Evan & Elizabeth Davis
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The Welsh in OhioEven though more than two hundred years have passed since the Welsh first set foot in Ohio the links between the old country and the state continue today and the descendants of the first settlers make every effort to promote and maintain their Welsh traditions and ensure that the history of the Welsh emigration is kept on record.
By the 1970s family history research was so popular that the Oak Hill Congregational Church was converted into a Welsh-American Heritage Museum the first establishment of its kind in the United States. By now, the inhabitants of Gomer and the surrounding area have done the same and have also opened a museum dedicated to preserving the Welsh heritage of the area. The Welsh societies and clubs across the state organize gatherings to bring Welsh Americans together for tea, a Welsh picnic or a noson lawen, and of course to celebrate St David's Day on March 1st.
Students, researchers and historians also have a center to turn to on the campus of the University of Rio Grande in southeast Ohio. In the mid 90s The Madog Center for Welsh Studies was established there to promote awareness of the contribution of the Welsh to the history of Ohio and to help preserve Welsh heritage within the University and its surrounding community. And a ceremony was held in this area to remember the '1818 Welsh' almost 200 years since John Jones Tirbach and his group first settled there.
Of course, one of the most important traditions that still draws people together - from near and far - is the Gymanfa Ganu. The annual Gymanfa is still held in places like Columbus, Venedocia, Gomer, Niles and the Oak Hill neighborhood where the tradition has continued for almost 140 years.
The history of migration is remembered in Wales too, as well as in Ohio. In some districts such as Llanbryn-mair and Ceredigion, the story of the Welsh pioneers is still remembered today. In the centre of Aberaeron town, for example, there are two things that commemorate those who migrated to Ohio a memorial plaque and an oak tree which was planted during a ceremony in 1979. In another ceremony on the same day, an oak tree was planted outside the Welsh-American Heritage Museum in Oak Hill.
The latest venture is the establishment of the Wales-Ohio website to ensure the continuation of the relationship in the modern world, a venture that has been jointly funded by Evan and Elizabeth Davis of Oak Hill and The National Library of Wales.
The Welsh in Ohio - Digital story | Exercise 1 | Exercise 2