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From the Amman Valley to Kansas

By Rina Callingham (2007)
http://www.a-glamorgan-family.com/index.html


Daniel Thomas Morgan was born on Tuesday 28th April 1835. He was the 5th known child of David and Mary Morgan (nee Griffiths) of Brynhynydd farm in the Carmarthenshire parish of Betws. Brynhynydd lies in present day Glanaman, near the top of Grenig Road, where it opens out onto the Betws Mountain. Daniel's father, David was born circa 1796 in Llandybie, while his mother, Mary was born circa 1802 in Betws. David & Mary had been married on 8th January 1825 at Betws, after which David appears to have taken over as the tenant of Brynhynydd from his (probable) father-in-law, John (Sion) Griffiths. The property was then owned by the Williams family of Maesquarre, Betws, but records of its existence have been found dating back to at least 1629 when it was owned by Sir William Vaughan. David Morgan and John (Sion) Griffiths are both mentioned by D. Trumor Thomas in his book "The Old Characters of the Parish of Betws" written in 1894.

Daniel is first recorded as a 6 year old child on the 1841 census at Brynhynydd Farm with his parents and 3 brothers and 3 sisters. 10 years later, the 1851 census finds him still at home and working on the farm. On 12th November 1859, he married 18 year old, Hannah Bowen of Llangyfelach at Christ Church, Garnant. Hannah was the daughter of widowed farmer, Henry Bowen. Henry farmed at Lletty'rcrydd, which lay south-east of Brynhynydd at Rhyndwyclydach in the neighbouring, Glamorgan parish of Llangyfelach. Hannah was a grand-daughter (through her mother, Sarah) of the Reverend Roger Howell, whose family founded the Baran chapel on Mynydd y Gwair. Her older sister, Rebecca was already married to Daniel's older brother, John - my 2x great-grandparents. By the census of 1861, Daniel and Hannah had taken over the tenancy of the 50 acre, Lletty'rcrydd farm and were living there with Hannah's younger sister, Ann. It was perhaps during this time that Hannah gave birth to her first 2 children, who didn't survive infancy.

By 1864, when their 3rd child, David was born, Hannah and Daniel had left Lletty'rcrydd to move next door to Daniel's family at Pant Brynhynydd. A daughter, Sarah Ann was born in 1867, followed by another called Mary in 1869. It is likely that both Hannah's father, Henry Bowen and younger sister, Ann also lived at Brynhynydd for a period of time, as this is where Henry died on 3rd November 1869. In his will, Henry left his estate - valued at less than 200 - to be divided between his surviving children or their heirs. Probate was granted on Hannah's oath at Carmarthen District Registry on 1st June 1870.

The following year, the 1871 census recorded that, like his elder brother, John, Daniel was now earning his living as a collier. Small scale, independent mine workings had traditionally supplemented the income of many farmers in the Amman Valley and as the mining industry developed locally, their sons often sought seasonal work as miners. By the 1870s however, many local men were permanently making the change from farming to mining, as Cwmaman, Gwauncaegurwen and Brynamman found themselves at the centre of rapidly expanding processes of industrialisation, supported by the development of both roads and railways.

While others flocked to the Amman Valley to take advantage of the new opportunities for employment, Daniel chose this time to emigrate from Wales. Perhaps he was influenced by his late father-in-law's bequest or by the example of Hannah's sister, Sarah Phillips and her family who had immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1869. Certainly, at this time, there were many advertisements in the press about the benefits to Welshmen of exploiting their industrial or farming expertise in America and many were lured by the inducements offered. Just prior to their emigration, Hannah gave birth to another son, whom she named Henry Bowen Morgan in honour of her father. The family sailed for America from Liverpool, via Queenstown, on the ship Batavia - which had been launched for the Cunard Line on 1st February 1870. From contemporary records, the Batavia could carry 150 1st class and 800 3rd class passengers and, being capable of speeds up to 12 knots, took about 10 days to cross the Atlantic. The ship's manifest records that the infant, Henry was only 2 months old. Daniel is described as a collier and Hannah recorded as "Annie". The family arrived at Castle Garden (the predecessor to Ellis Island), New York on 13th November 1871.

Having already tried his hand at both farming and mining, Daniel was destined to continue alternating between the industries in order to support his family. According to his obituary notice, the family first arrived in Pennsylvania and stayed there for about a year - possibly living near to the Phillips family. It's likely that Daniel worked as a miner during this time. They then moved west to Arvonia Township in Osage County, Kansas. Arvonia had been founded in 1869, by Welsh settlers led by the journalist, John Mather Jones of Bangor - who edited and owned the American Welsh language newspaper, Y Drych.  In William G. Cutler's "History of the State of Kansas" published in 1883, Arvonia is described as:

"... a thriving little town with a population of about 150. It is pleasantly situated on the level valley lands, south of the Marais des Cygnes River, and west of Coal Creek, on the south half of Section 16, Township 18, Range 14 east. It has three stores, one hotel, one blacksmith and wagon shop, a post-office, two churches and a schoolhouse."

One of the churches mentioned was of the Welsh Congregational denomination and Daniel and his family became faithful members. It's not clear when William G. Cutler was writing about Arvonia, but in 1875, Kansas held a state census which recorded 118 families living in the township - a good proportion of whom were of Welsh origin. The Morgan family, who lived on a farm, are number 26. There were however mixed reports about the quality of the farmland for sale and while some settlers were satisfied and sent home good reports, others found themselves paying high prices for land that yielded little.

This was perhaps why the family moved on after 4 years to Superior Township, Osage County, Kansas where Daniel again found work as a miner. Coal mining was an expanding industry in this part of Kansas thanks to the construction of the Acheson, Topeka and Sante Fe Railway which revolutionised transport in the state. The first mines were opened in the summer of 1870 by the Osage Carbon, Coal and Mining Company. Another company in operation was the Superior Coal Company. Superior Township no longer exists but has now been absorbed into Osage City. The family were likely to have been well settled in by the time of the 1880 American census which found the family structure unchanged. Eldest son, David (16) was described as a labourer and the 2 girls, Sarah (13) and Mary (10) were attending school while youngest child, Henry (9) apparently was not. Daniel, who was still a miner, was recorded as being unable to write. The family's neighbours - a mixture of many British, European and Scandinavian nationalities - were also mainly employed as miners or labourers.

By 1885, the Kansas state census records only Daniel and children, Henry and Mary at home in Superior Township. Sarah was enumerated locally as a servant, but son, David and his mother, Hannah are nowhere to be found. David's own obituary describes that he returned to Wales to begin his studies as a veterinarian around this time and his mother may taken the opportunity to travel with him to visit her family. If the 1890 American census records had not been destroyed, it would have shown major changes for Hannah and Daniel's family. Both of their daughters had married in 1888 and possibly only son, Henry remained at home. More change was on the horizon. 2 years later, Hannah died, aged only 51 on Thursday, 31st March 1892. Her funeral was held from the Welsh Congregational Church, Osage City on Sunday 3rd April at 3 pm and she was buried at Osage City Cemetery. On 11th June that same year, Daniel became a naturalised citizen of the United States.

Unlike most other states, Kansas had its own census of 1895 to bridge the gap between the missing 1890 and 1900. This census, along with that of 1900 and the details of his obituary, show that soon after Hannah's death, Daniel remarried - to a Welsh woman, Rachel Thomas. More than 20 years his junior, Rachel was a widow with 2 young daughters; Meriam aged 5 and Nellie, aged 2. Daniel apparently adopted these children as his own and while they are called Thomas in 1895, they both bear the surname of Morgan in the 1900 census.

Although 1900 is one of the most informative of the early American censuses, some of the details regarding the Morgan family were not entirely accurate - causing much initial confusion. It was correctly stated that Daniel (who is once more described as a farmer) and Rachel had been married for 8 years, but described Rachel as the mother of 0 children. This implied that Meriam and Nellie and newly recorded twins, Roy and Mae were not Rachel's children. The twins were also wrongly recorded as having been born in 1888 - making them older than 10 year old, Nellie. However, Daniel's obituary later made it clear that Meriam and Nellie were his step-children and the next state census of 1905 records the twins as being 7 years old, i.e. born circa 1898. Another 1900 error described Daniel as having lived in the US for 19 years and gave the year of his immigration as 1881. This is disproved by the family's presence on the 1875 and 1880 censuses. The 1910 national census confirms the ages of the twins who are now the only children remaining at home. This census correctly records 1871 as the year of the family's immigration and describes Daniel as a farmer at the age of 75.

The less detailed state census of 1915 doesn't make it clear whether Daniel was still working at the age of 79, but the 17 year old twins were still living at home. A year later, Daniel died at home on 15th March 1916, aged 80 years. His obituary in the Osage City Free Press, dated 23rd March 1916, mentions his birthplace, Brynhynydd and describes him as:

"one of the earliest pioneers of this city"

His funeral on Sunday, 19th of March, at 2.30 p.m - with Rev. O.M. George of Emporia, officiating - was well attended by family and friends. Only his son, Dr. David Morgan of Neosho, Missouri and daughter, Mrs Sarah Edsell of San Francisco were unable to come. His younger son, Dr. Henry Morgan, travelled from Oklahoma, while daughter, Mrs Mary McCrea came from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Both of his sons maintained some links with the family's farming origins by becoming veterinary surgeons. By the time of his death Daniel was a grandfather to Henry's daughter, Ruth and to Mary's daughter, Mrs Bessie Britt. He was also a great-grandfather to Bessie's daughter, Rozella.

Despite immigration into a new land, the family apparently remained part of a strong Welsh community, as these further extracts from Daniel's obituary show:

"Among the friends from out of town who attended the funeral were Mr. and Mrs. Carl Pearson, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Davis, Mrs T. H. Standiford, of Pant Teg; Mr. and Mrs. Cal Pearson of Vassar; Mrs. John Jones and son, Oliver of Arvonia; Mrs. John Davis and son, William; Mr. D. O. Davis of Reading; Mrs. Jas. Edwards and John Williams of Emporia; Mr. and Mrs. D. L. Williams and son of Topeka.
Those who acted as pall bearers were John Prosser, Henry Lewis, Tom Hughes, Lumley Lloyd, Tom Jones and Tom Davis.
A choir composed of Welsh singers rendered several appropriate selections."

 

Acknowledgements to Kansas State Historical Society who supplied copies of Daniel's obituary and naturalisation papers.

Rina Callingham


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[Gareth Hicks: 15 Sept 2007]

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