Evan & Elizabeth Davis
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Settling down: Buying landIt was no easy matter for people to pack their bags and leave for America at the beginning of the nineteenth century, so the first pioneers must have had high hopes when they reached the promised land. But what was awaiting them at the end of the journey? What kind of a place was Ohio?
Much of the state was covered in forest at that time and the native Americans continued to fight to keep hold of their lands. The towns were just being developed, and places of worship and schools, and roads connecting one place and another, were scarce. Yet this was not enough to prevent the Welsh from moving to the state. The fact that they could own their own land greatly appealed to them and during the early years it was possible to buy an acre of land in some districts in Ohio for as little as a dollar and a quarter.
Handbooks were available to emigrants that offered advice about exactly where to buy land. Edward Jones, the author of Y Teithiwr Americanaidd [The American Traveler] was a great influence on the people of Cardiganshire. He encouraged them to buy land and put down roots in the counties of Jackson and Gallia but on the other hand Benjamin Chidlaw who wrote Yr American advised the Welsh against doing so and said that it would be better for them to go to farm in western Ohio.
The early pioneers suffered very hard times. They had to build log cabins, clear the land and make it suitable for tilling and then they started to keep cattle, sheep and pigs and grow crops such as corn, wheat, barley and potatoes. The early settlers rarely wandered alone in the forest - it was simply too dangerous! There were snakes and wild animals such as bears, wolves and wildcats. The settlers had to build rail pens to protect their valuable livestock but they would also have to keep an eye out for another animals - deer! The large deer population of Ohio devoured the fresh vegetable crops planted by the settlers. Squirrels and rodents who nibbled valuable stores of grain were also a nuisance.
Despite the multitude of difficulties that faced the early Welsh settlers and the fact that they did not have many resources they succeeded in accomplishing a considerable amount in a comparatively short time and the Welsh communities developed into flourishing ones.
As the population grew in the nineteenth century, many settlers began to diversify their economic interests and ventured into business and industry. It is important to note however that most of Ohio's early industries grew out of the state's agricultural roots.
Settling down: Buying land - Digital story | Exercise 1 | Exercise 2