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Home > Places > Jackson and Gallia Counties, Ohio > Founders of the Welsh Settlement in Gallia and Jackson Counties

Founders of the Welsh Settlement in Gallia and Jackson Counties

J. W. Evans, 'The Founders of the Welsh Settlement in Gallia and Jackson Counties, Ohio', The Cambrian, Vol. III, No. 6 (November/December 1883), pp. 286-287.

Emigrated from Wales in the Spring of the year 1818. They came from Kilkenin, Cardiganshire. They embarked at Liverpool, in a sail ship, on their perilous journey over the mighty deep, with the intention of going to Paddy's Run. In seven weeks they arrive in Baltimore. There they hired wagons to carry them and their baggage to Pittsburg. After arriving at Pittsburg, they bought a family boat. There were no steamboats in those days. They entered into the little boat at Pittsburg, on an unknown river to them. They knew nothing of the whirlpools that might engulf them. They had come over the great Atlantic; the Ohio River looked to them as a small rivulet. Very often their boat would stick on the sand bars, the men would then get out and push the boat off. They, several times, ran narrow escapes from drowning. The boat would sometimes slip off, suddenly, into deep water. Then they had to hang to the stern of the boat and work themselves up as best they could. There were six families of them coming down the Ohio in the boat. John Jones, Tirbach, was considered the leader. Jones, Tirbach, and Eleanor, his wife, had one single son (Timothy Jones), one single daughter (Jane), and two married daughters, the wives of John Evans, Penlanlas, and Evan Evans, Tymawr. The above named John Evans and his wife, Mary, had two children; Evan Evans and his wife, Susannah, had one child; Lewis Davies, Rhiwlas, and his wife, Mariah, had two children; William Williams, Pantvallen, had eight children; Thomas Evans and wife had children, but I have no history of how many.

After floating down from Pittsburg for several days they arrived at Gallipolis. They paddled to shore for the purpose of getting more provisions - hitched their boat and went up to the village. They were surprised to find the town made up of Old Country people. It was a French village. The French made much of the Welsh, and wanted them to stay and live in Gallia county. They said that Gallia county was as good a county as any they could find. In the meantime the boat got loose, floated off down the river, though, after several days it was found and brought back. But the French had their object accomplished by this time. They got the Welsh to stay, and they settled in the western part of the county. Each head of a family chose out his tract of land, and built a house in the wild woods. In a few years, W. Williams and Thos. Evans moved to Radnor, Delaware co., where they lived and died. (Dr. Thos Williams of Delaware, O., was a son of William Williams. - Ed.) The Welsh did not like the New World very well, consequently they wrote no glowing letters back to their friends; but in eleven years, after they had come to Gallia co. one of their old neighbors (David Thomas) came over to see them. He lives now in Centerville, Gallia Co. and in a year or so later Lewis Hughes, Llanbran, and Edward Jones came. L. Hughes lived and died in Jackson co. Not long after a Welsh minister, by the name of Edward Jones came by and preached in Welsh to the few families. In a short time this minister went back to Wales, and there published a book in which he described Gallia and Jackson as the very place the Welsh should go to. The Welsh, as a nation, are very ready to believe their preacher. After that book appeared in Wales, the Welsh poured into Gallia and Jackson counties.

The first settlers are all gone. Only some of their children remain. Of John Evans' family there remain J. J. Evans (since deceased - Ed.), T. Evans, and Mrs Markham, all of Jackson co. Of L. Davis' family, seven are living. David Davis and J. Davis of Missouri, P. Davis of Kansas, D. M. Davis (since deceased - Ed.) and T. Davis, of Pomeroy, Mrs Evans, of Cincinnati, and Mrs Lloyd, of Jackson co. Of Evan Evans' family, four sons are living: Evan Evans (born in Wales), D. D. Evans, J. W. and D. W. Evans. D. D. Evans, J. W. and D. W. Evans. D. D. Evans was the first American-born of the Welsh nation, in Gallia and Jackson counties. Of Timothy Jones' family, two sons and one daughter are living; James Jones, of Thurman, O., D. Jones, and Mrs Roop, of Grayson, Kentucky.

If that boat had not floated away at Gallipolis, in that early day of immigration, the probability is that there would be no Welsh in Gallia and Jackson counties today. Or shall we be Calvinistic enough to say that it was foreordained that the Welsh should settle in Gallia and Jackson? Not at all, man is a free agent.

Thurman, O. J W Evans