A Short Sketch of the Griffiths and the Jones families

Both the Griffiths and the Jones families originated in the mountains of North Wales. The Griffiths were Slate Miners, the highest grade of Quarryman in Wales at the peak of the industry, which was thriving in the mid 19th century when most houses of quality had a slate roof in Europe and in the US. John Griffith (b.1824) moved to Blaenau Ffestiniog sometime before 1871 and worked in one of the two main quarries there. Richard Griffiths, his son, worked in Llechwedd, one of the only underground Slate mines in Wales, or anywhere. Pictures of the quarry and the town can be found HERE, The Jones's were Joiners, Sawyers and Carpenters, from deep in the mountains of Snowdonia, a village called TREFRIW and their talents were also valued both in Britain and in the New World. Superb pictures of North Wales in general, including more pictures of Llechwedd, can be found HERE

    The Griffiths

 The Griffiths had hard lives in Vermont, working open pit quarries in the Winter and Summer, and one of the cousins, Owen Roberts, died reputedly of Sun Stroke, leaving behind a young wife and two young children. Richard, the patriarch, lost his wife Margaret unexpectedly when she died two weeks after having their sixth child in the middle of the biggest snow storm in many years, Feb 3, 1900. A full page obituary was written about the tragedy in the local paper. Richard himself died after a long illness, during which time he lost his farm and was confined to Hospital, and died poor, though his monument in the Poultney cemetery is large enough, and he owned a sizeable farm for Vermont and the Griffiths children all did well for themselves.. John Griffiths, the oldest, owned a thriving restaurant and bought a big house in Springfield Vermont; Hugh bought a ranch and then became a supervisor at the Remington Arms; Daughter Catherine married the owner of at least one slate quarry in Granville New York, a few miles from Poultney. 

TIMELINE: The Griffith family

*1824 John Griffiths is born in Caernarfonshire North Wales.
*1826 Catherine Griffiths is born in Caernarfonshire 
* April 1859 Richard Griffiths is born in Talsarn(sp?) North Wales
*1885-1887 Richard Griffiths emigrates to Poultney, Vermont where he buys a 60 acre Farm and also works in the Slate Quarries there, while he earned money to bring over his wife Margaret and their son John
*1885-1887 Margaret came over from Wales sometime after her husband  with their son John. Hugh was born in May of 1887, and did not have a birth certificate. 
*1917-1918. Morris Griffith joins the US Army and is wounded twice, once critically, in France in the Battle of the Ardennes. His Brother Richard(Dick) becomes a Sopwith Camel mechanic
*1920-1924- Hugh Griffith buys a 160 Acre farm on the Susquehanna River in East Windsor New York, a small village 20 miles East of Binghamton. The family calls it "the Ranch".
*1924- Hugh and Elizabeth Griffith have their first boy, Owen Richard Griffith, while farming the Ranch
*1926- Elizabeth is sitting in a makeshift truck when a train slams into it at "Dead Man's Crossing" a few miles north of the Ranch. She is holding their only son Richard, and suffers injuries. The Griffiths sued the Railroad, and ended up with $2500.00 (before fees) after 6 years of appeals.
*1928- Hugh Griffith Jr. is born on the Ranch.
* circa 1936. The Griffith Family sells the ranch and moves to Ilion New York, where there are many Welsh immigrants. Hugh Sr gets a job as a supervisor at the Remington Arms. Hugh and Owen R. go to Ilion High School
*1944-1945 Richard/Owen joins the Army and fights in the Battle of The Bulge where he earns a purple heart and a Bronze Star.
* 1945 -1947(?) Hugh Jr joins the Army Air Corps and gets stationed to Hawaii at the end of the War.
* 1951(?) Hugh graduates from Union College
* 1958 Hugh accepts a teaching job at Ferris Institute, later Ferris State University

The Jones Family

The Jones Family fared  better in most cases, though two children died in their infancy, and others died of cancer or unknown disease.  The patriarch, Owen Jones, was a 33rd degree mason, hugely respected in the British immigrant societies.. A carpenter and a joiner, his daughter Elizabeth said he was a cabinetmaker which sounded more elite. Living in a big house in Mt Vernon, the daughters took nice photos playing a concert size harp on the lawn and took jobs as secretaries. The older Jones were businessmen and quite successful. One, Thomas Jones, was an apprentice to a silversmith in New York when he was a boy Elizabeth went to business school around 1915, a bit rare at that time. George Jones became an executive at a large corporation. Keeping up with the Jones's seemed to mean a lot in Mount Vernon New York in the first quarter of the 20th century. They were well read and maintained contacts with family in Africa,  Manchester and Wales.

TIMELINE: The Jones Family

*1792 Evan Robert Jones was born in Trefriw, Carnarvonshire. He was the son of John Roberts, who was born before the US Declaration of Independence. This shows the pattern of North Welsh naming patterns. The son did not have the same name as the father, because Jones referred to 'son of John' , and Roberts signified 'son of Robert'. Patronymics were not used in the mountains of North Wales even down to the mid and late 19th centuries. Robert Hughes could be the son of Hugh Roberts, for instance. Families were identified by their homestead, sometimes going back into the middle ages when they were peasants or free men living on a manor, and in some cases in the distant past, slaves. The Ancestral home of this branch of the Jones family is  YSGUBOR GERRIG, Welsh for the Stone Barn or Granary, and consists of a few buildings just south of Trefriw. It is  included in the old Parish of Llanrhychyn, where the oldest church in Wales reputedly stands, and which was the church of Llewelyn the Great. St. Mary's Church in Trefriw was reputedly built by Llewellyn because his wife had difficulty walking the steep path up to Llanrhychwyn.

*1831 James Bilsland Hughes was born at Ysgubor Gerrig, Trefriw, son of Robert and Anne Hughes. Hughes  is in the Dictionary of Welsh Biography and noted as a famous Harpist and muscian in his day having acquired the bardic name 'Iago Bencerdd'. He played the Violin and the Flute as well as the harp, and lead choirs and composed music. Christened on February 23, it is possible that he was related to the Jones family since Anne Hughes appears as a Grandmother, 82 years of age, in the 1871 census at Ysgubor Gerrig living with the Jones family.  However it is not clear what the relationship is at this time, only that it is known that one of the relatives in Trefriw had a Scottish background, and it appears that this would have been reflected in 'Bilsland', a throughly scottish name. Proof of this relationship requires more research.

*1844 Llewellyn Jones is born and lives at Ysgubor Gerrig where he worked as a sawyer and raised at least three children with his wife Jane Roberts. 1) Mary Emily Jones, who married a Welshman from Angelsey, Owen Jones, and moved to New York  around 1885 2) Owen Evans Jones, who learned English and taught it to the other Welshmen in Trefriw before becoming the Headmaster of an English school in Manchester and 3) Margaret Jane Jones, who moved to Africa and started a family there. All three Jones Children emigrated and all three were successful in their new homes. At the time these Jones family members grew up and left Wales, 1864-1890, Trefriw was a booming port on the Conway river, and saw thousands of tourists a year in addition to their booming slate trade from large nearby quarries bringing slate to the barges to be moved up the Conway river to the port of Conway and out to nearby Liverpool and other places.