Posts Tagged ‘ancestry’


Stori Fer/Short Story

This short story was an entry in the Llanwrtyd Eisteddfod 2022, meeting the topic ‘Milestone’. The people and places are historically accurate. The snippets about the milestone were imagined, to fit the given topic. The people mentioned are my forebears.

“In 1837 Thomas and Mary Lewis had moved from Aberaeron to Llanbadarn Fawr, near Aberystwyth, when they married, requiring them to travel away from family and friends. They decided this was the best move as Thomas had secured a new job as a lead miner which had a secure income, far better than the variable pay of a farm-hand or being involved in fishing in the rapidly developing port of Aberaeron. However, several years later they had another big decision to make. The lead mine where Thomas worked was changing hands, yet again, and there were rumours that the lead seam was running low. Now, with little Evan growing fast, the future did not look so safe anymore. They eventually decided this time, to move to South Wales so Thomas, could get work in the coal mines.

They began their big journey on a familiar road, towards Llanrhystud, where the road divided, going south west to Aberaeron or south to Lampeter, Llandovery and onto the valleys. They rested a while at the junction. Emotions were running very high. There was a feeling of sadness on leaving the Mid Wales landscape and the sea, mixed with the thrill and fears for the new life ahead. Sitting at the Aberystwyth to Talsarn milestone, Thomas was overwhelmed with grief for what they were losing. He took out his knife and prised a sliver off the milestone. He knapped the sharp edges, so it sat comfortably in his hand. With tears in his eyes, he told Mary that ‘this bit of stone will bring us back home one day’. She tore off a short length of her petticoat and wrapped it around the stone, saying she would sew a pocket for it later.

Their arrival in the valleys was a shock, there were so many people and so much industry belching out unclean air. Thomas had no problem finding work down the mines near Bedwellty. His long experience in the lead mines was useful, but learning to be so deep underground would take a bit of getting used to. In the years that followed he and Mary vowed that Evan would not follow him into the mines. Evan was a bright lad with a good head for figures, so they found him an apprenticeship that later gave him work as a blacksmith linked to the industries in Port Tennant.

Evan married a local girl, Jane, from nearby Swansea in 1869 and they set up home near the factory. Baby Edith was born within the year, followed quickly by Thomas. Evan advanced quickly in his work and was offered promotion and a job in Swindon with the Great Western Railway as an engine-smith. Evan’s father was thrilled to see this important opportunity open for Evan. Before Evan and the family left for Swindon, Thomas gave him a newly stitched pouch containing that sliver of milestone from Llanrhystud, saying “It will bring you home one day”.

Life was good in Swindon.  Evan and Janes’s family grew rapidly. Young Edith and Thomas were soon joined by more children, John Brynygog becoming the youngest of eight!

In 1895 Edith married William Griffin. The Griffins were a well-established family in the area, also with close links to the railway. Shortly after their marriage, Edith and William were transferred by the railway to Ryde on the Isle of Wight. Following the family tradition, Evan gave his daughter the pouch and stone, with a note inside of what it was and the words that his father Thomas had used when he moved from Mid Wales. Her moving to the Isle of Wight was unexpected, but the rail system on the island was being extended and William’s experience was needed.

Whilst living in Ryde Edith and William had two boys (Norman and Reginald). Shortly after the birth of Reginald, Edith and William were moved yet again, but this time back to Portsmouth, on the mainland. Edith and William went onto to have two daughters, Marjorie and Ena.

After the war ended, Edith remembered about Thomas Lewis’ pouch and stone. She decided that she was not going to pass it, with the family photos and papers, to either of the boys. Both were too fond of beer, having a good time. Of the girls, even Marjorie was very flighty and forgetful. Edith renewed the pouch and the note inside, and gave it to Ena for her to pass onto her children.

In the years that followed, Ena had no children to pass the pouch onto. This weighed heavily on Ena. On one of her infrequent visits to Reginald’s family that coincided with Marjorie’s 50th birthday in 1959, she met Reg’s granddaughter. The little girl had brought a box full of stones and shells to show everyone, regaling them with where they had come from or who had given them to her. This was the solution, thought Ena! The next time Ena visited, she brought the pouch with her, and gave it to Reg’s granddaughter, carefully pointing out the scrap of paper inside, telling her where the stone was from. So began what turned out to be a life-long interest in stones.

Time moved on with Ena and her siblings passing, as did Ena’s nieces and nephews. The links to the railway fell away as the next generations stumbled into a very different world and society. Within the next generation, Reg’s grandchildren and great grandchildren all stayed in the locality of South Hampshire. However, in 2014 Reg’s granddaughter moved to Mid Wales. Remembering the pouch and stone from Aunty Ena she set about finding out whether any of the story was true. Using Ancestry Online she quickly found John Brynygog, Evan’s son (unusual name) and his descendants. Following the family backwards she found Thomas Evans, the lead miner from Llanbadarn Fawr!

At the first opportunity she visited the milestone near Llanrhystud. (Yes, it was real!). Plans to stick the rounded sliver back on were scuppered as the milestone had been painted white! She decided then, to push the sliver of stone into the soil, behind the milestone.

‘Well, great-great-great grandpa, it did indeed bring the family back home to the land you loved so dearly. However, it took this piece of milestone over one hundred and sixty years and quite a few miles to do it!”

y ddraig enfys

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