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In the early 1990s while researching Welsh immigrants in western New York State, I discovered a 1914 master's thesis, "The Welsh in Oneida County, New York" by Paul Demund Evans. The work was not readily available; it had never been published and could only be obtained by interlibrary loan from Cornell University. My first thought was to publish this valuable work, but years would pass before the pieces came together.
To my surprise, I found that Paul Demund Evans had roots in the western New York Welsh settlement. An obituary led me to his son, Jean Malot Evans, who supplied me with invaluable family information. Paul Demund Evans' grandfather, Jenkin Evans, was born in 1830 near Cilcennin, Cardiganshire, Wales, son of John Evans, a farmer, and Elizabeth Davies. In 1849 Jenkin married Gwenllian (aka Winifred) Rees, the daughter of Evan Rees and Anne Davies. She was born near Llanarth, Cardiganshire, Wales in 1825. In March 1870 Jenkin and Winifred Evans and their eight children immigrated to America. They settled in the Welsh community in southwestern New York State where Winifred's brother John Rees and several cousins already lived. The Evans family resided in Freedom and Farmersville (Cattaraugus County) and Hume (Allegany County). Their son Evan Rees Evans, who was born in Wales in 1856, studied at Pike Seminary in Pike, New York and Princeton University. He was an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church and for a time preached at Welsh churches in Cattaraugus and Oneida counties. In 1886 Rev. Evans married Amelia Anne McNair of Sparta, New York. While serving a church in Canaseraga in Allegany County, twins were born to the couple on January 1, 1892 -- a son Paul Demund and a daughter Jeanette. Due to Rev. Evans' ministry, the family moved frequently, living in various communities in New York State.
Paul Evans attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York where he earned a Master of Arts in 1914. Evans then spent two years studying at Harvard University. In 1916 Harvard, seeking to expand its Welsh collections, sent Evans to Oneida County to identify and acquire Welsh-American periodicals and other materials of historical value. The Oneida Welsh already knew Evans who had been there two years earlier collecting information for his master's thesis. In May 1916 The Utica Daily Press reported that Evans intended to revise and publish his master's thesis on the Oneida Welsh. As with many best intentions, life intervened and he never completed the revisions and publication.
During World War I, Paul Evans served in France (1917-1919) as a second lieutenant in radio communications. Following the war he studied at the Sorbonne and married Marthe Elise Malot. They returned to the states in 1919. Evans then taught history at Syracuse University (1919-1922) and Yale (1922-1930). During this time he received his Ph.D. in History from Cornell University. His doctoral dissertation on the Holland Land Purchase, published in 1924, continues to be an important regional history. For the remainder of his career, Dr. Evans taught history at the University of Vermont (1930-1974). During those years he and Mrs. Evans raised two sons, Jean Malot Evans and Richard McNair Evans. Marthe Evans died in 1954. Dr. Evans married his second wife, Ludell Sarah Benware, in 1956. After retirement, Dr. Evans remained active in various historical and academic pursuits until his death at the age of 91 in 1983.
In 2000, the Evans family gave permission for the publication of the thesis, and Siloam Road Enterprises was formed to make it a reality. We are pleased to fulfill Dr. Evans' desire to publish his master's thesis. He could never have envisioned his work as an electronic publication made available to anyone in the world with a computer connected to the Internet. The publication of The Welsh in Oneida County, New York is a fitting memorial to Dr. Evans' early pioneering efforts to document and preserve the history of the Welsh in New York State. Eighty-seven years after its completion, the thesis continues to be a significant source for Welsh-American history. What was written in the Utica Daily Press in 1916 holds true even now, "He [Paul Demund Evans] has produced a work that should be invaluable for the data it preserves for future generations."
Siloam Road Enterprises
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