Montour County Genealogical Society
Miners & Iron Workers
Larry Mordan, at left, spoke at our October, 2002 meeting about the Welsh miners who emigrated to Montour County to work in the iron mines. Dressed in the typical garb of the miners, he demonstrated some of the equipment and supplies used by these skilled men, and talked about the lives they led, their families and their faith. He returned for our February, 2003 meeting to talk about the Iron Workers and Puddlers.
If you'd like to meet with others who share Welsh heritage or just a love of the Welsh culture and tradition, consider attending a meeting of the Susquehanna Valley Welsh Society. They meet on the 3rd. Wednesday of each month except July in the Bloomsburg YMCA at 7:00 PM.
In conjunction with the 2004 Iron Heritage Festival, Larry Mordan and Herman Jones, both Welsh descendants, gave a presentation about the community of Welsh miners in Valley Township near Straub's church. One can find many Welsh names on the tombstones in the cemetery. For photos of the tombstones and Larry's presentation click on the link.
Fiona Powell, our local Welsh and Joseph Parry researcher, returned from her 2002 trip to England and Wales full of information and enthusiasm about beginning a "twinning" relationship between Danville and the Welsh town of Merthyr Tydfil. Apparently, Merthyr Tydfil was the iron town in South Wales and many people emigrated to Danville to work in the familiar iron industry. It was also the birth place of Joseph Parry. (More about Joseph below).
The twinning would result in mutual exchange of information and sharing and possible visits between the communities, much like the relationship between nearby Berwick, PA and its sister town in England. It would be of tremendous value to genealogists with Welsh roots. Fiona began speaking with folks in our community and invited MCGS to participate. She shared further details and updates with us at the September meeting. There was considerable enthusiasm expressed from the MCGS membership and Fiona was encouraged to proceed with this project. She presented the twinning proposal to the Danville Borough Council in December and at the January meeting the council unanimously voted to sign a declaration of intent.
April, 2003 update: It's official! Fiona traveled to Wales and presented the proclamation from the Danville Borough Council to the citizens of Merthyr Tydfil. We are now officially a sister city to Merthyr. Below is a transcript of the proclamation that Fiona carried to Wales.
Among the Welsh immigrants to Danville was Joseph Parry, the great Welsh composer, who came to Danville with his family in 1854 at the age of 13. His musical career is said to have begun when, as a boy, he was employed in the Rough and Ready Iron Works and indulged in singing with his friends, John Abel Jones, John Price and Thomas Davis. Although he eventually attended the Royal Academy of Music and returned to Wales to teach music, he returned to Danville from time to time and he "never neglected to honor (it) with every opportunity". His obituary in the Montour American, Thursday, February 19, 1903 said, "His remarkable career possesses a special interest to the people of Danville, for it was here that he lived and moved among the common people - here that his genius was discovered and where he received his first start on his upward career." Here is a link to the article on the Welsh American website that will keep us updated on what is being planned to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his death in 2003.
Joseph's father, Daniel, is buried in the Christ Episcopal Graveyard, Danville. Since this photograph was taken, flowers have been planted.
Montour County Genealogical Society, 205 Ferry St., Danville, PA 17821 (570) 275-6177
Genealogy Room: Thomas Beaver Free Library, 2nd Floor
Hours: Saturdays 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM; Mondays 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Copyright © 2001-14 Cynthia Elder for MCGS. All rights reserved.
This page last modified on May 20, 2014