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[ Our Welsh Roots ] [ Cym Clydach, Ystradyfodwg, Glamorgan ] [ From Wales to Warrior Run ] [ Life in America ] [ Children of William and Elizabeth Jones ] [ Our Voyage of Discovery ] [ Links  ] [ Email ] [ Credits ]

Our Welsh Roots

On 26 June 1846, William Jones was born in the village of Talyllyn located in Merionethshire, Wales. Merionethshire, a county of West Wales (now part of Gwynedd), is a mountainous region and had a economy that was dependent on the raising of livestock. Its remoteness made it one of the last regions of Wales to come under English rule. Growing up William may have gone fishing at Talyllyn Lake or visited the nearby ruins of an ancient Welsh castle, Castell y Bere.

Photograph by Jan Kohl Castle Graphics

Castell y Bere ruins

At the age of 20, William Jones married a young woman named Elizabeth Edwards. She had been born in the village of Darowen, Montgomeryshire, not far from its border with Merionethshire. They made their home in Talyllyn and it was there that their first two children were born. A daughter named Jane, born in June 1868 was followed by another daughter named Mary, born in 1871.

Tal-y-llyn Plaque, a Celtic symbol from the 1st century B.C.
The Talyllyn Plaque, a Celtic symbol dating from the 1st century B.C.

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Map of Cwm Clydach

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".

Pronunciation of Welsh place names by "Sounds of Wales"

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.

In 1889, the second-oldest daughter, Mary, was married to Richard Pritchard in Caernarvonshire. Shortly afterward, in 1890, Jane, the eldest daughter was married to a young man named Gomer Williams. Both men were coal miners living in Clydach in 1891, but that would soon change. According to DataWales

"South Wales was the source of much emigration to America in the 19th Century. The Iron Masters had been exploiting the local iron ore reserves since around 1750 and Britain's Industrial Revolution was fueled by the later development of the South Wales coalfield. South Wales had a pool of men skilled in metallurgy and mining and men like these would find ready employment in places like distant Scranton, Pennsylvania."

Richard Pritchard emigrated to America on the Cunard ship "Gallia", probably to look for work in the coal mines. He arrived in New York on 15 February 1893. Apparently, Richard found work in the mines near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Two months later, the "Gallia" sailed again from Liverpool, this time carrying Gomer and Jane Williams, and Mary Pritchard. They arrived on 15 April 1893 and gave their destination as Pennsylvania.

Cunard baggage tag

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?

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From Wales to Warrior Run
Cunard ad

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 has an interesting history. Built in Glasgow, its maiden voyage was on 22 April 1893. In less than two months, the Campania set new speed records for the Atlantic crossing. With a maximum speed of 23 knots, the trip from Queensland (Cobh), Ireland to New York now took just 5 days 17 hours and 27 minutes.

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.

When they left Queensland, William, Elizabeth, Morgan, Lizzie, Annie and Sarah Jones were just some of the 1000 third class passengers the ship carried. Once each day, the steerage passengers were allowed to leave their quarters for a walk on deck. After a week of occupying their allotted space in the aft of the ship, the were probably eager to disembark when the Campania arrived at the Port of New York on 25 May 1895.


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.

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Life in America

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.

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Children of William and Elizabeth Jones

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:

  1. Jane Jones, born 1868 in Tal-y-llyn, Merionethshire, Wales; married Gomer Williams 1890 in Ystradyfodwg, Glamorgan, Wales.

    Jane William's husband Gomer died in 1904. They did not have any children. Jane moved in with her mother and worked as a dressmaker. When her sister Annie's son was born the following year, he was called Gomer, probably in honor of Jane's late husband.

  2. Mary Jones, born 1871 in Tal-y-llyn, Merionethshire, Wales; married Richard Pritchard 1889 in Caernarvonshire, Wales.

    Mary and Richard Pritchard had five children: Catherine, Elizabeth, Jennie, Anna, and David. The three oldest daughters worked in the silk mills in 1920.

  3. Morgan Jones, born December 11, 1874 in Ystradyfodwg, Glamorgan, Wales; died Aft. 1920; married Emily Evans 1911 probably in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

    Morgan Jones got out of the mining trade, and took a job at a book bindery. He may have introduced Robert Williams, who was also employed at the book bindery, to his sister Lizzie. In 1910, Lizzie and Robert Williams were living across the street from the family of Jonah Evans. Lizzie may have paid Morgan back by introducing him to the Evans' daughter, Emily. Morgan Jones and Emily Evans were married in 1911 and lived with Emily's family at least until 1920.

  4. Lizzie Jones, born October 1877 in Ystradyfodwg, Glamorgan, Wales; married Robert Williams 1908 probably in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

    A daughter, Catherine Williams, was born to Lizzie and Robert in 1909.

  5. Annie JONES, born April 09, 1882 in Ystradyfodwg, Glamorgan, Wales; died 1954 in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania; married (1) Thomas J. WILLIAMS September 25, 1899 in Warrior Run, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania; married (2) Herman Eicke before 1920 probably in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne, Pennsylvania.

    Annie and Thomas had two children, son Gomer, born in 1905 and daughter Janet, born in 1909. Thomas was probably deceased by 1919. Annie remarried a man named Herman Eicke. He worked at the iron works. Annie's son Gomer never married or left home. He worked for the Post Office as a mail carrier.

  6. Sarah Jones, born August 18, 1884 in Ystradyfodwg, Glamorgan, Wales; died after 1920 probably in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; married Ralph E. Pealer August 13, 1903 in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

    Ralph Pealer was 21 when he married Sarah Jones. He had been born in New Columbus, Carbon County, Pennsylvania and was a miner. Presumably because Sarah was only 19 years old, permission to marry was given by her mother Elizabeth. This fact may indicate also that William was deceased by this time, or he probably would have been the one to grant permission. Sarah was the only Jones sister to marry a man whose surname was not "Williams". Ralph and Sarah had a daughter, Evelyn, born in 1905. By 1910, Ralph had traded in his miner's helmet for a job at the boarding stables on N. State Street in Wilkes-Barre.

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Our Voyage of Discovery

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.

Link to "Our Voyage of Discovery"

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Jones Family Links

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