THE FORGOTTEN WELSH OF TENNESSEE COMMEMORATED IN NEW BOOK
News release from Ylolfa.com, the publisher
The contributions of the Welsh who helped Tennessee rebuild from the American Civil War are close to being forgotten both in America and Wales, but a new book, The Welsh of Tennessee by Dr Eirug Davies, chronicles the exploits of the Welsh who contributed so much to the early industrial development of Tennessee.
There is a long tradition of Welsh who have migrated to the United States due to oppression, especially when worshiping in their native tongue was forbidden. In the 19th century, the influence of the Welsh immigrants and their iron and coal mining ventures in Tennessee was principally responsible for the region’s quick return to economic stability after the Civil War. The hard working Welsh communities also found the freedom to practice and preserve their native language, traditions and culture and wrote extensively about what they saw and experienced in their new home.
Dr Eirug Davies has translated an array of these Welsh narratives which offer a fresh, contemporary account of the times from the viewpoint of coal miners, iron workers, ministers and farmers who cherished education and knew how to celebrate at their Eisteddfod cultural festivals. Published in time for the 110th anniversary of the Fraterville Mine explosion, the book tells how the Welsh became Knoxville’s largest employer, started the Dixie Eisteddfod and got involved in an armed insurrection over the use of convicts in the mines.
One of the key figures mentioned is the Welsh miner David R Thomas, who retired from the Fraterville Mine three months before the great explosion, which claimed the life of every miner present. David R Thomas had the foresight to donate his unique collection of Welsh books to Harvard University. On Saturday, May 19th the Great Fraterville Explosion Tour took place to mark the 110th anniversary of the explosion, and the story of David R Thomas was a part of the tour, and was told as outlined in The Welsh of Tennessee over his grave in Leach Cemetery.
Originally from Llanon, Ceredigion, Dr Davies moved to Boston where he spent the better part of his professional career at the prestigious Air Force Research Laboratory after graduating with a doctoral degree in electrical engineering from the University of Wales. As a hobby, he developed an interest in Welsh literature produced in the United States, and he is currently an associate member of Harvard University’s Celtic Department.
For information about purchasing the book, contact your favorite book store or the publisher, www.ylolfa.com.
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LAST UPDATED: 2 July 2012