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With the E-Fro main demonstration behind us, there were just three things left to do before Rebecca and I would fly back home. 

Actually meet and spend at least a day with blood-relatives Elen and Erl tracked down.

Visit the National Library at Aberstythwth to dig out more Welsh Hughes-family information.

Attend the annual Eisteddfod Festival near Saint David's in farthest south western Wales and further promote wireless and e-fro.

Our Welsh Kin Met Up With At Last

We were doubly fortunate that Ann and Roy Benwell lived, retired, close by Bangor and Bethesda at a town called Menai Bridge. That is the only bridge than spans the historically important landmass of Wales and England from the near-island of Anglesy. Which itself is only 50 miles across the sea to Ireland.

The Menai Bridge

 The waterway - an actual tidal channel - that the bridge spans figured in the earliest Welsh History. For Anglesey was the home of most of the Welsh Welsh Kings - including the Tudor line - which according to Erl Wyn Rowlands who researched it - We Hughes's are supposed to be related to back in the 1200's. And which line gave birth to English King Henry VIII.

 

While I am not so sure of that exact connection, (but my grandmother Ellen always told me we were related to 'Royalty')I do know for a scientific fact that my DNA has been mapped from the origins of man in Africa, across the middle east, into what is now Germany, and then ended up in 'Celtic' Ireland and Wales.

But one event in 60AD impresses me more. As the Romans invaded and sought to dominate the people in what is now England and Wales they finally fought their way to the strait of Menai. Anglesey is considered the original home of the Welsh people - it was long called 'Mam Cymru' - Mother of Wales.

Across that waterway on Anglesey lived, among others, the non-Christian Druids. If the 5500 man XIV Gemina Roman Legion under Suetonius  Paullinus was to occupy and toally dominate Anglesey they had to cross the waterway, that tidally rose and fell enough that Roman Soldiers could wade across it, fording chest high.

When they were ordered across, both the Druids and the naked harpies stood on the opposite bank and hurled loud curses at the soldiers while tribesmen pounded their flat swords against their sheilds, while the harpies shrieked across the water at them.

As legend has it, the curses and shreiks so unnerved the Roman Soldiers, that many fled back to the closer shore. Whereupon they were ordered back across, after Paullinus whipped them up like a football coach and this time they made it. And set about killing every known (by their white costume) Druid on the entire island of Anglesy.  

The evidence of that battle that carried across the Menai Straights still exists, in the Welsh name Bryn-y-Beddau, the Hill of Graves , and an area called Plas Goch, the Red Place. And there are two fields further inland named The Field of the Long Battle and the Field of Bitter Lamentation .

It actually took a second invasion 15 years later by Agricola with another Legion before Anglesey was put fully under Roman control. Which lasted only until 400AD when the Romans left England and Wales.

Porthaethwy is the Welsh name for Menai, which itself means the 'tidal' waters.

Ann and Roy Benwell

We found the Benwell's at home in Menai. She is a cousin, who was from a sister of XXX who gave birth to Ellen, my grandmother.

As luck would have it, both had been college instructors. And after retirement, Ann joined the Anglesey Antiquarian Society and had spend years tracing HER lineage, which of course covered the time, people, and places where my Grandmother Ellen Jones Hughes would have lived.

Ann and Roy Benwell at home in Menai, Wales 2002 Welsh Cousin Ann and me 2002

Not only could Ann trace our lineage through Grandmother Ellen Hughes line - who was born on Anglesey in 1863, but they knew several places - where she was born, where she lived, and worked before immigrating to America in 1889. They took the time to drive us there, where I took a number of picture but also a video. Here is where Ellen (also spelled in Wales Elin) Jones, later Hughes, was born on Anglesey.

 

Elin Jones (Hughes) birthplace on Anglesey - 1863

And Ann had papers, postacards, and diaries which came down to her. One postcard was priceless to me. Because while we have long had a picture postcard showing my grandfather Eben and Grandmother Ellen together with all 5 of their children, including my father - in front of a house in early 1900s while they were on the ranch - we did not know, or have, the OTHER side of the same card with its message my grandmother wrote back 'home'. Here are both sides.

Uncle William was Ellen's brother, My father, David Ralph, is the shortest boy 
The priceless OTHER side of the card which says it was posted from Hargisville, Colorado, in 1910, 12 years after Eben and Ellen homesteaded the Hughes Comanche Ranch. Hargisville was a one family-store place with only a short lived Post Office we never, in the family, knew about.) It was 5 miles south of our Ranch at the intersection east-west and north-south roadways. Nothing is there now except the intersection.    

So we got a treasure trove of family information from Ann Benwell, who continues to correspond with Rebecca and I right through 2012. AND she was able to translate letters and other things from Welsh into English, for Welsh-Illiterate me.

The Welsh National Library and where John Hughes was Born

On our way south to St David's, we had the location where John Hughes, a direct ancestor through the male Eben Hughes line went back. We were able to find the farm's location on a real country road in mid Wales. The owner was a German who spoke good English, had owned the farm for about 7 years before 2002, but had ALL the legal documents of ownership back into the late 1700s. Even the location of where the original house and barn - no longer stood - but ALSO the family's Well, the metal cover of which still exists, and I photographed.

 

   
 Name of Farm in Central Wales (2002) where David Hughes, son of John (born in 1769) and Rachel (Lloyd) was born, 1790. The still deed-recorded Well on the Farm, which John, Rachel, David and family drank from. Current owner has all the deed records for this 1700's farm. . The closest Church to John Hughes Farm. At Bwlch Llan. Its very very old and overgrown graveyard could date back to the 12th century. Church not in use. Grave stones so old that names and dates are obliterated. John died when David was 1 year old.

 

 

 

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