The parish of Llanbrynmair stands in the old county of Montgomeryshire, Mid Wales. It played a prominent role in the emigration to America during the 19th and early 20th Centuries. This was part of the movement of Welsh religious independents to break away from the established Church of England. The parish is reputed to have been the source of the most emigrants, per capita, to America of any in Wales. The first of them departed Llanbrynmair in 1796. A large proportion of these emigrants settled in western Ohio, particularly in the rural farming communities of Paddy's Run (now Shandon), Gomer and Venedocia. The two most prominent emigrants were Edward Bebb and Ezekiel Hughes, who settled in Butler County, Ohio near Paddy's Run. Edward Bebb's son, William, became governor of the State of Ohio.
Ezekiel Hughes was the son of Richard and Mary Hughes, Cwmcarnedd Uchaf, Llanbryn-mair, Wales. He was educated for a few years in a school in Shrewsbury before he became an apprentice to a clockmaker called John Tibbot.
Ezekiel Hughes and his cousin, Edward Bebb, lead a group from Llanbryn-mair in the middle of July 1795. The group included: George Roberts, John Roberts, Richard Thomas, David Francis, Owen Davies and his wife, Ann Rowlands, Mary Rowlands and Ann Evans.
The journey began with the men walking from Llanbryn-mair to Carmarthen but as the Press Gang was in the town at the time, the crew had to avoid them and continue to Bristol. The women followed them later and at last the Welsh managed to sail on the Maria on 6 August 1795. After spending 13 weeks at sea, they reached their destination - for the time being - in Philadelphia harbor on Sunday, 25th October.
Ezekiel Hughes decided to stay in Philadelphia over winter and head west in the spring. He and Edward Bebb and one other travelled towards Ohio River and within three months they had arrived in the town of Cincinnati.
When the Government started to sell the land in that area in 1801, Ezekiel was the first to buy. He bought two parcels of fertile land not far from Paddy's Run in Whitewater Township.
After selecting and buying land in west Ohio, Ezekiel returned to Wales in 1802, spreading the news that there was fertile land in the United States and plenty of it. In 1803, he married Margaret Bebb from Llanbryn-mair and both of them went over to the United States to live in a wooden cabin near the river Miami in 1804. A year later, Margaret died and she was buried in the first grave in Berea cemetery near their home. In 1808 he remarried, and he and Mary Ewing (from Pennsylvania) had nine children.
Ezekiel Hughes was highly regarded and respected in Ohio. In 1805, he was appointed by the Governors of the state to be responsible for designing the new highway from the river Miami to the town of Hamilton. A year later, he was made a magistrate, a position he held for many years.
As one of the founding members of the Congregational Church in Paddy's Run, Ezekiel was involved in the building of the church. The early records of this church have been kept, and it is known today as Shandon Congregational Church.
Read more on the Wales – Ohio Website >
Review Llanbrynmair and American Welsh.