Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Back to the Rees and Hague roots

    In 2014 I was very happy to welcome Cris Lythe, my cousin through our common 2-great-grandfather, Elias Rees, of Carmarthenshire and Glamorgan, Wales.  She flew to Hawaii via Los Angeles from England and I hope she'll become a frequent flier to Honolulu!   We saw a few of the sights around Oahu and did a lot of talking.  My plans came together to travel, myself, to England in the fall to attend another cousin's (Judith Medlock) big birthday party and a gathering of the assorted cousins able to the following day in September.
    In preparation for the "reunion" with my wonderful Rees cousins, I prepared a book online at a site called Shutterfly.  It was a ton of work, but a real labor of love.  It was not difficult to do, but very time consuming.  Even then, I made errors which I'd like to correct for the future.  I passed out these soft covered photo-books to those families who had contributed so much to our common Rees history.  I started with Elias' grandparents' marriage then baptism records and then Elias' own marriage record and children's births.  Elias Rees and Jennet Morgans had five daughters.  They moved from Kilgwyn Mill, near Llangadog, Carmarthenshire for work in Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan, about 1837 (I need to double check the date).  Elias became the "Carpenter of Cyfarthfa Castle." Coal and Iron were king in those days.
    I devoted several pages to the backgrounds of each of the five daughters' descendants.  It was fun to gather this information and photos.  Family tree charts were included, along with maps of the early Rees farms and residences.  At the end of the book I included descriptions of those who'd served in the military (I'm sure I've left out many), and some who had recently died that contributed so much to the Rees genealogy.
   I spent three weeks in England and Wales, traveling from one gracious home of a cousin to another.  I really appreciate the kindness shown to me in every instance.
   One cousin, John McKee, lives near Manchester and this happens to be near where my Hague great-great grandfather, James Hague, was from.  Despite not being on the "Hague line,"  John took me to Dukinfield, Cheshire (Tameside District), to see the sites of my father's ancestors, and to get some government birth and marriage records in person.  We drove all around Ashton-Upon-Lyne, across the river from Dukinfield.  In the 1841 UK Census, James Hague is noted as a "tanner" - an occupation that I found very interesting, as the industrial revolution had created huge businesses and employment in the cotton mills.   We went to a "Hat Museum" which I found fascinating as it showed the history and intricacies of being a hatter and hat finisher from the cottage industries, to later days.  The original machinery of one of the last hat companies is in the museum.
     Before I went to England, I was contacted by a Hague cousin in Canada.  I do not believe we had the same ancestors, via the father of my James Hague.  That would be Edward Hague of Dukinfield.  Very interesting that this family's first children were baptised as  (forgot the name) and I visited the cemetery at the site of the original church in Dukinfield, very near where the Hagues lived.  It is very exciting to find relations from this Hague/England link, and I hope to continue more sharing of the family ties.
   In Wales, cousin Jan and husband, Russ Clarke, drove me all over Carmarthenshire.  The brakes on their car got good use as I was always saying "Wait, stop, I need a photo of that!"  We knocked on a few doors and had gracious welcomes of old acquaintances.  Especially exciting was visiting the old mill which I believe Elias Rees had described in a notebook in 1838 as the place where he was from.  Being written in Welsh, and quite faded, it took "a village" to decipher the writing and decide that it was a particular mill a half mile from the "Dolgoy" farm where we believe Elias was either born or raised...  or his family worked there.   Also, next to that mill was the Bethlehem Church and Cemetery.  Tombstones of the Morgans family were abundant and still decipherable in that cemetery.  I think they are parents/relations to Elias Rees' wife, Jennet Morgans.  More research still needs to be done on Jennet.  The kind owners of the mill site gave us a tour of the home and renovated mill.  She said she thought she had old deeds to the ownership of the mill, which I hope she can find and share with me.  Was is a Rees mill, or Morgans?
   Before I went to England, I was contacted by a Hague cousin in Canada.  I do not believe we had the same ancestors, via the father of my James Hague.  That would be Edward Hague of Dukinfield.  Very interesting that this family's first children were baptised as  (forgot the name) and I visited the cemetery at the site of the original church in Dukinfield, very near where the Hagues lived.  It is very exciting to find relations from this Hague/England link, and I hope to continue more sharing of the family ties.
   Upon my return home I did discover, in old newspapers, online, that James Hague was an active "Chartist." This was an unknown term to me until I found his arrest record in the paper, and that led to learning about this reform movement.  Perhaps that's why James decided to get out of England in 1848 and come to America (first Rhode Island, then settling near Des Moines, Iowa).
     My travels in 2014 left me little time to actually integrate and substantiate my research and information / photo gathering.  I expect to be home from March to May 2015 to do genealogy and tell the stories of my ancestors.
 

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