Staying together in Wilkes-Barre A Welsh community in America


The Welsh side of the family which emigrated to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, USA appears to have retained the practice of close-knit communities. There was generally a strong influx to the area from Wales, following the opportunities in coal mining and iron works. And the individual family groups stayed close to each other, at least to start with, as in the Welsh valleys.

The picture in 1910

From the 1910 US Census we can see that Grace Price, the child of Thomas Price and Mary Griffiths who has rather confusingly married William Griffiths (from a different family), is living with husband, 6 children and another William Griffiths aged 69  – almost certainly her uncle although shown as a boarder. The address is 148 Sheridan Street.

Immediately following them on the census form, at 146 Sheridan Street, are Grace’s parents, Thomas and Mary. Two children were still living at home – Tracy and William (Harold) Price.

The next entries, around the corner in 445 South Street {1}, are David and Grace Phillips, plus children Daniel and Anne (surname written Philips). Although not 100% certain, I believe this Grace is the daughter of Daniel and Anne Thomas (nee Griffiths). Who happen to be at 447 South Street – for some reason they appear as O’Thomas but it can hardly not be them, with a granddaughter Anna M also there who appears in the 1920 census with the Phillips.

Anne Thomas is of course the sister of Mary Price, and the two are also siblings to the other Wilkes-Barre incomer from the Griffiths family, Ruth Davies. Ruth’s son William Griffiths Davies had given 445 East South Street as his address in his 1907 passport application (unfortunately he died in France in 1918, not long before the war ended). Eldest sister Phoebe remained in Wales and married great great grandfather Levy Watkins.

This evident closeness makes it more intriguing why the remaining sister Elizabeth went off to the Otago province of New Zealand with husband Rees Hughes. Too late for the gold rush, although her place of death is given as Cambrian, on the edges of the gold mining area. Maybe she had had enough of her siblings!

Notes

1. The census only gives the street name as South Street, although the 1907 passport application from William G Davies has East South Street, and the current Google Maps shows South Street as split between East and West.

2. The 1910 Census gives information on whether a property is owned or rented:

  • 148 Sheridan St (Griffiths) – rented.
  • 146 Sheridan St (Price) – owned, mortgage.
  • 445 South Street (Phillips) – rented.
  • 447 South Street (Thomas) – owned, not clear if mortgaged.

3. Thanks to Tracy Ann Jones for the census copies.

4. Also see Cracking a family myth for more on the Griffiths branch.

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