire. Five months earlier, the reverend's younger brother Dan began using the press at Rhydybont to print writings in defense of Mormonism. Through setting the type for these publications and conversing with their author, John Davis became convinced of the truthfulness of the restored gospel that Dan Jones preached.
- Over the next two and a half years, Davis assisted his mentor, Captain Dan Jones, in the publication of various pamphlets, a hymnal, a 288-page scriptural commentary, and the monthly periodical Prophwyd y Jubili, of Prophet of the Jubilee. As Jones prepared to take a group of over three hundred Welsh Mormon converts to America, he appointed Davis as his successor in the printing operations of the Church and editor of the periodical Udgorn Seion, or Zion's Trumpet.
- Davis produced twelve issues of Zion's Trumpet during 1849. Each was twenty pages in length with a four-page printed wrapper. During 1850 he increased the size of each issue to twenty-eight pages with a four-page printed wrapper. In both these volumes, Davis provided defenses of the Church's doctrine, reports on missionary progress throughout the principality, and instructions to Church members. Their pages are also sprinkled with poetry, proverbs, and a bit of humor.
- A "facsimile translation" of the 1849 volume was published in 2001 by Ronald D. Dennis, professor emeritus of Welsh at Brigham Young University. He now presents the 1850 volume, translated and edited according to the "facsimile" format previously established. Again the physical appearance of the Welsh original has been reproduced with similar typefaces and layout.
Davis was born in 1813 and died in 1882. He served as counselor to the president of the Welsh Mission and at his own expense he translated and published the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants in Welsh. He printed many tracts and scriptures. He also helped edit and publish the only Welsh language LDS hymnbook. Davis is the author of the words to hymn #11, What Was Witnessed in the Heavens?, which was included in the 1985 Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Davis immigrated to Utah in 1853. There he worked for several different presses. In 1859 he was elected Public Printer for the Legislative Assembly in the Utah Territory. He also served in the presidency of the Deseret Typographical Association. He retired from printing in 1861.