Friday, September 14, 2012

Radnorshire Pioneers in Wisconsin

The migration of Radnorshire Quakers and Baptists, and indeed Anglicans, to Pennsylvania and Delaware in the 1680s is well-known.  Perhaps the biggest Welsh, and no doubt Radnorian, contribution to the American gene-pool is less remarked upon - the migration of individuals as indentured servants to the Carolinas and other southern states.  For example in the 1790s more than 10% of the free population of the Carolinas had typically Welsh surnames.  It's why a name like Wynette Pugh (AKA Tammy Wynette) raises no eyebrows in Mississippi.

An even less familiar migration is that of families from North Radnorshire (mainly the parishes of Llanbadarn Fynydd, Llananno, Bugeildy and Llanbister) to Green County in Wisconsin - an area better known today for its Swiss cheesemakers.  Together with neighbours from Kerry and Llandinam in Montgomeryshire and Betws-y-Crwyn in Shropshire, this migration, which commenced in 1844 and lasted until 1881, was centered around what is rather inaccurately called the English Settlement in the township of Albany.

A local historian from Wisconsin has done a great deal to rescue the history of these Welsh pioneers, publishing articles and booklets, organizing a reunion and seeing the settlement recognized as an official historic site.  Mrs Bagley estimates that the 77 Welsh families who moved to Green County would have comprised more than 700 individuals in the first generation.  These settlers, in addition to those with the usual Welsh surnames, had names familiar to Mid-Walians - Ingram, Bubb, Hamer, Layton, Bufton, Gravenor, Smout, Sheen, Kinsey, Jarman and a good many Swancutts*.  Having initially bought land - it had been taken by the US governemt from the Ho-Chunk tribe - at $1.25 an acre, by the 1870s the Welsh families owned over 6000 acres, around half the farmland in the township of Albany.  Large families were the order of the day, Margaret Davies had nine children, Kezia Hughes eleven, Mary Ann Hamer nine, Mary Swancutt nine and Mary Jarman fourteen.  You can find photographs of some of these early settlers and their offspring here.

Here are a selection Radnorshire weddings in Green County:  Willaim Hope and Mary Lloyd (1846); Edward Price and Elizabeth Swancutt (1848); James Trow and Caroline Price (1850); Aaron Jones and Eliza Edmonds (1852); Ellen Griffith and Moses Ingram (1854);  Jane Gravenor and George Jones (1856); William Francis and Jane Swancutt (1857); John Swancutt and Ann Lloyd (1858); Thomas Lewis and Margaret Jones (1860); Benjamin Swancutt and Emma Francis (1860); Evan Layton and Eliza Francis (1864);  James Francis and Sarah Griffith (1864); John Jones and Emma Pryce (1868); Thomas Bufton and Ellen Jones (1870); Richard Williams and Mary Kinsey (1878)

* According to Mr Howse cider was called swancut in the Radnorshire argot.


Joan Aymeth said...

So who should I support this season? The Panthers, the Steelers, the Eagles or the Packers?

radnorian said...

Presteigne St Andrews