Issue 27 Introduction and Contents at a glance
Following on from the summer edition in which we were able to mention just a few of the many men who fought and died in the First World War, where appropriate, starting with this edition, we will begin a Roll of Honour, a series of mini-biographies of the men and women of mid Wales who fell in this ghastly conflict and who deserve to be more widely known than they may be at present. Peter Watson and Nia Griffiths are doing valuable research in this cause and between them they have provided details of eight more men from mid Wales. Nia has also given us details of a most interesting part of the project in which she is involved – the contribution of Llanidloes Schools to the War Effort.This war could not have been conducted without the contribution of the railways and while it may not have been directly involved, Dolwen Station provided a vital link for life in the Severn Valley, as Brian Poole shows. Lawrence Johnson takes us much further back in time, to medieval mid Wales and the influence of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem – the Knights Hospitaller – especially the memory they have left in Carno.Richard Meredith entertains with another episode of his family history as he goes looking for his roots.Newtown Local History Group are rightly proud to announce that in recognition of their contribution towards the study of local history, they have received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to produce a book containing letters written from the Front during the First World War.
If you go down to the woods tonight you may see more than just the ghosts of trees. Norma Allen has been talking to Rory Evans, who will take you on a ‘Ghost Walk’ around Caersws and will chill your blood with all the spooky happenings that are known to occur - Whoo-oo-er! Just the thing for a dark November evening!Winter in Llawryglyn and the sheep must fed by our intrepid retired couple, who are enchanted by the sight of a back fox and its cub.R.M. Williams provides us with another glimpse of mid-20th century St Harmon, this time his own life, which was hard but fulfilling. Hard, too, was life in the 19th century and, following Diana Ashworth’s excellent comprehensive account in PC25 of the Chartist uprising in Llanidloes in 1839, E. Ronald Morris has given me permission to serialise his own booklet, which was first published in 1989 on the 150th anniversary of the uprising. Here, in chapter one, he sets out the historical background. Following his delightful book based on the tradition of Owain Glyndwr’s daughter living in the Pantydwr area, in what would at that time have been Gwrtheyrnion, John Hughes, with the help of Dr David Stephenson, now turns his novelist eyes to Llywelyn ab Gruffudd, the last Welsh Prince of Wales, who was assassinated near Builth Wells and whose body was buried in Abbey Cwm Hir.The Chapel has a very special place in the hearts and culture of Wales and as part of their digital history project, in conjunction with Adoldai Cymru, RCAHMW are in the process providing digital images of the chapels in Wales. So, via your screen, you can now pay the chapels a virtual visit although any singing will have to be your head – for now. In Concrete Across the Clywedog Brian Poole charts the history of the Clywedog Dam including the importance of concrete as its construction material and his book, published by the Powysland Club is reviewed by Reginald Massey.
So many Welsh men and women crossed the Atlantic Ocean to find fame and fortune in the New World and Chris Barrett looks at some of their lives through the book 150 Famous Welsh Americans by W. Arvon Roberts. A famous Welshman who stayed at home was Emlyn Hooson QC, who died, sadly, in 2012. Derec Llwyd Morgan has written a portrait of him through his essays and reminiscences, which Diana Brown has reviewed briefly here with the view to writing a fuller account of his life next year.
In the Dragon’s Crypt
- Gaynor Jones tells us a haunting story of Welsh migrants;
- Michael Apichela is inspired to write a poem about his stay at Mid Wales Arts Centre;
- the war is over for Selina and she must try and bring some peace to shell-shocked George in this concluding part of Norma Allen’s trilogy In Time of War;
- finally try as he might, despite John Selly’s charming illustration, Bruce Mawdesley fails to experience even a frisson of fairy fingers in his poem Mything Out.
CONTENTS Issue 27
Introduction – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - - 1
Roll of Honour Peter Watson - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - 2
The Contribution of Llanidloes School to the First World War Nia Griffiths – - – - – - - – - – 5
A Welcome in the Vale? Lawrence Johnson – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – — – 8
Dolwen Station Brian Poole – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - 12
My Roots : Part 6: Who Do You Think You Are? Richard Meredith – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -16
Newtown Local History Group and The Heritage Lottery Fund – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - 21
Post Card from Newtown – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - - 21
‘Spooked in Caersws’ Ghostly tales from Rory Evans as told to Norma Allen – - – - – - – - -22
Emlyn Hooson: Essays and Reminiscences book review by DianaBrown – - – - – - – - – - - 26
Put Out To Grass : part 15: The Big Freeze Diana Ashworth. - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – 27
My Life in St Harmon R.M. Williams. – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – 29
King Edward VII in the Elan Valley postcard from Sterling Mullins – - – - – - – - – - – - – - –30
Chartism in Llanidloes 1839-40, Chapter 1 E. Ronald Morris – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - - 31
Llywelyn John Hughes – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – 39
Virtual Chapels in Wales RCAHMW . – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - — 41
Saga of the Clywedog Dam book review by Reginald Massey – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - - 42
150 Welsh Americans book review by Chris Barrett – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - - 43
The Dragons Crypt
A Welsh Ghost Story Gaynor Jones – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - 47
Cathy’s House or an Ode to the Mid Wales Art Centre Michael Apichela – - – - – - – - – - – 49
In Time of War: part three: an End and a Beginning Selina’s Birthday Norma Allen – - – -50
Mything Out Bruce Mawdesley, illustrated by John Selly – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - 53
The next issue will be out at the end of MARCH 2015
Sample article from PenCambria number 28
150 FAMOUS WELSH AMERICANS W. Arvon Roberts (2008)
Llygad Gwalch, Ysgubor Plas, Llwyndryrys, Pwllheli, Gwnedd LL53 6NG ISBN 1-84524-077-4 Paperback 208 pages.
Reviewer: Chris Barrett
This is a review of a 1st Edition (2008) copy of this book which is available from Powys Libraries. Llygad Gwalch is the brand name of Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, originally a Welsh language publisher, which now brings out books in many more languages. The press takes its name from Carreg-y-gwalch (falcon rock) which is reported to hide a cave which was the C15th sanctuary of local rebels after the Owain Glyndwr War of Independence. W. Arvon Roberts is a Welsh American historian and writer who currently resides in Pwllheli, Gwynedd. He has published in American and Welsh journals and newspapers. The bibliographic notes that informed the writing of this book are held in the National Museum of Wales, Aberystwyth.
The author states that he enjoyed researching and writing this book. The 150 Americans he selected are a personal choice from the many individuals who left Wales for new lives and opportunities in America. Thus, the selection is eclectic, including the famous, infamous and less well known characters. The content is arranged alphabetically and searching for ancestors, when the family name or person’s occupation is known, is an easy task. The focus of the book is purely to catalogue these famous people, not to explore the social and political reasons for immigration. (For detailed background information about the significant immigration waves from Wales to America see: http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Sr-Z/Welsh-Americans.html).
Approximately two thirds of the profiled 150 individuals are prominent orators, statesmen and politicians (36), poets, academics and writers (29) and musicians, singers, composers and artists (16) and clergymen, missionaries and theologians (12). Since the Welsh have long been recognised as passionate communicators, entertainers and hymn writers, talents in these fields will come as no surprise. Some individuals acquired fame through their professional ability in medicine (5), in law (6), in military activity (9) and in business, investment, engineering and industry (15). The remaining 22 entries reflect the environment these individuals found across the Atlantic, which was probably markedly different from their native land. The pioneers, ranchers, trappers, map makers and abolitionists are all represented and the colourful and intriguing wild-west characters who became rodeo champions, Red Indian scouts, gangsters and desperados. The inclusion of an antique collector (Daniel L. Jones) may seem tame in comparison but he has another claim to fame in that he persuaded the US Government to include a commemoration to Wales in the Washington Monument in 1885. The words engraved on the stone, which was imported from Swansea, are:
Fy Iaith, Fy Ngwlad, Fy Nghenedl, Wales, Cymru Am Byth!
Researchers of Welsh Americans seeking specific information may regret there is no cross referencing facility that connects, for example, the ancestor Edward Evans of Mold, Flintshire to his famous grandson Edward Herbert Rees, a US Congressman born in Kansas in 1886. For that type of search, Dear Reader, you will need to read the whole book as I did!
There is also no means of cross referencing for place of birth in Wales within this otherwise useful and informative book. For many entries the author has been able to identify the town, village or even the house in which the individual originated as in Samuel Milton Jones (p124), a millionaire, inventor and politician, who was born in Ty Mawr, Nantmor, near Beddgelert, Caernarfonshire. Sometimes there is a tenuous link to Welsh ancestry, rather than evidence. Earl W. Bascom (p17), an artist and rodeo champion and Thomas Bibb (p20), the 2nd Governor of Alabama are both stated simply to be direct descendents of Welsh settlers. Where there is a dispute about place of origin this is carefully explained, as with Roger Williams (p198), Founder of Rhode Island who is reported to have originated variously from London, Glamorganshire or Carmarthenshire. The famous Americans listed below may be of particular interest to PenCambria readers as their Welsh ancestors are identified to have lived locally.
A theme which emerges from the book, if read as a whole, is best expressed by the uniquely Welsh word hiraethus; missing the homeland or longing for something. Welsh-American immigrants maintained strong ties with Wales, and “Welshness” was promoted in America, where many still spoke Welsh after fifty years in the USA. The pioneers established Welsh Colleges, edited and published Welsh-American newspapers and books and developed the Eisteddfod and Welsh Societies and translated hymns, bibles, textbooks and novels into Welsh. The newspapers included Y Drych and Baner America and notable publications included Hanes Cymry America and the first Welsh book to be published in the USA; Annerch i’r Cymry. Given the realities of travel during the1880s and onwards the willingness of these pioneers to return to Wales, sometimes several times, is striking. Their journeys were in relation to research and academic work, forging links with the church/chapel and missionary work. It is clear that visits linked with music and art were important and particularly participation in the Eisteddfod. Personal reasons are often cited such as visiting family, and notably, to seek another Welsh wife after bereavement.
|Stated place of origin in Wales||Famous Welsh-American||Page in2008 Ed.|
|Llanbrynmair, Montgomeryshire||William Bebb||17|
|Darowen and Cemaes, Montgomeryshire||Llewellyn Breese||23|
|Bala, Merionethshire||Benjamin Childlaw||33|
|Llandygwydd, Cenarth, Newcastle EmlynTeifi Valley||Prof. Phillips G. Davies||39|
|Llanfyllin, Montgomeryshire||William Henry Harrison||79|
|Llanbrynmair, Montgomeryshire||Ezekiel Hughes||87|
|Y Castell, Carno, Montgomeryshire||Llewelyn Morris Humphreys||96|
|Llanwyddelan, Montgomeryshire||George Jones||112|
|(Unknown) Montgomeryshire||John Edward Jones||117|
|Machynlleth, Montgomeryshire||Edward Morgan Lewis||135|
|Berriew, Montgomeryshire orBala, Merionethshire||Thomas Morris||150|
|Meifod, Montgomeryshire||William W. Vaughan||195|
Only nine women are included within the 150 entries. Eight of these achieved fame as respectively as singer (3), evangelist (1), author (2), Hollywood actress (1), and US President’s wife (1). The ninth female entry is Betsy Ross who made the first United States flag. She lived 84 years, spanning seven President’s terms of office and saw the number of stars on the flag increased from 13 to 26 and her fame is ensured by the establishment of the Betsy Ross society. But what of the many other women who supported all these Famous Welsh-American men? Very little is written about the aspirations and dreams of these women, of their strength and courage and about their success in creating homes and societies in a new land. There are some notable Welsh-American women whose careers are well documented and could have been included the book such as Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896), the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Her Great-grandmother came from Llanddewi Brefi.
Simply “dipping-into” this book will reveal a range of human stories on every page. One such tale is of the famous statesmen, William Henry Harrison, 9th President of the United States, born 1773, whose great-grandfather was a poor smallholder in Llanfyllin, Montgomeryshire. He was the first US President to die in office but, regrettably, not the last! Then there is Mari Jones Judson, one of the few female profiled in the book. She was born in 1918 in Ystradgynlais, Breconshire and found fame as a singer, conductor and musician performing on television, film soundtracks and at many prestigious venues in the Western States. In contrast, the oldest Welsh-American recorded, Thomas Morris, lived a very quiet life as a butcher, shoemaker and farmer. He is known to have been born in Wales in 1794, either in Bala or Berriw and was still alive in 1916 but the date of his death is unknown. Some individuals defy categorisation. Thomas Jones is simply referred to as a Wild West Character whose exploits are thought to have included cattle stealing and who was hanged with his twin sister in 1885. Likewise, the three Hughes brothers, Jesse, Thomas and Elias were Scouts and Indian fighters and they had many adventures, worthy of a Wild West Hollywood film, from the late 1700s to 1840s. Many Welsh immigrants had background knowledge of mining and farming and took leading roles in America’s industrial development including Samuel Milton Jones in the petroleum industry, David Thomas in iron manufacture and Hugh W. Thomas in slate production. The latter, left his impoverished background in Nasareth, Caernarfonshire in 1857, aged 21, and become very rich within ten years and famous as the Slate King of America!
This small book (200 pages) would be of interest to many readers including researchers, ancestry seekers or it may be read simply for pleasure. A 2014 version, re-issued by Llygad Gwalch, is available in paperback and on-line (£12.00)