Adams County Historical
Historical News Vol. 21, No 5, 1988
In the 1870's and 1880's several families from Wales homestead or bought land in Adams County. Among these early settlers were Evanes, Llewellyns, Williamses, and three brothers, Thomas T., William, and Owen Jones.
One of the first to come to Adams County was Thomas T. Jones, who had been a slate cutter at the Nantille, Wales, quarries. In 1869, he had married Margaret Davies, the daughter of the manager of the Cwmllan Slate quarries, and they made their home at Rosehill, Talysarn.
Thomas and Margaret with their infant son Thomas W. left home in 1871, and from Liverpool, England took passage to America. They went to a Welsh settlement at Old Man's Creek near Iowa City, Iowa. During their two years in Iowa, Thomas gained a knowledge of farming by working for Iowa farmers, and thus had both experience and an income to support his family.
In March 1873, Thomas left his family which now included a daughter as well as a wife and a son. Alone, he went in search of land; traveled as far as Harvard, Nebraska, by train; and thereafter by foot into Webster County to the homestead of Dixie Jones, another Welshman. Jones is a very common Welsh name, and Tomas and Dixie were unrelated. However it was known that Kickie could be helpful in securing land for prospective settlers. Years later, a son of Thomas and a son of Dixie became friendly Hastings businessman.
Thomas T. Jones never forgot his journey and search for Dixie Jones and land. After leaving Harvard, Thomas walked to the swollen Little Blue River and found no way to cross its icy water except to wade. Eventually, after four days from Iowa City, he arrived at the Dixie Jones home where he was welcomed and assured of help.
Together, the men went into Adams County where they found a promising home site in Little Blue Township. Part of the land was level, and toward its western border was a draw which provided a likely place for a dugout. Papers which assured him of a homestead were filed for Thomas in Bloomington. He called the place Rose Hill, the name of his home in Wales. Today that homestead is owned by a grandson, Pierce C. Jones of Blue Hill. It continues to be called Rose Hill.
The dugout remained the Jones home until a frame house was built in 1880. Between 1873 and 1880, several more children were born to Thomas and Margaret Jones and one after they moved from the dugout. In 1902 Thomas and Margaret moved to Pauline. There Thomas bought an interest in a grain elevator and took an active part in the Pauline Methodist Church. Additional land was bought during the Jones's' first seventeen years in Adams County; Thomas had became a citizen of the United States, served two terms as county supervisor, and returned to Wales to visit kinfolk.
Coming from a land of lakes, streams and mountains, the Welsh settlers lived very differently than they had in their native land.Whereas the men had been quarrymen, they became farmers. Life at the quarries had been dangerous, wages were poor, and the future was bleak. However, life on the prairie of Nebraska was not easy, especially for women and children. Several children died young; there was homesickness, loneliness; poor living conditions; and little variety in food.
In telling of her years living in a dugout, Mrs. Jones recalled that she was alone with two young children when her first Nebraska baby was born. Her husband had gone to Blue Hill several miles away for a doctor, but the baby arrived before help came. It speaks well for the mother that the baby lived to be eighty-one years of age. On another day when she and the children were alone, she saw an Indian approaching. Having great fear of such a person, she hushed the children and pretended that there was no one at home. As the shawled figure came nearer, it proved to be a neighbor who had come to relieve her loneliness.
Another experince did not bring such happiness. Men of the settlement had been gone several days to hunt buffalo and the women were anticipating the taste of fresh meat. Upon the return of the hunters, it was learned that all of the meat had spoiled when they had been overtaken by an unusually warm day.
Ellen, the wife of Owen Jones, once said that she had been homesick from her first day in Nebraska and had longed to return to Wales. After the death and burial of one of their children, she never wished to go ''home'' again. She felt she would the be leaving her baby alone on the prairie.
While the Welsh women cared for children, coped with inadequate homes, and occasionally exchanged visits, their husbands ploughed, planted, and raised cattle. Grain had to be hauled to Spring Ranch, in Clay County, to be milled, and lumber brought by wagon from Juniata for building. Plums which provided fruit grew wild in the draws and cattle grazed on the open prairies. When boys were old enough, they herded the cattle.
There were hazards for both men and crops. Heavy snows in winter threatened lives when a family might be without provisions. Tornadoes or high winds were dreaded enemies. Hail, drought, and grasshoppers took a toll of crops. In spite of the hardships, these early settlers remained steadfast in their detrmination to make life better for their children.
John Evans, his wife Anne, and his brother Griffith were among the early Welsh settlers. John farmed and Griffith was a teacher, as he had been in Wales. His first school in Adams County was held in the home of Thomas T. Jones, and the pupils were the young Joneses. Later, Griffith Evans became the teacher at District 20, known as Antioch. It was a great loss to the settlers when he moved to Hastings where, at one time, he was a member of the Hastings Board of Education. Second generation children of the Welsh settlers remember Mr. Evans as a kind gentleman who brought them peppermint candy and told them stories about Wales.
The schools attended by children south of Pauline were Union, District7, and Antioch, District 20. Language, reading, history, geography, arithmetic and spelling were emphasized; and penmanship was not neglected. Schooling for those of Welsh parentage sometimes ended at Antioch or Union; others prepared for and attended high school and college. Wherever the children of Welsh settlers were educated , they were enabled to become active in government, business, homemaking, and farming. Thomas, son of William Jones, was for many years Adams County Clerk. Thomas T. Jones, his uncle, served two terms as county commissioner from Little Blue Township.
At home, reading was from the Welsh Bible. Although Welsh continued to be spoken, English became the predominant language before1900. If there were a grandparent in the home as there was between 1882 and1901 in the Thomas T. Jones home, Welsh was the language of the house because Nine (Welsh meaning Grandmother) spoke no English.
As young people among the early Welsh settlers matured, they became well acquainted with their neighbors. Attending literary society at Antioch School, Sunday gatherings in homes, and picnics near the Little Blue River provided not only entertainment,but also an opportunity for courting.
Before 1900, Dixie Jones had given a corner of his homestead, located at Section 3, Oak Creek Township, Webster County, for a cemetery which was named Oak Creek. He thus provided a burial place for family and neighbors. There are buried the Dixie Joneses, the father and mother of Thomas T. Jones who had come from Wales in 1883; William, Owen, and Thomas T. Jones and their wives. The Evanses and Llewellyns are also buried at Oak Creek. Not only Welsh settlers were interred there; Bohemian, English, and German names may be found on the headstones. Today Oak Creek Cemetery is a well kept, peaceful resting place for those pioneers and their descendants.
End of Historical News story.
Historical Society email@example.com
PO Box 102 Hastings NE 68902
Transcription of tombstones from Oak Creek Cemetery
Adams County Naturalizations 1871 - 1929
Marriage License Index 1871 - 1973
Newspaper Death Index 1877-1960s
Probate index 1971-1912 later in progress
Many other sources