Our Welsh History

Page last updated 5 July 1999

For many of the American, Canadian and Australian family members, Wales was the stopping point of our ancestors after leaving England and before moving on to their new countries always in search of work and opportunity. They followed the work: the new railroad and boom in coalmining. Below are photos of some of the villages where the families lived and married before moving on. The photos are provided to us courtesy of Robert Edwards and are copyright to him. No for-profit or commerical use of them is allowed. We thank him for making part of our history visual for us.


Abertillery Hill from church yard


Abertillery on a rainy day

Llanhilleth Cemetery

Llanhilleth Church where Thomas and Ann Swanborough were married.

In addition to the photos, Robert Edwards has provided us some information about the Welsh naming practices:

"...the place names we are interested in are Cwm nant ddu, Cwm du, and Nant ddu. These names mean Dark-hollow-creek, Dark hollow, and Dark creek, respectively. ... adjectives are modified depending on the noun they modify. So it's Cwm du and Nant ddu.

When folks talk about place names in early Wales, they usually talk of a place in a parish. Even the census does that. So it's Cwm nant ddu in Trevethin (parish). And Cwmtillery in Llanhilleth. Llanhilleth parish has as its eastern border the NS ridge formed by Mynydd Llanhilleth (in the south) and Mynydd Coety (in the north). The western edge of Llanhilleth parish is the ridge to the west of Abertillery. Abertillery is not a parish. I would imagine that Cwm du was a pleasant rural neighborhood in the 1840s and before, but as industry took off, the hollow probably got pretty noisy and pretty smelly. So I can understand if people wanted to move out to nicer environs after industry came in.

aber = discharge point or mouth of a stream or river
cum = draw, hollow, or small valley
du or ddu = dark
cefn = ridge
mynydd = mountain
coed = woods
ty = house or home
nant = stream or creek
llan = town center
hafod = pasture
pen = uppermost
gelli = orchard
graig = craig
rhiw = red
maes = field
Illtyd = hilleth = ithyl = ancient patron saint
fawr = far
ger = near
blaen = uppe"

Updated January 21, 2005

Copyright 1998-2005, Bonnie Swansbrough

My claim of copyright extends to the original contributions that I have made to this site and to the site as a compilation of existing works.Some contributions to this site have been made by others, and they are given credit where appropriate, and they retain the copyrights to their works.