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The Welsh of Columbus, Ohio:
A Study in Adaptation and Assimilation
By Daniel Jenkins Williams 1916
(Source: Google Books)


THE COMING OF THE WELSH TO OHIO (Migration and Early Settlement)

     The first Welshman to enter the territory now known as the State of
Ohio was the Rev. David Jones who labored as a missionary among the Shawnee and Delaware Indians in 1772 and 1773. The second Welshman known to have traversed Ohio ground was General Anthony Wayne. General Wayne, with his army, came to Ohio in 1793 being commissioned by the government "to make an end of Indian troubles on the frontier."1
     The first permanent Welsh settlers2 in Ohio were Ezekiel Hughes and Edward Bebb who came from Llanbrynmair, Montgomeryshire, North Wales. These two men were responsible for the first definite step westward on the part of Welsh emigrants. Hughes and Bebb were instrumental in persuading a company of fifty Welsh people in their neighborhood in Llanbrynmair to emigrate to America. This company walked from Llanbrynmair to Bristol, England, where, on August 11th, 1795, they embarked on the ship Maria and sailed for America. After a perilous voyage of fourteen weeks they entered Delaware Bay and in a few days thereafter reached the port of Philadelphia. These emigrants became the pioneer settlers of Ebensgburg, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, of Paddy's Kun, Butler County, Ohio, and of the Welsh Hills in Licking County, Ohio. In the autumn of 1796 twelve families settled in Ebensburg3 including those of Theopholis Reese, Thomas Phillips, and James Nicholas. In the following Spring and Summer eleven other families came to the settlement. 
See ' 'The History of the Welsh Settlement of Paddy's Run''; also "Hanes Cymry America" p. 113 sq. 1 See "The Cambrian for Nov. 3, 1881; also "The Cymry of '76" 3 See "Day's Historical Collections of Pennsylvania," chapter on "Cambria County."
     They named the township Cambria, and later the County was given the same name.1 The Welsh of this colony are characterized as "a people remarkable for thrift, sobriety, and industry."
Hughes and Bebb did not join the other members of their company who settled in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, but after remaining with friends in the Dyffryn Mawr, (Great Valley), near Philadelphia for several months, they started in April 1796 for the then far West. They walked over the mountains
to Red Stone, Old Fort, (now Brownsville) Pa. where they secured a flat-boat and floated down the
Ohio River to Fort Washington, or Cincinnati. After reaching Cincinnati they spent three weeks "in
traversing the five lower ranges" but in their search they found only one tract of land which they considered good for that part of the country. They described the land as being well watered and convenient being only half a mile from the road going from Cincinnati to Hamilton. They purchased
100 acres of land in section 34, Colerian Township, cleared a part of it for cultivation, and built a cabin on it. Their purpose was to remain there and to experiment with the land in that region until the land beyond the Great Miami was surveyed by the government and placed on the market, believing
that the soil on the east side of the Great Miami River was similar to that on the west side.
     They remained on their farm east of the Great Miami from 1796 until 1801 when the government surveyed the land on the west side of the river and placed it on the market.
     The two men made frequent excursions into the regions beyond the Miami and made careful examination of the soil and of conditions in general. "The land to be sold on the other
side of the Miami," writes Hughes, "is rich as any in
Kentucky, much better watered, and the title indisputable.  "Ezekiel Hughes was the first to purchase land in this newly opened territory. He bought sections 15 and 16 in Whitewater Township, Hamilton County, paying $2.05 per acre.
1 The Welsh of Cambria County first settled at Beulah, about two miles
from Ebensburg but when Ebensbnrg was made the county seat of
County, the Welsh gradually moved toward Ebensburg.
     This tract lies between the Miami and Whitewater rivers, just where the Whitewater empties into the Miami. At the same time Edward Bebb purchased half a section on the Dry Pork of Whitewater in what is now Morgan Township, Butler County, which was the first land bought in Butler County.
Two other men, Morgan and William Gwilym, from Cavenaman, South Wales, joined Hughes and Bebb on the east side of the Great Miami in 1798, and "squatted" on Blue Rock Creek. In 1802 William Gwilym followed his friends to Paddy's Run and began to clear the forest. Morgan Gwilym
returned to Red Stone where he had previously worked, stayed there a while and then invested his earnings in a two-horse wagon and some iron castings and returned to Paddy's Run.
Edward Bebb, after buying his land, started for Wales seeking the sweetheart of his former days with the intention of bringing her to the cabin in the woods. He walked all the distance from Paddy's Run to Ebensburg intending to stay there a short time on his return trip to Wales. While at Ebensburg, much to his surprise, he met the lady for whom he was making the trip. Her maiden name was Margret
     Roberts. But when Bebb met her in Ebensburg her name was Mrs. Margret Owens. After Bebb left Wales for America Miss Roberts married a man by the name of Owens. To Mr. and Mrs. Owens one child was born. The family left Wales for America but on the voyage Owens and the child died and were buried at sea, and Mrs. Owens was left to make her way in the new country alone. After landing in New York she determined to go to Ebensburg where she had relatives who had left Llanbrynmair in the ship Maria in 1795.
     It was at the home of one of the friends that Edward Bebb found her on his arrival at Ebensburg. Bebb remained there a few weeks, then returned to his home, on the Dry Fork, accompanied by his bride. There in their cabin on December 8th, 1802 was born William Bebb, the first white child born
in Butler County, who later became the 17th Governor of Ohio, and the first native born Governor of the Buckeye State.1
1 See "Historical Collections of Ohio" Vol. I. p. 349.
     Ezekiel Hughes returned to Wales in 1803 and married a Miss Margret Bebb.1 The two returned to their home in Hamilton County in 1804. These trips on the part of Bebb and Hughes, together with correspondence and glaring advertisement, created a great interest on the part of the Welsh of Llanbrynmair and presently a large number of Welsh immigrants poured into Paddy's Run. From 1803 to 1820 there was a constant stream of Welsh people coming into the community and a Welsh colony was the result. Just as Hughes and Bebb were pioneers in Paddy's Run so is Paddy's Run pioneer and parent of Welsh settlements in Ohio.2 Out of Paddy's Run grew, either directly or indirectly, four important Welsh settlements in the State, viz.: the Welsh Hills colony in Licking County, settled in 1801; the Jackson and Gallia settlements in Jackson and Gallia Counties, settled in 1818; the Gomer settlement established in Gomer, Allen County, in 1833; and the Venedocia settlement in Vanwert County established in 1848.

The Welsh Hills Settlement
Theopholis Rees and Thomas Phillips were members of the colony which first settled in Cambria County, Pennsylvania, in 1796. The influence of Hughes and Bebb may be seen in the desire of their friends to venture farther west. In 1801 Theopholis Rees began to investigate the advantages of the country beyond the
Ohio River.3 In August
1801 he sent his son, John Rees, and Simon Jones to explore a tract of land in Granville Township, Licking County, which has since received the name of Welsh Hills Settlement. When these men returned to Ebensburg and reported favorably on the land in Licking County, Theopholis Rees and Thomas Phillips purchased nearly 2,000 acres of land in the northwest corner of Granville Township. The tract was divided, Rees taking the south half or a little more, and Phillips the remainder.
Others bought smaller farms about the same time. A year after the purchase was made Rees and his family, his two sons-in-law and their families, left Ebensburg for their new home in the Welsh Hills. Thomas Phillips did not come to his tract in the Welsh Hills until 1806. From 1806 on, the colony grew rapidly for many years. "
1 Margret Bebb, so far as we have been able to ascertain, was not a relative of the other Bebbs mentioned in this chapter.
2 Paddy's Run sounds incongruous as the name of a Welsh community.
There is a story handed down by tradition that in the first surveying party which came to this region there was an Irishman, and that the Irishman was drowned in this creek. From that time to the present day the creek has been known as Paddy's Run; and the community takes its name from the creek which runs through the valley. At one time during the '80s an effort was made to change the name from Paddy's Run to Glendower (Welsh, Glyndwr).
The change was actually and officially made by the government, but so great was the opposition to it that the name was soon changed back to Paddy's Run. The station is now called Shandon but the community is known as Paddy's Run.
3 See "The Cambrian" for August 1907, article by Win. Harvey Jones, p. 344 sq. Mr. Jones in this article states that Rees came to
America with Thomas Phillips and others landing in New York May 14, 1795. Chidlaw definitely states that Rees was in the company of fifty who came with Hughes
and Bebb and landed in Philadelphia in the Spring of 1795. Jbones has made it careful study of Welsh Settlements in Ohio in recent years. Ghidlaw, on the other hand, was the son-in-law of Ezekiel Hughes and wrote 20 years before Jones. Chidlaw quotes from the Diary of Ezekiel Hughes in his article (see The Cambrian for May, 1888). Whether Rees was in this particular company which Hughes and Bebb brought with them or not we do not know, but that the large majority of the Ebensburg colony were from the colony that Hughes and Bebb brought over is certain. So the influence of these men in their westward venture was felt in the Ebensburg colony, and the most venturesome of them were, by the success of their friends in Paddy's Run. inspired to seek like opportunities beyond the Ohio.


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