Sunday, July 16, 2017
Welsh Festival in Malad, Idaho
One thing on my list for summer was to visit the Welsh Festival in Malad, Idaho. You may not realize it but the Malad Valley has more residents of Welsh descent per capita than any other place in the United States. One of the early Welsh settlers of Malad was my third great grandmother and her family. This was on my list for several years. The last time I had exited Interstate 15 at Malad was over forty years ago when I went with my mother to a Roberts Family Reunion. I was more than ready for another visit.
That first reunion was held in a new park just barely off the freeway. We never ventured on into town. I was pleasantly surprised at the size and beautiful buildings in Malad. It first began to be settled in the late 1860's with my grandmother arriving in 1871. This lovely church was built in 1915 and stands next to the city park.
It has beautiful details and I wondered if one somewhat like it could be found in Wales.
This is where many of the events and displays were located. I loved wandering around inside.
First up was music being performed inside the chapel. Instruments included a harp, pipes, and bag pipes. The music and stories shared were wonderful.
It all sounded lovely in this cove at the front.
Stained glass windows at the back.
Beautiful vaulted ceilings and original light fixtures. The Welsh love to sing and play music. It is part of their very soul. Following the music presentation, a poet explained Welsh poetry and the importance of a Bard. More about that later.
In a large room in the back, early settlers where honored with displays. This is the one I had been looking for, Winnifred "Gwen" Lloyd Roberts Evans.
I tried to take photos of the informational papers as well.
You can read more about Gwen and her life here. You may need a tissue or two.
It was a joy to learn more about Wales and the heritage that is mine as well. I must admit that I didn't know much but it has been a delight to research more the last couple of weeks. This is the costume that was worn by the women on special occasions.
I loved this story of how this particular way of dressing may have saved Wales from totally being taken over by Britain.
Isn't that hat so distinctive? I kind of wish that I had one.
A bit of a write up about Gwen in the Wales exhibit.
A great colorful map. My ancestors came from the northeast corner of Wales. When it became time to leave for America they traveled a relatively short distance north to Liverpool, England to reach their ship, the John Badger.
To have some perspective of the size of Wales, it is 1/8th of the size of the state of Utah. It was difficult for the English to enter Wales as there were high mountain ranges between England and the Irish Sea.
After arriving in America and then in the West, the Welsh tended to settle small towns as a group as they did not understand English. Even their church services were held in Welsh.
Thankfully, Welsh has reemerged as a language of choice in Wales.
I think I would have a very difficult time learning this language.
Captain Dan Jones was born in 1810 also in the north of Wales. He worked as a miner in a lead mine before going to sea at about 16. He traveled the world by ship but eventually ended up being part owner of a paddle boat, the Maid of Iowa, on the Mississippi. Dropping passengers off in Nauvoo led to his introduction to the Mormon Church. When he returned to Wales as a missionary in the 1840's he convinced many others of the truth of this new faith including my ancestors. You can read more of his story as a Missionary in Wales here. It is a fascinating story. A friend recommended a historical fiction book, "Here Be Dragons" by Sharon Kay Penman based, on Wales in the late 1100's and early 1200's. I came upon this fascinating story from the 12th century with regards to Dan Jones. You can read more about the Welsh Indians.
The singing song loving Welsh members formed the beginnings of The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
I enjoyed looking at this early map of Malad City. I do know that my ancestors homesteaded land in the north of Malad and that Gwen's sons built her a log home on North Main Street where she lived until her death.
The city park was beautiful with blue skies, green grass, and great people. If you look closely you will see the singer on stage who also entertained us earlier in the chapel.
We enjoyed a great meal and enjoyed looking at the booths.
"M" on the mountain for Malad. At one time, Malad was the biggest city in Idaho and had the largest department store. Part of the growth in Malad came about because it was chosen to be on the railroad line.
We drove north of Malad wondering if any of this land was settled by the Roberts or Evans families. I always love a good barn picture.
Now, this custom was new to us. For miles the wire fences had fence posts holding old foot wear, mostly boots.
How and when this started, I do not know.
The last stop was the Oneida Pioneer Museum located in an old store in downtown Malad. I walked into the museum and immediately saw my great, great, great grandma looking down on me. Welsh surnames are used over and over. Therefore, it is most unlikely that a Welsh name on your family tree would also be related to another family with that same surname.
Of course I had to take a picture of the donated antique quilts.
And I found a photo of another fancy church building known as the "Church of the Seven Gables." It is no longer standing.
But there was a model of this church. There was a bit of the Provo Tabernacle in this building, too.
After leaving Malad, we drove southwest for 8 miles to Samaria. More about that later.
To discover more about those immigrating from Wales go here.