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Map of Cwm Clydach courtesy of Huw Daniel, Wales
Between 1871 and 1874, the Jones family moved south to Ystradyfodwg, Glamorgan in South Wales. A third child, son Morgan, was born in December, 1874 followed by daughter Lizzie in 1877. The family lived in Cwm Clydach, a village surrounded by coal mines. "Cwm" translates as "vale" or "valley" but can be better described as "a deep steep-walled basin on a mountain shaped like half a bowl".
William worked in the mines while his wife Elizabeth raised the children. The Jones home on Marian Terrace was also a boarding house for unmarried coal miners. There were five of them living there in 1881.
09 April 1882 our great-grandmother, Annie Jones was born and two years later, 18 August 1884, her sister Sarah was born.
We can only imagine the letters Jane and Mary wrote to their family in Ystradyfodwg. Their life in America must have been described as preferable to that left behind in Wales. Why else would William and Elizabeth Jones have decided to leave everything they had known behind and travel to join their daughters in America?
In May 1895, the Jones family packed whatever belongings they would be able to carry. William carried two bags while each of the others carried one. Annie was just 14 years old. Following the route taken by their daughters and sons-in-law two years earlier, the Jones family most likely traveled by train to Liverpool. The first leg of the journey would have taken them from Ystrad to Cardiff. There they would change trains and arrive in Liverpool about seven hours later. They may have spent a day or two in Liverpool before booking passage on the Cunard ship, S.S. Campania.
The Campania set the standard for transatlantic travel for the next four years. In 1901 she became the first ship ever to be fitted with a Marconi Wireless Telegraph. In 1914, the ship was converted to an aircraft carrier and used in the Great War. In 1918, just prior to the end of the war, the Campania sank while at anchor in the Firth of Forth, when during a severe storm which created massive waves, it was accidentally hit by the battleship Revenge.
The Jones family boarded the Campania, giving their destination as Warrior Run, Pennsylvania. No one knows how long they had been planning this trip, or how much they had done without to save for it. In the 1890's, the competition for passengers amongst the steamship lines was fierce, and the price of the third class ticket was cut in half to just $10. The Campania left Liverpool and made a short stop in Queensland (Cobh), Ireland where they picked up more emigrants.
The first and second class passengers were greeted by the immigration officials and doctors who boarded the ship upon its arrival. They would be allowed to disembark from the ship. Third class passengers like the Jones's, would be taken off the ship and put immediately onto a ferry which transported them to Ellis Island. While they were on their way to Ellis Island, Captain Henry Walker, master of the Campania filed the passenger list or manifest with the Collector of Customs for the District of New York.
The facilities at Ellis Island in 1895 were not the same ones that can be visited today. The immigration station which opened on 01 January 1892 was a two-story structure built of Georgia pine. The buff-colored building had a blue slate roof and many windows. The registry room measured 200 feet by 100 feet, and had an impressive fifty-six foot vaulted ceiling. Twelve narrow aisles, divided by iron bars, channeled new arrivals to be examined by doctors at the front of the room. The officials who worked there constantly complained of leaky roofs and other problems in the building. There were so many complaints that in May 1895, the same month that William Jones and his family were there, an architect was finally brought in to inspect the building. He declared it safe and plans were made for expansion, but before that could happen the building was completely destroyed in a fire. It wasn't until after 1897 that the new Ellis Island facility that stands today was built.
William, Elizabeth, Morgan, Lizzie, Annie and Sarah Jones were finally cleared by the immigration officials. They were escorted to a ferry which would take them to the mainland for the first time. From the ferry they would be taken to the train station to await the train that would take them near their destination of Warrior Run. Jane, Mary and their husbands may have met them as they got off the train at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. It must have been a joyous occasion when all the family members were reunited after two years.
It's impossible to know how their new life in America compared with the one they left behind in Wales. They lived in an area populated by other Welsh immigrants. They were probably most comfortable in the company of others who shared their language, preferences for certain foods and where they could reminisce about the life back in the old country. As they had in Wales, William and Morgan worked in the mines. The work was not steady and the miners were frequently unemployed for months at a time. Morgan who was 21 when he arrived in this country, lived with his parents and helped support the family for the next fifteen years.
25 September 1899, 18 year old Annie Jones was married to 22-year old Thomas Williams in Warrior Run, Pennsylvania. Thomas had been born in Sugar Notch, Pennsylvania in 1877 and worked in the mines. Both his parents had also been Welsh immigrants. Annie and Thomas lived with the Jones family for the first few years of their marriage. By virtue of her marriage to an American citizen, Annie gained citizenship status.
29 May 1903, after 8 years in the United States, William and Morgan Jones made their declarations of intent to become citizens. William Jones was not able to enjoy his new status for long. He died shortly after making his declaration, possibly as early as August of that same year. He was not yet 60 years old.
One source of the family's income was gone and Morgan would have been the sole breadwinner. The unmarried sisters were probably encouraged to find husbands who could support them. Elizabeth died sometime after 1910. It is not known at this time where William and Elizabeth Jones are buried.
William D. JONES, born June 26, 1848 in Tal-y-llyn, Merionethshire, Wales; died before 1910 in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. He married Elizabeth EDWARDS in 1868 Montgomeryshire, Wales.
Children of William JONES and Elizabeth (JONES) are:
When we started to research our grandmother's background, it was a complete mystery. The process that we used to find the original records and fill in the details is presented here as an encouragement to others who may also be starting at square one. Good luck and happy hunting.
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Updated Sunday, December 16, 2001
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