Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Yanks In Town


William , Winnie, George , Mary and I were returning through the old Churchyard Yesterday afternoon after a brief catch up with the Alcapas in Mrs Frazer's glebe field, when a bright American voice sang out from behind the gravestones.
" I guess you're a real local" the woman called out.
I should have known that the Yanks had arrived as parked next to the Lych Gate was a large white minibus. The Graveyard suddenly seemed full of them .
They descended on me, greedy for information.
In the mid 1840s, Trelawnyd elder John Parry Sr led over 100 Mormon converts from North Wales to Liverpool in order to catch a steamer to the United States. Parry and his followers went on to settle in Salt Lake City where he became the first conductor of the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir .
Now, on a regular basis, his descendants arrive in the village for an hour or so, intent on locating Parry's meeting house ( thought to be a set of cottages up High Street) or in the vain hope of finding an old gravestone of the Parry family amongst the few intact gravestones in the old graveyard.

I gave them as much information as I was able which proved to be a rather odd experience as it was only after five minutes that I realised one woman was filming me on her mobile phone!
I showed them the 13 th Century Prayer Cross, and explained that it was (and is) common for Welsh headstones to document the names of the houses in which the deceased lived , a fact which often makes research easier with so many Jones', Parry's and Evans' living in one place.

As I was showing them around , I suddenly recognised  a few words on a tombstone I had never seen before. The words " Tan y Fynwent " sticking out like a sore thumb.
Now, Tan-y-Fynwent was the ancient Welsh name for our cottage and when translated it literally means " Under The Graveyard" a rather apt description as the cottage is located on the lane that borders the lower Western part of the Church boundary.
I had , by accident, found the previous occupants of our cottage.
People who had lived and died in the 1800s an early 1900s


59 comments:

  1. "Oh gee! Are you a genuine Welshman? How cool! Can you sing Men of Harlot for the folks back in Utah buddy? Mary-Beth get your camera ready! After three buddy...1,2,3.."

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    1. Id be better singing " the sun will come out tomorrow"

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  2. An interesting post - and what a fascinating find (the Tan y Fynwent tombstone).

    I have no doubt that you'd make a fantastic tour guide.
    ......but I would have rudely confiscated the mobile phone that the woman was filming with....
    (with the risk of being lynched by a mob of angry Americans).

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    1. Do you know jon, i never noticed she was filming for an age!

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  3. I think that your name and date of birth is stored safely in an air-conditioned, Mormon vault, somewhere in Salt Lake City. There's reassuring.

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    1. I wasnt sure they were indeed mormons lke their forefathers
      I did mention my " husband" when talking about the church keys to gage their reaction

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  4. you gave the yanks a good show, john. what did the dogs do whilst all this was happening - did winnie make goo-goo eyes at the people, did mary jump around, etc.

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    1. The dogs are well used to me being stopped and chatted to.... All of them sat down and yawned

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  5. How fascinating to find the grave of those that had lived in your cottage. That may come as a great talking/selling point when you come to sell up and leave. How rude of that woman to film you without asking permission. You should have whipped out your phone and started to film her back!!!

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    1. I was in my grotty pants too!

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  6. that is so cool! what is it with people photographing EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME? i hate it.

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  7. That is kind of a double wow moment. But your house is so old. Time to move to something new.

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  8. What a great discovery. I guess that American Mormon Bus Tour was good for something!

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  9. "Real locals, live and on foot, be careful the little ones have been known to be overly affectionate." You could open a safari service.

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  10. As an American, I find most of them an EMBARASSMENT. I apologise.
    Try to stay away from all of them when in the UK....

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    1. They were all very polite....and even had cameras around their necks and baseball hats on!

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    2. As an American I find closed minded people embarrassing. That is sort of the point of being an American, everyone is from somewhere and not all alike. But then again, if a person never travels and sees the people in the rest of the world, they don't really feel comfortable out of their own little niche.

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  11. That's a neat bit of history!

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  12. Although my people were technically in Shropshire where they died, I followed local tradition and mentioned their house name. Theirs also happened to be 'the big house', so it also added some kudos. Had they lived at No 2 Railway Cuttings I might have left it off.

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  13. Being a lowly American, I too would have been thrilled to be in an old cemetery in your part of the world, the same part of the world my great grandparents came from.
    I am rarely embarrassed for people who have nothing to do with me ... if that were so, I would spend all my time being embarrassed for other people.. it is better for a persons mental health to just worry about your own behavior and not get all involved in how a stranger behaves. imo

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  14. How cool! What a great find. Interesting that you have so many Americans wandering around out your way. I wouldn't have expected that. (Didn't know about the Mormon connection, though!)

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  15. How odd to think of Trelawnyd as an historical hotbed of Mormonism. Wow!

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    1. Friggin interesting thats what we are !

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  16. Very interesting stone. At least they didn't pull you away from something important.

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  17. It isn't often that visits from Mormons turn out to have a serendipitous end. I occasionally have the pairs of the earnest young men knock at my door and I urge them on to better climes.

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    1. I am not sure these guys were still practicing mormons
      I mentioned my husband and they seemed ok with it

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  18. Fascinating story, John. It's extraordinary how quickly the Mormans got to proselytizing. They spent their first 25 years getting chased from NY state to the Rockies. When groups like Parry's arrived in America they would then have embarked on the arduous westward journey across the plains. Religion is certainly a powerful motivator.

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  19. interesting. but what strikes me about that is that the names stand out clearly in 'modern' english while every other word on the tombstone is gibberish to me. oh and, I cringed when I read her opening salvo. really, Americans can be so clueless.

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  20. I once had the dubious pleasure of conducting a small family group of Mormons around our local area to see where their ancestors came from before heading for the US. They were convinced that we were distantly related (we weren't) and presented me with a self-published family history. However, I got the feeling that the Ashton of today didn't quite live up to their expectations.

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  21. How cool to discover that clue after so long! I imagine the group was in love with your accent along with everything else. You have a lovely lilting voice, at least in the videos you've posted. I'm always intrigued by accents different from our own.

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    1. Put trelawnyd in you tube and you'll hear my accent...which is ever so slightly yorkshire

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  22. Glad they didn't catch you pooing in the corner!

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    1. Oh god u have long memories u readers

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  23. Without fail I visit the village graveyard of my childhood home. I like the idea of the house name on the headstone. Like you I have found the place of my heart and it comforts me to know it would be recorded along with my name.

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    1. Mine would be
      Here lies John Gray
      Formally of bwthyn y llan, Trelawnyd
      Husband to the Prof
      Dog owner

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  24. Nice that you found out a bit of your own history while helping the Yanks with theirs ;-)

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  25. How much fun and interesting find for you.
    See we Yanks are not all monsters.
    I always have to be careful when I am in Japan... no hugging or
    handshakes when meeting unless they are old friend.

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    1. I did a lot of hand shaking

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    2. My Son is a Head of his Department and a Professor so I wait to see if it is a bow or a handshake. Men usually shake.

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  26. I'm glad you were there for them John. We have a beautiful Church & wonderful graveyard in the village. Some friends say they couldn't live next to it but I could

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    1. I was only thinking the same at 5.30 this morning as me mary and winnie trolled through it

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  27. Fun encounter and glad to read that you are out and about your knee must be feeling better John.

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    1. Its strapped up....my leg looks like a sausage

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    2. Is it helping ? Did you get a brace or just wrap it ?

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  28. Just think John, they'll probably post it on You Tube when they return home, and it will have millions of hits. You and the dogs will become world wide celebrities, and our darling Winnie will become even more famous than Kim Whatever her name is - (the one with the big bottom) !

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  29. I wonder why the name of your house changed! Nice find :-)

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    1. I guess "under the graveyard" wasn't a good name for a house in some people's eyes

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  30. You know what they said about Yanks? "They're overpaid, oversexed and over here."

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  31. I was once having a quiet pint in a Galway pub when the door burst open and a large American bloke bounced in
    and announced to all present "Hi I'm from Kentucky!" As if that fact was more important than his name....Odd!

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    1. Or he was so used to telling everyone he met where he was from.....
      My husband and I were always asked where we were from, NY got smiles and conversation, bless his heart, I imagine Kentucky only meant something to those who liked horses.

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    2. I would NEVER admit to being from NYC, even if I was...AWFUL place.....

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  32. This made me smile, bringing back memories of my dear old dad. In the strangest coincidence each time I was home on a visit, the Mormons would come knocking at the door, my dad would shout "Jo, the Normans are here".
    ~Jo

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  33. Very interesting. Some of my forebears converted to Mormonism at this time, left the Worcestor area and set up a town in Utah.

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