Monthly Archives: December 2013

Civil War Christmas, 1862

From the diary of William Ellis Jones, II, of Crenshaw’s Battery, Pegram’s Battalion, Hill’s “Light Division”, Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

Thursday, December 25, 1862
Christmas Morn broke very threatening, but cleared off beautifully and warm. The boys started at seven o’clock to go on picket, after which the camp was dull and lonesome. During the morning we were called up and paid off until the 31st of October; $119.10, for clothes and wages. After dark the boys of ours and other batteries enjoyed themselves by having a battle with lighted port-fires, which presented a handsome pyrotechnic display.

Friday, December 26, 1862
Christmas has come and gone, and I sincerely hope I will never spend another in the army.

William, my great-great-great-grandfather, would endure two more Christmases in the Confederate Army. He was wounded at Spotsylvania in 1864, but miraculously survived the War, despite seeing hot action in some of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, including Gaines Mill, in May/June of 1862, Second Battle of Mananas in August of 1862, the Battle of Sharpsburg, September, 1862, the Battle of the “Crater”, in Petersburg, July, 1864, Vicksburg, Second Battle of Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and finally was present at the Fall of Richmond, in April, 1865.

Franklin County Hot Potato Toss – New Developments


Responsibility and Motivation remain the “hot potato” topics no one quite wants to handle.

In response to the Friday, December 20, 2013, email I sent to Sarah Koonts and others (see 12/20/2013, Note #1, below), at the North Carolina State Archives, regarding the destruction of Franklin County records, an interesting – if not entirely satisfactory – exchange has resulted.

I have published the email exchange below for your perusal. I encourage others to examine the responses and if you feel I have missed anything or arrived at ill-considered conclusions, please let me know ASAP.

Based on this response, here’s my thinking, so far:

1] Ms. Koonts (Director, Division of Archives and Records), generally seems to be laying the blame for the records destruction squarely on the doorstep of the Franklin County Officials (with other fingers pointing toward Angela Harris, Franklin County Manager).
See email 12/23/2013 – Note #2 below: “…the time and date of the destruction isn’t ours to determine.”
See email 12/23/2013 – Note #4 below: “The final decision to destroy the records and not elect to do anything else with them was a county decision, not ours.”

 2] Ms. Koonts did not satisfy me in regards to my question (posed in email of 12/23/2013 – Note #3 below) “… WHY – specifically – Ms. McGee-Langford felt she had the authority to recommend specifically “No other disposition is advised, including donation of the records to a non-government entity for any reason.” (Emphasis is mine.)

If the Heritage Society and Franklin County community were willing to take the risk, finance the salvage and preservation operation – who is the NC Archives (since you found no value in the materials) to prohibit such action – even if your organization felt it was a waste of time and resources?

This statement, “No other disposition is advised, including donation of the records to a non-government entity for any reason.” Just seems to scream to me of absolute intent to prevent – at all costs – the examination of these records by the folks at the Franklin County Heritage Society (or any careful examination by anyone else, for that matter.)


Why, if the contamination risk was so severe, did NC Archives feel safe in taking possession of fifteen boxes of materials?

Why use such strong language – and language so specifically aimed at preventing critical examination – if the decision really is the county’s to make? (i.e., there really isn’t a major health and safety risk, because the documents are salvageable.)

These two facts argue against one another. The logic is circular.

Ms. Koonts, in her emails to me, soft-pedals the role that NC Archives had in the destruction of these materials. By the letter of the law, she is correct that the final decision is with county officials. But the tone of Ms. McGee-Langford’s letter of October 29, 2013 (see here: Koontz2Chastain-10-29-2013) isn’t soft on the decision at all; “No other disposition is advised, including donation of the records to a non-government entity for any reason.”

That’s a command. And I feel it would be interpreted as such, coming as it did to the Franklin County Clerk of Court, Patricia Chastain, on State of North Carolina letterhead, bearing Governor Pat McCrory’s name at the very top. It looks and sounds like an authoritative command to me.

The over-riding questions I want answers to are these;
1] Who made the decision to destroy the documents?
2] What was the principal motivation for their destruction? (NC Archives says the documents were contaminated but chose to salvage some for it’s purposes, anyway. The Franklin County community was willing to pay for expense of salvage. Why did the remaining records have to be destroyed?)
3] Why was the decision to destroy the documents carried out on a Friday evening, after regular business hours – with no prior notice to any of the interested parties?

I still haven’t gotten to the nut of any of these questions.

So what is next?

1] I think I’m going to drop Angela Harris, Franklin County Manager at note, and see what she’s got to say about this mess.
Specifically I want to know:
– Did she feel as if the decision to retain or destroy the records was hers to make, or did she feel like she’d gotten a mandate from the State?
– Was there other pressure exerted from anywhere else, in regards to destroying the materials?
– Who hired and paid for the Hazmat team? What did it cost? Was the County Board consulted?
– Why was the confiscation of the materials carried out on a Friday evening, after regular official county business hours?

2] I’m certainly going to drop Patricia Chastain a note.

3] And even though she’s already posted a good deal about this, I think it would be worthwhile to try to get a more clear picture from Diane Taylor Torrent at Franklin County Heritage, what she REALLY thinks is going on here.

I would certainly appreciate any additional thoughts and guidance on the issue at hand, and any additional interpretations of the communications thus far. I welcome all comments.


Email Communications Between Sarah Koonts and Myself – 12/20/2013 through 12/23/2013

Note from CH Jones to Sarah Koonst, et al. – December 20, 2013 – Note #1

Message-ID: XXX
Date: Fri, 20 Dec 2013 22:55:50 -0500
From: Connie <>
User-Agent: XXXXXXX
Subject: Franklin County Records
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Dear Management and Staff of the North Carolina Archives,

As a citizen of the state of North Carolina, with ancestral roots in Franklin County, I was horrified to learn of the destruction of the newly discovered records in the basement of the Franklin County Courthouse.

Since I am a taxpayer and at least in part fund your collective salaries, I feel entitled to a complete and thorough explanation of precisely how this decision was arrived at? Who made it? Why it was carried out on a Friday night with no prior notice? And, finally, what plans your organization has to hold the guilty parties responsible?

The loss – of course – can never be recovered. The damage is done. Nevertheless, the perpetrators and co-conspirators should face the public, explain themselves, and face the consequences of their actions.

(I have a few suggestions, but those sort of punishments went out of fashion with the fall of the Inquisitors.)

This letter is being sent to the Governor’s office, to the N&O, and to WRAL, as well.

I expect a timely response.

— Constance Hall Jones

RESPONSE from Sarah Koonts to CH Jones, et al. – December 23, 2013 – Note #2

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From: “Koonts, Sarah” <>
To: Connie <>, “Mcgee-lankford, Becky”<>, “Vincent, Tom” <>
CC: “Cox, Cary” <>
Subject: RE: Franklin County Records
Thread-Topic: Franklin County Records
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Ms. Jones,
We received your inquiry below regarding the recent destruction of records held by various offices of Franklin County government.   I can only speak to the involvement of the Division of Archives and Records and our legal mandate to conduct records management programs in conjunction with state and local government offices.  The State Archives is one of the oldest and largest state archival programs in the country and our collections are one of, if not the largest single collection of permanently valuable state and local government records in the country.  We have been utilizing established professional standards for the appraisal of public records for over a century.

In doing so we work with the records creators to identify records of long term or permanent value to the state of North Carolina.  Records falling into this status provide legal, evidentiary, fiscal, or historical evidence of government and its operations.  These records must be either maintained permanently by the creating office or transferred to us for permanent retention.  The records not identified as being permanently valuable are under the care and control of the creating office.

The Department of Cultural Resources is mandated by G.S. 121-5 to conduct a records management program for government offices within the state.  In doing so we work with offices to create records schedules.  These schedules identify each major series of records and then assign a minimum retention period.  Once the minimum retention period is met, the custodial offices can either destroy the records as outlined in the schedule or they can hang on to them longer.  No schedule mandates destruction of any records, it sets a minimum retention.  As stated above, records with permanent value must remain in the office or be transferred here.  If a government office has approved the application of the records retention and disposition schedule, they do not need to notify us of their destructions as outlined by the records schedules.   Records not appearing on a records schedule may not be destroyed without our consent.  In addition, one office may not destroy another’s records.  So for example, the Register of Deeds may not destroy the records from the Clerk of Superior Court.

The records stored in the basement of the Franklin County courthouse originated in a number of county offices.  Many of them were scheduled for destruction as far back as 1964.  Others were draft copies of records duplicated elsewhere.  Still others have very transitory value (check stubs).  Others had reached their scheduled disposition and contained highly confidential, personally identifiable information and should have been protected in secure storage, not co-mingled with records from other offices.  Based on the inventory of the basement storage provided by the county officials, we agreed that the records identified to us as being stored there could be destroyed based on established records schedule.  Beyond that, the time and date of the destruction isn’t ours to determine.  As stated above, a custodial office is always welcome to keep records beyond their retention.

Earlier this year we did remove some civil actions from the county’s custody.  Those are a permanent record and need to be retained here where we can preserve the information in them.

If you have questions about the conditions of the storage room or the conditions of the records destruction, I suggest you refer to Franklin County officials.  I appreciate your concern for these records and for our state’s history.  The staff of the Division of Archives and Records share your concern.  Our careers are dedicated to identifying and saving public records of our state.  We work hard every day to preserve and to make available public records from all across government, and we already have a very large collection of Franklin County records in original and microfilm format.


Sarah Koonts

Sarah E. Koonts
Director, Division of Archives and Records
North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources
4614 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC  27699-4614
(919) 807-7339 voice; (919) 715-7274 fax

Email to this address may be subject to the North Carolina Public Records Law (NCGS 132) and may be disclosed to a third party by authorized state officials.

RESPONSE: CH Jones to Sarah Koonts – December 20, 2013 – Note #3

Message-ID: <>
Date: Mon, 23 Dec 2013 11:59:01 -0500
From: Connie <>
User-Agent: XXXXXX
To: “Koonts, Sarah” <>
Subject: Re: Franklin County Records
References: XXXXXXX

Ms. Koonts,

I thank you for your thorough and timely response to my inquiry. I’m well aware of the work you and your staff do at the NC Archives, the value of that work, and the professional dedication you apply to it.I’ve spent some time in the archives and I’ve always been impressed with both the personnel and the collections.

I’ve spent the weekend investigating this issue and while I’m far from arriving at any great conclusions, there are at least two point regards to your agency’s involvement that I can’t resolve.

FIRST – On October 29, 2013, Ms. Rebecca McGee-Langford wrote to Franklin County Clerk of Court, Patricia Barnette Chastain with her report and recommendations regarding the materials. In the final two paragraphs she states the following;
“The State Archives of North Carolina has taken possession of 15 boxes of civil and criminal case files, 4 volumes of Justice Dockets, Criminal  Court (1960’s), and 1 volume of Records of Magistrates (1880’s). These records were in better condition than the records that remain in the basement. These records will be preserved by the State Archives.

“In conclusion, we urge county officials to take immediate action to destroy these records. No other disposition is advised, including donation of the records to a non-government entity for any reason. The health and safety issue concerning these records outweighs all other considerations.”

The first paragraph states the NC Archives retained 15 boxes of materials that were “in better condition” than others remaining in the basement. The second paragraph strongly urges “immediate action [to] destroy these records” (i.e. the records remaining in the basement), based on health and safety concerns. Based on the report provided by Sarah C. West, retaining ANY documents is ill-advised due to contamination risk. The documents in the 15 boxes retained by NC Archives were from the basement, had not been decontaminated, and therefore were NOT in better condition than many of the remaining materials slated for destruction. The logic is arbitrary and irrational. Either everything was contaminated beyond salvation, or many (if not most of) the intact documents remaining in the basement could have been salvaged.

Which is it?

SECOND – I question WHY – specifically – Ms. McGee-Langford felt she had the authority to recommend specifically “No other disposition is advised, including donation of the records to a non-government entity for any reason.” (Emphasis is mine.)

If the Heritage Society and Franklin County community were willing to take the risk, finance the salvage and preservation operation – who is the NC Archives (since you found no value in the materials) to prohibit such action – even if your organization felt it was a waste of time and resources?

This question needs to be answered, as I believe it gets to the very core of the outrage. If you can answer this to the community’s satisfaction without using the circular logic so far applied to previous rationalizations, you may go a long way toward deflecting the negativity that has arisen around this issue.

I thank you for your time and attention.

–Connie Jones
Raleigh, NC

RESPONSE from Sarah Koonts to CH Jones, et al. – December 20, 2013 – Note #4

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From: “Koonts, Sarah” <>
To: Connie <>
CC: “Cox, Cary” <>, “Cherry, Kevin”
<>, “Mcgee-lankford, Becky”
<>, “Vincent, Tom” <>
Subject: RE: Franklin County Records
Thread-Topic: Franklin County Records
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Ms. Jones,
County officials were advised by my office that, as with any other series of records that were not scheduled to be retained permanently, they could elect to retain or transfer non-confidential records to another local entity, but we advised them against that course of action due to the conditions of the records as reported in Ms. West’s letter.  Based on the inventory provided by the county officials, we saw no other records of permanent value.

The final decision to destroy the records and not elect to do anything else with them was a county decision, not ours.  Franklin County is not alone in storing records in substandard conditions.  On occasion the State Archives has removed permanently valuable records from poor environments, brought them to Raleigh for evaluation and reformatting.  Records that have been damaged by natural disasters in NC have been salvaged for reformatting because the originals posed too great of a threat to retain, but the information needed to be saved.  The records in question from Franklin County will be evaluated and, most likely, reformatted to retain the information.

I apologize if any responses provided by our office seems to have “circular logic” as mentioned below.  The retention and disposition of public records is always a joint effort between our office and the custodial agency.  In the case of Franklin County, that included a number of county offices, as well as the Administrative Office of the Courts, who have ultimate authority over records created by the clerks of superior court.  Each office has a role to play in maintenance of public records, and I can only speak to our agency’s role in this process.  Our office works closely with AOC on issues relating to court records, and we did put great weight on their professional opinion as to the conditions in the courthouse storage areas and impact on the records stored there for decades.

Thanks, Sarah Koonts

Sarah E. Koonts
Director, Division of Archives and Records
North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources
4614 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC  27699-4614
(919) 807-7339 voice; (919) 715-7274 fax

Email to this address may be subject to the North Carolina Public Records Law (NCGS 132) and may be disclosed to a third party by authorized state officials.

More Details on the Franklin Co., NC Records Destruction

Destroyed Ledgers at Franklin County CourthouseThanks to friends, I got a hold of some documents posted by the North Carolina Genealogical Society, that are integral to the story of the destroyed records in Franklin County. I am reposting those documents  in the timeline I have laid out below, and at the end of this document.

If anyone has anything additional to add, I would certainly appreciate it. I have a feeling this is just the tip of the iceberg.



August, 1964 – “Franklin County Records Inventory and Schedules” conducted by the State Department of Archives and History, Raleigh, N.C. This document (available here: FranklinCtyRecordsInventory09-1964) is a 50-year-old document detailing the contents of the Franklin County Court House records, and indications from NC Archives on which materials are to be disposed of, how, and when. This document is crucial in understanding what follows below. In effect, what happened, is that in 1964 the NC Archives gave recommendations for the destruction of materials, but for some reason the folks in Franklin County chose to ignore the instructions, and saved the materials in the basement. This document comes back into play in October 2013, and is used as the basis for the folks in the 21st century NC Archives, strongly urging destruction of what the community in Franklin County deems to be a critical records of their cultural heritage.

May, 2013 – Franklin County Clerk of Superior Court, Alice Faye Hunter resigns. A new Clerk is appointed; Patricia Burnette Chastain.

Mrs. Chastain discovered that the basement of the courthouse has been abandoned for many years. Upon opening the basement she found old documents, books, and records in a state of disarray, some destroyed by mold, some in boxes, some piled and strewn on the floor. Neglect and water damage, repairmen periodically in and out of the room without concern for the arrangement of documents, and failure of some of the boxes, resulted in an unorganized, unhealthful mess.

At some point during May, 2013, Ms. Chastain contacted Diane Taylor Torrent of Franklin County Heritage (a volunteer association of amateur and professional genealogists, historians, and citizens interested in Franklin County history) in order to assist her in assessing the historical significance of the materials, and (ostensibly) to determine what should and could be salvaged.

A cursory examination revealed that there were documents in the room from many Franklin County agencies, including; the court as well as register of deeds, county finance, board of education, sheriff’s office, county jail, elections board and others. Some records dated back as far as 1840.

May 16The Heritage Society of Franklin County, NC, presented a program to its membership along with members of the community to discuss the best way to proceed.  Present were local historians, genealogists, friends of the library, the arts council, the new Clerk of Court (Ms. Chastain) and County Commissioner Sidney Dunston.  All present were shown photos of the basement and the condition of the records.

May 25, 26, & 27Ms. Chastain and Ms. Torrent spent three days removing trash, broken furniture, discarded carpet, etc. from the basement, so as to make space to reach and work with the documents.

According to Ms. Torrent, “Mrs. Chastain recognized the value of having a group of genealogist(s) and historians available who were willing and able to ascertain the historic worth of these records to the community and asked the Heritage Society to review, record, digitize and preserve the records.   Due to space constraints and conditions in the basement it was decided that only a few would be allowed to begin the work.  The Heritage Society provided the appropriate protective gear for the work to begin.  Masks, gloves, sanitizers, etc. were bought by the Society and placed in the basement for the use of everyone entering.”

Late May, early June, 2013 – Work began, using a few volunteers, to collect loose documents from the floors and to place them in boxes for later, more thorough examination. A variety of box types were used, including recycled boxes from county agencies with recent dates on the labels. (It has been presumed that the dates on the labels caused some confusion among both County and State workers, later in the review of the room, giving them the impression that the boxes contained very current records which might pose a threat of identity theft or privacy violation. In fact there were no records more recent than 1969 found by workers sorting through the materials.)

The following is a description of the early investigation, accounted by Ms. Torrent of Franklin County Heritage Society; “Immediately we found Chattel Mortgages from the 1890’s, court dockets from post civil war to prohibition, delayed birth certificate applications with original supporting documents (letters from Grandma, bible records, birth certificates, etc), county receipts on original letterhead from businesses long extinct, poll record books, original school, road and bridge bonds denoting the building of the county, law books still in their original paper wrappings, etc., etc. etc. The list goes on and on.   Our original feelings of shock that the records were there and in such bad condition led to feelings of joy that they were still there and that someone had thought to retain them for us to discover so many years later.

“Each book or box opened produced a new treasure. A letter, stamped and in the original envelope, from a Franklin County soldier serving in France during the First World War asking the court to be sure his sister and his estate was looked after while he was away. A naturalization paper from the late 1890s for an immigrant from Russia escaping the tyranny of the Czar. A document from County Commissioners in the early years of road building requesting another county repair their road as it entered the county. Lists of county employees and what their wages were in 1900.  A court document paying the court reporter who took the depositions in the “Sweat Ward” case, (Ward beheaded a man in the 1930s and later became the last man to be lynched in the county).   Postcards, county bills, audits, cancelled checks, newspaper clippings, store ads from long gone businesses.  Boxes and boxes of court cases covering the years of prohibition, a docket from an individual accused of running a “baudy house” within the city limits, a photo tucked now and then inside a book, one of the courthouse unseen since the 1920s. Again, nothing was in any order and many of the boxes were combinations of records from many decades.”

June 2013Ms. Torrent contacted the County and requested new, durable records boxes, to replace the recycled office boxes and liquor store boxes the team of volunteers working on the project had been using up to that date. She received 40 boxes from the County.

The Heritage Society contacted the North Carolina State Archives for advice on handling old documents and the best archiving method. (Sarah E. Koonts, Director of the North Carolina Archives, records the date of contact as August, 2013 in her October, 2013 letter to Patricia B. Chastain, Franklin County Clerk of Court. See Letter Here: Koontz2Chastain-10-29-2013)

June and July, 2013 – According to Ms. Torrent, the North Carolina State Archives determined that their division should have control over the basements contents. The NC Archives sent “a representative” who looked through the basement and said “they would get back to us with a report on the next steps.”

– According to Sarah Koonts letter of October 29, 2013 (linked above), two representatives were sent on August 21, 2013. These were NC Archives employees Tom Vincent and Carolyn “Carie” Chesarino.

– At some point, Carie Chesarino and Sarah C. West; Safety and Health Specialist, NC Administrative Office of the Courts, also visited the Franklin County Courthouse, as is shown in Ms. Wests’ report of October 21, 2013. See that email to the left. Chesarino2McGee11-15-2013

In the meantime, the Franklin County Heritage Society continued working in the cramped and moldy environment of the basement while waiting for an assessment from the NC Archives.   June and July were very wet months and many days workers were unable to enter the basement, due to unhealthful conditions (damp and mold.)

August, 2013 – August 5, 2013 Steve Trubilla, on behalf of the Franklin County Heritage Society, made a request at the County Commissioner’s meeting, to provide adequate space for the preservation to continue.

Within the same time frame, JM Dickens, a local business owner, donated the use of office space across the street from the courthouse. Additionally, Franklin County citizens donated supplies.

The Franklin County Commissioners agreed to provide electric and water to the donated offices for six months.

Holt Kornegay, Franklin County Librarian, attended the August meeting of the Heritage Society and offered to train volunteers to use a computer program designed to archive the records so that they would integrate into the existing system and be accessible to the public.

A request was made to The United Way to supply the Society with computers and Steve Trubilla donated a scanner/copier.

August 13, 2013, Mrs. Chastain, Franklin County Clerk of Court, provided trustees to begin moving the records to the newly donated space.  All of the new, clean file boxes, repacked with the old, dusty records from the basement floor, were moved to the upstairs space

August 13 – 16Diane Taylor Torrent was out of town on business.

August 15, 2013 – An issue of proper insurance arose, temporarily stopping progress. Superior Court Judge Bob Hobgood offered to pay for the insurance for the 6 months that the offices were in use.

During this general period – The Heritage Society was told to “Stand Down” by County Management (it is unclear who “County Management” refers to, whether it was Chastain, the County Commissioners, Angela Harris, the Franklin County Manager, or just who.) The reasoning for this order was for the need to preserve “chain of custody” for sensitive materials like adoption records, birth records, etc. This concern arose erroneously, according to Ms. Torrent, due to the use of recycled boxes with contemporary labels, which were used to contain much older documents that were not related to the labels on the boxes which contained them. Nevertheless, the order to cease working was given until all the county agencies with documents in the basement could be contacted.

Sometime prior to August 16, 2013 – At some point during Ms. Torrents few days long absence, someone allowed access to the basement and to the donated room. According to Ms. Torrent, “It was now that I discovered that during my absence, access had been obtained (not through chain of command and the Clerk of Court) and county management (eds. note, this statement implicates Franklin County Manager, Angela Harris) had allowed people from the elections board, education, register of deeds and the State Archives and others to go through the basement and the office and remove items that they deemed to be under their control.  Items were strewn about the office floor and boxes that had been carefully stacked were opened and askew.  ALL of the new white file boxes were gone, taken by the State Archives.  There was no way of knowing who took what or what was missing.  No one had left a log.

“Our immediate question was how did this action fall within the chain of command?  How was it better to have so many hands and eyes on the records searching for what may be theirs rather than a few careful historians organizing and sorting?   The time capsule was now compromised and we no longer had control of the integrity of the records.”

After August 16, 2013 – Mrs. Torrent was allowed limited access to the remaining documents in the basement to do a cursory inventory of what remained. According to her reports, she was not given access or time to do more than simply label the remaining boxes with a rough idea of what was in them. None of the many ledger books were opened or reviewed.

At some point it was discovered that North Carolina State Archives personnel removed all the new white boxes containing some of the salvaged documents (these are the boxes that had been requested in June, to replace recycled boxes) to the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh.

October 10, 2013Diane Taylor Torrent provides, at the request (date unknown) of Patricia Burnette Chastain and officials at the North Carolina Archives, a partial inventory of the documents contained in the Franklin County Courthouse basement. Of course the supplied inventory is incomplete, as the work had barely begun when the Heritage Society was ordered to “Stand Down”.

October 21, 2013Sarah C. West, Safety and Health Specialist, NC Administrative Office of the Courts, provides to Patricia Barnette Chastain, Franklin County Clerk of Court, her full report on the state of the basement and associated water damage and mold damage throughout the building. The document is available here (West2Chastain10-21-2013), but in essence Ms. West, a health and safety inspector – not a historian – recommends the destruction of all documents in the basement, many in the building’s Law Library, and more in Judge Hobgood’s office – on public health grounds – due to the presence of mold spores, which have contaminated every crevice and article of paper in the building.

October 29, 2013Rebecca McGee-Langford, Assistant State Records Administrator, Government Records Section Manager, North Carolina State Archives, sends a letter to Patricia B. Chastain, Franklin County Clerk of Superior Court, Louisburg, N.C. In this letter (found here: Koontz2Chastain-10-29-2013), she states that she provides a “detailed listing of the records stored in the courthouse basement”. However, this statement cannot be true, as no single agency or individual has had access to the basement or the records in order to compile a “detailed list”. The Heritage Society had more time with the materials than any other entity, but they were ordered to “stand down” as soon as their work had begun in earnest.

Following her claim of “a detailed list”, Ms. McGee-Langford restates the destruction schedules detailed in the August 1964 document referenced at the beginning of this post.

Ms. McGee-Langford closes her letter with the following conflicting (given the dire health and safety warning) statements:
“The State Archives of North Carolina has taken possession of 15 boxes of civil and criminal case files, 4 volumes of Justice Dockets, Criminal Court (1960’s), and 1 volume of Records of Magistrates (1880’s). These records were in better condition than the records that remain in the basement. These records will be preserved by the State Archives.

“In conclusion, we urge county officials to take immediate action to destroy these records. No other disposition is advised, including donation of the records to a non-government entity for any reason. The health and safety issue concerning these records outweighs all other considerations.”

Following this letter from Ms. McGee-Langford at the NC Archives, Ms. Torrent inquired, first to the County Commissioners, then to her state representatives, then to the Governor himself, why the documents retained in “pretty” clean boxes were judged safe to be carried off – even though they had originated from the same contaminated environment as all the other records (still contained in recycled boxes), when the inspector’s report clearly stated a contamination risk by mold particles invisible to the naked eye. Ms. Torrent got no response, except that the NC Archives representatives deemed these records “clean”.

Chesarino2McGee11-15-2013November 15, 2013 – In an email from Carolyn (“Carie”) Cherisino, Head of Records Description Unit, Government Records Section, NC Archives, to Becky McGee-Langford, Ms. Cherisono states, Upon examining the photographs provided, it has been determined that the documents in question are not of historical value and should be destroyed along with the rest of the records that had been stored in the basement of the Franklin County Courthouse.”

She elaborates, “The permanent retention of every government record being an unsustainable enterprise, the Government Records Section of the State Archives of North Carolina carefully analyzes government record-keeping systems and statutory obligations in order to identify record series of enduring value.”

Ms. Cherisino then goes on to cite three examples of records from the basement, which in her opinion are of little historical value, or are redundant to copies that exist in the North Carolina State Archives, as supporting her decision and her logic. Just three documents, from many thousands that were never examined in the basement at the Franklin County Courthouse.

Friday, December 6, 2013, after 5:00 PM – Without prior notice to either the Franklin County Heritage Society or other citizens with an interest in preserving these materials, a crew (unknown exactly who they were, who hired them, or what agency they may have been working for) showed up in full Hazmat suits, in white, state-owned vans, and under the silent, cooperative protection of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department. They requested and gained access to the Franklin County Courthouse basement. Over the course of a few hours they carried away all the contents (all boxes, papers, and all the ledgers – everything.) They removed these materials to the Franklin County Animal Shelter incinerator and began a many day’s long process of burning the materials.

See photographs of the men in hazmat suits here:

See photos of some of the destroyed documents here:

See a WRAL news story, which aired Wednesday, December 18, 2013, here:







Email from Chesarino to McGee-Langford, dated November 15, 2013, see image below.


Email from Chesarino to McGee-Langford on 11/15/2013

160 year-old Documents Intentionally Destroyed in Franklin County, N.C.

This is one of a countless number of 19th century records seized by the North Carolina Archives and burned on December 6, 2013

This is one of a countless number of 19th century records seized by the North Carolina Archives and burned on December 6, 2013

I rarely re-blog, but this one deserves being spread far and wide.

Timeline of the Destruction of 100 Year Old Franklin County, NC Records

Please read the whole post included above – but the gist is as follows:

– This summer a new Clerk of Court in Franklin County discovered a trove (an entire roomful) of documents, some dating back to 1840, in a previously sealed room in the Franklin County, North Carolina Court House.

– Recognizing the historical value of these materials, she contacted the local historical society to assist in reviewing the materials, preserving them, and inventorying the materials.

– The Local historical group enthusiastically poured themselves into the project, mobilizing volunteers and the whole community – securing space to work, materials, and finances – in order to catalog and preserve the bounty of record books, photographs, deeds, chattel records, land grants, deeds, wills, personal correspondence, and countless other materials from a wide variety of government departments throughout the county. (This room had apparently become the “graveyard” for old records, and no one bothered to investigate it for many, many decades.)

– In August of this year, the Local Historians – realizing they may be beyond their depth in regard to the value of some of these materials, contacted the North Carolina Department of Archives, seeking guidance on proper preservation techniques and value assessment.

And that’s when things went hinky. The NC Archives group stepped in, pulled rank, and immediately halted all work on the project, stating that they were going to study the challenge and come up with “Next Steps”. Months passed and nothing got done, while the documents languished in the basement of the courthouse.

Then, on Friday, December 6, 2013, at 6:00 in the evening (after all the county workers had left, and with no notice to the local historical group involved in the project), a team from the North Carolina Archives swept in and confiscated ALL the materials – with the cover of Law Enforcement! They took the documents to the County Incinerator, and methodically burned EVERYTHING. They did this while a few locals stood by, not understanding why or precisely what was happening.

[CORRECTION: Added 01/06/2014 – The folks who swept in to claim and destroy the documents were NOT from the NC Archives. A team from the NC Archives did seize many boxes of documents from a workroom managed by the Franklin County Historical Society – but they were NOT directly involved in the destruction of the materials in the basement.

ADDENDUM TO THE CORRECTION: Added 01/06/2014 – A number of people have posted/emailed asking if I know what County Agency was responsible. I do not know for certain. So far conjecture leads me to the Franklin County Manager’s office – but until I hear her side of the story – my opinion is uninformed except by silence. Sorry.]

Every book, deed, will – every photograph – every piece of paper in that room was incinerated that night. No explanation has been given, and no media attention has asked any questions.

Boxes of documents from the Franklin County Courthouse seized and burned by the North Carolina State Archives.

Boxes of documents from the Franklin County Courthouse seized and burned by the North Carolina State Archives.

After the Civil War (after emancipation), a lot of large land-owners deeded out substantial tracts of land to their former slaves. These former slaves had demonstrated to their masters that they were loyal, hard-working, and would continue to farm and contribute to the plantation collective as they always had. The only difference is that they would own the land they worked, and earn a somewhat larger income as a result of their efforts.

During reconstruction, a lot of land holders, both black and white, had difficulty paying very high property taxes imposed by Federal Occupiers. In swept speculators and investors from up North (these people have come to be known as “Carpet Baggers”.) They often forced white land owners to sell out at a fraction of the actual value of their property. In the case of black land-owners, sometimes all the Carpet Baggers offered was threats. The effect was the same – a vast transfer of wealth from titled property owners to new people who became, in the decades of the late 19th and early 20th century, among the wealthiest people in the South.

How do I know this? Some of my own ancestors were Carpet Baggers from Maryland. They made a small fortune after the war, stealing land, setting up mills, and effectively re-enslaving two or three generations of both poor-white and black natives of Halifax County, North Carolina.

My suspicion is that in and amongst all those now destroyed records, was a paper trail associated with one or more now-prominent, politically connected NC families that found its wealth and success through theft, intimidation, and outrageous corruption.

Prove me wrong. You can’t. They destroyed the records.

Shelves of record books from the Franklin County Courthouse seized and burned by the North Carolina State Archives.

Shelves of record books from the Franklin County Courthouse seized and burned in December, 2013.

The Immobilizing Power of Intimidation

John Hennessy Speaking at the National Sporting Library, Photographer Douglas Lees

John Hennessy Speaking at the National Sporting Library, Photographer Douglas Lees.

A few days ago I began reading John Hennessy’s “Return to Bull Run” (1993, Simon & Schuster), which is considered by people who know about such things to be THE definitive work on the topic of the Second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) which occurred in August of 1862. Mr. Hennessy is a historian with the National Park Service at the Manassas National Battlefield. He’s authored several books on various Civil War topics and he is a regular staff contributor to the Civil War blog “Mysteries and Conundrums” – which is where I learned of him and his book.

The book, so far, is simply wonderful. It’s well-written, entertaining, and approachable in the same way that Shelby Foote’s “Narrative” is well-written and approachable. It differs dramatically from Foote in the aspect that Mr. Hennessy is a historian first, and a gifted story-teller only as a matter of the readers’ good fortune. (Hennessy is a gifted storyteller. Foote was a less-than-disciplined historian, IMHO.)

Just to get this in perfect context, this book consists of the following; 472 pages of thoroughly researched and documented prose narrative plus multiple maps; 88 pages of footnotes; 3 pages of “Order of Battle” (which provides the arrangement and ranking personnel and brigade units on the field); 24 pages of bibliography; and 10 pages of Index notes.

This book is about a single battle, composed of three major engagements, which occurred over the course of just three days.  “Return to Bull Run” takes 607 pages to discuss and document the seminal events of just three days of a war that lasted four long, complicated years!

And I’m trying to place context to a War Diary that covers not only this battle (Manassas), but the whole nine months of William Ellis Jones’s service throughout the course of the 1862 Peninsular campaign, the Shenandoah Campaign, and Lee’s foray into Union territory when he takes his Army into Maryland? Before I was through the first chapter of “Return to Bull Run”, I was asking myself “What in the hell do I think I am doing?”

The people who tackle these subjects have spent their lives and the entirety of their careers studying the subject. I spent my life and career chasing the idea that the corporate world would eventually recognize and reward me for my creativity, hard work and unique contributions. Instead, I got a stern reminder that Capitalism is all about consumption. Once they consumed the best, most productive intellectual years of my life, they spit me out like the indigestible gristle on a well-gnawed chicken bone.

Indeed. What in the hell do I think I’m doing?

I’m taking a deep breath. I’m thinking.

I’m not a Civil War scholar – not a historian. I never will be. That decision was made for me when I was fifteen years old when my grandfather told me in no-uncertain terms that history majors and archeologists could not earn a living, could not live in homes of their own, were perpetually poor. I just cringe when I think of how he broke my heart with those words. I cringe to think about how wrong he was and how different my life might have been. It was the ONLY thing I think Papa was ever wrong about. He was so right about so many things – and so all-knowing – I just gave up my dreams and I did what he wanted me to do. I went into the dreamless, soul-crushing world of business.

And I was miserable. And today I am broke, and way under-employed. But despite all the wasted time, I am now doing what I wanted to do all my life. And I am happy, creatively and intellectually fulfilled. Finally.

But I digress. I’m still no historian.

Here’s the thing that I need to keep reminding myself. I don’t need to be a historian! God knows there are countless well-written, well-researched books about the Civil War. I don’t need to think that I am in any way competing with them. What I need to do is tell the truth – tell William’s side of the story. Tell the story he could not tell because of the social and political risk to his life, his family, his future. There’s probably not a historian around who can tell that story as truthfully as William’s own blood kin.

That’s my obligation to William. Tell his story. I don’t need to fight the whole damn Civil War all over again!

I just hope that the real historians out there will see it that way, and make room on their shelves for a little book about a great big man who lived in the conflicted middle ground between loyalty, morality, and the immobilizing power of intimidation. A man who went on to try to bring wisdom to future generations so that the Civil War would never have to be fought again. A man who still has a great deal to tell us, despite the passing of more than 150 years since he went completely silent on the subject of war, of slavery, of a social and civil fabric ripped wide open by fear and ignorance and arrogance. A man who still speaks to me every day and every night in my dreams. He wants his story told. Even if I’m hopelessly intimidated by him – and by all those insanely smart historians out there on the haunted battlefields where my great-great-great-great-grandfather huddled in the cold; shoeless and hungry, praying he survived another day – if only just to have a chance to have his story told.

Reading Between the Lines – Civil War Diary

COVER1862For months now I have been parsing through William Ellis Jones, II’s Civil War diary, plucking details, context, and hidden subtext from his scribbles. While the diary has been previously used by many Civil War scholars and is quoted in a countless list of books and articles about the 1862 Peninsular and Shenandoah marches and battles, no one to date had done a comprehensive study of the whole text.

Despite my lack of academic pedigree or publishing chops, I have the advantage over most of those scholars in that I’ve spent eight years studying William Ellis Jones, II’s family history. Having those details – knowing who, where, and what he came from – has given me a really precise lens through which to examine the intent and implications of the diary’s author.

That lens has allowed me to pluck meaning from seemingly benign statements. For instance; in August of 1862, William and his battery witness the advance of the whole of Jackson’s Army marching brigade after brigade into the Shenandoah Valley. He describes the endless lines of soldiers as “stretched out to the crack of doom.” This statement appears on its face to be a simple description of a very large, ominous looking advance of troops, until you dig deeper and discover why William chose to enclose the description in quotes.

“…stretched out to the crack of doom.” is a quote taken from the speech of a Mr. Stanton, published in the “Proceedings of the General Anti-slavery Convention” from the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, published in London in 1841. (Page 479.)

Mr. Stanton used the phrase in reference to the United States’ desire to extend and legalize institutionalized slavery not only within her own borders, but to use the nation’s growing international strength and influence to extend industrialized slavery into Mexico, Latin America, South America, and beyond. Today the idea that such an expansion of slavery was ever conceived seems preposterous to us, but a study of the antebellum, pro-slavery coalition operating inside and on the periphery of the United States Congress prior to the Civil War shows us that this kind of international expansion of slavery was exactly what the proto-Confederates intended. This was to become a central component of the United States foreign policy; if southerners could manage to wrest a majority in the House and Senate.

The idea that William read this speech, was familiar enough with it to quote from it, and had a firm conceptual grasp of the idea that the massive army he was watching (and serving in) represented a real physical manifestation of the policy that Mr. Stanton warned against in 1841, is simply amazing to me. He was just twenty-four years old, and had been born and reared in a city (Richmond, Virginia), whose very foundations were laid by the hands of slaves.

William in no way celebrated the idea of slavery in the use of this quote. Rather, I believe, he carefully selected it to record his true feelings about what was happening, while remaining just ambiguous enough for self-preservation (should his diary fall into the hands of one of his commanders.)

The diary is dotted with examples like this one; statements that show us the veiled concerns and conflicted loyalties of a less than enthusiastic confederate soldier.

When viewed from this perspective, it becomes clear why William chose to never write or publish any of his own words about the War, and why he chose to rear his sons with social and political leanings that were anything but in keeping with the spirit of glorification of the “Lost Cause”.

More to come.

Moving Around – Jones Locations in Post-War Richmond

One of the most interesting facets of doing genealogy work is identifying the physical places where my ancestors lived and worked. “Place” has always been a tangible entity for me. I am tied to place as much as I am to people and their stories. To me the places tell a story all their own, and form characters as relevant to our history as any other person or thing. I think of the places that were “home” to me as a child; my grandfather’s grocery store, my grandparents bungalow next door, the railroad tracks behind the house, the woods and cemeteries that surrounded my childhood home. These places are magical to me and have infused in me a sense of home and continuity that the wrecking ball and bulldozer can’t touch.

The places listed below are similar – an anchor to my past and the people who founded my generation. They represent the physical buildings and spaces occupied, footsteps still ringing in them, of those who came before me. It took me years in some cases to dig up this information, and I’ll spend years digging up more. This is just a sampling.


Clemmitt & Jones in June, 1877
This is the printing shop where William Ellis Jones, II, (1838 – 1910), did his apprenticeship as a boy, worked at as a compositor until the outbreak of the Civil War, and then returned to in 1865 at the conclusion of the war.
It was located at at “Eleventh Street between Main and Cary”.

Source: Company letterhead/bill in my possession

Clemmitt & Jones - 1877


In 1879, after William H. Clemmitt retires from the business, William Ellis Jones becomes sole proprietor of the printing company.

1899 “William Ellis Jones” listed the following in an imprint:
“Imprynted by William Ellis Jones, nexte ye signe of ‘The Mint’, in South Twelfth Street, Richmond, Virginia, July, 1899”

Source: Virginia Historical Society Rare Books Collection
Title: “Some notes on the first recorded visit of white men to the site of the present city of Richmond, Virginia : Saturday and Sunday, May 23 and 24, 1607 : a paper read at a meeting of the Association for Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, held at “Laburnum”, June 10, 1899 / by Robert Lee Traylor.”
Author: Traylor, Robert Lee (1864-1907)
Published: Richmond : Privately printed [W. E. Jones], 1899
Call No: F233.42 .T82 1899


In 1903 the location of the printing company was at 1207 East Franklin Street. The image below is what the building looked like.

Engraving of William Ellis Jones's Printing Shop in Richmond

Source: “Richmond, Virginia: The City on the James : the Book of Its Chamber of Commerce and Principal Business Interests”
Author: G. W. Engelhardt
Published: Richmond, 1903


Residential Addresses
I’ve got the general vicinity and neighborhood for several residential addresses for the Joneses of Richmond, but so far I have only nailed down one precise location.

In 1913, the “1911-12 Yearbook of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities”, lists among its subscribers, on page 104 “Jones, William Ellis, Mrs., 2507 Hanover Avenue, Richmond, Virginia”

I believe this is the first home that Thomas Norcliffe Jones built in Richmond, for his new wife Margaret White, and their growing family. He retained the property (as a rental), and it was passed on as such to his son William after his death. When William died in 1910 and the family’s income was cut off, I believe that Addie Gray Bowles (William’s widowed daughter-in-law) sold the Henrico property and the elegant brownstone on Church hill, and moved back to this very modest home in what is now Richmond’s Jefferson’s Ward.

You can Google Earth this address and from behind the foliage get an idea of the building. When the house was built in the 1830’s the streets were dirt and this location was considered to be on the remotest outskirts of the city.

A History of Printing and Printers in Wales : Transcribed

In the very early 19th century, the Jones family of Dolgelly, Wales launched into the printing and publishing business. The family’s reasons for doing so seem to have more to do with religion than commerce.In the late 18th century, Wales was swept over by a spiritual and religious fervor led by John Wesley. The tide was ardently non-conformist, anti-Established Church (Church of England), Welsh-nationalist, and decidedly working and middle class in its congregational focus.

William Jones (b. about 1760 – d. 1830), who was known in his community as “William of Brynterion“, was the first in his neighborhood to convert to Wesleyanism. His passion for the new, non-conformist faith was exceptional, and like many of the early converts, he sought to spread the “Good News”.  While some of his Wesleyan peers traveled the Welsh countryside preaching in open air revivals, William – a forward looking man – saw the power of the press as his means of reaching thousands. As one of the principal landowners and citizens of Dolgelley, it is believed that he invited Thomas Williams (discussed below) to Dolgelly, and offered his youngest son, Richard Jones, as an apprentice to learn the trade.

From this office, a dynasty of eminent printers, authors, book publishers and Welsh political activists was launched.

In 1925, Ifano Jones, the Welsh Librarian at Cardiff and respected historian, published a dense, deeply researched book that revealed the history of the printed word in Wales; from it’s first cradle press in the early 18th century, to the early 20th century. The Joneses of Dolgelly figured prominently into that work. The following is a transcription of the chapters that deal principally with this family, their founding of the Dolgelly press, and all the 19th century individuals who started their careers there, then went on to even larger accomplishments.


The following is a partial transcription of “A History of Printing and Printers in Wales to 1810, successive and related printers to 1923, also, A History of Printing and Printers in Monmouthshire to 1923.”

By Ifano Jones, The Welsh Librarian, Cardiff

William Lewis (Printers), Limited, Cardiff. 1925.

Chapter XXIV

Page 152


About 1798(1) THOMAS WILLIAMS commenced printing at DOLGELLY, continuing until 1807(2), when he took into partnership RICHARD JONES(3), who had served his apprenticeship with him, and who, soon after – in 1808(4) – upon THOMAS WILLIAM’S retirement, became sole proprietor.

THOMAS WILLIAMS had before commencing to print been in business at DOLGELLY as a bookseller: see his name as ‘Mr. Williams, Bookseller, Dollgellau.’ Among the ‘Subscribers’ Names’ in ‘Drych y Prif Oesoedd’ (ed. Mirror the First Time?)(1794).

THOMAS WILLIAMS, self-taught as he was, and lacking in skill and taste as a printer, was nevertheless better than some of his predecessors. Born in 1757, he was the son of William Jones (1717 – 1783) and Ellen Thomas (1718-1780), of Penardd Wnion Fawr and Y Cae Glâs, in the parish of Llanfachreth, near Dolgelly. His first occupation was that of a cattle-drover, which took him frequently over the Welsh Border; but developing a love of books, and becoming acquainted with booksellers and printers in carrying messages for Rhys Jones of Y Blaenau and Hugh Jones of Maesglasau, he learnt sufficient of the craft of printing to set up as a master-printer, and so inaugurated what for DOLGELLY has since 1798 been an industry of considerable importance. In religion he…

(1)    Owen Rees, Dolgelly, in ‘By-Gones (Dec. 24, 1879) surmises it was about 1795’. ‘Cambrian Bibliography’ records nothing printed by THOMAS WILLIAMS before 1799; but that he was in business before is clear from the fact that on the last page (8) of the ‘Troeadigaeth yr Atheist… Dolgelley, Argraphwyd gan T. Williams.’ He advertises ‘Dolgelley, Mai 3dd. 1798 Heddyw [=to-day] y cyhoeddir. Annerch Ieuengctyd Cymru’, etc.

(2)    Galwad Caredigol ar yr Arminiaid (Call friends for the Arminians?) … Dolgellau. Argraphwyd gan T. Williams.’, signed and dated on the last page (12), ‘John Roberts Llanbrynmair. Chwef. 10, 1807.’

(3)    Yr Ysgerbwd Arminaidd (The Arminian Skeleton?)… Gan Wilym Huntingdon… Dolgellau: Argraphwyd gan Williams, a Jones’ 240pp., cr. 8vo, undated, but printed in 1807, being one of several publications of the like controversial nature issued in that year and the years immediately preceding it.

Page 153

…was a zealous Church-of-England man; and to him is attributed the planting of the ivy that adorns the walls of church and churchyard at Dolgelly. He also bequeathed the half-yearly interest of £50 to the poor communicants of the Parish Church of Llanfachreth. He died Aug. 16, 1841, aged 84 years, and was buried in the Llanfachreth churchyard(1) His wife (Barbara, a daughter of squire Pierce, of Pengwern, Ffestiniog, who brought him considerable wealth), had predeceased him Mar. 19, 1830(2)

His apprentice and, in 1807-8, his partner, was besides being better equipped, more ambitious. Becoming sole proprietor in 1808(3), he undertook the printing of ‘Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd’(4), issuing its first number in January, 1809. This periodical he printed from January, 1809, to December, 1811, and again from January, 1819, to May, 1824. He started or printed several other periodicals, such as (a) the second number (1814) of ‘Cylchgrawn Cymru’ (a Church-of-England quarterly), (b) ‘Y Dysgedydd Crefyddol’ (A Congregational monthly) from November, 1821, to December, 1832, (c) ‘Pethau Newydd a Hen’ (a juvenile montly) from 1826 to April, 1829, (d) ‘Trysor I Blentyn’ (a juvenile monthly) in 1826, (e) ‘Yr Athraw’ (a juvenile monthly) from January, 1827, to June, 1829, (f) ‘Trysorfa Rhyfeddodau’ (a monthly) in 1833-4, and (g) ‘Y Dirwestwr’ (a temperance monthly) in 1840-4. But he was better at inaugurating than continuing a project, and was dilatory and frequently careless in execution. This accounts for the taking out of his hands of more than one periodical.

His early printing at DOLGELLY was good and important, including such heavy tomes as the quatros, (a) a reprint of Walter’s Welsh dictionary in 1815, (b) ‘Holl Weithiau Josephus’ in 1819, and (c) a reprint of Dr. William Morgan’s Welsh version of the Bible (1588) in 1821(5). He also published the first 17 parts, comprising nearly 550pp. 4to, of a translation into the Welsh of Matthew Henry’s commentary, the first part appearing May 1st, 1820, and the 17th in 1825(5).

But the hearsay statement made by ‘Gwalchmai’ (the Rev. Richard Parry) on pp. 186-7 of ‘Y Dysgedydd’ (1882), that RICHARD JONES was the first to publish a Welsh weekly newspaper, cannot be entertained. The statement (translated) is as follows: –‘It is said that Richard Jones … was the first to venture to publish a Welsh weekly newspaper; it continued one year only; he lost money on the affair, and he gave up the venture. The Rev. Josiah Harris [(‘Gomer’)], of Swansea, afterwards resuscitated it in Seren Gomer.’ – Surely, had such a paper been issued, and especially week by week for a year, some authentic record would have survived by Jan. 1, 1814, when the first number of ‘Seren Gomer’ was issued and universally hailed as the first attempt at a newspaper in Cymraeg. ‘Gwalchmai’ was misled by somebody who evidently believed that the first series of ‘Seren Gomer’ (1814-15) was published by RICHARD JONES instead of by JOSEPH HARRIS (‘GOMER’), who, in 1818, after the suspension of ‘Seren Gomer’ in 1815, resuscitated it under the same title.

In 1824 RICHARD JONES was in trouble over nonpayment of paper tax, and had for a time to keep out of the way of civil authorities.(6) This probably accounts for his selling(6) his press, after printing the June number of ‘Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd’ in 1824, to the Welsh Circuit of the Wesleyan-Methodist Connexion, who had at Dolgelly, in the autumn of 1823, formed its first(6) Welsh Bookroom…

(1)    ‘Cambrian Bibliography’, p 719, on the authority of L. Williams, Dolgelly, and CATHERINE JONES, widow of RICHARD JONES.

(2)    ‘Y Dysgedydd Crefyddol’ (April, 1830, p. 128)

(3)    Rowlands, in ‘Cambrian Bibliography’, p. 336, is in error in stating that RICHARD JONES printed ‘Yr Udgorn Arian’ (undated) ‘about the years 1800-1804’: RICHARD JONES was only an apprentice, aged 17, in 1804.

(4)    The Welsh Wesleyan monthly, still issuing.

(5)    See my (ed. Ifano Jones) notes, description and bibliography in ‘The Bible in Wales’ (1906)

(6)    ‘Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd’ (1890, p. 288, and 1909, pp. 4 and 33)

(Eds. Note: Not to take anything away from Ifano Jones, but given this family’s track record, it isn’t impossible for me to contemplate that RICHARD JONES would have been both ambitious enough and capable enough to attempt the FIRST Welsh language weekly newspaper, regardless of his youth. This family had a penchant for striking off at a very early age at endeavors we would consider today, almost impossible, at any age. I consider the statement  of the Rev. Richard Parry,  on pp. 186-7 of ‘Y Dysgedydd’ (1882), that RICHARD JONES was the first to publish a Welsh weekly newspaper, in the realm of absolute possibility.)

Page 154

…Committee, and who, in 1824, removed the Bookroom from Dolgelly to Llanfair Caereinion, Montgomeryshire (1).  With the press went three journeymen-printers from the Dolgelly office, namely, ROBERT JONES, (‘Bardd Mawddach’), JOHN JONES (‘Idrisyn’), and RICHARD HUMPHREYS – the first to act as managing printer up to October, 1827, and afterwards as a printer in his own up to 1835(2), when he returned to Dolgelly(3).

After October, 1827, the press, Bookroom and workmen were removed from Llanfair Caereinion to Llanidoles, where they remained in operation under the management of JOHN JONES (‘Idrisyn’) until August, 1836, when the Bookroom Committee sold the press and plant to Rev. Edward Jones, Wesleyan Minister at Llantysilio, Montgomeryshire, who gave more than £300 for them, with extra sums for paper, etc. (4), and who made his son, JOHN MENDUS JONES, master-printer(4). The latter was born in 1814(5), and had served his apprenticeship in the office under JOHN JONES (‘Idrisyn’), and from September, 1836, printed ‘Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd’ at Llanidloes up to September 1846. From October, 1846, to April, 1853, Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd’ was printed by JOHN JONES (‘Idrisyn’); but from May, 1853, until his death Feb. 24, 1899(5), the montly was printed by JOHN MENDUS JONES, who, in December, 1859, after issuing the number for that month, had removed his press to Bangor, Carnarvonshire. At his death the press became the property of EVAN THOMAS, who after printing ‘Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd’ for years in 207, High Street, Bangor, prints it now in the Gwalia Printing Works, Sacksville Road, Bangor.


After disposing of his press to the Wesleyan-Methodist Connexion in 1824, RICAHRD JONES acquired another, and continued to print at DOLGELLY in 1825, 1826, and 1827, as many of the dated examples of his imprint prove. But in 1827 he left Dolgelly for PONTYPOOL, in Monmouthshire, to set up there the first of three branch printing-offices he then and subsequently managed. On the Pontypool publications the same founts of type and the same kinds of ‘flowers’ and borders are found as on those of Dolgelly. But the struggle to keep both presses working simultaneously, at such a distance the one from the other – the one at the foot of Cader Idris and the other at the foot of the Tranch – did not last long; and few and slight are the publications that bear his Pontypool imprint, his most important being three parts out of a projected dozen comprising a volume of Biblical and moral essays, entitled ‘Y Blaguryn’, from the pen of David Owen (‘Brutus’). The first part was issued in October, 1827, the second later in the same year, and the third in 1828. Each part numbers 32pp, demy 8vo, in a wrapper full of notices of forthcoming numbers, apologies for delays and irregularities, and promises of amends in the future. The title of the first part is, ‘Nodded | y | Goron | |i | Ryddid | y | Wasc. | 1. Y Rhifyn Cyntaf, |Pris a chyhoeddwyd, | o’r | Blaguryn, | Gan Brutus. | … | Pontypool : | Argraffawyd a chyhoeddwyd gan Richard Jones ; | Cyhoeddedid hefyd | Gan R. Jones, yn Nolgellau, Meirion : | Hydref 1827.’

RICHARD JONES’s compositor at PONTYPOOL(6) was JEFFREY JONES (‘Ab Cilydd’, ed. Son of mother named Cilydd?) who in 1828 became a master-printer himself at Llandovery, Carmarthenshire, but died August 5, 1830, aged 24 years((6). (For further particulars respecting JEFFERY JONES see Chapter XXVI.)

(1)    ‘Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd’ (1890, p. 288, and 1909, pp. 4 and 33)

(2)    Pigot & Co.’s directory (1835-6).

(3)    ‘Y Dysgedydd’ (1838, p. 220).

(4)    Ibid (1899, p. 200).

(5)    ‘Lleuad yr Oes’ (1830, p. 282).

Page 155

Before(1) September, 1828, RICHARD JONES had decided to remove his press from Pontypoll to MERTHYR TYDFIL. There, at first, he printed in partnership with the REV. JOHN JENKINS(2) – a Baptist minister, better known, as well as more endeared to the peoples of Wales, as SHÔN SHINCYN – and THOMAS WILLIAMS (‘GWILYM MORGANWG’) – ‘mine host’ of The New Inn, Pontypridd. Their imprint appears on (a) ‘Pregeth, ar Execiiel X. 13. “O Olwyn”. Gan William Davies, Llantrisant. Merthyr: Argrawffwyd gan Jenkins a’I Gyfeillion. 1828.’, 16pp., foolscap 8 vo.; (b) ‘Ymddiddanion rhwng Thomas y Colier, a Dafydd y Miner… Gan hen Finer. Y Trydydd Argraffiad… Merthyr;  argraffwyd dros J. Jones, gan Jenkins a’I Gyf… 1828.’ 34 pp., 12mo, with a two-page advertisement at the end headed ‘Llyfrau Cymraeg, ar werth gan Jenkins, Jones, gan John Jones, cyhoeddwr y llyfr hwn’; (c) ‘Traethawd, … Swper Argraffwyd gan Jenkins a’I Gyfeillion,. 1828.’, 256pp., foolscap 8vo, the colophon and the last page being ‘Merthyr; argraffwyd gan R. Jones.”

Once before, but only for a short time in 1819, SHÔN SHINCYN and GWILYM MORGANWG (THOMAS WILLIAMS) had been in partnership as master ‑printers in Mill Street, MERTHYR TYDFIL; but from, 1819 to May 30, 1827, when the press and type of that office were removed for re-erection at MAESYCWMWR, Monmouthshire, SHÔN SHINCYN was the sole proprietor.

Lacking money and trade connections, RICHARD JONES, in re-erecting his Pontypool press in the High Street (=’Heol Fawr’) at MERTHYR TYDFIL, found the names, if not the actual partnership, of SHÔN SHINCYN and GWILYM MORGANGWG advantageous to him. However, before the end of 1828, he was on his own; and by January, 1829, he had printed there the January number of the juvenile monthy, ‘Yr Athraw’(3), of which he printed five more numbers, the last of them being that for June, 1829. At MERTHYR, in 1829, he printed little else, probably not much more than (a) the objects and rules of ‘Cymdeithas y Dynolwyr yn Nantyglo’… Merthy: Argraffwydd gan Richard Jones. 1829.’ 24pp., cr. 8vo; (b) ‘Traethawd ar Dywyllwch t Cymry, a Bendithion eu Gwlad … Merthyr: Argraffwyd gan R. Jones. 1829.’ 24pp., foolscap 8vo; (c) ‘Twyll Sosiniaeth… gan David Griffiths…Merthyr: Argraffwyd ac ar werth gan Richard Jones… 1830.’ Cr. 8vo, 40pp.; and (d) a foolscap folio poster in Welsh and English announcing ‘The Annual Meeting of Cymmrodorion Society of Merthyr-Tydfil,… at the Bush Inn, on Tuesday, the 14th of July, 1829…R. Jones, Printer and Auctioneer, Merthyr.’

But RICHARD JONES having sold the Merthyr press and type March 20, 1829(4) two months before he printed the June number of of ‘Yr Athraw’ – to WILLIAM ROWLANDS, who immediately removed them back to Pontypool, and who, despite the delay over the removal, was able to issue in August, 1829, a double number (July-August) of ‘Yr Athraw’,  — could not have printed ‘Twyll Sosiniaeth’ (1830) at MERTHYR except on somebody else’s press; and a comparison of the type-founts used in ‘Twyll Sosinaeth with those used by BENJAMIN MORGAN, High Street, MERTHYR, in ‘Traethawd ar Ostyngeiddrwydd… Gan… (Togarma)’ (1830), points to BEJAMIN MORGAN’s being that particular press.

In the beginning of 1831 WILLIAM ROWLANDS disposed of the Pontypool press and type, and retired from business. (For further particulars respecting WILLIAM ROWLANDS see under PONTYPOOL in the second part of this work.)

(1)    On p. 160 of ‘Y Dwsgedydd Crefyddol’ (May, 1829) there was ‘Ynglynion Croesawaid Mr. Richard Jones, Argrawffydd, I Ferthyr, Medi, 1828.

(2)    See Xhapeter XXIII, and under ‘MAESCYCWMWR’ in the second part of this work, for further particulars.

(3)    Printed previously from Merthyr from January, 1827 (the first number) to December, 1828.

(4)    Cofiant… William Rowlands, D.D…. Gan… Howell Powell’ (1873, p. 159)

Page 156

Meanwhile RICHARD JONES’s Dolgelly press thrives. Since 1813(1), he had described his press as ‘Gomerian Press’(1) and ‘Gomer-Wasg’(2), which he varied later as ‘Y Wasg Omeraidd’(3). To his activities as a printer, publisher and bookbinder, he added those of auctioneer. He was also as elder in the local Wesleyan-Methodist church, and on the ‘plan’ as a preacher.

Early in 1842(4) he again left his home and office at Dolgelly in charge of his family and employees, and proceeded with his son, ISAAC FRANCIS JONES, to MACHYNLLETH, Montgomeryshire, to set up there his second branch-printing office as ‘Jones Richard, printer, Pentre rhedyn st.’; but later in 1844(5) he had given his son a share in the business of the branch, and in January, 1845(6), he had made him sole proprietor.

ISAAC FRANCIS JONES, like his father, was a Wesleyan-Methodist local preacher. By May, 1849, he had sold his press and the contents of his office to Adam Evans, and had emigrated to the United States. On pp. 124-5 of ‘Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd; (1850) I find “Anerchiad at Mr. Isaac Francis Jones, gynt o Dolgellau, Argraffydd, a Phregethwr yr Efengyl; Yr hwn a Ymfudodd o Fachynlleth I Unol Daleithaiu yr America, en Mehefin, 1849, gyda’I Briod, a Mr. Evan E. Jones ei Frawd-yn-nghyfraith; ac a hwyliasant o Gaerefrog Newydd I fyned I San Francisco, California, Rhagfyr 11, 1849,’ signed and dated ‘Ei Dad, R.J. Dolgellau, Ionawr, 1850.’ Alas! By Nov. 3, 1850 – his birthday – he had died of cholera at San Francisco, at the age of 31(7). He was born Nov. 3, 1819, and was the fourth son of RICAHRD JONES. In his 20th year (1839), having served his apprenticeship in his father’s office, he had left Dolgelly to work as a compositor in ‘The Carnarvon and Denbeigh Herald’(8) office, Carnarvon. After a brief sojourn there, he returned home. In February, 1840, he left again, this time to work for a London printer named GAUTRESS, in the office of ‘The Watchman’(9) – a Wesleyan-Methodist organ. After a year and a half in London, he returned home once more. No printer having been at MACHYNLLETH for some years, his father, early in 1842, setting up there a branch office, put him in charge. March 20, 1846, he married Mary, the only daughter of Edward Jones, Bryncrug, near Towyn, Marionethshire. Monday morning, May 28, 1849, he left his father’s house for Liverpool, embarking on June 6 in the steamship, ‘Constellation’, for New York, and landing there July 10. Leaving new York, December 6, in the steamship, ‘Pawbattan’, and rounding Cape Horn, he landed in San Francisco July 30, 1850, and on the following morning was engaged as a compositor on an evening newspaper.(10) He was deeply religious and was the first Welsh Wesleyan preacher in San Francisco, initiating in his own house there a Sunday School for the instruction of Welsh people of…

(1)    ‘Casglaid o Bregethau… Gomerian Press: Dolgellau, Argraphydd, gan R. Jones. 1813.’ Xiii, 240pp dy. 8vo.

(2)    Ffydd Eliphaz y Temanaid … Gan… William Williams…Gomer Wasg: Dolgellau, Argraphydd gan Richard Jones. 1824.’

(3)    Pryddestau Gwodrwyol …  T.B. Morris (Gwyneddfardd..)…Y Wasg Omeraidd: Dolgellau: Argraphydd gan R. Jones. 1853.

(4)    ‘A Catalog of …Books …Auction Bodtalog House, Near Towyn…July 13th and 14th, 1842…Machynlleth: Printed by R. Jones’, 16pp., foolscap 8vo.

(5)    ‘Y Ffordd Dra Rhagorol… Gan Richard Davies… Machynlleth: A Argraphydd gan Richard and Isaac Jones. 1844.’, 12pp., cr., 8vo.

(6)    ‘Anerch at Weinidogion Crist,… 4pp., foolscap 8vo; on p.4 – ‘Griffith Evans. Maes-y-Pandy, Dydd Calan, 1845. I.F. Jones, Argraphydd, Machynlleth.’

(7)    ‘Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd’ (1851, p. 227 et seq.).

(8)    From Jan. 1, 1831 (no. 1) up to and including Jan. 2, 1836, ‘The Carnarvon Herald and North Wales Advertiser’; since Jan 9, 1836, until to-day ‘The Carnarvon Herald and North and South Wales Independent.’

(9)    Jan. 7, 1835 (no. 1) – Dec. 31, 1884 (the last no.)

(10)‘The Evening Picayune’ (‘Welsh People of California… by David Hughs (Afronydd) San Francisco’ (1923), p. 15.

Page 157

…the city. When, under pressure of work in the offce, he was asked to work on a Sunday, he resolutely refused to do so, affirming that ‘not all the gold of California could tempt him to desecrate the Lord’s Day.’ But Nov. 3 he died of cholera. Three days after his young widow succumbed to the same scourge. Both lie buried in a cemetery situate near San Francisco.

When ADAM EVANS purchased the MACHYNLLETH press from ISAAC FRANCIS JONES in 1849, the office had been removed from Pentre Rhedyn Street to Maengwyn Street(1) By 1858(2) ADAM EVANS had removed it to Penyrallt Stree: he was there in 1868(3). By 1880(4) he had removed it back to Maengwyn Street Street, where it remained until his death March 3, 1896(5), aged 77 years. He was one of eight children of the Rev. William Evans, Wesleyan minister, and his wife Jane, the daughter of Maurice and Elizabeth Davies of Carnarvon. His father was born at Carnarvon Oct. 25, 1779, and died at Machynlleth July 30, 1854(6). ADAM EVANS’s mother too, was a native of Carnarvon, born in 1784, married June 25, 1811, and like her husband, died at Machynlleth, July 3, 1861(7)

After ADAM EVANS death in 1896, his widow, MARGARET EVANS(8), carried on the business until her death Dec. 26, 1905, aged 73 years.

After her death MR. JOHN EVANS became sole proprietor, and still carries on. Some of his earlier imprints describe his office as ‘The Standard Printing Works’; but his later ones describe it as ‘The Albion Printing Works’. MR. JOHN EVANS, prior to his becoming master-printer, had spent 14 years in the office, and is the last of the apprentices trained by ADAM and MARGARET EVANS.


In 1849(9) RICHARD JONES set up his second son(10), RICHARD, in business as printer at LLANFYLLIN, Montgomeryshire. The press, described in its imprint as ‘Albion Press’(9), was the third set up by RICHARD JONES, senior. About 1859(11) the son disposed of the business, and migrated to MACHYNLLETH, to work for LEWIS WILLIAMS. Subsequently, he worked at the printing office of THOMAS GEE, Denbeigh, removing thence to RHYL, to work in the printing-office of ‘Y Dywysogaeth’ the Church of England weekly; and here he died aged 64 years. Prior to his settling at LLANFYLLIN, he had worked as a journeyman in South Wales, having been regularly brought up as a printer in his father’s office. In a letter to me Feb. 23, 1908, the son of RICHARD JONES, junior, namely D. LEWIS JONES, Seacombe, Cheshire, also a compositor adds, ‘I have my father’s apprenticeship indentures, binding him to my grandfather as a printer in the year 1828, at Dolgelly.’

RICHARD JONES, senior, had four other sons to whom he taught the craft of printing at Dolgelly. In his elegy to his son ISAAC FRANCIS JONES, in ‘Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd’ (1851, p.375 et seq.), he mentions the names of his eleven children, those of the six sons being WILLIAM, RICHARD, ABRAHAM, ISAAC, FRANCIS, JACOB, and JABEZ, and those of the daughters being Catherine, Ellenor,…

(1)    Slater’s Directory (1850)

(2)    Ibid (1858-9)

(3)    ‘Mynag Blynyddol Cymdeithas Genhadol… Trefynddion Wesleyaidd… Deheudir Cymru… Machynlleth:… Adam Evans, Hoel Penyrallt. 1868.’

(4)    Ibid. (1880) ‘Machynlleth:… Adam Evans, Hoel Penyrallt.

(5)    Information kindly supplied by Mr. Hugh Davies, chemist, Machynlleth, and MR. JOHN EVANS, printer, Machynlleth.

(6)    ‘Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd’ (1856, p.1, et seq.).

(7)    Ibid. (1862, p. 265 et seq.).

(8)    ‘Mynag Blynyddol Cymdeithas Genhadol… Trefnyddion Wesleyaidd, Talaeth Ddeheuol Cymru… Machynleth: Argraffwyd gan M. Evans, Heol Maengwyn. 1899.

(9)    ‘Pregeth… ar Fedydd Dwfr. Gan D. Morgan, Llanfyllin. Albion-Wasg: Llanfyllin, Argraffwyd gan Richard Jones. 1849.

(10)‘Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd’ (1851, p. 229).

(11)He is listed under ‘Llanfyllin’ in Slater’s directory (1858-9).

Page 158

…Charlotte, Maryanne, and Margaret. In the elegy the father laments as well the death of four other of his children, namely Ellenor, Charlotte, Jacob, and Catherine. The last mentioned, who had kept house for her brother ISAAC FRANCIS JONES, at Machynlleth, for the four years there prior to his marriage, died Dec. 3, 1850 –  a month after her brother – at the age of 41 years(1) Feb. 28, 1856, JABEZ, the youngest passed away, at the age of 25 years, on the Island of Malta(2) JABEZ had always worked at home with his father, while ABRAHAM, like RICHARD, worked for some years as a journeyman in South Wales(3).

Besides his sons, the brother (LEWIS EVAN JONES) and first cousin (WILLIAM ELLIS JONES ‘Gwilym Cawrdaf’) of RICAHRD JONES, senior, were compositors, both, like the sons, serving their apprenticeships in the office at Dolgelly.

LEWIS EVAN JONES left the office in 1814(4) to settle as master-printer at Carnarvon(4), where he died Dec. 28, 1860, aged 66 years, and was buried in Llanbeblg churchyard(5). His office was in Bridge Street(6), in the Pendist, Turf Square, described in his imprint to ‘Cofiant… Peter Williams’ (1817) as Arvonion Press’.

WILLIAM ELLIS JONES (‘GWILYM CAWRDAF’), born at Tyddyn Shôn, Abererch, Carnarvonshire, Oct. 9, 1795, was the eldest son of Ellis Jones, a dyer and fulkler of Y Bontddu, near Dolgelly, who in November 1793, had married Catherine, the daughter of William Hughs, and who, in 1795, turned schoolmaster in Carnarvonshire – first of all at Llanarmon Church. Ellis Jones was the brother of William Jones , Bryntirion, near Dolgelley, who was the father of RICAHRD JONES, the Dolgelly master-printer, to whom – his first cousin – ‘Gwilym Cawrdaf’ was bound as apprentice in 1808, before attaining his 13th year. In 1815, at the expiration of his seven years’ apprenticeship, he went to Carnarvon as compositor in the office of his cousin and fellow-apprentice, LEWIS EVAN JONES. ‘Gwilym Cawrdaf’ was never a master-printer; but he proved himself an admirable overseer in many printing offices, including those of CARNARVON (L.E. Jones), DOLGELLY (Richard Jones), Carmarthen (John Evans), CARMARTHEN (John Lewis Bridstocke, Lammas Street), Merthyr (Josiah Thomas Jones), Cowbridge (Josiah Thomas Jones), and Carmarthen (Josiah Thomas Jones). Like other members of his family, he was a Wesleyan-Methodist local preacher. He died March 27, 1848, at the age of 53 years, and was buried in St. Peter’s Churchyard, Carmarthen, April 2. As poet, litterateur and landscape painter, ‘GWILYM CAWRDAF’ won much fame in his day. One of his three sons – a namesake – became a compositor, and worked under him for some years at COWBRIDGE; ‘and a fine workman he was’.(7)

‘GWILYM CAWRDAF’s brother ELLIS, born at Dolbenmaen, Carnarvonshire, July 18, 1804, was also a compositor, who, at the age of eleven years, was apprenticed to his first cousin, LEWIS EVAN JONES, at the outset of the latter’s career as master-printer at CARNARVON. In 1826 he worked as a compositor in JOHN A. WILLIAMS’s office at SWANSEA, and subsequently in the ‘Seren Gomer’ office at CARMARTHEN. From Cramarthen he went to CARDIFF, to become overseer of the office of WILLIAM BIRD. From Cardiff he went to London, to work in Eyre & Spottiswoode’s office, returning in about two years to Carnarvon, to work on ‘The Carnarvon and Denbeigh Herald’. In 1845 he became overseer…

(1)    ‘Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd’ (1851, pp. 87-8)

(2)    Ibid. (1856, p. 180), where his name is given as Jabez G. Jones.

(3)    The late Edward Griffith, J.P. Coedcymer, Dolgelly, in a letter to be Feb. 15, 1908.

(4)    See ‘L.E. Jones, Argraffwydd, Caernarfon’, as one of the vendors in the imprint to ‘Casgliad o Bregethau… P. Williams, D.D.’, vol. II., which, although undated, was printed before vol. III, with its dedication dated Nov. 1, 1814. See also the back page of the wrapper of ‘Cylchgrawn Cymru’ (No. 2, 1814 for ‘Caernarfon, Mr. L.E. Jones, Printer and Stationer.’, as one of the vendors.

(5)    ‘Y Traethodydd’ (1901, p. 276).

(6)    Pigot & Co.’s directory (1828, 1830 and 1844) and Slater’s (1844, 1850 and 1858-9)

(7)    ‘Gweithoedd Cawrdaf’ (1851, pp. Xii-xxii.).

Page 159

… of HUGH HUMPHREY’s office at Carnarvon – a post he held for 15 years. At the death of his cousin, LEWIS EVAN JONES, in 1860, he bought his office; but after two years and a half as a master-printer, he had a paralytic seizure, which incapacitated him for any work during the remainder of his life. He died May 23, 1870, aged 66 years, and was buried with his parents in Llanbeblig churchyard(1) Like his brother, ‘GWILYM CAWRDAF’, whose life and works (‘Gweithoedd Cawrdaf’… 1851) he compiled and edited, he was a literary man, and compiled, among other things, a Welsh-English pocket dictionary printed by W. POTTER and Co., Carnarvon, in 1840.

‘GWILYM CAWRDAF’ and his brother, ELLIS JONES, were not the only literary men apprenticed to RICHARD JONES, Dolgelly. – ROBERT JONES (‘BARDD MAWDDACH’), born in Barmouth in 1801, was another. He settled at Llanfair, Caereinion in 1824, first as managing printer to the Wesleyan-Methodist Connexion, and afterwards, from October, 1827, as master-printer, describing his press in his earlier imprint as ‘Golden Press’ or ‘Eur-Wasg’(2), and in his later as ‘Albion Press’(3). He printed there until 1835(4), when he sold his plant and type t ROBERT HUMPHREYS(3), a compositor in the office, and returned to DOLGELLY. In 1845 he left for London, undertaking there an important post with CLOWES, LTD., Government Printers(5). In 1886(6) he died at Bermondsey(6), London. – The REV. JOHN JONES (Idrisyn’), born Jan 20, 1804, was another literary man apprenticed to RICAHRD JONES. His apprenticeship dates from 1818, In 1824 he accompanied ‘BARDD MAWDDACH’ to Llanfair Caereinion, to work as compositor on ‘Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd’, becoming, bay January 1827, managing printer for the Wesleyan-Methodist Connexion. In October of the same year he went with the Connexion’s press to LLANIDLOES, to print ‘Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd’ there until the end of 1836, when the press was sold to the Rev. Edward Jones, Wesleyan Minister, Llantysilio, the father of JOHN MENDUS JONES, a compositor of the same town. The Wesleyan Bookroom and printing-office were housed in the ‘Elephant Buildings’, Long Bride Street(7). But JOHN JONES (Idrisyn’) remained at Llanidloes as master-printer on his own. After many years of usefulness as a local preacher in the Wesleyan-Methodist Connexion, he took Holy Orders in the Established Church in 1854, serving as curate at Llandysul, Cardiganshire, until 1858, when he became vicar of Llandysiliogogo, in the same county. He died at New Quay, near by, August 17, 1887, aged 83 years, and lies buried in the Llandysiliogogo churchyard.(8) He compiled and published many works, the most important being ‘Yr Esboniad Berniadol’, 6 volumes (1837-45), and ‘Y Deonglydd Berniadol’, 5 volumes. (1852)(9) During 1852-3 he was Mayor of Llanidloes. – Another of the apprentices of RICAHRD JONES was ROBERT RICHARDS, who set up as master-printer at Dolgelly in 1818, printing in that year Rhys Jones’s “Gwaith Prydyddawl’, and emigrating to the United States sometime after 1821, when he printed Dafydd Ionawr’s ‘Cywydd y Diluw’.


The late Peter Williams, B.A., Dolgelly, in ‘Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd’ (1909, p. 33), states RICAHRD JONES’s first office at Dolgelly was on the site upon…

(1)    ‘Y Herald Cymraeg’ (May 27, 1870).

(2)    ‘Ychydog o Hanes Enwogion yr Hen Destament… Gan Samuel Roberts… Eur-Wasg; Llanfair-Caer-Einion; Argraffyd gan R. Jones. 1827.’ 22pp.

(3)    See the wrappers of ‘Y Geirlyfr Cymraeg… Gan Owne Williams’ (1825-35), 4to.

(4)    Pigot & Co.’s directory (1835-6)

(5)    ‘Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd’ (1909, p. 64).

(6)    ‘Hanes Dolgellau’ (1872, p 116).

(7)    ‘A Municipal History of Llanidloes. By E.R. Horsfall-Turner, B.A…. 1908’ pp. 118-121.

(8)    See my notes, description and bibliography in ‘The Bible in Wales’ (1906).

Page 160

…which stood, in 1909, Mr. Henry Miles’s bakery. This probably means that RICAHRD JONES’s first office was Dolgelly’s first; that is, Thomas Williams’s from 1798 to 1808, which was afterwards demolished, a better one being erected on the site. It is situate in that part of town known as ‘Yr Uffern Fach’ (+ The Little Hell). RICHARD JONES removed the office thence to a building which in time became the dwelling-house and shop for Gruffydd Dafydd, the watchmaker, the press being set up on the upper floor. The building also was demolished, and in 1909 Grenwich House(1) – the shop of the late William Williams, the watchmaker – occupied on the site. All that may be correct; but, to be more definite, RICHARD JONES’s office was on Eldon Row – opposite The Angel Hotel on Eldon Square – up to 1858, when OWEN REES purchased the business from RICHARD JONES’s widow, CATHERINE JONES(2).

By 1863 the house on Eldon Row was again the home of a printing press, that of DAVID HUMPHREY JONES, of whom later on.

RICHARD JONES was of good yeoman stock, being the namesake and grandson of Richard Jones, heir of Y Tyddyn Du, Y Bont Ddu and Ty’n-y-buarth, near Dolgelly. The grandfather was a well-to-do Church of England man, who saw to the proper education of his sons, William and Ellis. William married Catherine, daughter of Lewis Evans, of Ty’n-yr-eithin in the parish of of Towyn, Merionethshire, and became the father of nine children, the third born being RICHARD JONES, the Dolgelly printer, and the fifth LEWIS EVAN JONES, the Carnarvon printer. William Jones lived at Bryntirion, Y Bont Du, and died Feb. 2, 1830(3) He contributed much to ‘Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd’ above his pseudonym, ‘Pererin Pen Nebo’(4). In a family Bible in the possession of Mrs. John Jones, daughter of RICHARD JONES, the printer,  the late Charles Ashton, in 1892, found the following record –‘RICHARD JONES, Printer, Dolgelly, was born May 26th, 1787, at Brunterion, Bontddu, Dolgelly. His wife Catherine Evans was born March 18th., 1786; and they were married at Dolgelley Parish Church on Saturday the 7th day of January, 1807(5). The date of RICHARD JONES death is not known; but that he died in in 1855 is pretty clear from the fact that the obituary notice of his son Jabez, in ‘Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd’ (June, 1856), he is referred to to as ‘y diweddar [= the late] Mr. Richard Jones.’

After his death, his widow, CATHERINE JONES, carried on the business until 1858(6), when OWEN REES, the son of Rees Owen,, the mason, and a printer who had learnt his craft in EVAN JONES’s office, succeeded by purchase to the sole proprietorship of the business. He printed in Bridge Street, describing his establishment as ‘Caxton House’, and dying June 9, 1887, aged 60, was buried June 11 in the burial-ground of Zion Chapel, Dolgelly(7).

His widow, ELIZABETH REES – a sister of EVAN JONES, master-printer, Dolgelly (of whom later) – carried on the business until January, 1891, when she sold it to MR. EDWARD WILLIAMS (‘Llew MEIRION’) Dolgelly, in whose hands it has continued ever since, the office known as ‘The Victorian Printing Works’, being situate in Well Street, whither he removed in 1887(8) from Eldon Square, where he had commenced printing in 1886. He spent his apprenticeship with…

(1)    The one of the two houses constituting the block on Eldon Square known as ‘Y Plâs Newydd’, Grenwich House today is occupied by Mr. R.P. Owen, jeweler, etc., while Mr. Rowland Ellis, draper, etc., occupies the other house known as ‘Y Plâs Newydd’.

(2)    Pigot & Co.’s directory (1830 and 1844) and Slater’s (1844, 1850 and 1858-9).

(3)    ‘Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd’ (1831, pp. 65, 97 and 129).

(4)    ‘Yr Eurgrawn Wesleyaidd’ (1830, p. 90).

(5)    ‘Y Geninen’ (1892, p. 23).

(6)    Not ‘1859’ as stated in OWEN REES in ‘By-Gones’ (1878-9, p. 347), because although her imprint appears on the titlepage of ‘Y Gwrthryfel yn India… Dolgellau: A Argraffwyd gan Catherine Jones’, preface dated ‘Mai, 1858.’, the imprint of OWEN REES appears on ‘Y Seraph … Dolgellau: Argraffwyd … gan Owen Rees, Heol y Bont. 1858’

(7)    ‘Y Goleuad’ (June 11, 1887).

(8)    The year of the late Queen Victoria’s Jubilee; hence the name of the office.

Page 161

… DAVID HUMPHREY JONES in ‘Y Goleuad’ office, Dolgelly. DAVID HUMPHREY JONES commenced as master-printer in a house opposite The Ship Hotel.


RICAHRD JONES was not the only apprentice trained in THOMAS WILLIAMS’s office at Dolgelly during 1798-1807; JOHN PUGH (‘IEUAN AWST’) was another, born August 26, 1783(1), at Melin Ddraenen, in the parish of Celynin, Merionethshire, his parents being David and Catherine Pugh. JOHN PUGH became at the age of 13 a junior clerck in a solictor’s office at Dolgelly; but after spending some years there, he apprenticed himself to THOMAS WILLIAMS. He afterwards articled himself to a solicitor in the town, eventually practicing there as such, and from 1815(2) as master-printer, his office at first being at Ivy House, in which previously resided William Williams, and in which to-day resides MR. EDWARD WILLIAMS (‘LLEW MEIRION’); later the office was in Finsbury Street. JOHN PUGH died Feb. 16, 1839, in his 56th year and was buried in the churchyard of Llanfair Bryn Meurig, Dolgelly(1). His name (‘John Pugh, Heol Finsbury’) appears in the imprint to ‘Y Dysgedydd’ from January, 1833, to December, 1840; but from his death, Feb. 16, 1839, to December, 1840, his successor,

EVAN JONES, traded under his name. EVAN JONES, a native of Llanegryn, Merionethshire, had spent his apprenticeship with RICHARD JONES(3). From March, 1839, to December, 1841, his office was in Finsbury Street; from January, 1842, to August, 1848, in Meurig Street: and from September, 1848 to November, 1863, in Mount Pleasant (+’Brynteg’). During 1839-63 he printed the monthly ‘Y Dysgedydd’, and during 1843-63 another monthly, ‘Cronicl y Cymdeithasau Crefyddol’ (the first number appearing May, 1843,and the last, December, 1910). In November 1863, he retired, disposing of the business to JOHN WILLIAMS, timber merchant, the father of MARGARET OGWEN JONES, wife of WILLIAM OGWAN JONES (‘GWILYM OGWEN’), whom JOHN WILLIAMS intended to set up in the business at Dolgelly. EVAN JONES, after retiring, lived at Rhydwen(3), about a mile from Dolgelly on the old road to Towyn, there to cultivate a small farm.(3) Thursday, Mar. 31, 1881(3), in a fit of insanity from which he had occasionally suffered during the previous 15 years, he killed his wife by splitting open her skull with a hatchet, and then committed suicide by cutting his own throat with a razor. At the time he was 75 years of age. The following Monday, April 4, 1881, both bodies were buried at Llanegryn(3)

WILLIAM OGWEN JONES (‘GWILYM OGWAN’) had commenced business as master-printer in the preceding summer at BETHESDA, Bangor, Carnarvonshire; but at Y Ganllwyd, on his way to Dolgelly, he fell ill, and died at Dolgelly Dec. 18, aged 25(4). During his brief business career at Bethesda he had printed the monthly ‘Yr Ardd’ (the first number appearing Aug. 15, 1863). The office at Dolgelly was in Mervinian House, Meurig Street, where he was succeeded by his widow,

MARGARET OGWEN JONES, whose imprint appears on the ensuing January and February numbers respectively of ‘Y Dysgedydd’, ‘Cronicl y Cymdeithasau Crefyddol’, and ‘Yr Ardd’. The imprint for the M. OGWEN JONES & CO.’, ‘&Co.’ representing JOHN WILLIAMS, MARGARET OGWEN JONES’s father, GORONWY JONES acting as superintendent. Later, to…

(1)    ‘Y Dysgedydd’ (March, 1839, p. 100) and ‘Cantref Meirionyth… Gan… Robert Prys Morris’ (1899, p. 396).

(2)    Barddoniaeth Gristionogawl: Gan DD. Ionwr… Dolgellau: Argraphyd gan John Pugh. 1815.’ Viii, 232pp., foolscap 8vo.

(3)    ‘Y Goleuad’ (Apr. 9, 1881), ‘Y Tyst a’r Dydd’ (April 8, 1881), and ‘Baner ac Amserau Cymru’ (Apr. 6, 1881).

(4)    ‘Yr Ardd’ (Jan. 15, 1864, p. 96).

Page 162

…superintend the office of WILLIAM HUGHE from the office of THOMAS GEE at Debeigh. In January, 1865(1), he married MARAGRET OGWEN JONES, and from May, 1866, to December, 1866, the office and its contents were the property of WILLIAM HUGHES & CO.’, ‘&Co.’ still representing JOHN WILLIAMS. By January, 1867, the business had become solely

WILLIAM HUGHES’s. The business (carried on until the end of 1899 in the name of WILLIAM HUGHES; from January, 1900, to 1910 in that of WILLIAM HUGHES & Sons; from 1910, when WILLIAM HUGHES retired, to 1912, by his two sons, trading as HUGHES BROS.; and since 1912, when the younger son, JOHN HUGHES, retired, by the elder son, ALFRED ERNEST HUGHES, trading as HUGHES BROS.) still thrives in Dolgell, but now at Y Felin Uchaf (=Upper Mill), whither, in 1911, it was removed from Mervinian House. Since June 5, 1868 (the date of the first number) the firm has printed and published the weekly, ‘Y Dydd’, and since January, 1871 (the date of the first number), the monthly, ‘Dysgedydd y Plant’.

WILLIAM HUGHES was born at Mold, Flintshire, January 27, 1838, and learnt his craft at the office of THOMAS GEE, at Denbeigh. He was J.P. for Merionethshire, and ex-Chairman of the Marionethshire County Council, when he died at Dolgelly Feb 23, 1921, aged 83; he was buried Feb. 25 at Brithdir. His widow survived until April 16, 1923, aged 84. In ‘Y Dysgedydd’ (Nov. 1921, p. 327) there is a portrait of both.


One of EVAN JONES’s apprentices was DAVID HUMPHREY JONES(2), the eldest son of Humphrey Jones, of Dolgelly, locally well known and highly respected as ‘Hwmffra Jones y Blaenor’(3). DAVID HUMPHREY JONES was apprenticed to EVAN JONES about 1854(3), in 1862(3) he left Dolgelly for London, to work there, for a short period, as compositor for CLOWES & SONS’ offices(3) whence he left to work in RICHARD HUGHES & SONS’s office at Wrexham(3); but in 1863(3) he returned to Dolgelly, opening business there as master-printer in Eldon Row(4), — in the very house(3) in which successively RICHARD JONES and his widow, CATHERINE JONES, had printed up to 1858. By 1872 he had removed his press and plant to Parliament(5) Street(6), and in 1875 from Parliament Street to Waterloo Street (7). Since January, 1879, the office has been in Smithfield Lane. From Nov. 2, 1872, until June 26, 1884, he printed for the North and South Wales Newspaper Company, the Calvanist-Methodist weekly, ‘Y Goleuad’, which had since Oct. 30, 1869 (the date of the first number) been printed for the same company by HOHN DAVIES (‘Gwyneddon’) in Bridge Street, Carnarvon. At first, for some time, owing to the limited space at his disposal in the Parliament Street office, DAVID HUMPHREY JONES printed ‘Y Goleuad’ in a loft near the premises of David Jones, the bark merchant, in Upper Smithfield(4)(=’Pen-ucha’r-dre’). From January, 1875, until December, 1878 (the date of the last number), he printed the Good-Templar monthly, ‘Y Temlydd Cymreig’, the previous numbers (March, 1873 – the first – to December, 1874) having been printed by JOHN DAVIES (‘Gwyneddon’) at…

(1)    ‘Y Dysgedydd’ (Nov., 1921, p. 372).

(2)    He must be distinguished from his uncle, David Jones, the china and earthenware dealer in Eldon Square at the time.

(3)    ‘Y Goleuad’ (Feb. 19, 1904).

(4)    Slater’s directory (1868)

(5)    So named owing to the ancient structure used by Owen Glyn Dwr during his insurrection (1400-1415) being situated in it until it was removed in 1882 and re-erected in the park of the late Sir Pryce –Jones at Dolerw, Newtown, Mont.

(6)    Imprint to ‘Y Goleuad’ (Nov. 2, 1872)

(7)    Imprint to ‘Y Temlydd Cymreig’

Page 163

…Carnarvon. From January, 1878 (the day of the first number), until February, 1884 (the date of the last), DAVID HUMPHREY JONES printed the Sunday School monthly, ‘Cronicl yr Ysgol Sabbothol’. In 1884, after printing the number of ‘Y Goleuad’ for June 28, 1884, he disposed of his business and office to MR. EVAN WILLIAM EVANS, who had served a seven-years’ apprenticeship with him. Subsequently, DAVID HUMPHREY JONES became a commercial traveler. Feb. 11, 1904, he died at his home, Lawn House, Dolgelly, aged 62(1), and was buried Feb. 15 in the Nonconformist burial-ground.

His successor in the printing and publishing business in Smithfield Lane, Mr. EVAN WILLIAM EVANS, born at Cae Einion, Dolgelly, Oct. 7 1860(2), continued to print ‘Y Goleuad’ from July 5, 1884, until June 26, 1914(3). July 1, 1914, he printed and issued the first number of his ably edited weekly, ‘Y Cymro’, still issuing from the office in Smithfield Lane. In 1888 (the first number, Jan. 6; the last March 29) he printed the weekly, ‘The Merionethshire News’, incorporated April 5, 1888, in ‘The Merioneth News and Herald’ – a localized edition of ‘The Carnarvon and Denbeigh Herald’ (Carnarvon). In January, 1885, he printed the first number of the Sunday-School monthly, ‘Y Lladmerydd’, still issuing. In January, 1888, he printed and partly edited the first number of the national monthly, ‘Cymru Fydd’, which ended its course with the April number of 1891. In January, 1896, he printed the first number of another monthly – this one for the women of Wales – entitled ‘Y Gymraes’, still issuing. At the beginning of 1917 the business was converted into a liability company, trading since as E. W. EVANS, LTD., with MR. EVANS as managing director. Since April 2, 1920, the firm has printed the weekly of the Church in Wales, entitled up to January 19, 1923, ‘Y Llan and Church News’,and since ‘Y Llan a’r Dywysogaeth’, while since January, 1920, the firm has printed the monthly of the same Church, entitled ‘Yr Haul’. This office, like that of MESSRS. HUGHES BROS., has also well maintained the reputation of the town of Dolgelly, since the days of RICHARD JONES, for the production of a large number of books of importance and merit. Mr. EVAN WILLIAM EVANS is a Justice of the Peace for the County of Merioneth.

(1)    ‘Y Goleuad’ (Feb. 19, 1904).

(2)    Who’s Who in Wales (1921).

(3)    Since July 3, 1914, ‘Y Goleuad’ has been printed at Carnarvon.


Chapter XXII

Page 146

Mold (W. Codington) ; Holywell (Edward Carnes) ; Carnarvon (Thomas Roberts, Mary Roberts, [Mary] Roberts & [R] Williams, R. Williams, R. & W. Williams, Peter Evans.)

… (Introduction content includes the first two master printers who are the focus of this chapter; W. Codington at mold, and Edward Carnes at Holywell)…

The third of the 1796 new master-printer was THOMAS ROBERTS, at CARNARVON – the printer so egregiously confused with both ‘MR. HUGHES’ and EVAN ROBERTS of the TREVECCA press in the contribution by Mr. John Ballinger in ‘The Library’ (1907). THOMAS ROBERTS’s was Carnarvon’s first press. HUGH HUMPHREYS(3), printer and publisher, Paternoster Buildings …

(3)    Born at Carnarvon Sept. 17,1817, apprenticed to PETER EVANS, Carnarvon: commenced as master-printer in Bangor Street, Carnarvon, in 1837: Mayor of Carnarvon in 1876-7; died May 2, 1896, in his 79th year (‘Y Traethodydd’, 1901, p. 279).

Page 147

…14, Castle Square, Carnarvon, in a letter printed on pp. 704-5 of ‘Cambrian Bibliography’, state (in Welsh) that THOMAS ROBERTS

‘…was supposed to be a son of William Roberts, of Plas Bach, near Conway, at which house John Wesley had been welcomed on one occasion. Thomas Roberts was born in 1760, either at Llanrhos or at Eglwys Bach, in Denbeighshire. His parents migrated when he was young to Trevecca, as members of the Howell Harris’s “Family”. At Trevecca Thomas Roberts was brought up to the craft of printing. It appears he was 36 years old when he went from Trevecca to Carnarvon. At the latter place he married a widow of some means. He, too, possessed property, being the owner of the Bryn Eisteddfod estate, in the parish of Llansantffraid Glyn Conway, which property, for some reason or another, remained in Chancery until about the year 1860, when it was publicaly sold, the poster advertising it as the property of the late Thomas Roberts, of Carnarvon, printer. He went to Carnarvon sometime before 1797. It is said that he was one of the persons who built the Pendist houses there in 1800. Pending, probably, the completion of the new houses, he set up his first press in the High Street, or rather, in the street leading out of it. There was at that time, at the farthest end of that street, an upper room to which access was gained by climbing exterior stairs; in that upper room was lodged the first Carnarvon press, which was a wooden one, of good make, and which worked easily. This press was in existence up to the year 1858, when the son of Peter Evans, while selling his father’s belongings, broke it up for firewood. It had come into the possession of Peter Evans by his purchasing the greater portion of Thomas Roberts’s belongings; and it was with it that Peter Evans worked for many years after settling as master-printer at Carnarvon. Thomas Roberts set up in the Pendist as soon as the new houses were completed. He published a considerable number of small books. He was a skilled, careful, and correct printer. It appears that Thomas Roberts was a Churchman; in any case, he regularly attended the Sunday-morning service at Llanbeblig Church, taking with him his little French Common-Prayer Book, with which he used to follow the service. He was a good Welsh scholar, and a proficient English one. He died April 30, 1811, at the age of 51 years, and was buried in Llanbeblig churchyard, where a memorial stone marks his last resting place. For some time after his death his widow carried on the business, several booklets bearing her imprint (“M. Roberts, Argraffydd, Caernarfon”) … In 1816, a nephew of Thomas Roberts was in partnership with the widow, their imprint (“Caernarfon: Argraphydd gan Roberts and Williams”) being found on the elegy of ‘y meddyg esgyrn hynod hwnw, Evan Thomas o Faes y Meddwyn Crych:. Subsequently, for a short time, Williams himself carried on the business, after which Lewis Evan Jones took it over, he in turn being succeeded by Peter Evans in 1816. The latter died in 1859.

Full and circumstantial as the foregoing appears to be, it nevertheless contains several errors that need correcting here. (a) THOMAS ROBERTS dying Apr. 30,1811(1), and his widow dying July 20, 1814(2), PETER EVANS, whose known earliest imprint is that on ‘Peroraieth Awen … Gan Richard Jones… Caernarfon : Argraphwyd a Chyhoeddwyd gan P. Evans. 1818.’, could not have purchased ‘the greater portion of Thomas Roberts’s belongings of THOMAS ROBERTS or his widow.  (b) MRS. ROBERTS dying July 20, 1814(2), no ‘nephew of Thomas Roberts’ could be ‘in partnership with her in 1816’; neither could she be in business two years after her death. (c) LEWIS EVAN JONES did not succeed any ‘Williams’ or anybody else in 1816, because he had commenced business of his own at Carnarvon by the autumn of 1814; see L.E. Jones, Argraphydd, Caernarfon’ (as one of the vendors) in the imprint to ‘Casgliad o Bregethau… P. Williams, D.D.’, vol. II., which, although undated, was printed well before vol. III. with its dedication dated Nov. 1, 1814 ; see also his imprint to “Haul yn codi, neu Ychydig Hanes am Lwyddiant Cymdeithas y Biblau… Caernarfon; Argraphwyd gan L. E. Jones. 1815.’ (d) PETER EVANS did not succeed LEWIS EVAN JONES, both printers continued to print each in his own office for many years after 1818. € PETER EVANS died – not in ‘1859’, but March 14, 1856, aged 69(3). (f) The ‘elegy of “y meddyg esgyrn hynod hwnw, Evan Thomas o Faes y Meddwyn Crych”, was not printed in ‘1816’, but in 1814, and ‘Maes y Meddwyn Crych’ is an error for ‘Maes-y-Merddyn’: note the title is on a…

(1)    ‘The Cambrian’ (May 10, 1811).

(2)    ‘Mrs. Roberts, relict of the late Mr. Roberts, bookseller and printer, Carnarvon’ (Obituary notice in ‘The Cambrian’, July 29, 1814).

(3)    ‘Y Traethodydd’ (1901, p. 277).

Page 148

…copy seen by me – ‘Marwnad, | … Evan Thomas | Maes-y-Merddyn, | Hugh Pritchard Niwbwrch yn Mon. | Caernarfon. | Argraphwd gan [Mary] Roberts a [R.] Williams. | Gwerth Ceiniog’ |, 8pp., foolscap 8vo.

It is to be regretted that Edward Jones, in ‘Y Traethodydd’ (1901, p. 275), in repeating HUGH HUMPHREYS’s statement, makes the latter ones elegy in ‘1816’ [sic 1814] into a ‘number of books’, and this without giving the title or the date of a single publication.

THOMAS ROBERTS’s nephew, R. Williams – the partner of THOMAS ROBERTS’s widow in 1814 – was in business at Carnarvon as a master-printer on his own as early as 1810(1). After the death of his aunt, MARY ROBERTS, he became sole proprietor; but by 1817(2) he had taken into partnership his brother(2)(?) W. Williams, for to a ballad printed in 1817(2) the imprint is, ‘Caernarfon: Argraphwd gan R. a W. Williams.’(2) But Charles Ashton, accepting HUGH HUMPHREYS’s statement, and unmindful of MARY ROBERTS’s death July 20, 1814, conjectures that the ‘Williams’ of Roberts a Williams’ in ‘1816’ [sic 1814] was ‘W. Williams’ instead of R. WILLIAMS.

If, according to HUGH HUMPREYS, PETER EVANS purchased the press and the ‘greater portion of THOMAS ROBERTS’s belongings (and there is no reason for not accepting the statement), he did so of R. and W. WILLIAMS about 1818…

…(Content continues with details of THOMAS ROBERTS printing career, R. Williams, career, and a final note about PETER EVANS. Chapter ends on page 148.)

(1)    ‘Can Newydd, yn dangos Bradwriaeth are droed… Caernarfon; Argraphwyd gan R. Williams. 1810.’ 4pp., foolscap 8vo.

(2)    Cerdd, am y galarus ddigwyddiad a fu ar Draeth y Lafan, Ebrill 21, 1817,… (Richard Jones [‘Gwyndaf Eryi’], Erw, Llanwyndaf, a’I cant, Ebrill 29, 1817.) Caernarfon: Argraphyd gan R. a W. Williams.’ 4pp.

Taking It to the Next Level – Crowd-funding my Book

However, I will settle for your money.

However, I will settle for your money.

Over the last year (more), I’ve studied my Civil War and related history books and performed countless hours of online research. All this has led me to some truly amazing places; discoveries about my family’s past that I could not have imagined in ten lifetimes of imaginings. It’s been great – to say the very least.

That said, there are just some things that can’t be found through Google. I need to “go to the source” in order to get at some details that professional historians haven’t yet ferreted out or seen fit to publish. I’ll provide a few examples of what I mean:

The original manuscript of William Ellis Jones’s Civil War Diary is in Ann Arbor Michigan. I need to sit down with the original, compare it against the transcription my grandfather copied into The Baby Book, and note any errors or corrections into my own transcription for my book. In addition, I’d like to photograph the document if the library will allow that.
– Cost of that trip is going to be around $1800.00

I need to spend at least a few days at The Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, Virginia, going through their archives and learning what I can about William Ellis Jones, his business, his associations, etc.
– That trip is going to cost around $500.00

I need to spend at least two days in Richmond researching property records and wills, to determine why William Ellis Jones, III was left essentially penniless, even though his grandfather was a successful man who owned a good deal of property. (I want to prove or disprove that his uncles stole his inheritance.)
– That trip is going to cost around $500.00

I need to take several weeks (broken up over the course of several months), visiting the Civil War Battlefields that are relevant to William Ellis Jones’s 1862 march. In addition, I need to see Gettysburg, which I believe is the last battle William fought in, before Spotsylvania. And of course, I need to visit Spotsylvania, where William was wounded in 1864, effectively ending his career as a Confederate soldier.
– These trips will cost around $300.00 each (some more, some less, totaling around $3000.00)

What I would LOVE to do (although I doubt I will get the opportunity) is go to Caernarvon, Wales and do some research on Thomas Norcliffe Jones, the father of William Ellis Jones, in order to add some flavor to the section of the book that deals with William’s upbringing, his father’s devoted Welsh Wesleyan roots, and the Welsh Jones clan dynasty of authors, poets, and book publishers.
– By my best estimate, that’s a $8000.00 trip abroad.

Last but not least, I need to join the North Carolina Writer’s Network so I can get the final draft of this thing in front of some critical readers, as well as possibly luck into an interested publisher at one of the workshops or conferences (not to mention benefit immensely from the company and insight gained from co-mingling with other writers.)
– Joining fee is $75.00
– Annual Conference is $350.00 – $500.00 (depending upon where it is.)
– Workshops $75.00
– Travel for all of the above events will set me back $400.00 – $500.00

That’s quite a Christmas list. Since I stopped believing in Santa a long time ago, and since $8.00 per hour, 12 hours a week, isn’t going to get me there either – I’m taking this thing to the streets.

I am going to put together a proposal for, and start soliciting money for this project – just the same way my ancestors solicited subscribers prior to publishing a book of poetry or sermons or political rantings about ironmongers in South Wales. If people can raise thousands of dollars for pee-wee football teams or cheer leading or bone marrow transplants or breast implants, I can raise at least a few bucks to get this book printed.

I’ll let my fair readers know once I get my prop up on

I’m building a Facebook profile and Page for this project too. (Don’t start… I know…)

I look forward to your support.

Not Slacking Off – Plowing Through, Head Down

PlowI’ve been quiet for weeks. While I have a moment I wanted to note that the quiet is not a result of slacking off. Rather, I’m working more hours at the bookshop, reading a great deal (thick into Rick Bragg’s “Ava’s Man” – fantastic book! Just finished Steven King’s memoir “On Writing”, last week, and about to pick up some Shelby Foote again as soon as I am done with my next Bragg book; “The Prince of Frogtown”.)

I’ve done some serious soul-searching in regards my writing. I need to learn more of the craft. I’m not a good writer. I’ve spent years writing. But just like practicing a bad golf-swing over and over again for years – you don’t become a better golf player from it. I’ve been writing badly for years. I’ve never had the benefit of good coaching or a critical reader. My goal for the coming year is to remedy this deficit.

As to what I write, that’s a different matter. I’m still struggling with that conundrum. I have a good deal of legitimate story-telling in me; the kind that I believe will make not-terrible fiction. Nevertheless, I am compelled to finish this biography of William Ellis Jones – and to get it as close to “right” as possible. I am no historian and so I come at this project with one arm tied behind my back. I don’t have any money for travel to go to some of the places I need to visit to get facts and details as near-correct as possible (not yet anyway). Despite all that I am determined.

Anyway… this is what I have been up to and where my mind is noodling.

By the way; I just had a birthday. I am a year shy of half a century along. Seems a bit late in life to think I can become a writer. Then again, it seems like I have enough life under my belt to think that maybe I have a right to speak up.

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