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Reminiscences of a Welsh Settlement


n.a. 'Reminiscences of a Welsh Settlement of Gomer and Vicinity, Allen Co., O.', The Cambrian, Vol. III, No. 2 (Mar/April 1883), pp. 71-2.


In the month of March, 1833, David Roberts, Thomas Watkins and James Nicholas left Paddy's Run, O., on foot, in search of vacant or what is generally called Congress land - $1.25 per acre. After several days of travel, passing on the way through Dayton, Piqua, Wapakoneta and Lima, most of the time in the big woods. They pushed on, passing Lima about ten miles. After travelling in different directions, all the time in the woods, they, at least, found land that suited them, being then in Putnam county. The county line was changed in 1848, which turned it into Allen Co. They returned to Paddy's Run, and on the first day of Sep., following, they, with their families, left it, and searched the land they had bought, on the 13th Sept. They camped in the woods until they could build their cabins. There had not been a stick cut on any of the land bought when they moved on it. On the 1st day of October, 1833, David Roberts' daughter died, and on the 6th a son of his died. There being no undertakers nor carpenters within many miles, they had to make the coffins out of what was called a clapboard tree'. They split it with a fro, and made rough coffins. They were the first buried where now the Pike Run Cemetery is, at that time being all in the woods. In November, 1834, Evan Jones, John Watkins, Richard Richards, John R. Jones and Evan Morgan settled in the neighborhood, all from Paddy's Run. In 1835 Rowland Jones and Thos. G. Jones came; and in 1836 Joseph Griffiths and John Stephens came; and ever since they have been dropping in, some directly from Wales, some from different parts of Pennsylvania, some from Paddy's Run, and some from the eastern part of the State. There are many Welsh people who have bought out others since the public lands have been disposed of by the Government. The Welsh settlement now extends, east and west, from the Auglaize river, on the west, to Sugar Creek on the east, a distance of about 10 miles; and about the same distance from south to north. This includes a large part of Putnam county. They had to go through many privations; sometimes there would be a scarcity of provisions, and what there was would be considered a little rough to-day; but it was wholesome. They had sometimes to go as far as 50 miles to mill, but it was all alleviated by the friendship and kindness of the first settlers. We had no professional men of any kind - so D. D's, nor M.D's, nor lawyers. They were better off without them and lived in greater harmony than they have afterwards. Of the accidents among the early settlers the following may be mentioned: In the spring of 1835, Rachel Jones, aged about 14, a niece of Jas. Nicholas, through a mistake, ate some wild carrot, thinking it to be spikenard. She only lived about 3 or 4 hours after eating it. The next was Abraham Griffiths, son of Joseph Griffiths, who was killed by the falling of a limb of a tree when he was clearing. The next was Thomas Griffiths, a brother of the foregoing, who was killed in the winter of 1838-9 by a tree, which he was cutting down, falling on him. The next was Henry David, who was killed in 1849 by the limb of a tree falling on him during a storm. The first Sunday school ever taught or held within many miles of the place was in the cabin of Jas. Nicholas in the fall of 1836. It was first started by Thomas Griffiths (afterwards killed by a tree) assisted by James Nicholas and wife. The town of Gomer was laid out in 1850 by Samuel Ramsey and James Nicholas. It is 9 miles northwest from Lima and 8 miles east of Delphos, and lies one mile south of the county line between Allen and Putnam. Mr John W. Thomas, then living in Lima, asked the privilege of naming the town, which was agreed to by the proprietors. He named it Gomer. The first store kept there was by W. W. Williams, now of Lima; the first blacksmith shop by Noah Stemen; the first shoemaker shop by A. O. Evans; the first doctor was R. E. Jones, afterwards joined by Dr John Davis. They are still practising here.
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