Hay view from Castle

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

Friday, November 11, 2016

Historical Novels VERY Closely Related to Our Vaughan Family History


Roman Amphitheater, Caerleon, Newport, Wales, 16 July 2016 
Distancing myself from current politics into the old country and times past, I am rereading the historical novels of Alexander Cordel now that I have been to more of the places and learned a little better how they connect to my family.

Rape of the Fair Country carries the reader through a passionate narrative of the sorrows and joys of the working and non-working Welsh to the Chartist March on Newport. A foreshadowing is presented when the families of Garndyrus (where my Third-Great-Grandfather, John Vaughan 1825, worked) had a holiday in Newport for a singing competition. It's a fictional account. The later march on Newport was not.

I don't know if my family was involved in the Chartist Rising of 1839. Even if they were, and apparently survived, they would not have mentioned it to anyone as it carried a penalty of death or transportation to Australia or Van Diemen's land [that's for my Tasmanian friends].

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Monday, October 24, 2016

I Don't Believe Elinor Is in the Jacks Valley, Winters Family Cemetery

My wife graciously agreed to take an extra day home from Disneyland and by the long way so that I could visit Jacks Valley, Nevada, again. I tried a number for the Ascuaga Cattle Co. but they said it was the casino that had been sold by Mr. Ascuaga. I started calling US Forest Service offices to see if they had a contact at the Ascuaga Ranch. They passed me to several numbers where I left messages but got nowhere. I called the Curator at the Douglas County Historical Society with whom I had previously corresponded. She suggested that I just try going up to the ranch and explain myself politely to ask for access to the old cemetery.

It worked. The Ranch Manager came out and after I rattled off apologies and numerous names and dates belonging to my family and the history of Jacks Valley, he gave me Mr. Ascuaga's phone number and said that on his authority, we could go up to the old Winters Family cemetery. He said Mr. Ascuaga would be happy to allow us and to talk with me.

We went down the road and parked as directed, then walked up the hill on the wrong side of the fence. Finding a gate, I slipped through then pulled the gate post hard until I could slip the wire loop back over after my wife got through.

It was as beautiful as imagined. In the early evening the light was soft and the view was clear down over Jacks Valley to the larger Carson Valley. Snow was on the highest peaks of the Sierra.

In the Cemetery, by gracious permission of the Ascuaga Ranch
It is a relatively unknown, Mormon pioneer cemetery, or of pioneers who were Mormons as they seem to have left the Church or the Church left them when the call came in 1857 to return to the other side of the Great Basin facing a threat from the U.S. Army. These did not go.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Jacks Valley, Nevada: Yesterday, Today, and Forever

On a typical less-than-busy evening at the North Bountiful Family History Library, I was working on my own family interests and came across a great picture of Jacks Valley, Nevada, from 1939:

Jack's Valley Pony Express Station
With the gracious permission of Sherratt Library Special Collections, Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah, which owns the rights.

The photo caused one of those little mental shocks as should be obvious from this photo I took a couple of years ago at almost exactly the same spot:

North end of Jacks Valley, Nevada, looking Northeast from Jacks Valley Rd.. 20 October 2014
In the background against the hills is the Ascuaga Ranch, originally established by the Winters Family.
Yeah, pretty weird, right?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Grant & Linda's 2016 Trip Report No. 2

Ebbw Vale: Not Knowing Enough Beforehand

But still ending up in the right place. Maybe it's the deep mysteries of jumbled memory. And it could be the Spirit guiding through my confused ignorance.

There is never enough time. On the last day of opportunity in Wales, I wanted to visit Gwent Archives. I had already been through the indices online and I didn't think they had the documents that I would have liked to review. So, like the boy searching for the lost quarter under the street lamp because the light was better, I looked at some things in close proximity hoping they might give some hint I could follow. It still may be there in the notes I collected from handling original 1840s Vestry Minutes from the adjacent parish, but it may take a concerted effort with my cousin collaborators to sort anything out.

They were most friendly at the Archives. The friendliest yet. But then I was deep up in the industrial valleys of South Wales. The roads aren't too bad either, mostly modern winding around, over, and above most of the industrial tracks and villages of workers' houses tightly squeezed along the valleys, row upon row. The coal mines and iron foundries are gone. Some replaced by other industry. Some just incongruously flat land lying empty in the narrow valleys of mountains.

The guy who checked me in was a real Welsh kidder. Asking if I had a county readers card, I showed him the one I had obtained at the University Archives in Bangor. I'm pretty sure that it's good for all archives under the National Library of Wales, but he said, "Oh, we're not all as fancy as that!" So I signed some day authorization as I gave a general background of what I knew about my ancestors and the sources I've checked. "So, you've done your homework, you have." In response to newspaper accounts about arrests for "drunk and disorderly" he said, "So, you think they were Welshmen, do ya. Sure they weren't the Irish?" I said I was sure pointing out my surname again. He also asked if I was, "from Canada or America?" I didn't correct any geographical certainties thinking Canadians probably appreciate the distinction these days.

The Archives were in a Victorian building of some official stately nature. It is currently County offices but I need to check to see if its origins are offices of the Steel Works. There is a very modern building attached holding the actual archived documents. And there is a beautifully new educational center of a community college nature on the slopes of the mountain behind.

Gwent County Offices and Archives, Ebbw Vale
Modern Archive Storage

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Grant & Linda's 2016 Trip Report No. 1

Six years ago on the Mountain at Blaendigeddi Fawr, it was peaceful but not so quiet. The bleating of sheep was nearly constant. It was a peaceful noise and maybe that’s why you’re supposed to count them to go to sleep. Other than the sheep, it was very quiet and certainly peaceful.

This excursion began, as per usual with every muscled strained and tightened to the max as I held the wheel of our tiny Toyota only occasionally, and more naturally I might add, the left hand slipping to the gear shift hoping not to slip the gears. Standards are very popular here and much less expensive to rent. I thought that was compelling reason enough to be economizing and not extravagant as my wife would usually prefer. But apparently her muscles were tighter than mine when she tearfully said, “You’ve known me for 36 years, so you should know!”

“Know what?” I wisely said only to myself. As we went along, she explained that she would expect me to know how nervous it made her for me to drive in Britain and how I should have paid the extra money to get an automatic as that would be one less thing for her to stress about. And I thought I was a male hero for economizing. Venus and Mars.

Our marriage is still intact and I didn’t hit anything at all except for a small rabbit for which I am very sorry. It wasn't the rabbit that bothered her.

Back to the quiet. Our inn at Three Cocks (the proprietor told us that some overly sensitive Americans prefer to call it “Three Roosters”), was so quiet with its thick stone walls and modern windows inside the thick casement of the older window. And there was not a sheep to be seen or heard for at least a quarter of a mile!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Grant Hotel, 283 East 24th Street, Ogden, Utah

Yesterday we went to a niece's wedding in Brigham City and the luncheon was Downtown Ogden on 25th Street just up from the Union Pacific Depot where several past generations of my family worked. Ogden has done some nice preservation and some upgrading downtown. It never quite became the Chicago of the Intermountain West as envisioned. The Railroads still move freight, but the yard is significantly diminished as evidenced by the wasteland under the 24th Street Bridge that used to span a half mile or so of bustling steam then diesel on multiple iron and steel rails.

Ogden, Utah Railyards, 1950s

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Tantalizing Hints of Nonconformity

Ruins of Tredwstan [also "Tredustan"] Chapel built about 1690 near Talgarth, Breconshire.
Note the old gravestones still standing.
A researcher I've worked with once emailed that "Roger Vaughan" seemed like an uncommon name and shouldn't be too difficult to spot. Maybe that's true in the rest of Wales, but in the mid-Wye Valley it's rather common because of the illustrious ancestor who may or may not have fought and died at Agincourt. His father-in-law, Davey Gam, certainly did as Shakespeare even picked up on to include in Henry V. This Roger, the originator of our Vaughan surname, died somewhere. Maybe in the breach at Harfleur, or more likely of dysentery somewhere along the march and family legend preferred to have the death linked with that of the father-in-law's.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Uncle William Vaughan 1768 Leasing from Viscount Hereford in 1847


Well, I'd found it before but it sort of shocked me when it popped up on the bottom of the page I was crowd-sourcing for the National Library of Wales, Tithing Maps project. These pages can get very tedious especially going through multiple pages of the property of Viscount Hereford, i.e., Robert Devereux, 15th Viscount Hereford, who held the title from 1843-1855. And the funny thing is that William Vaughan is there sort of out of place in the middle of the Viscount's vast Tregoyd Estate which was farther up the road. ["Tregoyd," by the way, is bastardized English for "Tregoed" or "Woodtown/village/home." Never ask a dang Saxon to translate Cymraeg for you!]

This is kind of sad, too, because William, brother of Hannah/Joanna Vaughan 1763, was in this home likely from before 1832 when he shows up on a Voter Register living at Fir Tree Cottage in Freehold - which would have qualified him to be a voter. Some economic reversal made him a tenant of the Viscount in the same home by 1847. William shows up with the approximately correct ages in the Censuses of 1841 and 1851 on the same street of "Heolegare" [very bad Welsh! Should be Heol-y-gaer."] And he is a former butcher!

Monday, February 15, 2016

How the Tithing Map Indexing is Going

We have already shared some work from crowd-sourcing or indexing the Tithing maps of Wales (1840s) for the National Library of Wales (herehere, and here). I just discovered that there are some parishes with the parcels now "clickable" to find who owned and occupied the place including Tract No. 44 in Llanfoist Village:

Clicking on box 44, this is what popped up on the right.
The Cynefin system is very different from FamilySearch.org indexing. One nice thing is that they list the names of the volunteers:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Honing in on William Vaughan (1768) and Fir Tree Cottage (1798-1851)



Fir Tree Cottage, home of William Vaughan (1768) and likely John Vaughan (1789)
We were in the right neighborhood, just a bit down the road. I clinched it when I skimmed through the Glasbury tithing maps of 1847 that I've been "crowd-source" indexing and found lot no. 680 tithed by William Vaughan. When I looked at the overlay on the modern map, it fit right on, or close enough to, the existing houses. I'll put in the letter here I wrote to "Resident Family" that explains all the connections. The clincher, of course, is the fir tree.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Puddler at Forge

The mystery remains but we're closing in on how the sons of a fatherless butcher became puddlers in the South Wales iron works. A puddler was a skilled worker of some prestige in the boiling ores, blinding fires, and poisonous clouds of the industry.

The first indication we have is the 1851 census in which John and Elinor's son William Vaughan, age 21, is listed as "puddler at forge." What forge? We've wondered. And I only assumed, as there was no forge apparent in their resident village of Llanfoist, that it was the Blaenavon Ironworks over the Blorenge Mountain. It wouldn't be an impossible walk, if inconvenient, to travel over the mountain or maybe stay some days coming home on Sunday, likely the only day off, ever.

Then something came across my Facebook feed from Gwent Archives mentioning Llanfoist at the foot of the Blorenge and the tramways across the mountain:
the counter balanced incline planes at Llanfoist canal wharf which were part of Hill’s Tramroad, linking Blaenavon furnaces and Garnddyrys forge with the wharf to transport the wrought iron along the Brecon and Abergavenny Canal.

Garnddyrys forge! It was called a forge! "Puddler at forge" would likely refer to the closest forge in the vicinity along with the few other puddlers, rollers, or labourers "at forge" listed in the Census for Llanfoist.