During the latter part of the nineteenth century, Welsh miners were invited to share their mining expertise and travel to a land far better than the one they were living in, to become wealthy and eventually bring their families. Sadly many were killed whilst working in the mines and as it was too expensive to ship their bodies back to the UK, they were buried in Pennsylvania.
The Welsh community in the Scranton area, Pennsylvania, is relatively small, compared to Irish, descendants. But the Welsh community follow their ancestry with passion and pride. A percentage have never visited Wales, and some have. Some have even been to Ystradgynlais to visit.
There is a Welsh chapel in the Scranton area and an eisteddfod is held. Many of the town names are Welsh - Brynmawr, Hopkinstown and Evans Place, to name a few.
When the mines were eventually sunk and work to mine coal had began, Welsh labour became too expensive. Workers from Ireland, Poland and indeed the USA, was cheaper labour, and they took over working the coal seams of Pennsylvania for lower wages. The dream of a more prosperous life had ended for the Welsh highly skilled workforce.
I spent some time in the area during 1998, commissioned to document Welsh descendants. It was a fantastic journey and you can imagine the welcome I received, being Welsh!
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