Hay view from Castle

Hay view from Castle
Hay-on-Wye, Powys (formerly Breconshire), Wales. The "Town of Books" (and Vaughans!)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Day Three

We woke early so we could get to church on time. It wasn't far at all by miles and the new "Top of the Valleys" is a nice, divided highway. Unfortunately, it was so new, it was still unfinished and when we got pushed off I missed the detour which was called something else like "way around" and we ended up way down by the Usk almost to Crickhowell before we figured out way back up to the to the top of the Valleys. We finally made it back over the mountains and found the LDS Stake Center in Merthyr Tydfil still before meetings began. The members were wonderfully friendly.

Merthy Tydfil Stake Center, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Built above the old Carfarthfa Ironworks in some weird celestial irony.
After church, we took our picnic over to Cyfarthfa Park, the former estate of the notorious Iron Master, William Crawshay. Now the park and "castle" built for the Crawshays in 1825 belongs to the people. A much better arrangement.

Cyfarthfa Castle built on the bones and blood of industrial workers.
As we ate, we could look over the park and green valley of the Taff, reclaimed from the industrial wasteland of past few centuries that forged the steel and mined the coal for the "progress" of the world as they raped the Fair Country.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Hiraeth 2016: Day Two

The beauty and joy never ended. Sure, Wales can be a little damp, but how else does it stay green? And two rainbows in two days had to be a sign.
We started off towards Hay on the Radnorshire side of the Wye so that we could stop at Llowes where Roger Vaughan and Elizabeth Powel were married in 1753. The Church was closed, but there were some great views of the Black Mountains.

St. Meilig's Churchyard, Llowes, Powys (formerly Radnorshire) looking across the Wye Valley to the Black Mountains
We went in to Hay because I thought I had arranged an appointment to tour the castle. My email communications were off, but we finally got it arranged by the end of the month. We did run into a wonderful children's parade for the local school.

The Rising Generation of Daffodils.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Hiraeth: 2016 Day One

It's November which is Thanksgiving month in the US of A  and I am grateful for my Welsh Heritage and the blessings I have  had to travel to my ancestral lands where the bones of my ancient fathers and mothers lie. I've been twice in recent years, 2010 and 2016. Both trips were great adventures with dear family and friends.

"Hiraeth" meaning, homesickness, longing, or in Portuguese "saudades," as we have no adequate English translation, compels me to share photos with a bit of context. I hope to convey a bit of that Hiraeth to family and friends. My wife says we can return this next summer with the compelling need to visit the replacement headstone monument our extended family put up for my 4th Great Grandfather in Llanfoist Churchyard.

But we start the first day of our 2016 trip on the banks of the River Wye in the small, ancient parish of Aberllynfi, the mouth of the Afon Llynfi into the Wye, and the surrounding parish of Glasbury.

I woke early and went out in the mist to explore the churchyard at St. Peter's just down the road:

The back of St. Peter's Churchyard, Glasbury, Powys Wales (formerly, the Breconshire side of the River Wye)
The graves of my Sixth Great Grandparents, Roger Vaughan (1734-1797) and Elizabeth Powel (1732-1803) are in this picture, three rows back from the rear of the church, but I did not know it at the time. I walked right past it. We came to it later in the day with the wonderful help of the parish treasurer who had a plot map of the churchyard.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

John Lewis's Handwriting in Tredegar, Wales Branch Records?

John Lewis was a common name in Wales. There were possibly two other Mormons named John Lewis in Tredegar Branch records. However, this writing by a John Lewis in 1856 is very likely that of John Lewis (1822-1867) who married Jane Vaughan (1827-1890).

Handwritten note from the Tredegar Branch Register of Members, LDS CHL LR_164_7_00024.

How to Read a Welsh Mormon Church Membership Record from the 1850s

It appears that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon) in Wales first began using a standard ledger book form for membership records in 1849-50. I have seen them from the Branches in Merthyr Tydful, Tredegar (Bedwellty Parish), and Risca, Wales. The format covered two, long pages lengthwise. When the register book was open, the two pages formed continuous lines across the two pages. Fortunately, a few of them have translation in English. An example follows with some of the columns translated into English. I will attempt to translate and explain the rest. The first page:


"Cofres-LLyfr" means "Register-Book" and that's an interesting, gothic, double "L" in "LLyfr."

"o Aelodau" is "of members."

"Eglwys Jesu Crist Saint y Dyddiau Liweddaf" should be obvious as "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." And remarkably for Welsh, in shorter form than most languages with Roman script. 'Saint" is in a singular form as there are nouns like "plant" for "child" that are often used to mean a plural group ("children") but remain grammatically singular in form.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Update on John Lewis's PEF Contacts in Utah

There are a few more facts available on the two people named in association with John Lewis's debt to the Perpetual Emigration Fund in 1877. As indicated in the link above, John's debt was discharged as the responsibility of Daniel Thomas. The newly analyzed facts tend to support the connections among John Lewis (1822-1867), Daniel Zorobabel Thomas (1819-1880), and Bishop John Evan Rees (1821-1903).

Reviewing information from the databases of Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel , Mormon Migration, FamilySearch.org, and Ancestry.com, Daniel Thomas emigrated from Wales in the Samuel Curling in 1856, the same ship that John, Jane, John Samuel, and Parley Lorenzo Lewis were on. It is not clear what company he traveled with to Utah, but it may have been the Third Handcart Company under Edmund Bunker. Also, the 1860 Census for Springville, Utah Territory, lists Daniel's occupation as "Adobie Maker." Based on the contemporaneous Luke Gallup Journal, this was a common occupation for laborers in Springville and was likely John Lewis's work before he left for California as well as partial motivation.  I am searching for records of workers at Camp Floyd as many Mormon men were hired as "adobie makers" there from 1858-1861. That may have been John Lewis's connection to the Army escort of Mormon dissidents to California in 1859. Daniel Thomas later lived in Pond Town which became Salem, Utah. However, Daniel died in 1880 and it is not indicated whether he ever paid John Lewis's debt.

Modern adobe maker
(not much different than in the old days)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

South Pass

Looking West from South Pass. Pacific Butte on the left.

"Top of the World," some say even if it is not a peak and hardly a pass in the traditional sense of crossing mountains. One does have a sense of a spherical earth dropping down in nearly every direction (Wind River Range on the north excluded).

My grandson and I had a wonderful trip exploring portions of the Overland Trail in Wyoming in commemoration of the day after Pioneer Day and my wife's birthday, as she is out of town. The OT refers to four recognized trails that crossed here although Native Peoples have crossed here for millennia. The trails are: Oregon, California, Mormon Pioneer, and the Pony Express. We could also add in the Astorians in 1812, Mountain Men, the Whitman-Spaulding Missionaries of 1836, some commercial stage lines, the overland telegraph, and many visitors, but only us two last Tuesday.

As one of our purposes was family history, I will illustrate a few sites with reference to the Ellsworth Handcart Company of 1856 with my direct-line ancestor, Elinor Jenkins Vaughan, her daughter Jane Vaughan Lewis, Jane's husband John Lewis, and their son, John Samuel Lewis. They crossed South Pass on September 13, the 96th day out from Iowa City. They camped three miles down this road at Pacific Springs which can't be seen but is at the base of Pacific Butte on the left, just before the small ridge, just left of center. My Grandson and I walked down and back to get a feel for the trail. It was a good walk and a better talk.

At one point, I explained that while pioneer children may have sung as they walked and walked, they were probably not always happy. I told him that he was big enough he would likely have helped with the family handcart, but the younger children above toddler age would get up, have a breakfast of biscuits and tea (long before Pres. Grant started enforcing the Word of Wisdom) and head out on the road in a group led by adults while the others packed up the camp. Eventually, the handcarts would pass the children. Then, the two or three wagons with the company would pass as the oxen were slower than people with handcarts. Hopefully, the new camp would be ready when the children came in. We imagined that mothers might have gone back up the trail to meet their children if they weren't needed for cooking or setting up their camp. I also explained that the children were sometimes guided by the adults with long sticks, like a gaggle of geese. And they were poked or prodded (or worse) if they lagged.