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-Translated from " Y Cyfaill", 1894-J.T.W. by Mr. R. Jervis

The first detachment that came here comprised of three families; William Bebb, of Rhiwgriafol, Darowen, North Wales; Thomas Morris, of Dolygweiddil, Trefeglwys, N. Wales; and the writer, R. Jervis, of Llanbrynmair, N. Wales and their families. {Here is a map of North Central Wales showing the three towns mentioned in this paragraph.}

We left Wales, the dear old land of our fathers, early in the month of May, 1847, and after a happy voyage of six weeks and three days (there were sixty Welsh people of the ship) we landed safely in the port of New York; and from there, after traveling westward for two weeks, we reached Cincinnati and Paddy's Run, Ohio where we stayed until the following spring.

In October 1847, Mr. Bebb and his cousin Wm. Bebb, who was the Governor of Ohio at the time, went on a journey through parts of Illinois and Wisconsin, in search of a place to settle. They bought two or three sections of land from the government, for a dollar and a quarter an acre, close to Rockland, Illinois, thinking at the time to begin a Welsh settlement there, but for some reason they gave up that idea and took a second journey through Allen and Van Wert Counties, Ohio and they bought land in York Township Van Wert County, Ohio.

Beginning of April 1848, we started out and traveled northward, one hundred and fifty miles, in a slow boat on the Miami Canal which runs from Cincinnati to Toledo, Ohio, in search of our new home, which was already purchased. We reached Section Ten {now known as Delphos}, eight miles from our settlement. As Bebb and Morris and their families had started out from Hamilton, and myself and family from Cincinnati, they reached the settlement some days before us. It was late Saturday night before we landed, so we had to stay there over Sunday, in an old disordered log-house, with a dirty German family, but is was well for us to have some kind of shelter. We shall never forget that Sunday while we live; we didn't understand one word those Germans said, and they were as ungodly as the devil would wish them to be. The next Monday morning Bebb and Morris sent two wagons to fetch us, drawn, one by a team of horses, and the other by a pair of oxen. After a slow journeying though the woods and bushes for eight miles, without seeing a house or a clearing, we came at last, weary and hungered, safely to the end of our journey. The two families that preceded us were anxiously waiting for us. They had prepared some kind of a log-cabin, which was erected in the woods, with about a quarter of an acre clearing around it, and that is where the town of Venedocia stands today and the beginning of the broad and prosperous settlement of Venedocia, April 1848.

I can remember the first night in our new home. After we had somewhat arranged the little things we had, before we went to rest for the night and closed the "clabors" door, and put some muslin on the glassless window, and held a family prayer to ask Providence to watch over us and our only child sleeping quietly and us ready to go to rest, we heard something scratching at the door, and making the most terrible noise; after a while it shifted toward the clay chimney at the north end of the cabin and scratched and made such awful cries as I never hear their likes. I took hold of my gun which was loaded and after waiting quietly for a moment, I gathered enough courage to go out - my wife carrying the candle. We opened the door, and going out slowly and cautiously, we saw two beasts and I fired at them; one of then fell, but the other escaped. We learned afterwards that they were only porcupines.

As Mr. Bebb was not to have possession of his holding until the month of September following, they spent the summer months with Mr. Morris and his family. There was three-quarters of a mile between us and them. but there was a path that kept red between us. At that time the land was thick with trees, was wet and uninhabited. No doubt it had been the hunting ground of the Indians and the habitation of owls, wolves and ravenous beasts throughout the centuries. The Indians had departed for some years before we arrived, but rapacious beasts were still here, such as panthers, wolves, wild-cats, etc.

As regards to traveling conveniences, there were no railroads within 100 miles of us, if I remember right. The only means of transporting goods to the communities was by the slow-boat, {Webmaster's note: This refers to boats on the Miami and Erie Canal which stopped at Delphos and Spencerville--Charles Good} and when the water would freeze at the beginning of winter, everything had to be at a stand-still until the ice would melt again. There was a good flour mill in Section Ten, which is Delphos today, and there were two stores and a Post Office there. When we had to send a letter, or to make some small errands, we had to go to Section Ten to get them. When we had some butter and eggs to sell, we often took them there in a basket, about nine miles distance, through thick forest and wet, winding paths. After we arrived there, we were given five or six cents a pound for the butter, and five cents a dozen for the eggs in trade. To have any money was out of the question. When we went to the mill, we would start about noon-time to reach there by night. We would tie the horses to the wagon, and we ourselves would stay in the mill-loft until the next morning and the flour would be ready by the time it was light enough for us to return home, so we could see our way through the woods. We always remembered to carry an axe along with us, in case we would want to open a new track so as to escape some of the swamps. Sometimes we ventured too much; the horses could not go on and we had to empty the wagon. A story come to my mind about the Rev. Jenkin Jenkins, Minn..(Siencyn Ddwywaith). One day when standing aside of a swamp on the road, a man with a team of horses who was a stranger in that part came along. "Sir," he said to the Reverend, "is there a bottom to this swamp?""Yes." answered the Reverend and on went the man with his horses, and deeper and deeper he sank into the swamp. Then he shouted in excitement as he looked at Rev. Jenkins, "Man, why are you deceiving me?" and the Reverend coolly answered, "There is a bottom to it but you are not near it yet." We, too, saw similar circumstances many a time. It would have been better for us many times to go round about than to venture straight along.

This state and some bordering states are comprised of wide open spaces and it was difficult at that time to understand in which direction the water ran as the land seemed so level before it was cleared, but after that was done it appeared so much different. It is said that this settlement is the best agricultural in northwest Ohio. As we were in a new country we met with much disadvantage and diseases, such as fever, etc.

It would be appropriate at this junction to say something about our determined and courageous wives, who had been so faithful and a crown to us in every movement. Mrs. Bebb was born in Fanner, Newar Dolgelley, Merionethshire, N.W.: and the wife of this writer a daughter of John Bebb, Canoly Wern, Llanbrynmair; both of them by now have 'risen from the dreary desert, to the blessed Paradise to live! The other wife is Mrs. Morris, (Mrs. Evan B Evans now) who is still with us; she is the daughter of a respected deacon, Mr. Morris Jones, Cumbiga, Trefeglwys.

With regard to religious cause, we went along in the following manner, until we secured a settled minister, except the occasional visits we had from outside preachers. Sunday morning at 10:00, we held a prayer meeting, or more appropriate a preaching meeting. After one of us had opened the meeting with a hymn, and read part of the Scripture and prayed, Mr. Bebb and Mr. Morris would read a sermon and then close the meeting with a hymn and a prayer. Mr. Bebb had a volume of sermons by Rev. Charles, Carmarthen, and he read from this. Mr. Morris would read a sermon from a volume that was published in Liverpool. So we were privileged with a good sermon every Sunday.

At 2:00 pm we had Sunday School, which was carried on in the same manner as it was carried on by Rev. T Charles, of Bala, who established the first Sunday School in Wales and under whose direction Mr. Bebb in his younger days had been organizing Sunday Schools, so therefore he well understood his work.

At 6 o'clock, we had prayer meeting, when one would open and another close the service, with myself very often somewhere in the middle.

Wednesday at 2 o'clock, a church or society meeting. Mr. Bebb would begin with scripture reading and prayer. Mr. Morris would listen to the children saying their scripture verses. The Mr. Bebb would rise and with his remarks would open the "seiat." I well remember him saying that there are three special purposes for holding a society meeting. First, to give expression of our religious experience, to tell what God has done to our souls; second, to take notice of the outward circumstances of the church; third, that it was essential for the success of the religious cause to keep church discipline in the forefront, that to neglect this would be like an opening in the wall for the enemy to come in like a river. Then Mr. Morris would say a few encouraging words, exhorting us not to be disheartened if not blessed with the means of grace as we wished, and he reminded us of Jesus Christ's promise. "I will not leave you comfortless, I will come unto you." And with many other remarks, these two dear, and faithful deacons heartened us to carry on, trusting the Lord that He would surely prosper us physically and spiritually, if we would only remain faithful to His work and cause. And after a few words by myself, Mr. Morris would close the meeting very effectually with a prayer.

That was the first Welsh church meeting that was held in Van Wert County, April 1848. We lived here for about five years without a regular minister. There were many ministers that visited us during this period. The first was the Rev. Michael Jones, of Bala, He preached on a Sunday night in the month of June 1848, and this was the first Welsh sermon held in Van Wert County. The Rev. David Jones (Cong.) Gomer, visited us in the summer and the autumn following. The Rev. Howell Powell was here in the April 1849 and he stayed with us for a week and nine days, on his way to the M.C. Gymanga in Neward, O. He preached and held a "seiat," and preformed the sacrament of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. He baptized Margaret Ann, the daughter of this writer, (Mrs. M.H. Morgan) the first Welsh child that was born in the settlement. This was the time that we as a church sent a request with Rev. Howell Powell to be accepted into the union with the T.C. Gymanfa, which was to be held in Newark, O. and our request was granted. No quarterly meeting had been established here at that time.

About the end of March or the beginning of April in the same year, D.M. Jones came here and sttled among us; a religious young man, faithful and useful. He afterwards married Laura, the eldest daughter of Mr. Bebb, the first marriage in Venedocia and both remain with us to this day and are proverbial for their kindness and faithfulness.

There came in the same spring, David Owens, Edward Jones, Robert Richards, David Hughes, Rowland Evans and their families. They were all church members, which was a great encouragement to us. We were quite happy and brotherly and peace and quiet prevailed among us.

In October 1849, the Rev. Robert Williams and several others from Jackson, O. visited us. Mr. Williams was here about a week and we had a feast under his ministry. As the boat was late in reaching Spencerville Saturday night, he, and the others had to walk eight miles through the woods Sunday morning. He preached at 2 o'clock from the words in Acts 10:33, " Now, therefore, we are all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God." He was in our sight like Peter in the house of Cornelius.

In the year 1850, several ministers visited us; the Rev. W. Parry, Granville, O., and the venerable James Davies (Cong.) Gomer, O., He preached quite often to us during his stay in Gomer, and with zeal and enthusiasm as were his custom. Maybe others were here at this period, but have escaped my memory.

During this year we began to talk about building a church and the work was completed by the end of the year 1851. It was a frame building, measuring 20 by 30 feet. We paid for it without a cent of help from anybody. On the day of its opening the Rev. Robert Williams and Evan S. Jones, Jackson, O., preached.

A short time before we built the new church, we had a preaching appointment with the Rev. Hugh Edward Rees, of Cincinnati, who intended to stay for a short while in our midst. By the time he arrived here he was very ill, and he died within a few days, which was a great disappointment to us. The Rev. James Davies, Gomer, and Edward Hughes (a young man from Cincinnati who had started to preach) officiated at the house, and the body was taken to Cincinnati for burial.

In 1852 we had a preaching meeting. There were three noted characters taking part in it; the Rev. David Williams, Pittsburgh, Pa., James Davies, Gomer, O., and Samuel Roberts, Llanbrynmair, N.W. the three old veterans were at their best in preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ to us. The three are in heaven since many years.

In 1853, after much anxiety of having a minister to settle among us, at last we succeeded in having the Rev. Hugh Pugh, a native of Morionithshire, N. W., a worthy minister of the New Testament; a strong man in the Scriptures. He labored here for many years; faithful, industrious and acceptable, for a very little recompense because of the straitened circumstances of many of us.

Some years after Mr. Pugh came here, the Rev. H.P. Howell visited us. At that time he was at Paddy's Run, a young man beginning to preach. When he arrived here Mr. Pugh's daughter had died, and he himself was very sick. This was the first time for Rev. H.P. Howell to officiate at a funeral. While praying for the sorrowing family, he asked most earnestly, if in accordance with the will of God, that Mr. Pugh's life be spared for fifteen years, for the sake of religious cause in the neighborhood and his family and strange to say he died in fifteen years of that time.

Space will not allow us to make particular not of the friends that came here from the year 1850to 1852, such as Richard Evans; D. J. Jones; D. Davies; the blacksmith; John Richard; John M. Jones; J. J. Jones; and their families, all of whom were an ornament to the settlement.

Also we would have to say a word about another detachment that came here about the same period, namely, Hugh F. Jones; Abraham Jones; Thomas Hughs; David Breese; Richard Thomas; and his brother John Thomas; Edward Thomas; William Hughes; John Pritchard; J. George, and their families. They settled about four or five miles west of Venedocia, and that place is called the upper settlement. {This place is now known as Jonestown. It has also been called Tokio. --Charles Good} They walked on Sunday through the woods to Venedocia to worship in Salem Chapel, where they were members, until they built a church of their own. For the sake of convenience they all joined together to hold a religious service in the house of Abraham Jones and the Ark of the Lord continued there for many days. It would not be inappropriate to paraphrase those words in 2 Samuel 6:11-"And the Lord blessed Abraham Jones and his household." A Church was built there, convenient to the settlement and was called "Chapel Seion."

From: Martha J. Meredith
To: Laura Uhl

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