By Bill Miller
As I listened to the Mexican laborers building new homes around us speaking in their native tongue and singing music from Mexico in Spanish, it made me reflect on the fact that our families came to America as immigrants. As I watch them work hard for 12 hours a day, I think of our immigrant ancestors and how hard they must have worked just to survive and, at the same time, build the foundations of our country. A little Welch boy immediately comes to mind.
In the tiny village of Nantmel, just outside of Rhayader, Wales stands the historic, stone St. Cynllo Parish Church. We were there searching for my wife’s earliest Jones ancestors, David and Mary Jones. Searching through church records from the 1700s, we finally found them. David Jones and Mary Owens were married in that church on July 13, 1789. Seven years later, June 16, 1796, they gave birth to their only child, David Jones. Five years later, for reasons known only to them, they and their 5 year-old son immigrated to America. They arrived in the Port of Baltimore on June 4, 1801, and settled in Hagerstown, Maryland. Within two years, on September 29, 1803, mother Mary died. Two years later, father David died. David, Jr. was a nine year-old orphan, with nowhere to go.
He was taken in by his neighbors, John and Catharine Carothers, another immigrant family. In 1810 they moved west and relocated in Smithtown, between Morgantown and Fairmont, Virginia (West Virginia), near Prickett’s Fort. There they cleared the land, created a farm and fought off the Indians. In 1925, at age 29, David married the Carothers’ daughter, Mary. They settled down on the farm they had purchased on White Day Creek and raised seven children: Mary E., John C., Andrew J., David W., Robert, Rebecca and Thomas. John C., their oldest son, got married to Dorcas Fast and they bought a farm adjacent to his father’s. John C. and Dorcas Jones are my wife’s great-grandparents. Known as Jones’ Shady Hill Farm, this property stayed in the family until about 2000. David and Mary Carothers Jones are her 2nd great-grandparents, and her immigrant ancestors, David and Mary Owens Jones, are her 3rd great-grandparents.
From such humble beginnings grew a great family. Through the loss of both parents, being raised on a farm working for friendly neighbors, and all the struggles of life on the wild frontier of our young country, young David Jones pushed on, worked very hard and prepared the way for my wife and her mother to get a college education and lead a good life. His descendants spread across this country and helped to shape the development of this great nation. The story that began in a small Welch village is still being written.
You do not have to dig very deeply in the roots of any family in the USA to find similar stories. Our immigrants, full of hope, were struggling to survive and make a new home in a strange land. Genealogical research grounds us in the reality of our past, and generates gratitude for the life we have been given. The truth is we are all descendants of immigrants. If you need help in finding your immigrant ancestors, search out the nearest genealogy center or organization.