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In the early nineteenth century Welsh immigrants were mainly engaged in farming or mining. This included the slate quarries and coal mines in Pennsylvania. There were also large numbers in New York state and by 1802 there were Welsh Baptist and Congregational churches in Utica. Within forty years there were 22 Welsh churches in New York.
In 1843 a Welsh Society was formed in New York City in an attempt to protect Welsh immigrants from fraud and exploitation. It also attempted to preserve the Welsh language and to organize the celebration of national holidays. There were also three Welsh-language magazines published in New York in the 1840s.
Along with people from Cornwall in England, the Welsh were numerous in the lead-mining regions of Wisconsin. By 1850 there were over 7,000 Welsh miners were employed in south-western Wisconsin. Two villages in this region were named Wales (Wakesha County) and Cambria (Columbia County).
The Welsh were also involved in the Californian Gold Rush. However, only a minority of miners made much money from gold and it was much more common for people to become wealthy by providing the miners with over-priced food, supplies and services. Failed miners often turned to cattle raising and fruit growing. By 1873 the Welsh were able to establish a Presbyterian church in San Francisco.
In 1857 the Reverend Samuel Roberts, a minister from Montgomery, wrote a series of pamphlets attacking landlords, tithes and church rates. Roberts argued the only solution to this situation was emigration to the United States. Roberts arranged for William Bebb to establish a Welsh colony in Tennessee called Brynffynnon. However, the venture was not a success
Pittsburgh was the main city where the Welsh settled. In 1877 its Welsh citizens organized a colonization society to aid their countrymen to move from the overcrowded industrial areas of the East to the agricultural areas in the West. By 1892 there were 700 Welsh in Osage County and 1,000 in Emporia.
The Census of 1930 revealed there were 60,205 foreign-born Welsh in the United States. Pennsylvania had the largest number, with New York, Ohio, Illinois and Michigan also having having substantial Welsh communities.
I wish I had never seen Mr. Bebb and that I had never heard of Tennessee. Undoubtedly we have all been disappointed in our venture. It was terrible indeed of Mr. Bebb to persuade us to buy land in Tennessee without knowing more about it with the titles being so uncertain. When I heard Mr. Bebb in Wales sighing and groaning that we were suffering such oppression, living on hopeless and sunless farms, boasting of the great fortune that he had made for us and the paradise that was to be had on this side of the Atlantic, who would not have expected something from him! I have not seen him proving any of his claims and I judge that he had nothing in view except his own pocket.
As to polygamy, this has made me so miserable in past times that I almost wished myself at the bottom of the sea instead of in Utah, but so far I have been spared that trial. Oh you cannot conceive what women here have to suffer from a view to obtain some great glory hereafter, which I for one am willing to forgo, if I can escape the purgatory they think necessary.
James has no other woman than myself yet; and when we have got more property - that is, when we are in a way to maintain her without injuring ourselves - then it will be my duty to look out for another woman for him - that is my duty, not his.
The Welsh (Welsh: Cymry) are a Celtic  nation and ethnic group native to Wales. "Welsh people" applies to those who were born in Wales (Welsh: Cymru) and to those who have Welsh ancestry, perceiving themselves or being perceived as sharing a cultural heritage and shared ancestral origins.  Wales is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. The majority of people living in Wales are British citizens. 
In Wales, the Welsh language (Welsh: Cymraeg) is protected by law.  Welsh remains the predominant language in many parts of Wales, particularly in North Wales and parts of West Wales, though English is the predominant language in South Wales. The Welsh language is also taught in schools throughout Wales, and, even in regions of Wales in which Welsh people predominantly speak English on a daily basis, the Welsh language is often spoken at home among family or in other informal settings, with Welsh speakers often engaging in code-switching and translanguaging. In the English-speaking areas of Wales, many Welsh people are bilingually fluent or semi-fluent in the Welsh language or, to varying degrees, capable of speaking or understanding the language at limited or conversational proficiency levels. The Welsh language has been spoken in the region which is now Wales since well before the Roman incursions into Britain. The historian, John Davies, argues that the origin of the "Welsh nation" can be traced to the late 4th and early 5th centuries, following the end of Roman rule in Britain. 
In 2016, an analysis of the geography of Welsh surnames commissioned by the Welsh Government found that 718,000 people (nearly 35% of the Welsh population) have a family name of Welsh origin, compared with 5.3% in the rest of the United Kingdom, 4.7% in New Zealand, 4.1% in Australia, and 3.8% in the United States, with an estimated 16.3 million people in the countries studied having at least partial Welsh ancestry.  Over 300,000 Welsh people live in London. 
The Welsh: Surnames and Migrations
“…it has been estimated that about nine-tenths of the Welsh population answer to a total of a hundred names and that sometimes only a half-dozen names will be shared by 20 or 30 families.”
By MYRA VANDERPOOL GORMLEY, CG
Copyright © 2000, 2007—All rights reserved
Do not post or publish without written permission
Reprinted from American Genealogy Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 3
Our Welsh ancestors (bless them!) passed along their love for music, poetry, drama and art, but they also cursed us with many common surnames along with the hard work of sorting out our families named Jones, Owen, Ellis, Price and Davis.
According to J. N. Hook in Family Names: How Our Surnames Came to America, it has been estimated that about nine-tenths of the Welsh population answer to a total of a hundred names and that sometimes only a half-dozen names will be shared by 20 or 30 families.
A number of Welsh names begin with P which come from the Welsh way of patronymics. That is, they said, “David ap Morgan ap Griffith ap Hugh ap Tudor ap Rhice” ap meaning “son of.” The “a” in ap was often dropped, and that accounts for the frequency of the surname starting with P. This is how Hugh became Pugh Powell is from ap Howell, Pritchard from ap Richard, and Price from ap Rhys.
Surnames that end in just “s” rather than the -son suffix may indicate Welsh ancestry even though the surnames sound English. Thus Williams and Roberts are more likely to be Welsh than are the names Williamson and Robertson. Among these types of surnames are: Rogers, Edwards, Phillips and Maddocks or Maddox.
The Welsh are descended from at least two distinct ethnic stock—the tall ruddy Celtic invaders of about 500 B. C. and the earlier “Iberians” (called little black-haired people).
The first sizable emigration of the Welsh to America came in 1680-1720 and as early as 1667 a congregation of Baptists from South Wales had founded Swansea on the Plymouth-Rhode Island border. In 1681 a group of Welsh-Quaker gentlemen obtained a tract of some 40,000 acres in Pennsylvania. By 1720 the Welsh were settled in southeastern Pennsylvania and in Delaware. The middle of the 18th Century saw the Welsh moving toward the Susquehanna frontier and into the Carolinas.
There was a mass emigration from Wales in the 19th Century. This was caused by poor harvests in the old country in the 1790s. Many came to America to live in the new industrial area with a few coming in organized parties.
There were Welsh settlements in Cambria County area of Pennsylvania in the 1790s in Oneida and Lewis counties, New York in several areas of Ohio with many of them moving on west to Wisconsin in the 1840s. Some went to both sides of the Iowa- Minnesota border, northern Missouri or eastern Kansas in the 1860s and 1870s, and finally many wound up in the Pacific Northwest in the 1880s and 1890s. Utah also attracted many Welsh settlers due to the Mormons’ missionary work in Wales, 1840- 1870s.
Since many Welsh were skilled workers they found work in the iron-industry, as coal miners, slate quarrymen or tin-platers. Some American employers actively recruited in Wales. When a Welshman became a foreman or superintendent of a mine or mill he could fill the best jobs by writing to a newspaper back home.
The immigration story of many Welsh families is similar to so many other Europeans. Often the father came alone, obtained a job and then sent for the rest of the family. In some cases the entire family made the journey. Often the men returned to Wales for a bride. They typical immigrant farm family had six to 10 children, with the miner’s family averaging about eight.
As early as 1839 there were some 46 Welsh churches in the United States, and by 1872 there were nearly 400. You will probably find that your Welsh families were Baptists, Wesleyan, Methodists, Calvanistics Methodists, Congregationalists or Mormons.
Welsh was the native tongue of most of the 19th-Century immigrants. As late as 1890 Welsh was still commonly spoken in the farming districts of certain areas of Ohio. A Welsh-language press flourished in the United States for more than a century with a dozen newspapers coming and going. The Drykch (Mirror) of Utica, New York, which was formed in 1851, claiming a national circulation of 12,000 at its height. There were also a dozen Welsh literary magazines between 1852-1895.
Two major Welsh characteristics are sentimentality—particularly a sentiment attachment to yr hen wlad (the old country)—and a very extended family relationship in which even the most distant relatives are known and the exact relationships are known traced out in great detail, according to The Welsh in Wisconsin, by Phillips G. Davies, which was published by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.
If your Welsh ancestors came in the 19th Century, they probably sailed from Liverpool, England. In 1841 it was not uncommon for a trip to take three months. However, sailing ships from Liverpool to New York normally took 20 days to six weeks and steerage costs between three and five British pounds. Steamships took from 10 to 15 days and third class cost eight pounds, eight shillings, or approximately $33.00 (the pound then equalled to about $4, the shilling about 20 cents).
If your ancestors went to the upper Midwest in the upper Midwest in the mid-19th Century, they probably landed in New York, took a steamboat to Albany, then a railroad to Buffalo where they caught a boat which took them through the Great Lakes to Racine, Wis. (Racine was one of the earliest Welsh urban settlements in Wisconsin.)
There was a saying among the Welsh in America: “The first thing a Frenchman does in a new country is to build a trading post, and American builds a city, a German builds a beer hall, and a Welshman builds a church.”
Churches were indeed central to the Welsh way of life and can be a great source for genealogical information on Welsh families which will help while you try to identify your Walters, Perkins, Rice, Evans and Jones ancestors.
John W. Ellis, governor during the start of the Civil War, is one of North Carolina's most notable Welsh descendants. Image courtesy of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, Raleigh, NC.
One of the earliest European ethnic groups to migrate to North Carolina in the colonial period were the Welsh. Most of them were second-generation Welsh-Americans their parents had migrated from Wales to Pennsylvania and Delaware in the 1680s. What early records exist indicate that the Welsh originally migrated to North Carolina as early as the 1720s, when Parliament offered bounties to individuals participating in the naval stores trade. A 1738 map of North Carolina shows two Welsh settlements, one in present day Duplin County on the Northeast Cape Fear River and the other on the Cape Fear River in present day Pender County.
The earliest account of the Welsh in North Carolina was in &ldquoAn Account of the Cape Fear Country, 1731,&rdquo a travel account by Hugh Meredith and published in Benjamin Franklin&rsquos Pennsylvania Gazette. With glowing terms, Meredith described the land and wildlife of the Cape Fear region and his stay with Welshmen David Evans and Thomas James on the Northeast Cape Fear in present day Duplin County. He considered both to be not only good producers of corn but also skillful in the naval stores industry.
Undoubtedly Meredith&rsquos account of the Cape Fear encouraged more Welsh to migrate to North Carolina. The early North Carolina land records, for instance, include numerous Welsh surnames, including Bloodworth, Thomas, Davis, Edwards, Ellis, Jones, Bowen, Morgan, Wells, James, Lucas, Price, Owen, Powell, and Williams. By the end of the century, the Welsh had assimilated into North Carolina society. For example, the first student enrolled at the University of North Carolina in 1795 was Hinton James, a descendent of the early Welsh settlers in North Carolina. Determined to attend the university, Hinton remarkably walked over 140 miles from his home in Pender County to Chapel Hill.
Economic rather than religious reasons pulled and pushed many to North Carolina. Many of the Welsh were staunch Calvinists&mdashunsurprisingly so because many were former members of the Pencader Hundred Presbyterian Church in Delaware. Some North Carolina churches, including Rock Fish Presbyterian and Hopwell Presbyterian in Duplin County, can trace their origins to the eighteenth century.
Some prominent North Carolinians of Welsh descent include Civil War Governor John W. Ellis and, more recently, William S. Powell, a distinguished local and state historian Archie K. Davis, who promoted the cultural advancement of the state and former Attorney General and United Sates Senator Robert Morgan of Harnett County. Today, thousands of Welsh descendents reside across the state.
William S. Powell, North Carolina Through Four Centuries (Chapel Hill, 1989) Milton Ready, The Tar Heel State: A History of North Carolina (Columbia, 2005) Lloyd Johnson, &ldquoThe Welsh in the Carolinas in the Eighteenth Century,&rdquo North American Journal of Welsh Studies, Vol. 4, no. 1 (Winter 2004), 12-19.
Introduction to New Early Settlers of Maryland
During the first years of his Province of Maryland, 1633-1681, Lord Baltimore rewarded people who transported themselves or others with rights to land, usually called headrights. For most of the period, the reward was a right to 50 acres of land per person transported. To enter and exercise his rights, a person had to give the names of those, including himself, whom he had transported. Therefore, the records of these transactions include the names of the settlers.
From these records, lists of settlers have been made since early in the nineteenth century. But only in 1968 was one published. This was Gust Skordas's The Early Settlers of Maryland , immediately a cornerstone of genealogy. In 1997 A Supplement corrected and enlarged The Early Settlers . Now The New Early Settlers of Maryland, a complete revision, replaces Skordas's work.
In 1975 Russell Menard wrote that the "best estimate" of immigration to Maryland between 1634 and 1681 is 32,000 (Economy and Society in Early Colonial Maryland, 1975, pp. 175-6). The New Early Settlers has about 34,000 entries, which, allowing for duplications, is close to Menard's estimate.
Four points need to be made about the records.
First, having rights to land, the reward for transporting oneself or others, was not the same as possessing it. Between proving these rights and possessing the land were three steps, represented by three papers: a warrant for a survey a surveyor's certificate of his survey and a patent to the land surveyed. As each of these steps cost money, many settlers who were hard-pressed to pay for things they needed immediately, such as tools and live-stock, assigned - that is, sold - their rights. [ 1 ] In the records of these transactions - probates (proofs) and assignments of rights, demands of warrants, certificates of survey, and patents - are the names of the settlers.
Second, the probates and most assignments are of rights for transporting people. The names of people transported are in the records primarily as a means of identifying the rights. Indeed, rights often are said to be "called" or "titled" by people's names for instance, in Patents 11:571 & 579 10:324 & 335 7:80 & 565 & 4:29.
Some names denoted people as well as rights. Among them are those of people who themselves were assigned along with rights. Such assignments, records of which are rare, are clearly distinguished from assignments of rights alone. For instance, on 11 May 1668 John Tully assigned to Daniel Jennifer both Richard Watson and the rights for Watson's transportation (Patents 11:337) on 20 October 1662 Job Walton assigned to Thomas Marken, a maid servant, Mary Carter, for four years with all rights of land belonging to her (Patents 5:538) on 1 March 1659 Thomas Byan assigned Jane Montague to John Elles to serve for four years (Patents 8:498) and on l7 January 1659 William Chapline assigned to William Pyther an indenture whereby Edward Parrish was to serve him for seven years, on 21 January 1656 Pyther assigned it to Richard Gott, and on 20 September 1659 Gott assigned it to Alexander Gordon, his son-in-law (Patents 4:206). Other names that continued to denote people are those of people who completed terms of service or were issued warrants or certificates or granted patents. Tracing these names is tracing the settlers themselves.
But those are the exceptions. The names of most settlers immediately became names of rights and lived in the records independent of the settlers. Tracing names as rights go from person to person or are used for acquiring land is tracing rights only. Indeed, as many settlers died soon after arriving, some of the names circulating must have been of the dead.
Third, assignments of rights caused contradiction among records. Those that were recorded - evidently, many were not - constitute an important part of the records. Rights often were assigned several times, as in Patents 5:535 & 8:48 11:171 and 5:118. Often many years passed between their probate and their use for land, as in Patents 10:362, 372, & 380. Speculators bought them by the dozens and assigned them a few at a time or used them to patent large tracts, as in Patents 10:558-571.
This circulation of rights explains the main contradiction assignments caused. Often a settler appears both to have transported himself and to have been transported by somebody else. If his name is common, the quick explanation is that here are two people with the same name. The less common the name, the less plausible that explanation and the greater the need for another. One name not merely uncommon but unique is that of Andrew White, leader of the Jesuits who came on the Ark. For him there are two entries, one saying that he transported himself, the other saying that he was transported. The first refers to Patents AB&H:65 and 1:37, in both of which Mr. Ferdinando Pulton (a Jesuit) demands land for the transportation of Andrew White and a number of other persons, assigned to him by Andrew White. That is, White assigned to Pulton the rights for transporting himself and the others. The second refers to Patents 1:19 and 166, in both of which Thomas Copley, Esq. (a Jesuit), who transported himself in 1637, demands land for the transportation, in 1633, of Andrew White and the same persons listed in Pulton's demand. Though there is no record of these rights going from Pulton to Copley, they obviously did. Hence the other explanation is that, as rights were assigned from person to person, identities of transporters appeared to change.
To put it another way, often records of transportation that imply that A transported B mean only that A had the right to land due for transporting B. For instance, on 19 November 1672 Robert Bryant proved rights for transporting Richard Hacker, his wife, four children (all named), John Burges, Samuel White, and John Reynolds, himself, and Honour, his wife (Patents 17:396) but on 27 July 1672 Richard Hacker entered rights for transporting the same people, except the last three (Patents 16:635). Again, on 2 June 1669 Augustine Herman entered rights for transporting John Cornelius, Anniken Engels, his wife, Gertruyd, their daughter, and Cornelius and Hendrick, their sons (Patents 12:243) but on 21 October 1668 John Cornelius assigned to John Pole of Baltimore Co. the rights due to him for transporting the same people (Patents 12:270). In neither case is there record of an assignment, but in each there must have been one.
To confuse matters further, sometimes rights were entered for service and assigned as for transportation. Edward Chandler did so on 4 January 1669 (Patents 12:389), Trag Otrasis on 11 December 1665 (Patents 9:189, 268), and Henry Frith on 9 April 1667 (Patents 10:466). On 20 December 1669 seven rights, some for service, some for transportation, were assigned as for transportation (Patents 12:386-7). And often, especially in patents, rights are used without being attributed either to service or to transportation. The clerks' job was to see that rights were properly credited not to determine how they were acquired.
Fourth, except family members, most settlers transported by others were bound to serve their transporters, usually for four or five years. That is, they were servants and in the records are often so called. But the label "servant" was no stigma. In the seventeenth century it had meanings different from those of today. It denoted a person of low class and menial occupation. The settlers closest to the modern idea of servants were those shipped by the dozen. They are listed some times as "servants," some times as "persons," and some times as both. For instance, in Patents 15:380, 433, 443, 446, 453, 454, & 455 & Patents18:84, 160, & 167. But "servant" denoted as well people up and down the social scale and in various situations. A duke was his king's servant, a baron his duke's servant, and a lover his mistress's servant In these records "servant" seems often to mean nothing more than transportee. On 12 October 1652, when William Chaplin demanded land, Alice Bancroft was his servant, but in his patent of l8 November 1658 she was his wife's daughter (Patents AB&H:273 Q:210). On 15 December 1669, immediately after entering rights for transporting himself and Thomasin, his wife, John Barnard assigned rights for transporting himself and "one servant woman" (Patents 12:380). And in an assignment of 10 July 1656 the first name in the list of "servants [Ralph Williams] brought into this Province" is "Ralph Williams" (Patents 5:410).
As the term "servant" was ambiguous, so the status of servants was changeable. For one thing, sometimes terms of service were much shorter than four years for instance, in Patents 5:467 & Patents 6:19, 86, 96, 106, 107, 129, 131, 132, & 165-6. For another, sometimes settlers were servants and masters at nearly the same time. For instance, Wm. Stibbs, who on 4 August 1663 assigned to Thomas Bradley rights to 100 acres due "to me and my servant Joseph Ash for our times of service in ye province according to the custom of the country" (Patents 5:414) Thomas Bowdle, who on 5 April 1669 demanded rights for service to William Parker at the same time as John Love demanded rights for service to him (Patents 12:201) and Thomas Percy, who on 6 April 1669 demanded rights for service to Richard Preston at the same time as John Smith demanded land for service to him (Patents 12:203).
The New Early Settlers uses the label "servant" only to identify people whose last names are not given and to distinguish servants from other members of households.
With these four points and "Using The New Early Settlers " in mind, readers are prepared, at least in part, to find and understand records of their settlers.
1 Lois Green Carr impressed this point on me. Also she identified the Jesuits noted in the text above.
Questions regarding Archives' collections and services should be directed to the Reference Services Department
This web site is presented for reference purposes under the doctrine of fair use. When this material is used, in whole or in part, proper citation and credit must be attributed to the Maryland State Archives. PLEASE NOTE: The site may contain material from other sources which may be under copyright. Rights assessment, and full originating source citation, is the responsibility of the user.
Welsh Migration in Colonial America
Hordes of German and Scotch-Irish immigrants passed through the port of choice of Philadelphia where, for the Scots and Irish, the Quaker controlled port was more tolerant. Unlike the British controlled ports of New York, Boston and southern ports, immigrants other than English were frowned upon. Of course all religious organizations at that time had to provide tithes to the Church of England.
The author of the online article, "Migration patterns of Virginia" does caution us about the incorrect use of the label of Scotch-Irish as it was used in the late 1800's, indicating it did not truly reflect all the immigrants. For example there were Welshmen into this lumped group, which is of particular interest to Owen genealogy.
It is documented that many Welsh immigrants first settled in Pennsylvania and New York State. They were mostly miners and farmers.
Apparently Hugh Meredith's account in two issues in the Benjamin Franklin publication of the Pennsylvania Gazette of New Town, later Wilmington, North Carolina in 1731, inspired several Welsh families to move southward to gain cheap land for farming. There was another motive however, as the English Parliament in the early eighteenth century granted a bounty on the creation of naval stores in North Carolina. Naval store industry produced tar, pitch and turpentine which was extracted from the longleaf pine and were often operated by Welshmen.
It should be noted that a small minority of Welsh did travel straight from Wales to the Carolinas, but that route was the exception. The majority of families moved southward from Pennsylvania And New York. By way of three early roads.
A majority of the immigrants headed west out of Philadelphia and then south through the Shenandoah Valley. The Shenandoah Valley is where my other fifth-great-grandfather, German Baptist, Adam Smith, started his plantation. After 1750, immigrants would be attracted to the Piedmont areas of North Carolina and Georgia as they continue to travel south along the east side of the impenetrable Appalachians.
Free and cheap land was the primary catalyst for such constant expansion. But early laws concerning the eldest son owning their parent's farms also urged siblings to move deeper in from the coast to the Indian controlled interior.
This particular route from Philadelphia would stretch south to North Carolina where the Wilderness Trail took settlers through the Cumberland Gap and into Tennessee, Kentucky, and further west. This migration route was known as, "The Great Wagon Road" or "The Great Philadelphia Wagon Road." But it mainly went along the back side of Virginia and does not explain all of the settlements along the coastal flats of Virginia.
The Fall Line road split off the King's Highway at the town of Fredericksburg, Virginia and paralleled both the Great Wagon Road and the King's Highway through Richmond, ending in Camden, South Carolina. By 1735 it carried traffic into the interior of Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia. It is by far the closest north and south road to pass near my Owen family farms in Virginia and the Carolinas. William and Drucilla (Echols) Owen of Frederick, Maryland would most likely have used this route to Halifax County, Virginia. They are today known as the County Line Owen Family, as they settled near the Halifax County, Virginia and Person County, North Carolina state border.
DNA matching of some Owen families seemed to confirm that the central counties of Virginia and the Carolinas were my family's favorite farming areas as they moved ever southward before moving further west. It is likely that this road was used several times by different generations of Owens and other Welsh families.
The King's Highway wound its way from Boston through the coastal flats of Virginia and North Carolina and ended in Charleston, South Carolina. It was in full use by 1750. It systematically supplied the early coastal communities with supplies and settlers. It was used by colonists to keep in communication during the Revolutionary War and was often referred to as the "Boston Post Road."
The James River Settlement
An entrée into America concerned the Virginia Company and the colorful Pocahontas tale. In 1607, 13 years before the Plymouth Rock landing in Massachusetts, about 108 explorers chartered by King James set foot on Jamestown Island, 60 miles up the James River from Chesapeake Bay.
There were no Owens listed in this first ship, but despite deadly Indian attacks, starvation, and ignorant gentlemen, Jamestown lasted long enough to gain a foothold for the English along the James River. In 1624 it became a Crown Colony, and in 1698 the capital was moved to Williamsburg, and Jamestown disappeared from prominence.
Unfortunately there was no documentation of arriving immigrants prior to 1820. Only the "headrights" documents mention immigrants gaining ownership of land. The documents do not show when or what place of origin for these settlers.
Following the majority of migration, Owen families as well as others seemed to primarily spread inland in a north and westerly direction. The earliest dates of 1676 with John and Sarah (Bracket) Owen of the Terrible Creek Owen Line and Edward and Joyce Owen of the Polecat Creek Owen Line were shown to come from Prince Edward County, Virginia. Prince Edward County's northern border is along the James River and is named for the Prince of Wales.
Though I did find an Owen as a servant of an English captain in Williamsburg, Virginia. in early 1700‘s, Jamestown has not been proven as a port of entrée for my Owen family. I am sure there were other obscure and rare landings in other areas along the Virginia and North Carolina coast which also could have been used it is the lack of documentation of such landings which will always stump researchers.
Coastal Settlements by Welsh in the Carolinas
In an interesting essay by Lloyd Johnson of Camphell University entitled "The Welsh in the Carolinas in the Eighteenth Century," Mr. Johnson documents two separate concentrated Welsh settlements in the Carolinas. These settlers were from Pennsylvania and one group were Presbyterians and settled on Northwestern Cape Fear in present day Duplin County., North Carolina as early as 1725.
This first group established Presbyterian churches along the Cape Fear River area. The early Duplin County, Church Cemetery has such Welsh surnames as Bowen, Morgan, Owen, Edwards, Thomas, Evan, James, Williams and Wells. I found that John Owen, the governor of North Carolina in the 1820's was most likely connected to this group. John's grandfather came from Pennsylvania and settled in Bladen County, North Carolina, which was located along the interior stretch of the Cape Fear River.
A second group were primarily Calvinist Baptists whom migrated between 1736 to 1746 and settled along the upper Pee Dee River in present day Marlboro County, South Carolina.
Another notable event was the granting of the first Welsh settlers with ten thousand acres in northeastern South Carolina that became known as the Welsh Tract.
The Baptist Church which seems to be our Owen family's choice of religion, was known as Welsh Neck and was founded by eight families in 1738 near present day Society Hill. It became the mother church of over 35 churches in early South Carolina.
The Welsh in South Carolina were known to have celebrated St. David, whom was the patron saint of Wales, and this could explain why I found the first name of David to be common among Owen families .
Another set of circumstances which may have influenced the Polecat Creek Owen line to migrate to South Carolina in the 1770's was due to the aftermath of the Cherokee War of 1760 that caused more settlers of Scots-Irish descent from Pennsylvania and Virginia to travel down the Great Wagon Road to South Carolina.
Leaps in migration by siblings are undoubtedly the hardest obstacle for genealogists to overcome. The period from 1798 to about 1819 was historically known as the "Great Migration." Welsh and other settlers, including my family line, moved westward, and the number of states west of the Appalachians grew from two to eight in twenty years. The population of these eight states, which included Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, and Alabama grew from 386,000 to over 2.2 million by 1820. Through DNA, I have discovered that every above state was settled by some branch of my Welsh family line during this period, except for Ohio and Louisiana.
I believe this phenomenal movement of settlers is the main cause of document interruption. Both the unnoticed disappearance of family members in the east to the raw and yet unwritten arrivals of those same family members in the west have plagued researchers for years.
Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2005.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.
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Welsh Immigration - History
The Welsh who migrated to North Carolina were Presbyterians from Pencader Hundred and settled along the Northeast Cape Fear River in present-day Duplin County (New Hanover County at that time) as early as 1725. The Moseley Map of North Carolina, surveyed in 1732-1733 and published in 1738, depicts two Welsh Settlements in North Carolina - one in Duplin County and one in Pender County along the Northeast Cape Fear River.
The first published eighteenth century account of the Welsh who migrated from Pennsylvania to the Carolinas was "An Account of the Cape Fear Country," written in 1731 by Hugh Meredith for the Pennsylvania Gazette in two issues, May 6, and May 13, 1731. He traveled from Philadelphia to New Town (later named Wilmington) near the mouth of the Cape Fear River. He described New Town as having an excellent harbor, as well as the potential to become a commercial and government center of the province.
He observed, "Tho' at present but a poor unprovided Place, consisting of not above 10 or 12 scattering mean houses, hardly worth the name of a village." His account is also very descriptive of the terrain, the rivers, the swamps, the trees, and the animals that inhabit the forests. "Most of the Country is well cloathed with tall Pines, excepting the Swamps and the Savannahs, and some small Strips by the Sides of the Rivers."
He noted that the savannahs in present-day Brunswick County (North Carolina), "are good pasturage for cattle Beneath the Grass there is a fine black Mould. on the bluish white Clay. In moderately wet Summers they might make tolerable good Rice-Ground, as is done with the like in South Carolina." Meredith also described the swamp and river water to be "of a dusky Complection, and it looks much like high-coloured Malt Small-Beer."
About twenty miles inland, he stayed at the home of David Evans, a former magistrate from New Castle County, Delaware. He noted, "The Land he lives on is pretty good and the highest I saw in the Country, but there is only a small body of it." Meredith then traveled with Mr. Evans and two others to the Northeast Cape Fear River, about eighty miles inland. He noted that the Northeast Cape Fear River had a number of Welsh settlers who migrated from Pennsylvania to North Carolina around 1725.
He found those Welsh proficient in the naval stores industry, as well as growing corn. He wrote that the Indians were no longer a threat to the settlers, but, "Thomas James, whose Settlement they plundered and burnt, and murdered him and his Family. But now there is not an Indian to be seen." He concluded his account by noting that "the agricultural goods produced in the region were cheap, but goods imported are 50 and 100 percent higher than than can be bought in Philadelphia, especially rum and osnaburgs."
Meredith's account encouraged the Welsh from Pennsylvania and Delaware to migrate to North Carolina. It appears that the Welsh settlement of the Cape Fear region in the eighteenth century was far more extensive than what previous observers had believed.
In 1964, Harry Roy Merrens, in his book on the historic geography of the state wrote that other than Hugh Meredith's 1731 account, "there is no further information on the Welsh settlers in the colony, which suggests that they could not have been very numerous." Thus, in Merren's view, the Welsh in North Carolina settled in rural areas, and they established no villages or towns that provided a cohesive "focal point of community life and organization, and with farms spread thinly over a fairly large area into which other more numerous settlers came, Welsh settlements probably quickly lost whatever distinctiveness they may have possessed at the outset."
In 1994, Dallas Herring, the director of the Duplin County Historical Society wrote a brief article entitled, "The Cape Fear Welsh Settlements," disagreeing with Merren's observations of the early Welsh in North Carolina. According to Herring, "The land records verify that a bonafide Welsh settlement existed and thousands of Welsh descendents still occupy the region."
Through his genealogical research, he concluded that there were Welsh families who migrated from other colonies to the middle Cape Fear region of Duplin County, and Sarah Meredith owned an eighteenth century Welsh Bible. Herring continued, "The land records document the steady influx of settlers in the following years. A great many of them were Welsh and among them were Bloodworth, Thomas, Davis, Jones, Bowen, Morgan, Wells, James, Williams, and others." Herring concluded that most of the early Welsh settlers came to North Carolina for economic rather than religious reasons, and, "The Cape Fear was to them the long-promised land."
The Welsh settlers were not confined to the Northeast Cape Fear River in Duplin and Pender Counties, North Carolina. Rather, their settlement extended eighty to ninety miles inland, along the creeks flowing into the Cape Fear and the Northeast Cape Fear Rivers. Many Welsh who came to North Carolina in the eighteenth century settled along the creeks that drained into these rivers. These creeks and swamps include such names as Rockfish, James', Swifts', and Smith's Creeks, Black Mingo and Goshen Swamps, and the Black River that runs through southeastern North Carolina.
This region today covers parts of the present-day counties of Bladen, Columbus, Duplin, Onslow, Jones, Brunswick, Pender, and Sampson Counties. The reason this Welsh settlement was so spread out was due to the naval stores industry, spurred on by the British Parliament when in the eighteenth century it granted a bounty on naval stores in North Carolina. This British bounty on naval stores encouraged Welsh settlers to migrate from Pennsylvania and Delaware to North Carolina in the 1730s. Those who migrated to North Carolina were primarily Presbyterians who had previously attended the Pencader Hundred Church in New Castle County Delaware.
The Presbyterian Churches established by these Welsh settlers on the creeks flowing into the Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear Rivers had a strong cultural influence on the region. This evidence exists in the church minutes and the church graveyards. An example of this Welsh ethnicity survives at Rock Fish and Hopewell Presbyterian Churches in Duplin County.
These churches began in the eighteenth century and the graveyards have tombstones with Welsh surnames, such as Bowen, Morgan, Owen, Edwards, Thomas, Evans, James, Jones, Williams, and Wells. Today, these surnames continue to be prominent in southeastern North Carolina.
There is also a small community in Columbus County, named Iron Hill, perhaps associated with the town of Iron Hill in Delaware.
The first student to enroll in the University of North Carolina when it opened its doors in 1795 was Hinton James, a descendent of the early Welsh settlers of Pender County.
In addition, some people of Welsh descent moved from the Welsh settlement in the Welsh Tract of South Carolina to North Carolina. In the 1760s, the Welsh Neck Baptist Church minutes recorded that Valentine Hollingsworth moved his family from South Carolina to Bladen County, North Carolina.
At the time of the first United States census in 1790, the Welsh represented 11.6% of the total population of North Carolina, slightly higher in percentage than the Welsh in South Carolina, which made up only 8.8% of South Carolina's population the same year. In the 1720s, the Welsh settled along the Cape Fear River in what are the present-day counties of Brunswick, New Hanover, Columbus, and Bladen. Some made their way a little further east, along the Northeast Cape Fear River, to what are the present-day counties of Duplin, Pender, and southern Sampson.
In the 1730s, the Welsh, along with some English, from the seacoast, settled what is present-day Johnston County. Between 1736 and 1738, many Welsh from Delaware landed at the Cape Fear and made their way up to what are the present-day counties of Anson, Richmond, and Scotland.
In 1746, a large group of Welsh that had originally settled in Bladen County moved themselves to what are the present-day counties of Stanly and Montgomery.
Welsh Immigration - History
The Welsh who migrated to South Carolina between the years 1736 and 1746 were Calvinist Baptists who settled along the upper Pee Dee River in what are present-day Marion, Darlington, and Marlboro Counties.
More is known about the early Welsh who migrated to South Carolina in the eighteenth century. Governor Robert Johnson, the royal governor of the province of South Carolina, granted the first Welsh settlers ten thousand acres in northeastern South Carolina that eventually became known as the Welsh Tract. The establishment of the Welsh Tract was part of Governor Johnson's "township scheme" of 1730. Click Here to learn more about this important historical effort.
One of the reasons the Welsh received such a large grant of land was perhaps due to Maurice Lewis, a Welshman who was the Chancellor of the Exchequer in South Carolina. Mr. Lewis owned 450 acres in Anglesey, Wales and migratred to South Carolina around 1728. His influence among the early Welsh was short-lived he contracted a fever and died in Charles Town in 1739.
The early Welsh who settled along the upper Pee Dee River in South Carolina were Calvinists who believed in predestination, and became disillusioned by the Arminian practices that included the belief in universal salvation. More than thirty families migrated from Pencader Hundred Baptist Church in Delaware to South Carolina between 1736 and 1746. Some families, particularly the Harry, James, and Jones families, were slaveholders and imported their slaves from Delaware to South Carolina. In addition, a distinct Welsh cultural identity prevailed in the upper Pee Dee River area of South Carolina, at least to 1760.
The Baptist Church known as Welsh Neck, founded by eight families in 1738 near present-day Society Hill in Darlington County, South Carolina, became the mother church of over thirty-five churches on the South Carolina frontier in the eighteenth century. Unlike the Welsh in North Carolina, a more distinct Welsh cultural identity prevailed in South Carolina.
In his 1745 visit, the Rev. John Fordyce, the SPG minister, described these Baptists as being bilingual, since they spoke both Welsh and English when they migrated to South Carolina. James James, Esq., the first leader of the Welsh settlers owned a Welsh Bible.
Before building their church at Welsh Neck, these early Welsh were using the Cyd Gordiad by Abel Morgan in the home of John Jones. The Cyd Gordiad was the first and only Welsh Bible published in Philadelphia in 1730. Some of the first settlers also owned other Welsh books. Nicholas Rogers, at the time of his death in 1760, owned a parcel of Welsh books valued at £1-10s. Mary Devonald, while writing her will in December of 1755, also owned a parcel of Welsh books that she left to her son and daughter.
In the early years of the settlement, the upper Pee Dee River community had a Welsh identity that was well-known in Charles Town and throughout the province of South Carolina. On October 22, 1744, Robert Williams, a planter who resided near Charles Town, advertised a reward in the South Carolina Gazette for the capture of a runaway Welsh indentured servant named Thomas Edwards. Williams believed the servant, who spoke bad English, "had gone up the path towards the Welsh Settlement or on board a ship."
Even earlier, Robert Williams advertised three runaway Welsh indentured servants in the same paper. One of these servants was Jenkins James, who "talks very much Welshy." Advertisements announcing St. David's Day festivities in Charles Town also appeared in the South Carolina Gazette. One advertisement printed in that Charles Town paper appeared in Welsh, announcing the celebration of St. David's Day in that city on March 1, 1771. This announcement read:
Dydd Gwyl Dewi - Mae yr Hold Hen Brittaniad a I Hepil, fydd yn Dewi
Ginauau ii guda I, Guridwir ar Dydd Gwyl. Dewi, Yn Dummuno Rei,
Henuan Pump O Dyddian O flaeny Dydd cynta o Faretth Trwy
Orchymmun Peny Genedl, I William Edwards, igriven Trief siarles y is
This society was first organized in Charles Town in 1736, and celebrated by local inhabitants of Welsh descent. The coming of the American Revolution could have interrupted this Welsh celebration in 1774, when the Sons of St. David noted in the South Carolina Gazette that they were unable to assemble to celebrate this event.
One of the first Welsh settlers to settle in the upper Pee Dee River region of South Carolina was William James. He called his 350 acres he obtained through the headlight system in 1738, New Cambria, meaning New Wales. In 1746, there were three settlers, William Hughes, James Price, and Job Edwards, who came to South Carolina directly from Wales. But, those men seem to have been the only men to migrate directly from Wales to South Carolina in that decade.
Most of the Welsh settlers in South Carolina were Baptists. These Welsh Baptists kept a distinct cultural identity within their church communities for several years after they arrived in South Carolina. In 1759, a membership list of the church members taken at Welsh Neck Church included the names of sixty-five members. Of those members' surnames, only four were of non-Welsh descent, or English and Scottish origin. Those non-Welsh had surnames such as McDaniel, Desurrency, Poland, and Perkins.
By 1777, the church members had much more diversity as revealed by the 197 members. This ethnic diversity after 1760 can be attributed to the aftermath of the Cherokee War of 1760 that caused more settlers of Scots-Irish descent from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina to migrate down the Great Wagon Road into South Carolina.
At the time of the first United States census in 1790, the Welsh represented 8.8% of the total population of South Carolina, slightly lower in percentage than the Welsh in North Carolina, which made up 11.6% of North Carolina's population the same year. With the establishment of the Welsh Tract and the nine new "townships" in the early 1730s, there was a great influx of Welsh into South Carolina that began around 1734. These newcomers, primarily from Delaware, settled what are the present-day counties of Marion, Darlington, Florence, Dillon, Marlboro, and Chesterfield. The new Queensborough Township was settled in 1735 by Welsh from both Pennsylvania and Delaware, along with some Scots-Irish.
During the 1740s, the Welsh virtually remained in place, slowly expanding their lands in the above-mentioned counties.
In the early 1750s, a new wave of Welsh from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland settled in the southern part of what is present-day Lancaster County, South Carolina, along with a group of Germans and Scots-Irish they had met along the long trip down the Great Wagon Road.
In 1760, the first primarily Welsh town of Long Bluff was established in what is present-day Darlington County. After this date, more primarily Welsh towns were established in what are the present-day counties of Marion, Darlington, Marlboro, and Chesterfield counties, but there is essentially no decent records indicating later "new settlements" by the Welsh in South Carolina.
As in North Carolina, the Welsh distinction seemed to fade away after around 1750. It is very likely that more Welsh continued to arrive in South Carolina from various points of origin, but the historical record is scant. With the great influx of the Scots-Irish into the Carolinas in the 1740s through the 1760s, the historical record focuses on this group and seems to ignore most of the other groups. But, that doesn't mean that the Welsh were no longer important or that they continued to settle into other locations within South Carolina - they most likely did, just not in large numbers. The following was provided by Alicia Rennoll in July of 2019 (used with permission):
Commemorating The Lasting Influence Of Early Welsh Settlers in South Carolina
Although the numbers of Welsh settlers were smaller than other groups of immigrants, they and their descendants have played an important role in the history of America. Sixteen of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence were of Welsh descent, and several former presidents can trace their family roots back to Wales. The Welsh first arrived in South Carolina in the late 1600s but many more settled during the Royal Period. Some prominent figures from South Carolina of Welsh descent included the governor from 1812 to 1814, David Rogerson Williams, and several members of the Welsh Neck Baptist Church who served in the General Assembly in the late 1700s. Despite their great influence, unfortunately little remains of the buildings and artefacts from the time. However, unsurprisingly with almost ten per cent of South Carolinas population bearing a name of Welsh origin, there are still areas of life in the State that are touched by the local Welsh history.
Wood Carving and Love Spoons
Starting as an early American tradition, the carving of wooden spoons came to rise in the colonial days when settlers, including the Welsh, would share their own traditions, designs and carving techniques. A local artist from Trenton is still influenced by traditional techniques, using 18th century tools to add authenticity to his pieces. While demonstrating his skills, he enjoys telling the history behind one of his most popular pieces, Welsh love spoons. They were originally carved by young men to offer to the girls they were courting and, if they were accepted, they became a symbol of betrothal. The earliest love spoon is in the National Museum of Wales, and dates from around 1667, about the time the first Welsh settlers were coming to America. Now, after a revival of the tradition over the past few decades, love spoons with their intricate, meaningful symbols, are made in a variety of materials. These spoons are still exchanged for engagements, but are also used to commemorate significant and memorable occasions such as weddings and anniversaries.
The Darlington County Historical Commission Building holds the original documents that give authority to run the Welsh tract in South Carolina. Written on linen and pigs hide, they came from the court of King George II. The building also proudly houses a 371 year old Welsh bible, preserved in pristine condition. The bible was brought to the Pee Dee region by James James Jr, a Welsh lawyer. He led settlers into the area and the bible went on to be used to establish the Welsh Creek Baptist Church. Described as evidence of the determination of the settlers in South Carolina, the bible is beautifully crafted, made of wood bound in leather and inlaid with brass detail.
The Welsh Neck settlement fairly quickly adopted English as their main language, and, within a generation, the use of the Welsh language in their community appears to have come to an end. By the time the St. Davids Society set up a school in 1789, all the teaching was to be undertaken in English. The Welsh influence of the group does, however, still persist in small ways. For several decades, Conway High School in Horry County sang the Welsh tune All Through The Night as its alma mater hymn, and hymn singing is a tradition that continues today in the baptist churches of the Pee Dee region.
Welsh Immigration - History
The cultural groups that make up the British Isles have a strong tradition in Oklahoma. Immigrating from England, Scotland, and Wales to North America in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, men from those countries became trappers, explorers, traders, and military personnel. Some, such as the traders Hugh Glenn and Alexander McFarland, entered the region of present Oklahoma early in the 1800s. At that same time others lived among the Indian tribes in the southeastern United States. By the time the U.S. government began relocating the Five Tribes to the Indian Territory in the 1830s, many members of those tribes had Scottish or English spouses or ancestry, because traders, missionaries, and explorers had married American Indians. Some had done so because of a shortage of, or lack of, countrywomen, but probably the most important factor promoting intermarriage was that it allowed a non-Native to live in and conduct business with an Indian nation. Therefore, from the mid-nineteenth century onward, many leaders of the southeastern Indian nations were mixed-bloods, including the Creeks' McIntosh family, the Cherokees' Adair family, the Chickasaws' Colbert family, the Choctaws' McCurtain family, and the Seminoles' Brown family. For example, Dr. John Brown, father of Seminole Principal Chiefs John F. Brown, Jackson Brown, and Alice Brown Davis, had graduated from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland before immigrating to the United States.
For most of the nineteenth century the mixed-bloods, the missionaries, including Wales native Evan Jones, and the U.S. Army troops stationed at various forts encompassed the majority of British Islanders in the Indian Territory. In the 1870s the owners of the Choctaw Nation's most dangerous coal mines recruited English, Scottish, and Welsh miners. However, by the end of the nineteenth century most of the British miners had moved to less hazardous mines, had obtained leadership roles in the unions, or had filled management positions or specialized roles for the companies, and natives of other European lands dominated the mines' work force. For example, William Cameron, born in Scotland, developed a safer open-face coal-mining system for the region and became the inspector of mines for Indian Territory. Another native of Scotland, Peter Hanraty, led a successful strike against the mine owners. He later turned to politics and in 1906 was elected as a representative to the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention. By 1900, according to the U.S. Census, the Choctaw Nation included 520 English, 325 Scots, and 165 Welsh natives. In total, the nations and reservations in Indian Territory reported 779 English, 404 Scots, and 175 Welsh.
Land and the economic opportunities associated with it attracted a number of British Islanders as well. In the 1880s investors in England and in Scotland formed business conglomerates and leased ranch land in the Cherokee Outlet and on Plains Indian reservations, as well as in other states. Their enterprises included the Matador Land and Cattle Company (Scottish) and the Cattle Ranch and Land Company (English). They sent their countrymen to run the ranches and raise cattle. In the 1890s, as the United States allotted and opened the reservation lands to non-Indian settlers, a number of immigrants from the British Isles, as well as first-generation descendants, participated in the land runs and openings. In 1890 the census of Oklahoma Territory (O.T.) reported 290 English, 118 Scots, and 19 Welsh natives living in the former Unassigned Lands of central Oklahoma. By 1900 the census reported that O.T.'s residents included 1,121 English, with 120 living in Woods County and 118 in Oklahoma County. The same year there were 333 Scots and 94 Welsh in the territory.
Immigration from the British Isles continued through the first half of the twentieth century. In 1920 the number of Oklahoma residents born in the three countries reached its zenith, with 2,687 English, 1,120 Scots, and 319 Welsh. At the end of the 1920s the U.S. Census reported that 11,150 residents claimed that one or both parents had been born in England, with 3,819 in Scotland, and 1,088 in Wales. After that, the numbers began to decline.
Late-nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century English-speaking immigrants rapidly blended into the state's population, becoming farmers, ranchers, Protestant ministers, artisans, and merchants. The early development of golf in Oklahoma can be attributed to natives of Scotland. Alexander Findlay designed the state's first known course, located at the Guthrie Country Club. Leslie Brownlee (Oklahoma City's Lakeview Golf Course) and Arthur Jackson (Oklahoma City's Lincoln Park) were two early-twentieth-century Scottish golf professionals that designed courses and promoted the game. The British Islanders also involved themselves in politics. Democrat Joseph J. Curl, born in England, represented the Bartlesville area at the state's Constitutional Convention. The Oklahoma Socialist Party's success in the 1910s in part stemmed from its early leadership, including Scottish-born Alex Howat and Welshman John Ingram, who focused on politicizing the miners.
After World War II the number of Oklahomans born in England climbed, while the Welsh and Scots continued to decline. Many of the new immigrants were English "war brides." From 1940 to 1960 the English-born residents increased 1,323 to 1,891, while the Welsh declined from 125 to 71 and the Scots from 580 to 380. In 1970, 5,702 Oklahomans had one or both parents from England, with 1,410 having one or more parents from Scotland and 410 from Wales. At the end of the twentieth century the state held numerous British, Scottish, and Welsh clubs that met regularly to commemorate their ancestry. The United Scottish Clans of Oklahoma annually hosts the Oklahoma Scottish Games and Gathering in Tulsa, with various events highlighting Scottish traditions. In the U.S. Census of 2000, 8.4 percent (291,553) of Oklahomans claimed English ancestry, and 1.5 percent (52,030) claimed Scottish and 0.5 percent (16,960) Welsh.
Patrick J. Blessing, The British and Irish in Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980).
Stanley Clark, "Immigrants in the Choctaw Coal Industry," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 33 (Winter 1955–56).
William G. Kerr, Scottish Capital on the American Credit Frontier (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1976).
William M. Pearce, The Matador Land and Cattle Company (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1964).
Frederick Lynne Ryan, The Rehabilitation of Oklahoma Coal Mining Communities (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1935).
William W. Savage, Jr., The Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association: Federal Regulation and the Cattleman's Last Frontier (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1973).
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The History of Patagonia
Each year in late July and early August, flights arrive at London airports carrying folk from South America. Many of these visitors experience difficulty in understanding the English spoken to them at passport control, however once they have travelled along the M4 motorway and crossed the border into Wales, destined for wherever the National Eisteddfod is being held that particular year, they find that they can communicate fluently with the locals.
The visitors in question have travelled 8,000 miles from the Welsh speaking outpost of Patagonia, on the southern tip of Argentina. The fascinating history of how these visitors from an essentially Spanish speaking country, also come to speak the ‘language of heaven’ dates back to the first half of the 19th century.
In the early 1800’s, industry within the Welsh heart lands developed and rural communities began to disappear. This industry was helping to fuel the growth of the Industrial Revolution, with the supply of coal, slate, iron and steel. Many believed that Wales was now gradually being absorbed into England, and perhaps disillusioned with this prospect, or excited by the thought of a new start in a new world, many Welshmen and women decided to seek their fortune in other countries.
Welsh immigrants had attempted to set up Welsh speaking colonies in order to retain their cultural identity in America. The most successful of these included ‘Welsh’ towns such as Utica in New York State and Scranton in Pennsylvania.
However these Welsh immigrants were always under great pressure to learn the English language and adopt the ways of the emerging American industrial culture. As such, it did not take too long for these new immigrants to be fully assimilated into the American way of life.
In 1861 at a meeting held at the Bala home of Michael D Jones in north Wales, a group of men discussed the possibility of founding a new Welsh promised land other than in the USA. One option considered for this new colony was Vancouver Island, in Canada, but an alternative destination was also discussed which seemed to have everything the colonists might need in Patagonia, Argentina.
Michael Jones, the principal of Bala College and a staunch nationalist, had been corresponding with the Argentinean government about settling an area known as Bahia Blanca, where Welsh immigrants would be allowed to retain and preserve their language, culture and traditions. Granting such a request suited the Argentinean government, as this would put them in control of a large tract of land which was then the subject of dispute with their Chilean neighbours.
A Welsh emigration committee met in Liverpool and published a handbook, Llawlyfr y Wladfa (Colony Handbook) to publicise the Patagonian scheme. The handbook was widely distributed throughout Wales and also in America.
The first group of settlers, over 150 people gathered from all over Wales, but mainly north and mid-Wales, sailed from Liverpool in late May 1865 aboard the tea-clipper Mimosa. Passengers had paid £12 per adult, or £6 per child for the journey. Blessed with good weather the journey took approximately eight weeks, and the Mimosa eventually arrived at what is now called Puerto Madryn on 27th July.
Unfortunately the settlers found that Patagonia was not the friendly and inviting land they had been expecting. They had been told that it was much like the green and fertile lowlands of Wales. In reality it was a barren and inhospitable windswept pampas, with no water, very little food and no forests to provide building materials for shelter. Some of the settlers’ first homes were dug out from the soft rock of the cliffs in the bay.
Despite receiving help from the native Teheulche Indians who tried to teach the settlers how to survive on the scant resources of the prairie, the colony looked as if it were doomed to failure from the lack of food. However, after receiving several mercy missions of supplies, the settlers persevered and finally struggled on to reach the proposed site for the colony in the Chubut valley about 40 miles away. It was here, where a river the settlers named Camwy cuts a narrow channel through the desert from the nearby Andes, that the first permanent settlement of Rawson was established at the end of 1865.
The colony suffered badly in the early years with floods, poor harvests and disagreements over the ownership of land, in addition the lack of a direct route to the ocean made it difficult to bring in new supplies.
History records that it was one Rachel Jenkins who first had the idea that changed the history of the colony and secured its future. Rachel had noticed that on occasion the River Camwy burst its banks she also considered how such flooding brought life to the arid land that bordered it. It was simple irrigation and backbreaking water management that saved the Chubut valley and its tiny band of Welsh settlers.
Over the next several years new settlers arrived from both Wales and Pennsylvania, and by the end of 1874 the settlement had a population totalling over 270. With the arrival of these keen and fresh hands, new irrigation channels were dug along the length of the Chubut valley, and a patchwork of farms began to emerge along a thin strip on either side of the River Camwy.
In 1875 the Argentine government granted the Welsh settlers official title to the land, and this encouraged many more people to join the colony, with more than 500 people arriving from Wales, including many from the south Wales coalfields which were undergoing a severe depression at that time. This fresh influx of immigrants meant that plans for a major new irrigation system in the Lower Chubut valley could finally begin.
There were further substantial migrations from Wales during the periods 1880-87, and also 1904-12, again mainly due to depression within the coalfields. The settlers had seemingly achieved their utopia with Welsh speaking schools and chapels even the language of local government was Welsh.
In the few decades since the settlers had arrived, they had transformed the inhospitable scrub-filled semi-dessert into one of the most fertile and productive agricultural areas in the whole of Argentina, and had even expanded their territory into the foothills of the Andes with a settlement known as Cwm Hyfryd.
But it was these productive and fertile lands that now attracted other nationalities to settle in Chubut and the colony’s Welsh identity began to be eroded. By 1915 the population of Chubut had grown to around 20,000, with approximately half of these being foreign immigrants.
The turn of the century also marked a change in attitude by the Argentine government who stepped in to impose direct rule on the colony. This brought the speaking of Welsh at local government level and in the schools to an abrupt end. The Welsh utopian dream of Michael D Jones appeared to be disintegrating.
Welsh Ladies Group in 1948 – Photographed by Rev H Samuel, minister at Trefelin at that time
Welsh however remained the language of the home and of the chapel, and despite the Spanish-only education system, the proud community survives to this day serving bara brith from Welsh tea houses, and celebrating their heritage at one of the many eisteddfodau.
Even more recently however, since 1997 in fact, the British Council instigated the Welsh Language Project (WLP) to promote and develop the Welsh language in the Chubut region of Patagonia. Within the terms of this project as well as a permanent Teaching Co-ordinator based in the region, every year Language Development Officers from Wales are dispatched to ensure that the purity of the ‘language of heaven’ is delivered by both formal teaching and via more ‘fun’ social activities.