“O! how sad, how sad”

On this day, 4 August, in 1883, my great-great-grandfather, Rhys Wynn Jones, was buried at Elmwood Cemetery, Middle Granville, NY in front of a crowd of several hundred people. He was 37 years old.

I don’t want to go on too much about this happening, but as the line of poetry on his gravestone says, “Arswydol fu’r tro sydyn” – the sudden event was horrific. I cannot let this day go by without honouring him in some way.

All we had as confirmation of this tragedy as a family was a memorial card from the funeral that was passed down to me a 112 years later.

The card states simply that he was the husband of Ellen Jones and some more of his particulars. The card ends with the couplet summarising his life:

“He lived to die, Oh how brief was the journey, / He died to live in everlasting eternity.”

The Poultney Journal of 17 August 1883 covered the funeral in its pages. It said it was “sad to think of the wife and fatherless little girls at home in Wales, waiting in joyous anticipation, the time when the husband and father shall have earned money enough to bring them across the seas to join him here, but instead of glad tidings of great joy, wind and wave, are now bearing toward the tiding, O! how sad, how sad!”

I have in my possession a copy of a financial agreement he had taken with a reputable company on 10 April just before he set off to help pay for his journey and to have a little something for the family during his absence. It was for the sum of £70. His neat handwriting hints at a man who cared.

Therefore, just for today, I’m going to cut short this blog and dedicate it to my ancestor, as a simple record of the fact that we never forgot him though he lies in a distant land.

Tan tro nesa’.

About slatevalleymuseum

This year, Slate Valley Museum celebrates its 15th year of exciting range of programs, exhibitions, and special events that share its mission to collect, catalogue, conserve, exhibit, and interpret materials, artifacts, machines, and information that demonstrate the geology of slate and the history of slate quarrying and the quarrying community in the Slate Valley of New York and Vermont. We invite you to join us and... explore... exhibits of historic artifacts from the area's renowned slate quarries and mills displays revealing the science and art of slate quarrying, and its influence on the Slate Valley culture a quarry shanty, complete with all the machinery and tools used in traditional slate quarrying a geological display illustrating the natural history of slate examples of how slate has been used in the structure and decor of local buildings and as an inspriration for artworks in various media and our new multi-media exhibit HEAVY LIFTING: A Human and Technological History of Moving Slate from Quarry to Market, 1850-Present
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