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Ezekiel Hughes (1766 - 1849)
On this page:Pioneer and the leader of the first group of settlers from Llanbryn-mair to the United States in 1795. It is believed that he and his cousin, Edward Bebb, were the first Welshmen to settle in Ohio.
Ezekiel Hughes was the son of Richard and Mary Hughes, Cwmcarnedd Uchaf, Llanbryn-mair, Wales. He was educated for a few years in a school in Shrewsbury before he became an apprentice to a clockmaker called John Tibbot.
EmigratingEzekiel Hughes and his cousin, Edward Bebb, lead a group from Llanbryn-mair in the middle of July 1795. The group included: George Roberts, John Roberts, Richard Thomas, David Francis, Owen Davies and his wife, Ann Rowlands, Mary Rowlands and Ann Evans.
The Welsh had a long and difficult journey. The journey began with the men walking from Llanbryn-mair to Carmarthen but as the Press Gang was in the town at the time, the crew had to avoid them and continue to Bristol. The women followed them later and at last the Welsh managed to sail on the Maria on 6 August 1795. After spending 13 weeks at sea, they reached their destination - for the time being - in Philadelphia harbor on Sunday, 25th October.
Click on the image on the right to listen to Dr. Anne Kelly Knowles discussing the Welsh Pioneers on "Twrio" (Only available in Welsh) >>
One member of the group recorded these troubles in a letter written 55 years later.
Arriving in Ohio and buying landEzekiel Hughes decided to stay in Philadelphia over winter and head west in the spring. He and Edward Bebb and one other traveled towards Ohio River and within three months they had arrived in the town of Cincinnati.
Ezekiel recorded some notes of the journey to Miami Valley in a diary. The diary also gives an account of him building a cabin, clearing the land and starting to grow potatoes, turnip and corn.
Read parts of the diary (English) >>
When the Government started to sell the land in that area in 1801, Ezekiel was the first to buy. He bought two parcels of fertile land not far from Paddy's Run in Whitewater Township.
Returning to Llanbryn-mairAfter selecting and buying land in west Ohio, Ezekiel returned to Wales in 1802, spreading the news that there was fertile land in the United States and plenty of it. In 1803, he married Margaret Bebb from Llanbryn-mair and both of them went over to the United States to live in a wooden cabin near the river Miami in 1804. A year later, Margaret died and she was buried in the first grave in Berea cemetery near their home. In 1808 he remarried, and he and Mary Ewing (from Pennsylvania) had nine children.
His contribution to societyEzekiel Hughes was highly regarded and respected in Ohio. In 1805, he was appointed by the Governors of the state to be responsible for designing the new highway from the river Miami to the town of Hamilton. A year later, he was made a magistrate, a position he held for many years.
As one of the founding members of the Congregational Church in Paddy's Run, Ezekiel was involved in the building of the church. The early records of this church have been kept, and it is known today as Shandon Congregational Church.
He divided a great deal of the fertile land he had bought into homesteads and small holdings and leased them on very favorable terms. He was held in high regard by his tenants for being generous, wise and fair to all, and apparently he looked after emigrants from Wales who followed in his footsteps by trying to find work for them and lending them money so they could buy land or animals and equipment.
After spending his life being a pioneer and helping fellow Welshmen in Ohio, Ezekiel Hughes died on 2 September 1849.
Llanbryn-mair Commemoration, 9 July 1995On 9 July, the residents of Llanbryn-mair and the area gathered together in the Old Chapel to commemorate two hundred years since Ezekiel Hughes and his cohort left for the United States. Amongst them were two of Hughes' descendants, John Morgan, Caetwpa and Dr Anne Kelly Knowles.
As part of the commemoration, Dr Knowles lectured on the life of Ezekiel Hughes and on the history of the emigration from the area, and a memorial was unveiled - the work of Hedd Bleddyn, Glyn Tomos and Robert Morgan. Following this, many went on a pilgrimage up to Cwmcarnedd Uchaf - the former home of Ezekiel Hughes - and tea was served in the Schoolhouse at the end of the afternoon.
General BibliographyThe Dictionary of Welsh biography down to 1940 (London, 1959), p.374.
'A Distinguished Son of Llanbrynmair', Montgomeryshire Express, 25 January 1910.
'Biographical Sketches: Ezekiel Hughes, Esq.', The Cambrian, Vol. II, No. 3 May and June, 1882, pp. 108-112.
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.
Y Blewyn Glas (local paper), September 1995.
Iorwerth C. Peate, 'John Tibbot, Clock and Watch Maker', Montgomeryshire Collections, Volume 48 (1944), pp. 176-85.
Iorwerth C. Peate, 'Ezekiel Hughes's Autobiography', Montgomeryshire Collections, Vol.70, 1982, pp.131-133.
Marian Rees (ed.) and Alun D. W. Owen (translator), Llanbrynmair yr ugeinfed ganrif - Llanbrynmair in the twentieth century (Llanbrynmair, 2005).
W., 'Hanesiaeth Gartrefol: Cofiant Ezekiel Hughes, Ysw.' (A homely history: the biography of Ezekiel Hughes), Y Cenhadwr Americanaidd, December 1849, pp.367-9.
Stephen Riggs Williams, The Saga of Paddy's Run (Nappanee, 1997).
Richard Williams, Montgomeryshire Worthies (Newtown, 1884), pp. 124-6.
Additional material in NLWThe Library also has a script for a twenty-minute radio program, broadcasted on 10 October 1946.
BBC - BOCS 168
Wales and Welshmen Overseas: Emigration to the U.S.A (10:10:1946), by Ambrose Bebb.
Narrator - Philip Phillips
Voice - Dafydd Havard
Morgan John Rhys - D. J. Thomas
Ernest Hughes - Herbert Davies
Ezekiel Hughes - Prysor Williams
Voice 1 - D. Moses Jones
Navy officer - David Close Thomas
Captain - Norman Wynn
Production by D. Haydn Davies.
An account of the group who went to America from Llanbryn-mair, Llangadfan and Machynlleth 200 years ago, during the French Revolution. It recounts Morgan John Rhys meeting Ezekiel Hughes in Machynlleth, Wales around 1793, and the troublesome journey the Welsh experienced on the way to Bristol. It quotes from a letter by Edward Bebb which was written 5 days after landing in Philadelphia in October 1795. Ezekiel Hughes and Edward Bebb met Morgan John Rhys and they decided to travel west in the spring. They arrived in Ohio and settled in Paddy's Run. It is noted than the eldest son of Edward Bebb, called William Bebb, was the first governor of the state, and that Ezekiel Hughes was a judge.