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Sunday, 2 September 2007

Visiting Cwm Celyn


Today I finally visited the farmstead called Cwm Celyn. For many years it was the home of my great great grandparents Evan and Grace Evans and their family. The present owners, Ian and Abigail had kindly invited us to go up and have resided there for 4 years.
We came off the main road just after passing the Fairy Glen Hotel on the A470, which can take you to Dolwyddelen and Blaenau Ffestiniog, and found Abigail and her husband waiting for us in their landrover. It was just as well, Cwm Celyn was a further 3 miles up a track that weaved and meandered through the pine trees that formed part of the Gwydir Forest. We passed the spot where Evan rescued an American lady from the hands of her newly wed husband, beaten to an inch of her life with a boulder. We found out later that the poor lady was pregnant at the time and contributed to the husband's decision to murder her. No doubt that this event made Evan headline news in his local community, but it also reached the national attention as The Times newspaper also reported it.

When we reached the top the house looked impressive, and the extension caught my eye, possibly because the only image I had previously seen was the half finished construction Evan was in the middle of building in the 1890's photo. The inside of the house has not changed a lot and is as authentic as a 19th century farmhouse can be. It is a credit to Abigail and Ian that they have not altered it too much nor do they wish to. They clearly enjoy being in these surroundings and are also very enthusiastic about the history of the building and the previous occupants. As Abigail commented she knows more about the Evans' than her own family! The age of the house goes back to at least 1680, and they both have accumulated an impressive amount of research. Rest assured that Cwm Celyn is in good hands!
Ian showed us the work that is ongoing in converting the barn/stable which is quite roomy. I can't wait to see it when it's completed. What is also interesting that they have saved some original stones from the walls which have initials carved into it. Evan Evans built the extension originally and has engraved his on the wall that still stands. On loose stones kept by Ian, there are M.O. and J.H. engraved. The M.O. could have been marked by either Margaret Owen or her daughter Mary Owen who lived nearby at Llanerch Elsi. It depends when the marks were made but stikes me as something a child would do so my guess would be Mary Owen, who was born in 1892. Mary and her family would emigrate to the United States in January 1913 on the same ship as Mary's uncle and younger son of Evan, Owen Evans, and start their American adventure at a place called McRoberts, a small mining town in Kentucky. Mary and her sister Margaret both married while they were in Kentucky but eventually moved to Akron, Ohio. Mary married Morgan L Boone, a descendant of Samuel Boone, brother to the famous frontiersman Daniel. Owen eventually settled at Glendale, Los Angeles with his new bride, a Welsh lady named Mabel Canfield from Pontypridd. He started a thriving construction business at Glendale.
We plan to go again (hopefully when the weather will be better) as there are other places to see around Cwm Celyn. I am amazed at how far the children had to walk to school every day and Evan used to work in the slate mines of Blaenau Ffestiniog. They just had to do it, no other choice, and I doubt that they ever complained about it.

10 comments:

Susan said...

Thank you, Gwyn, for sharing your experience. Would love to visit someday.

The new owners sound very gracious. I remember my grandma Martha fondly recalling her childhood years there with her pet donkey. Thanks for the photo.

Best to you and your family.

Gwyn said...

Hello Susan,
Good to be in touch with you at last. It was a great experience and nice to be the lastest member of the family to tread those same steps as your grandma. I would love to go there when the weather is sunny and we hope to return to see the place when the alterations are complete. Abigail and Ian are really nice, accomodating people and genuinely have a passion for Cwm Celyn. She is upset that other farmsteads owned by our family nearby are left to disrepair, and I would sure would like these places to be saved as well.
Keep dropping in as I plan to post more anacdotes and reminiscences about my family. Hopefully you will learn something new about us!
All the best.

Karen said...

Hi, Gwyn, I'm Karen, Evan Evans great-granddaughter and Martha Evans-Galloway's 3rd grandchild (Susan's the 1st; Diane's the 4th). I live in Glendale CA currently, attending nursing school there. I write to express my appreciation for your post of today. I had visited Cwm Celyn in 1982 when I was 23, craving to see it and know its history and influences of the time, details of the people's lives, as our "Gramma Galloway" was quite an amazing and strong woman ... brave and steadfast and quite an activist while we were growing up (clearly Evan Evans' courageous influence--to have faced a weaponed man in order to save the pregnant woman's life, per your post--I look forward to seeing The Times article.) Grandma Evans-Galloway really enjoyed teaching us to sing and dance (very Welsh!) and called us to "put on the TV--" whenever Tom Jones was on! She encouraged us to write poetry--using alot of humor, and coloring our lives with stories of her youth...so, by age 24 I "itched" to visit this fabulous area where she so fondly spoke of, while sipping her Typhoo tea, that we drink today...
My trip was highlighted by many moments of pure hospitality and brilliant fun in England and Wales, inherent qualities of my father and grandmother.
Sending gratitude--to you, Abigail and Ian--I'm so glad to hear both you and they are passionate about Cym Celyn. We (Martha's grandchildren--and our future family line I am sure) fully appreciate adventurous spirit and legwork in pursuing the very worthwhile quest of discovering family history. Our ancesters' lives influence us in so many ways--looking forward to learning more!
Best--Karen Solomon-Galloway

Gwyn said...

So nice to hear from you Karen. I knew you had visited at some time and I am glad I went there at this time after discovering more about the people who lived and visited there. While I was there I kept thinking about those people and where they must have walked through. How did you get up there? Luckily we had Ian drive us up in the land rover, but otherwise we would have been fagged out or got lost!
Hopefully more posts to come, and Good luck with your nursing course. Keep in touch.
Gwyn

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