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Home > Places > Butler County, Ohio

Butler County

Paddy's Run: the first Welsh community in Ohio

The Welsh community in Paddy's Run was established by Ezekiel Hughes and Edward Bebb from Llanbryn-mair, Montgomeryshire, David Francis, Morgan Gwilym and William Gwilym from Glamorganshire and John Vaughan and Morris Jones from Carno, Montgomeryshire.

Establishing the community started in 1795 when Ezekiel Hughes and Edward Bebb and a group of settlers from the Llanbryn-mair area emigrated to the United States. More information about the members of that group and the troublesome journey they had can be seen on the Ezekiel Hughes page. After spending the winter in Philadelphia, Hughes and Bebb traveled west towards Cincinnati in the spring of 1796 to survey the land in the area. The government had not started selling land here yet, so the two had to settle temporarily in Blue Rock Creek on the eastern side of the Miami river. In 1798 Morgan Gwilym and his brother William and his wife came from Red Stone, Pennsylvania, to join them and this small group of Welsh people lived in Blue Rock Creek until it was possible for them to buy land.

In 1800 a survey was made of the land to the west of Miami river and in 1801 it was put on sale, in lots. Ezekiel Hughes bought two lots in the township of Whitewater, Hamilton County; William Gwilym bought another lot and Edward Bebb bought half a parcel of land in Dry Fork, Morgan Township, Butler County. Soon after that, Bebb embarked on a journey back to Wales to visit his old neighborhood in Llanbryn-mair and on the way back in Ebensburg he met a former girlfriend of his, Margaret Roberts Owen. She had just emigrated to America with her husband but he had died during the voyage and at the time when she met up with Edward Bebb again, she was staying with her brother, the Rev. George Roberts. Bebb married Margaret and the two returned to Dry Fork. The wooden house they built is still standing today and it is kept as a historical building. Click on the image on the right to see a clip of it on a Welsh-language television program called "Twrio" (Welsh only) >>
Three children were born to Edward and Margaret Bebb and the eldest - William Bebb - became well-known as a schoolmaster, lawyer and a Governor of Ohio.

The early years

"This valley is superb land, and the hills full of wood and stones. Nearly every homestead has flat and hilly land ... the farmers' main task is to grow Indian Corn, and fatten pigs, some of them from 40 to 150 every year depending on the size and quality of their crofts." digital library documentYr American, p.21
Soon after, more Welsh people came to the Paddy's Run area and bought land. The history of many who moved there between 1801 and 1830 has been recorded in an article by the Rev. B. W. Chidlaw which was published in The Cambrian in 1880. The conditions the early pioneers had to endure were very harsh. The county was covered with trees when they first arrived in the neighborhood, and they therefore had to work very hard to clear the land and make it cultivatable. In the second part of the article published in The Cambrian Chidlaw described some of the other problems the Welsh community in Paddy's Run had to face. But in spite of all the difficulties, the Welsh were quite lucky on the whole because land in the Paddy's Run area was fertile and suitable to grow all sorts of crops. They were also lucky because they were within reach of Cincinnati market, where they could get a good price for the produce of their fields and for their animals.

The community's development

"The next sabbath will be the last for some thirty five or more of our Members to be at Llanbrynmair. They will be starting for America early next week. It will be rather trying to give them their Letters of Dismission." digital library documentNLW 13196D
From around 1818 onwards a steady stream of Welsh people from Montgomeryshire and South Meirionethshire arrived in Paddy's Run. According to a report published in Y Dysgedydd, 250 Welsh people lived very comfortably there in 1835 but there was a complaint that the Welsh language were very often neglected by them. The majority owned their own homesteads which varied in size from 80 to 400 acres, and the land was worth $30 to $75 an acre.

"... and it did prove a very affecting scene - many fainted overcome by their feelings"
digital library documentNLW 13196D
When R. D. Thomas ('Iorthryn Gwynedd') visited the community in 1852, there were large, prosperous homesteads and digital library document"Welsh settlers worth thousands of dollars." He described the area in his notebook (NLW 9521A) digital library documentand noted the prices of renting land and the market prices in Cincinnati (Welsh only) >>


NLW 9521A

NLW 9521A
Even though the homes of the Welsh were spread apart over the Paddy's Run neighborhood, they came together to worship in each other's homes. On 3 September 1803, Paddy's Run Church was founded under the name "Congregational Church of White Water."
digital library documentThe Register / Minutes Book of the church (1803 - 1900) has been digitized as part of the Wales-Ohio Project (English) >>
The Welsh became members of this church but they had to wait until the Rev. Rees Lloyd came to them from Ebensburg in 1817 before hearing a sermon in Welsh. Rees Lloyd preached in Welsh until his death in 1837. The Rev. B.W. Chidlaw was the minister there between 1836 and 1844 and is seems that this was the church's golden area because 216 new members were welcomed within seven years.

Read more about the history of this church and its ministers between 1803 and 1870 in digital library documentHanes Cymry America (A History of the Welsh in America) >>

Moving from Paddy's Run

Memorial, Paddy\

Memorial, Paddy's Run (Side I)
As the price of land in Paddy's Run had increased substantially since it first went on sale in 1801, the community's development was hindered to some extent, as some of the Welsh were forced to search for land in other parts of the state. In addition to this the atmosphere of the whole community was gradually changing as more and more emigrants from other countries were moving to Paddy's Run. Many Germans came there and it had turned from being a Protestant community to being a Catholic one by the 1880s.

Memorial, Paddy\

Memorial, Paddy's Run (Side II)

The communities of Gomer and Venedocia in north-east Ohio and communities in north-east Indiana originated from this community in Paddy's Run. The Welsh communities in east Tennessee, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin can trace their roots back to Paddy's Run.

Digitized materials held at NLW

digital library documentNLW Microfilm 401-02: Register / Minutes Book of the Welsh Congregational Church Paddy's Run, Shandon, Ohio, 1803-1900

digital library documentNLW 9521A: America: neu Amrywiaeth o Nodiadau am yr Unol Dalieithiau; Buddiol i Ymfudwyr. Gan Iorthryn Gwynedd. Ysgrifennwyd ganddo ar ei Deithiau yn Efrog, Ohio a Pennsylvania, o Mai 1851 hyd Mai 1852 (America or a variety of remarks about the United States; Beneficial for Emigrants. By Iorthryn Gwynedd. Written by him on his Journeys in York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, from May 1851 until May 1852)

digital library documentNLW 13196D: J. M. Howel 8. Letters to 'S.R.' including:
digital library documentLetter dated 18 November 1840 from William Bebb in Hamilton (English);
digital library documentNote by the Rev. Samuel Roberts about a group of 30 leaving Llanbryn-mair for America at the end of a letter dated 28 February 1848 by the Rev. B. W. Chidlaw (English);
digital library documentLetter dated 2 July 1841 by the Rev. B. W. Chidlaw noting the death of his wife and other deaths in the Paddy's Run neighborhood (Welsh; English translation);
digital library documentLetter dated 20 September 1841 by the Rev. B. W. Chidlaw from Paddy's Run (English).

digital library documentEdward Jones, Y Teithiwr Americanaidd (the American Traveler) (Aberystwyth, 1837), p.20 (Only available in Welsh)

digital library documentB. W. Chidlaw, Yr American (Llanfair, 1839), pp.21 -23 (Only available in Welsh)

digital library documentR. D. Thomas, Hanes Cymry America (A History of the Welsh in America) (Utica, 1872), pp.102 - 104

Three video clips from the Welsh-language television program "Twrio" (26/11/1995) are available on this website (Welsh; some English in third video clip):

Additional material in NLW The Library also has a script for a twenty-minute radio program, broadcasted on 10 October 1946.

BBC - BOCS 168
Wales and Welshmen Overseas: Emigration to the U.S.A (10:10:1946), by Ambrose Bebb.

Narrator - Philip Phillips
Voice - Dafydd Havard
Morgan John Rhys - D. J. Thomas
Ernest Hughes - Herbert Davies
Ezekiel Hughes - Prysor Williams
Voice 1 - D. Moses Jones
Navy officer - David Close Thomas
Captain - Norman Wynn
Production by D. Haydn Davies.

An account of the group who went to America from Llanbryn-mair, Llangadfan and Machynlleth 200 years ago, during the French Revolution. It recounts Morgan John Rhys meeting Ezekiel Hughes in Machynlleth, Wales around 1793, and the troublesome journey the group experienced on the way to Bristol. It quotes from a letter by Edward Bebb which was written 5 days after landing in Philadelphia in October 1795. Ezekiel Hughes and Edward Bebb met Morgan John Rhys and they decided to travel west in the spring. They arrived in Ohio and settled in Paddy's Run. It is noted than the eldest son of Edward Bebb, called William Bebb, was elected governor of the state, and that Ezekiel Hughes was a magistrate.

Materials digitized in Ohio

Archives and manuscripts
digital library documentDaybook of Hugh Williams, a blacksmith in Paddy's Run, 1844-1870 [parts in English and Welsh]

digital library documentLetters to 'S. R.', 1825-1884

digital library documentLetter from Richard Manuel of Shandon, Butler County to his brother D Manuel, 1890

digital library documentInscriptions in the Humphreys Family Bible, 1825-1965

digital library documentNotes on the family history of Thomas Watkins of Dolau, Llanerfyl, Montgomeryshire

Printed material
digital library documentEsther R. Benzing (ed.), Governor William Bebb: cabin-birthplace and park (Butler County, Ohio, 1986)

digital library documentThe history of the Congregational Church, Shandon, Ohio (Shandon, Ohio, 2003)

digital library documentA self-guided driving tour of historic Morgan Township (Shandon, Ohio, 2003)

General bibliography

'Henry Blackwell, 'Biographica et bibliographica', National Library of Wales Journal, Vol.2, no.3+4, Summer 1942, pp.177. Biography of William Bebb.

Rev. B. W. Chidlaw, 'Historical Sketch of Paddy's Run, Butler County, O.', (in two parts), The Cambrian, Vol. I, No. 2 (March/April 1880), pp. 39-45; Vol. I, No. 3 (May/June 1880), pp.77 - 86.

The Rev. B. W. Chidlaw, 'The Welsh Pioneers in the Miami Valley', The Cambrian, Volume IV, No. 9 (September 1884), pp. 248-251.

The Rev. B. W. Chidlaw, 'Paddy's Run Congregational Church (Butler County, Ohio)', The Cambrian, Vol. II, No. 6 (November/December 1882), pp. 265-268.

W. H. Irwin and Rev. S. D. Crothers, Centennial Historical Sketches of Greenfield and Vicinity, July 4, 1876 (Greenfield : Ohio, 1876), contains 'An Historical Sketch of Paddy's Run, Butler County, Ohio' by Rev. B. W. Chidlaw.

William Harvey Jones, 'Welsh Settlements in Ohio', (in three parts) The Cambrian, Volume XXVII, No. 7 (July-September 1907), pp. 311-17.

Marian Rees (ed.) and Alun D. W. Owen (translator), Llanbrynmair yr ugeinfed ganrif - Llanbrynmair in the twentieth century (Llanbrynmair, 2005).

Clare Taylor, Paddy's Run: A Welsh Community in Ohio [Part of a lecture delivered to the History Association of Swansea University, Tuesday, 6 November, 1979] (Aberystwyth : the author, 1979).

Clare Taylor, 'Paddy's Run, a Welsh Community in Ohio', Welsh History Review, XI, No. 3 (June 1983), pp.302 - 316.

Stephen Riggs Williams, The Saga of the Paddy's Run (Oxford : Ohio, 1945)

Ambrose Bebb, Dial y Tir (The Land's Revenge) (Llandybïe, 1945)


Headstones in the Old Welsh Cemetery in Paddy's Run in Shandon, Ohio