Evan & Elizabeth Davis
A selection of materials from the Digital Library about the experiences of the Welsh clearing the land and farming in Ohio
Edward Jones, Y Teithiwr Americanaidd: Neu Gyfarwyddyd i Symudwyr o Gymru i America (The American Traveler: or guidance to those moving from Wales to America) (Aberystwyth, 1837)
"In this country there is good land for growing wheat such as Welsh wheat, as we as the corn of the Indians, barley, oat, clover, and tuber."It seems that this small guide had a great influence on prospective emigrants from Cardiganshire. Edward Jones recommended Jackson and Gallia counties as one of the most promising areas of Ohio and it was to this area that hundreds and hundreds of Cardiganshire people went. It is possible that this description in of the weather and the quality of the land in Ohio which attracted them to the state in the first place.
A letter from Raccoon, Gallia County
(NLW 11614E)A letter dated 20 September 1855 from Marth[a] James to David Thomas, Felin Wern, Llanina (near Llanarth), Cardiganshire.
Martha was a widow and a mother to 6 children. In this letter, their stock is described and the price they had recently for their animals is also noted. We are also told the price of land, butter, cheese, meat and wheat and she refers to the new furnaces being built, the railroads and the economy.
The second part of the letter was written by Evan, Garnwenlli. He praises Martha and says that they will be moving closer to her in the fall. They have three farms and the prices of buying and leasing land is noted.
Letters from Delaware and Centerville (NLW 16704E)
Letter dated 17 June 1846 by Gryffith Thomas, Delaware, to Thomas Evans, Llanfynydd.
"I wish for the parents and children to leave Pen Mynydd Llanfynydd and come across to massive America, it would be much better for them all than staying there."In this letter, Gryffith urges his friends in the Llanfynydd area to emigrate to America and in trying to persuade them, he describes his present circumstances. He bought 100 acres of land for $300 during the first year; he built a house on it and cleared nearly half of it. The land is good and this year he managed to buy a further 100 acres for the same price.
We are given details about the stock he has, and the tax he has paid. He notes the prices of animals (sheep, cattle, pigs, horses), the price of food (wheat flour, flour, beef, ham, butter, tea, sugar), wool and wheat and he says that the wheat has already been reaped, by the middle of June. We are also given details about the wages of men and women.
"... there are many men owning vast properties while things did not look good for them there, and as some come across adverse winds on the sea on their way here, and others have fair wind, so it is also on the land; success, and failure in this world, is the hand of the Lord..."
Yet not every Welshman had a success story to tell. Read the letter Jenkin T. Jenkins, Centerville, sent to Daniel Jenkins, Gwaryfelin, Llangwyryfon in 1851.
The Letter of William and Margaret Bebb (NLW 6174D)
A letter dated 10 October 1850 by William and Margaret Bebb, Van Wert County, describing their sawmill, their corn mill and the shortage of water. The sowing of wheat is also discussed, as is the land they have in Ohio.
The Letters of Edward Peat (NLW 14111D)
Gomer, County Allen, around 1868. He bought forty acres of good land to farm.
The letters Edward sent to his brother in Llanbryn-mair are full of stories about the Welsh people who were farming in the area and in the middle of them, there is a letter about the price of land. He says that the prices had risen sharply since the first Welsh men had bought land there and some of them had made their fortune since then. In the same letter, Edward describes his duties on the farm and the stock they had.
Iorthryn Gwynedd's ObservationsBetween May 1851 and May 1852, R. D. Thomas (Iorthryn Gwynedd) went on a journey through New York state, Ohio and Pennsylvania. He recorded his observations on the development of the country and the Welsh settlements there in a comprehensive journal, called: America: neu Amrywiaeth o Nodiadau am yr Unol Daleithiau; Buddiol i Ymfudwyr (America: miscellaneous notes about the United States; useful for emigrants). By Iorthryn Gwynedd (NLW 9521A).
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