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Home > People > Benjamin W. Chidlaw

Benjamin Chidlaw (1811-1892)

CHIDLAW, BENJAMIN WILLIAM (1811-92); b. at Bala, 14 July 1811; his parents were prominent members of the Independent chapel there. The family followed the father, in 1821, to U.S.A., settling at Delaware. Chidlaw's education was completed by three years of study in Miami university. In April 1835 he was licensed to preach, and was ordained in 1836 as pastor of the Congregational church at Paddy's Run, Ohio. In 1844 he became pastor of the Presbyterian church at Cleves and district, but left in 1846 in order to become the first commissioned missionary of the American Sunday School Union. In 1861 he undertook missionary work in the Southern Ohio military camps of instruction established for Union volunteers, and a little later accepted the chaplaincy of the 39th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, but was unable to retain this position for more than a year owing to failing health.

The results of his indefatigable labours during fifty-six years of service for the American Sunday School Union can hardly be overestimated. He established Sunday schools in all parts of the Central West, and from 1855 onwards he was 'the best-known Sunday-School advocate in the U.S.A.' He was an evangelist as well as a Sunday school missionary. During his visit to Wales, he found abundant time and opportunity for revival work; in 1839 in Llanuwchllyn, 250 persons were converted by one of his sermons. He was also a remarkable platform speaker.

He d. suddenly at Dolgelley, 14 July 1892, on his eighty-first birthday. His remains were brought to his home in Cleves, Ohio, and laid to rest in the Berean cemetery nearby. He published The History of Paddy's Run, n.d., Yr American, Golwg ar Dalaith Ohio, Hanes Sefydliadau Cymraeg yr America, Cyfarwyddiadau i Ymfudwyr, in 1840, two editions; also an interesting volume called The Story of My Life. In the year 1894 a memorial volume to him was published under the title Sunset and Evening Star.
The Cambrian (Utica), xiii; Yr American, 1840.

Extract from: The Dictionary of Welsh biography down to 1940 (London, 1959), pp. 74-5.


digital library documentB. W. Chidlaw, Yr American: yr hwn sydd yn cynnwys nodau ar daith o Ddyffryn Ohio i Gymru, golwg ar dalaeth Ohio, hanes sefydliadau Cymreig yn America, cyfarwyddiadau i ymofynwyr cyn y daith, ar y daith, ac yn y wlad
(The American : which includes notes on a journey from Ohio Valley to Wales, an overview of Ohio state, the history of Welsh organizations in America, instructions to seekers before the journey, during the journey, and in the country) (Llanfair, 1839)
A translation by Morris Owen Evans of the 2nd edition (1840) was published in Quarterly Publication of the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio; Vol. VI, No. 1).

Benjamin W. Chidlaw, The Story of My Life (Philadelphia, 1890).

Rev. B. W. Chidlaw, 'Historical Sketch of Paddy's Run, Butler County, O.', (in two parts), The Cambrian, Vol. I, No. 2 (March/April 1880), pp. 39-45; Vol. I, No. 3 (May/June 1880), pp.77 - 86.

The Rev. B. W. Chidlaw, 'The Welsh Pioneers in the Miami Valley', The Cambrian, Volume IV, No. 9 (September 1884), pp. 248-251.

The Rev. B. W. Chidlaw, 'Paddy's Run Congregational Church (Butler County, Ohio)', The Cambrian, Vol. II, No. 6 (November/December 1882), pp. 265-268.

The Rev. B. W. Chidlaw, 'The First Funeral in Gomer, O.', The Cambrian, Vol. II, No. 6 (Nov/Dec 1882), pp. 271-72.

Rev. B. W. Chidlaw, 'Radnor Township, Delaware Co., O.', The Cambrian, Vol. I, No. 5, pp. 173-181.

W. H. Irwin and Rev. S. D. Crothers, Centennial Historical Sketches of Greenfield and Vicinity, July 4, 1876 (Greenfield : Ohio, 1876), contains 'An Historical Sketch of Paddy's Run, Butler County, Ohio' by Rev. B. W. Chidlaw.

Manuscript material
NLW 13196D: J. M. Howel 8. Letters to 'S.R.' including:
digital library documentLetter dated 2 July 1841 by the Rev. B. W. Chidlaw noting the death of his wife and other deaths in Paddy's Run (Welsh; English translation available);
digital library documentLetter dated 20 September 1841 by the Rev. B. W. Chidlaw from Paddy's Run (English);
digital library documentLetter dated 28 February 1848 by the Rev. B. W. Chidlaw (English).

Audio Clips
Dr Anne Kelly Knowles was interviewed by Beti George on Radio Cymru (12 March 2006). Click on the link to listen to her discussing Benjamin Chidlaw and his handbook for Welsh settlers, Yr American, on the "Beti a'i Phobol" program:

loudspeaker icon Clip 1 (By permission of BBC Radio Cymru)