This is the story of the Williams Family of Rhandirmwyn. The main character is Morgan B. Williams who was born in Rhandirmwyn and later left these shores for pastures new.
Initially Australia but later America where he eventually settled along with his bride from Rhandirmwyn, Catherine Armstrong Jones. The fascinating story is told by William R. Williams a descendant of the Williams Family from Rhandirmwyn. He lives in Ohio, USA.
We are grateful to William (Bill) for sharing the information with us.
Diolch yn Fawr Iawn.
THE WILLIAMS FAMILY FROM RHANDIRMWYN TO AMERICA
MORGAN B. WILLIAMS, HOME TOWN BOY MAKES GOOD IN AMERICA would have made a good lead in to this article but it would not do justice to all of my Williams family, who were born, worked and lived in Llanfair-ar-bryn Parish before coming to America. They come to life for me as I attempt to share in their happiness and sorrow, success and failure, joy and pride of family, and their adventuresome spirit in leaving their beloved Wales to American Shores seeking a better life. They took their mining experience to Australia, Pennsylvania, Canada and New Mexico and plied their trades there. I am the product of a Welsh American father from Pennsylvania who came to Toledo, Ohio where he met and married a Welsh American girl making me a proud American appreciative of his Welsh Heritage.
The story begins with William Williams my namesake and Great Great Grandfather, born ca. 1801 not of the County, he ventured to Rhandirmwyn and secured a job as a lead miner in in the Township of Rhandir Abbot (Rhandirmwyn) where he wooed and married a local girl, Rachel James in the Llanfair-ar-Bryn Church by Banns on August 23,1828, by Vicar William Morgan. William signed and Rachel made her mark. Witnesses were Rich. Jones and Richard Morgan. William would rise to the position of supervising and clearing of lead ore at the Nantymwyn Mine. His children received their basic education in the Cilycwm school. As Calvinistic Methodists his two eldest children. Morgan born September 17, 1831 and Mary born October 30, born October 30, 1833 were christened in the Cilycwm Meeting House.- Another son, Daniel December 8, 1835 was christened in the Salem Calvinistic Church.
By 1841(Census) family was residing at Pentwyn in Rhandir Abbot (Rhandirmwyn) with the following children, Morgan age 9, Mary age 7, Daniel 5, Catherine age 2, and William age 4 months(my Great Grandfather) Note there may have been another child who may have died in infancy some times after 1828. The last born was John in 1843. When in his early teens Morgan joined his dad working in the mine. His father was continually in ill health and died ca. 1847 and Morgan at age 16 assumed his father's position. Brothers Daniel and William would also join him in the mines to help support their widowed mother(an annuitant and farmer) and younger siblings.
Rachel remarried a William Theophilus and they had a son, Timothy born November 7, 1853. Her second husband, predeceased her prior to 1861. Timothy would work in the mine from ages 12 to 20. In 1856 Morgan sailed to Australia in search of Gold. He returned home in 1861 and in 1862 sailed for America. William would travel to Australia in 1864 and searched for gold in Ballarat. While there he wed Elizabeth Campbell from Glasgow, Scotland. Three children were born to them while there, Rachel 1865, Thomas 1867 and William (my grandfather) 1869. They would remain in Australia for nearly 10 years, returned home and sailed to America in 1874.
Morgan would marry a local girl Catherine, daughter of Joshua and Mary Armstrong Jones of Rhandirmwyn. Timothy Theophilus would come to America in 1873 joining family in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He briefly returned to Wales in 1878 and married Sarah, daughter of Morgan and Sarah William Williams. As to the remaining Williams, Mary would wed a Richard Davies, miner, and have 3 children, Miriam b. 1861, Elizabeth 1865 and Rachel. When Richard died family lived next door to Rachel at Pentwyn. By 1881 Miriam was living with Grandmother, Rachel Theophilus. They would come to America ca. 1882. Mary would later wed a Lewis and would remain in Wales.. She was still living in 1904 and that’s the last known of her. Catherine wed David B. Thomas, they had two sons, John R. Thomas and D. V. Thomas. She too came to America and as a widow married a David W. Evans originally from Wales. Daniel also made his way to Wilkes-Barre. Little is known about John after 1861 when he was listed as age 18 and a miners son. No details whether he emigrated and he is not listed in his mothers obituary in 1887. Some of the James may have emigrated too but have no proof of this.
My next article will be on the Williams’ in America along with Obituaries to follow which will provide extensive information on William and Morgan( with a sketch) who rose to great success in America. Morgan started as a coal miner, became a mine owner along with interests in a Canadian graphite mine. He was active in the Welsh Presbyterian Church (contributed $5000 for its rebuilding.) He was fond of music, had a good singing voice and was a member of the Heights Glee Club as a young man .He was involved in all aspects of community life and government and would go on to serve in the Pennsylvania State Senate and the US House of Representatives. Legend has it that when relatives in Wales heard that he was running for office, one commented “that he was too fat to run”. While a Congressman he championed the bill providing that coal companies pay every two weeks and also supported the bill for the abolishment of company stores. His biography by H.C. Bradby, 1893 concludes with, “Mr. Williams has become one of the most successful and influential Welshmen in the State of Pennsylvania.”
My Great Grandfather William. J. P. Williams, was the adventurous one who took his family from Australia, to Pennsylvania to Oklahoma where he had a cattle ranch and was superintendant of a New Mexico coal mine and back to Pennsylvania. He became superintendant of The Williams Coal Co. of Pottsville (Morgan's Co) and then became supervisor of a Graphite mine in Canada (also Morgans) and back again to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. During the Great Coal Strike of 1876 he was president of the Wilkes-Barre Miners Association. He would own his own butcher shop, contracted for delivery of mine explosives and was a mining contractor. When on such a contract, sinking slopes etc and giving instructions to his men he was killed when a large piece of rock fell from the roof of the mine in 1904. Hopefully with all of these names connected to Rhandirmwyn new connections might arise.... Perhaps some of the older lifetime residents of Rhandirmyn can make these connections.
Part two will cover the Williams in America. Alun, I probably will never visit Wales but have a sense of satisfaction that these writings help bring the Williams back to Rhandirmwyn.
William R. Williams (R. for Rowland), the maiden name of my Paternal Grandmother from North Wales).