Evan & Elizabeth Davis
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Settling down: The pioneersIn 1795 a group of Welsh people from the Llanbryn-mair area of Montgomeryshire decided to venture to the United States under the leadership of a man named Ezekiel Hughes and his cousin, Edward Bebb. At that time emigrants from Europe had begun to settle along the frontier lands of Ohio and when the Government started to sell good land in the Cincinnati area, Ezekiel Hughes and Edward Bebb took advantage of the opportunity straight away. They bought fertile land in Butler County in 1801 and by doing so they established the first Welsh community in Ohio, Paddy's Run. Edward Bebb and his wife Margaret settled in this area and the wooden cabin they built still exists today.
When people back home in Wales began to hear about the land and opportunities in Ohio, a constant stream came to the state and soon after the establishment of Paddy's Run other Welsh communities were established in central Ohio, communities such as the Welsh Hills and Radnor for example.
The first Welsh people to settle in Jackson and Gallia Counties in southeast Ohio arrived in 1818, but no-one followed them for many years. Gradually, from the mid-1830s onwards more and more Welsh people were attracted to Jackson and Gallia counties by reports in the press and the promise of new opportunities. This area attracted settlers from Cardiganshire or Ceredigion in particular. Between 1835 and 1850 it is estimated that around 2,500 to 3,000 men, women and children left west Wales because of poverty and insecurity and established 'Little Cardiganshire' in south east Ohio.
At about the same time, Welsh communities were also being established in the northwest of the state,in Gomer in 1833, and in Venedocia at the end of the 40s. Welsh people from Montgomeryshire and south Merionethshire tended to go for these fertile districts and most of them succeeded in creating a happy life for themselves and their families. In the letters they sent home they boasted about the state and urged their friends and relations to follow them.
Of course many of the emigrants were attracted to cities like Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland where there were plenty of work opportunities and later on in the nineteenth century, more and more Welsh people settled in industrial areas like Trumbull and Mahoning.
By the beginning of the twentieth century it is estimated that over 11,000 Welsh people had settled in Ohio.
Settling down: The pioneers - Digital story | Exercise 1 | Exercise 2