Tough conditions in 19th century Ceredigion forced families to take the drastic step of emigrating. Many Ceredigion emigrants sailed from Cardigan to the provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick in Canada, others departed from New Quay and Aberaeron for the New World travelling via Liverpool. Six families left the Cilcennin area in 1818, and by 1850 as many as three thousand people had followed them to the United States, many settling in Gallia and Jackson counties in Ohio.
Ceredigion people, American citizens
An early migrant from Ceredigion to the North American continent was Evan Shelby of Tregaron, who became involved in the French and Indian Wars in the 1770s, and he was also a supporter of American Independence. A later migrant from Tregaron, Evan Rowland Jones, also became involved in politics soon after emigrating to Wisconsin in 1855. Strongly opposed to slavery and a supporter of Abraham Lincoln, Jones saw action at key Civil War battles including Williamsburg and Gettysburg. In 1880 he published a guide to the USA, 'The Emigrant's Friend'. Later he was appointed US Consul to Newcastle upon Tyne, and then returned to Wales briefly as a Liberal MP after which he became a journalist, founding the journal 'Shipping World'.
The architect Frank Lloyd's Wright's mother was another emigrant to Wisconsin from near Llandysul. Her family were prominent Unitarians. The great grandmother of Uncle Tom's Cabin author, Harriet Beecher Stowe, was born in Llanddewi Brefi and emigrated to the United States in the mid 18th century.
The first Welsh language handbook for Welsh migrants to the USA was also published by a native of Ceredigion. Joseph E Davies was a relative of Evan Rowland Jones. As a successful international lawyer, Davies became the US Ambassador to the USSR, and was advisor to president Truman at Potsdam in 1945. Despite having reaped the benefits of emigration, he never forgot his Welsh roots, calling his vast estate in Washington DC after his father’s home town, Tregaron. The 1943 pro Soviet propaganda film ‘Mission to Moscow’ with Walter Huston dramatized Davies’ experience as US Ambassador.