Welsh American

Welsh American

Infobox Ethnic group
group = Welsh Americans
"Americanwyr Cymreig"

caption = Notable Welsh Americans: James Abram Garfield·Jack Daniel·Frank Lloyd Wright
Thomas Jefferson·Abraham Lincoln·Hillary Clinton
Bill Evans·Sinclair Lewis·Anthony Hopkins
poptime = 1,753,794 Americans [cite web |url=http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/QTTable?_bm=y&-qr_name=DEC_2000_SF3_U_QTP13&-geo_id=01000US&-ds_name=DEC_2000_SF3_U&-_lang=en&-redoLog=false&-_sse=on |title=Census 2000 Summary File 3 (SF 3) - Sample Data |work=2000 U.S. Census |publisher=U.S. Census Bureau |quote=Welsh ancestry: 1,753,794 (0.6%) ] 0.6% of the U.S. population
popplace = Northeast; Rockies; the Southern United States
langs = American English
rels = Predominantly Christian Protestant Mormon Some Catholics
related = British Americans ("Scottish Americans, Scots-Irish Americans, English Americans"), Irish Americans

In the 2000 Census, 1.75 million Americans reported Welsh ancestry, 0.6% of the total U.S. population. This compares with a population of 2.9 million in Wales.

The name Jones, which is often considered distinctively Welsh, is the fourth most-common surname in the United States, accounting for over 0.6% of Americans [http://www.census.gov/genealogy/names/names_files.html] , which when taken with others reporting typically Welsh surnames such as Bowen, Bethell, Howell, Jenkins, Davies, Edwards, Evans, Griffith, Gough, Lewis, Llewellyn, Lloyd, Meredith, Morgan, Madox/Madock, Owens, Parry, Powell, Price, Pugh, Thomas, Vaughan, and Williams, suggests a much higher rate of Welsh ancestry than indicated by self-identification. However, caution must be taken given that a large proportion of the African American population have Welsh names due to the creation of surnames from fathers' forenames (e.g. John => Jones) in a similar style to the Welsh, and some use of former slave owners' last names following emancipation.

There has been at least eight U.S. Presidents with Welsh ancestry including Thomas Jefferson, [cite web |url=http://www.americanheritage.com/people/presidents/jefferson_thomas.shtml |title=The Presidents: Thomas Jefferson |accessdate=2008-08-24 |work=American Heritage People |publisher=AmericanHeritage.com |quote=Ancestry: Welsh and Scotch-English ] Abraham Lincoln, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and James Garfield. Confederate President Jefferson Davis was also of Welsh extractionFact|date=April 2008.

Welsh emigration to the United States

thumb|320px|Dark red and brown colors indicate a higher density. (see Maps of American ancestries)] The legend of voyages to America, and settlement there in the twelfth century, led by Madog, son of Owain Gwynedd, prince of Gwynedd, are now considered to lack historical basis.

However, John Cabot an Italian navigator who was one of the earliest people to visit North America from Europe "did" have Welsh crew members, whom he took on board at Bristol. A folk myth connected with this suggests that the name "America" came from "ap Meuric, Welsh for the son of Maurice." [cite web |url=http://www.britannia.com/celtic/wales/facts/facts1.html |title=Fact About Wales and the Welsh |work=Wales on Britannia |publisher=Britannia.com, LLC ] - but it is also possible it was derived from Amerigo Vespucci's first name. It has also been suggested that the name "America" is derived from the name of Richard Amerike or Ameryk (derived from ap Meuric, see above), a Welshman and wealthy Bristol merchant who was the chief investor in John Cabot's second transatlantic crossing in 1497. [cite book |last=Lloyd |first=John |authorlink=John Lloyd (writer) |coauthors=Mitchinson, John |title=The Book of General Ignorance |year=2006 |url=http://www.randomhouse.com/crown/ |publisher=Harmony Books |location=New York |isbn=978-9-307-39491-0 |pages=pg. 94-95 |chapter=Who is America named after? ]


In the late seventeenth century, there was a large emigration of Welsh Quakers to Pennsylvania, where a Welsh Tract was established. By 1700, the Welsh accounted for about one-third of the colony’s estimated population of twenty thousand. There are a number of Welsh place names in this area. There was a second wave of immigration in the late eighteenth century, notably a Welsh colony named Cambria established by Morgan John Rhys in what is now Cambria County, Pennsylvania.

On a plaque mounted on the east façade of the imposing Philadelphia City Hall, the following inscription is found:

:"Perpetuating the Welsh heritage, and commemorating the vision and virtue of the following Welsh patriots in the founding of the City, Commonwealth, and Nation: William Penn, 1644-1718, proclaimed freedom of religion and planned New Wales later named Pennsylvania. Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826, third President of the United States, composed the Declaration of Independence. Robert Morris, 1734-1806, foremost financier of the American Revolution and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Governor Morris, 1752-1816, wrote the final draft of the Constitution of the United States. John Marshall, 1755-1835, Chief Justice of the United States and father of American constitutional law."


Mass emigration from Wales to the United States got under way in the nineteenth century with Ohio being a particularly popular destination. It is also said that around 20% of the population of Utah are of Welsh descent.

In the early nineteenth century most of the Welsh settlers were farmers, but later on there was emigration by coal miners to the coalfields of Ohio and Pennsylvania and by slate quarrymen from North Wales to the "Slate Valley" region of Vermont and New York State.


By the mid-nineteenth century, Malad City, Idaho was established. It began largely as a Welsh Mormon settlement and lays claim to having more people of Welsh descent per capita than anywhere outside of Wales [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/south_west/4699459.stm] .


Following the American Civil War, 104 Welsh immigrant famlies moved from Pennsylvania to East Tennessee. These Welsh families settled in an area now known as Mechanicsville, and part of the city of Knoxville. These families were recruited by the brothers Joseph and David Richards to work in a rolling mill then co-owned by John H. Jones.

The Richards brothers co-founded the Knoxville Iron Works beside the L&N Railroad, later to be used as the site for the World's Fair 1982. Of the original buildings of the Iron Works where Welsh immigrants worked at, only the structure housing the restaurant 'The Foundry' remains. In 1982 World's Fair the building was known as the Strohause.

Having first met at donated space at the Second Presbyterian Church, the immigrant Welsh built their own Congregational Church with the Reverend Thomas Thomas serving as the first pastor in 1870. However, by 1899 the church property was sold.

The Welsh immigrant families became successful and established other businesses in Knoxville, which included a company that built coal cars, several slate roofing companies, a marble company, and several furniture companies. By 1930 many Welsh dispersed into other sections of the city and neighboring counties such as Sevier County. Today, more than 250 families in greater Knoxville can trace their ancestry directly to these original immigrants. The Welsh tradition in Knoxville is remembered with Welsh descendants celebrating St. David's Day.

Welsh culture in the United States

One area with a strong Welsh influence is an area in Jackson and Gallia counties, Ohio, often known as "Little Cardiganshire". Fact|date=January 2008 The Madog Center for Welsh Studies is located at the University of Rio Grande.
The National Welsh Gymanfa Ganu Association holds the National Festival of Wales - probably the largest national Welsh cultural event - yearly in various locations around the country, offering seminars on various cultural items, a marketplace for Welsh goods, and the traditional Welsh hymn singing gathering (the gymanfa ganu). One a smaller scale, many states across the country hold regular Welsh Society meetings.

Current Immigrants

While most Welsh immigrants came to the US before the 20th century, immigration has by no means stopped. Current expatriates (a recent notable example being Anthony Hopkins) have formed societies all across the country, including the Chicago Tafia (a play on "Mafia" and "Taffy), and AmeriCymru.

External links

* [http://www.ligtel.com/~wales/waleshistory.html A timeline of the history of Wales and details of some of the communities in the U.S. where Welsh influence is most important]
* [http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-8306.1995.tb01793.x Patterns of Welsh settlement in the United States in the first half of the 20th century]
* [http://madog.rio.edu/default.htm Madog Center for Welsh Studies, University of Rio Grande]
* [http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/ppet/welsh/page1.asp?secid=31 The Welsh in Pennsylvania]
* BBC Wales: [http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/history/sites/cag Welsh Comings and Goings: The history of migration in and out of Wales]
* data-wales.co.uk: [http://www.data-wales.co.uk/emmap.htm Emigration from Wales to America]
* data-wales.co.uk: [http://www.data-wales.co.uk/plantations.htm Why do so many Black Americans have Welsh names?]
* [http://www.ninnau.com/ Ninnau The North American Welsh Newspaper/Papur Cymry Gogledd America]

ee also

*List of Americans with Welsh ancestry
*Canadians of Welsh descent
*Celtic music in the United States
*English American
*Scottish American
*Scots-Irish American
*Maps of American ancestries
*Welsh colonization of the Americas

Further reading

Edward G. Hartmann, Ph.D., "Americans from Wales", Octagon Books, New York, copyright 1983.boo


European Americans

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