My grandfather Thomas Jones was born on the 9th March 1868 at Troedrhiwhir Farm, Cwm Gwenffrwd, Rhandirmwyn, the illegitimate son of Elizabeth Jones. I have no other information about her other than I believe she was from the Pontarddulais area. There is no information as to their whereabouts after this time until 1897. My grandmother Mary Ann Evans however has her roots firmly embedded in Rhandirmwyn. Her family lived in a small cottage called Gwernhirion, which was situated, on the bank of the river Tywi below Salem chapel. It seems ironic but as a child, I spent many hours climbing the walls of the old cottage without realising its importance in my family history. Today it has totally disappeared having sadly been bulldozed to extend agricultural land. Luckily, Tom Lewis, Bryntowy took a photograph of Salem chapel and in the foreground was Gwernhirion. This may well be the only photograph in existence.
Gwernhirion is the small cottage in the foreground. (next to name Rhandirmwyn). The photograph is dated 1890 and at this time my family were still living there. Behind is Salem chapel along with some other buildings which have since disappeared. The census reports of the time give the following details as to the occupiers of Gwernhirion.
1861 Census. Daniel Evans - 32 years old-head of family - Lead Miner. (my great great grandfather). Mary Evans - 28 years old-wife. (my great great grandmother) Evan Evans - 8 years old-son-scholar. Elizabeth Evans - 6 years old-daughter-scholar. Ruth Evans - 3 years old-daughter. Sarah Evans -1 year old. (great grandmother). 1871 Census. Daniel Evans - 43 years old-head of family-Lead Miner. Mary Evans - 40 years old-wife. Evan Evans -19 years old-son-Lead Miner. Sarah Evans -12 years old-daughter-scholar. (Sarah was my great grandmother). John Evans - 9 years old-son-scholar. (Later emigrated to America) Thomas Evans - 7 years old-son-scholar. (Later emigrated to America) Mary Ann Evans - 5 years old-daughter-scholar. (Died before 1881) 1881 Census. Daniel Evans - head of family - 54 years old-Lead Miner. Mary Evans - wife - 50 years old. Sarah Evans - daughter - 22 years old-dressmaker. (Emigrated to America but returned John Evans - son - 19 years old - Lead Miner. (Later emigrated to America) Thomas (D) Evans - son - 17 years old - Lead Miner. (Thomas later emigrated to and settled in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania,U S A. He never returned to Wales and I found his grave along with his wife and child in Mount Greenwood Cemetery, Trucksville, Pennsylvania). Mary Ann Jones Evans - grand daughter-3 months old. (My grandmother). She was the daughter of Sarah, born out of wedlock. (The fact that the surname Jones is included on her birth certificate may indicate the true father’s surname. who knows). 1891 Census. Mary Evans - head of family – widow - 63 years old - living on her own means. Mary Ann Jones Evans - grand daughter-10 years old - scholar. (My grandmother). By this time John Evans and Thomas (D) Evans were living in America along with my great grandmother Sarah. It is believed however that she later returned to Rhandirmwyn. As you will see my family history was very closely associated with lead mining in particular the Nantymwyn Lead Mine, Rhandirmwyn. 1901 Census. Gwernhirion – unoccupied. The next part of my family history page is dedicated to my paternal grand parents, namely Thomas Jones and Mary Ann Jones Evans. They were married at Soar-y-mynydd, chapel, Cwm Camddwr, Ceredigion on the sixteenth of October 1897. Thomas was 28 years old whilst his bride was only 18. Both were living at this time at Troedrhiwryddwen Farm, Doethie valley, Rhandirmwyn with the Jones family who were probably the most well known and respected families in the region. The marriage certificate indicates that Thomas was employed as a farm servant.
Once married they lived in a small cottage called Clyngwyn, which was located next to the Cerrig Tywi falls, Doethie valley, in fact on Troedrhiryddwen farm land. It is a beautiful location but was probably a quite inhospitable place to live especially in winter. Clyngwyn was a thatch cottage located on a hillside overlooking the junctions of the Tywi and Doethie rivers. Today (2010) the only remains are its walls.
Mary Ann and Thomas had five children three were born whilst living at Clyngwyn.
1901 Census Clyngwyn (Doethie Camddwr). Thomas Jones – head - 31 years old-worker. Mary Ann Jones – wife - 21 years old. Lizzie Mary Jones – daughter - 2 years old. Sarah Ann Jones-daughter - 9 months. Thomas was employed as a shepherd on Troedrhiwruddwen Farm. In 1911 I could trace them to Pentwyn, Rhandirmwyn. This was a small thatch cottage located near St Barnabas church. My father, their youngest sibling David Evan Jones was born there in 1911. At this time the family were as follows. Thomas Jones-head. Mary Ann Jones - wife. Lizzie Mary Jones - daughter. (born Clyngwyn) Sarah Ann Jones - daughter. (born Clyngwyn) Rees Tom Jones - son - born 1903. (born Clyngwyn) Johnny Dan Jones - son - born 1909. (born Pentwyn) David Evan Jones - son - born 1911. (born Pentwyn)
Pentwyn cottage, Rhandirmwyn, home of Thomas Jones and family in 1911. (Nantymwyn Terrace in the background). Their stay in Pentwyn was not long, as by 1917 they had moved to Graig-y-rhaeadr, Cwm rhaeadr, Cilycwm.
Graig-y-rhaeadr, Cwm Rhaeadr, Cilycwm
(Photo David Evan and Johnny Dan)
(Photo Mary Ann with Johnny Dan outside their home 2 Pannau Street, Rhandirmwyn).
Thomas Jones continued to reside there until his death on 24th April 1940 at the age of 72 years. He is also buried at St Barnabas church, Rhandirmwyn. By this time, my father David Evan Jones had met and married my mother Mary Ann. She was from, Pencaedu Farm, Cwmgors, Glamorgan and had moved to the area as a young girl of 14 to work in the Royal Oak public house as a maid. The landlord was William Renowden. His wife Sara (nee Griffiths) was also from Cwmgors. My parents were married in 1935 and of the marriage there were three children all boys. For a time my parents lived at 4 Pannau Street but eventually moved to Nantymwyn Terrace, (Wyrddol), Rhandirmwyn where they spent the rest of their days.
During the war David Evan worked for the ministry of supply, mainly felling trees on large estates in the Tywi valley. The timber, was then used in the war effort. I recollect a story of the time when he and Roderick Walters (Rhandirmwyn) were felling trees on the Golden Grove estate, Llandeilo. Both were without doubt of the highest order of salmon poachers. They were returning home one evening on a motor cycle when the estate gamekeeper stopped them and pointed out that someone was poaching a large number of salmon from the river that ran through the estate. He asked if they would keep a look out and inform him if they saw anyone suspicious. Both agreed to assist without question and probably told him of their abhorrence of such activity. They then roared off towards home. At the time Rod had a 20 pound salmons strapped around his waist. David Evan had been turned down for the military duty as he had been accidentally shot with a shotgun shortly before the war started and this had affected his hearing. (Shortly before his death an x-rayed revealed a large number of pellets still embedded in his body, one right next to his heart. If that had punctured his heart then I would not be here to tell this tale as it happened many years before I was born). He was a true countryman and rarely left his, ‘filltir sgwar’, square mile. His life revolved around his family and his beloved Rhandirmwyn. His main pleasure was to go fishing and over the years he must have caught hundreds of prime Tywi salmon. Many were given away to friends and neighbours. Since about 1950 along with many of the village men he worked for the Forestry Commission initially as a trapper and then as a labourer in the Caio and Tywi Forests. Many people, including me have complained about the large tree plantations that cover our mountains in the upper Tywi valley. It must be remembered however that without the work provided by the commission, then many families would have left the valley for good as happened with my generation. So, in that respect I am very grateful. In the mid 1970’s the Forestry Commission were reducing their staff numbers as the work had been completed and now there was the long wait for the trees to mature and grow. (A large tree felling, programme has been ongoing throughout 2005 until the present day so the fruits of their labour has been realised. Sadly, most of the men are no longer with us). After ending his association with the Forestry Commission he went to work on the Llyn Brianne reservoir scheme as a watchman. I recollect him saying it was easy money compared to his arduous years climbing the hillsides planting trees. David Evan died in 1978 at the age of 66 years. Mary Ann, my mother, died in January 2005 at the age of 92. She had live in Rhandirmwyn for 78 years but always maintained that she was never, accepted as a, ‘local’, always an outsider. You have to be born here to be recognised as a ‘local’. Lizzie Mary eventually moved to Swansea and had 5 children. She died in 1972. Sarah Ann lived for long periods in London but eventually settled in Llandovery. She had one daughter and died in Llandeilo in 1988. Rees Tom Jones settled in Gwynfe, Carmarthenshire (Ynystoddeb Farm). He had one daughter. He died in 1971 At the age of 68 years. Johnny Dan settled near Chester and had 8 children. He died in 1975 aged 66 years. There are many descendants of Thomas and Mary Ann Jones. From that little cottage, on the hillside in the Doethie valley the family now extends from, Wales to England, Dubai, Italy and yes once more, America. Alun Jones
Thomas Jones, was now employed as a shepherd on Mallaen Mountain and it would seem that the house came with the job. His employers were local farmers who co-opted together to pay his wages. His resposibilities extended across the whole mountain from Cilycwm to Rhandirmwyn and north to Cwrt-y-cadno a vast expanse of mountain. In summer it must have been wonderful but winter must have been difficult, although most flocks would have been brought down to lower ground during that period. By this time the older children had probably started to work. Lizzie Mary worked as a maid at Troedrhiryddwen farm and also at the lead mine offices in Nantymwyn house. However Johnny Dan and David Evan, my father, attended Cilycwm school, walking each day from their home at the side of the Mallaen Mountain, quite a walk for young boys. I have no doubt however that they could take care of themselves. There is an entry in the book called, ‘Cilycwm, The story of a village school’, by Sara Fox where Dorrie Theophilus recalls the boys and describes them as a, ‘rough lot’. I think my father would probably have smiled at that comment. For the rest of his life my father was known as,’Dai Graig’, and his brother Johnny Dan was known as, ‘Jack y Graig’.
Later, probably mid 1920’s Thomas Jones ended his association with shepherding and moved back along with his family to live in Rhandirmwyn in fact to number 2 Pannau Street and he took up employment as a labourer at the Nantymwyn Lead Mine thereby continuing the long family association with mining. My father David Evan worked on farms in the area, which included Dolfallt Fawr and Troedrhiwryddwen. However in 1930 he also was employed in the lead mine. This was short lived as on the 16th June 1930 he was working underground alongside William Evans, Cwmsaethau Farm, Rhandirmwyn. There was a fall of rock and a very large piece of rock fell onto William Evans. It would seem that he managed to lift
the large rock off William’s body but sadly, he was already dead. William Evans was 46 years old. My father was 19 years old but that day was also his last in that mine. He never returned and always described the place as hell on earth. In fact I never heard any of the local people refer to the mine with any affection. William Evans, was buried at Seion chapel, Rhandirmwyn. His gravestone bears the inscription in Welsh, ‘Cyfarfyddodd a damwain angheuol’, which literally translated says, ‘met with a fatal accident’. On the 28th of August 1933 Mary Anne, my grandmother, died at her home, 2 Pannau Street, Rhandirmwyn. She was 55 years old. She was buried at St Barnabas church, Rhandirmwyn.