Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Welsh Settlers of Osage and Coffey County

Carolyn B. Berneking has written an excellent article on The Welsh Settlers of Emporia:A Cultural History. The article, which is about Emporia and Lyon county, could equally apply to Osage and Coffey Counties to the east of Emporia, and the towns of Arvonia and Lebo.

As Carolyn notes in her article, "the Welsh towns of Llanfynydd, Corwen, Cyfarthfa, Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil, Anglesey, and Aberystwyth figuratively became Carbondale, Reading, Burlingame, Arvonia, Lebo, and Emporia in Kansas as natives of Wales settled in this country." From 1850 to 1870, estimates are that about 60,000 people emigrated from Wales to America. While most settled in communities in Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio, a significant number began new lives in Kansas. The National Library of Wales.

From R. D. Thomas' Hanes Cymry America -- The Kansas Chapter, published in 1872 in Welsh and translated by Phillips G. Davies. Republished by the Kansas Historical Society, 1977.

Several religious and adventuresome Welsh settled in this town [Emporia] 8 to 10 years ago. The town had been started before the recent civil war, but its growth was retarded during the disturbances. But after that the city began to grow and succeed until it now is a populous, industrious, and successful city. It is the county seat of Lyon county, and is located in a pleasant place between the Neosho and Cottonwood rivers. It has wide streets, several large stores, many good houses, some excellent churches, and growing businesses; two railroads run through it already, from Junction City and from Topeka, and one to Burlingame, Reading, and near Arvonia. Emporia contains several Welsh who are craftsmen and rich business men, and some of them are in high positions, such as Dr. Morris, Jones, Thomas, etc. There also is the office of Wm. B. Jones, Esq.. This growing city will quickly be second in size to the city of Lawrence. Many Welsh farmers live near it.

The Welsh settlers who came to Kansas in the late 1800's became farmers, doctors, businessmen, and even coal miners for Kansas had coal deposits in and around Emporia, Kansas. In 1889, Osage County had 118 coal mines, employing over 2,200 people and producing 400,000 tons of coal. In 1969, coal mining ended, but the pits filled with water still linger. GeoKansas.

Coal pit west of Arvonia, Kansas

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