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Welsh Heritage in Western, Central, and Eastern New York State

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Click on chapel name buttons for photos and details.

Chapels, Churches and Cemeteries

Western New York Welsh Churches

The earliest Welsh churches or chapels in western New York were simple houses of worship. The image above of the Carmel Welsh Congregational Church is based on a description in the 1846 building contract. See also Centerville and Fairview Welsh Congregational Church and Records.

In Wales a Welsh Nonconformist house of worship was called capel or chapel. The Nonconformists were dissenters who established their own regligious societies separate from the Anglican Church of Wales. In Wales "church" usually referred to an Anglican house of worship. The "body of believers" might also be called "the church" or "the society." In America the chapel might also be called a "meeting house." As Welsh-Americans became more assimilated their "chapels" became "churches" after the fashion of the Americans. Whatever they were called, Welsh chapels were the community centers in nineteenth-century Welsh-American settlements. In western New York a half-dozen Welsh houses of worship were constructed between 1844 and 1899. The Welsh Baptists in Freedom, Cattaraugus County built three structures on the same site during that time, each successive church being larger and more ornate. The earliest Welsh chapels in western New York were simple meetinghouses, modest in size and simple in construction. At least two (Carmel and Salem) were of Greek Revival style, very popular in America during that time.

Many Welsh chapel names came from the Bible. Each denomination had their favorites. The Baptists often used the name Ebenezer; the Calvinistic Methodists liked Salem; and the Congregationalists or Independents were biased towards Carmel and Siloam.

Chapel Dimensions

chapel diagrams

Above drawings based on earlier diagrams by Sally Henry (1942-1999).

Cemeteries were also associated with the Welsh chapels and churches:

Central New York Welsh Chapels

Welsh Chapels Around the World

  • Songs of Praises: Welsh-Rooted Churches Outside of Britain by Jay G. Williams III. Covers active congregations only in all U.S. states as well as other countries. Many photographs.

  • Welsh Chapels by Anthony Jones.

More Information

  • Welsh Congregationalist Chapels of the United States: Books and Pamphlets from the National Library of Wales.

  • "Names of Welsh-American Chapels" by Phillips G. Davies. Bulletin of the North Central Name Society (Winter 1988/1989): 32-39.

  • "Horeb Chapel: The Evolution of a Welsh Barn Chapel Upon the American Landscape" by Michael T. Struble. Material Culture (Summer 1993): 37-45.

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© Barbara R. Henry