Follow the Leader: My Welsh Ancestors’ Immigration

Follow the Leader: My Welsh Ancestors’ Immigration

Here's how I traced the migration of my Welsh ancestors to America.

One of my favorite all-time quotes is by John Donne: “No man is an island.” Nowhere is that more true than when researching my Welsh ancestors. (John Donne was of Welsh descent himself on his father’s side, so perhaps he spoke from experience.) However overused the saying is, it’s a fact that cluster research is a handy tool for finding one’s ancestors, as I found when one missing name on a passenger list led to a chain of discoveries.

The Missing Record

I started with a theory: My great-great-grandfather, Daniel P. Davies, came over to America first from Wales with his wife and children following after.

Census records put my great-great-grandmother Elizabeth’s immigration date at 1888, so I went searching for her passenger list. I found a record for her and her children for 21 December 1887, through Philadelphia. It included her under the name Eliza (25) wife, her daughters Gwlladys (3) child, Martha (2) child, Margret J.(1) child, and Morgan (20) Laborer. Who was Morgan? I suspected he was her brother-in-law.

Passenger list, courtesy of Ancestry.com

However, Daniel is not on the passenger list. My initial search for him turned up no good results. While there are plenty of Welshmen by that name, nothing came up as definitively my Welsh ancestor. This was going to take a bit more legwork.

If you’re interested in researching your own Welsh genealogy, check out our independent study course, British Genealogy Research Strategies.

The births of Daniel and Elizabeth’s daughter Margret (~1887) and their next oldest child, born in the US (also a Morgan, ~1888), narrowed down the time frame I needed to search. Barring extraordinary or scandalous circumstances, Daniel had to have been in Wales at least through most of 1886 and possibly 1887.

Not quite good news

In my previous post on Daniel, I found the names of his parents listed on his death certificate. This is where I give a shoutout to Family Tree Magazine reader Kathy Duncan, who beat me to the punch by searching on GenealogyBank.com. She turned up a treasure trove from the Kentucky Post, which included Daniel’s obituary.

Daniel Davies Obituary, Kentucky Post

I won’t get into all the details of the newspaper records here, but if you’re interested in learning all about newspaper research, you’ll want to pick up The Family tree Historical Newspapers Guide.

The key discovery from that obituary: Daniel’s parents also immigrated to the United States. Therefore, my theory that he came over first and paved the way for his family expanded to include his parents and siblings. Just how many people came over, and when? And more importantly, could those dates help me find Daniel’s passenger list? With those questions in mind, my next steps will be to search for his family’s passenger lists.

To be continued…


We’re always interested in hearing how our readers have solved family mysteries and found records. If you have a research success you’d like to share, you can comment below, or send us an email at ftmedit@fwmedia.com.

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