The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Home Lands

December 26, 2010

Groups of Welsh immigrants settled in Ebensburg

The historic town of Ebensburg, seat of Cambria County government, traces its roots back to a still young American nation when Welsh settlers immigrated here.

There were two groups of settlers, one led by the Rev. Rees Lloyd, who purchased property after landing in Philadelphia in 1795 from William Jenkins.

The following year, Lloyd led them to where he later founded the county seat.

A second group was led by Morgan John Rhys, who purchased a large tract of land in 1796 from Dr. Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Rhys led a small group of Welsh settlers to the site that eventually became known as Beulah, just two or three miles away, historians W.R. Davis and Dave Huber wrote in their “Historic Ebensburg.”

Although the village failed, its outlying cabins developed with the neighboring community which within a decade became the seat of the newly formed county, Cambria, Davis and Huber said.

With poor living conditions in Wales, the settlers immigrated looking to improve their lives, Huber said.

Although most historians report that Ebensburg was named after Lloyd's son, Ebenezer, who died in infancy, a family tradition also claims it was named “from the good old hymn, ‘Here, I’ll raise mine Ebenezer,” author Henry Wilson Storey wrote in a 1907 “History of Cambria County.”

Storey also wrote, “The struggle between Ebensburg and Beulah for the county capital was vigorous, but immediately upon the selection of the former, the decline of the later began.”

The First United Church of Christ on West High Street has its roots in the historic Welsh Independent Church that was established in 1797 by Lloyd.

The Independent Church later was known as the Congregational Church and then First Church of Christ.

The Lloyd Cemetery on Manor Drive has many tombstones bearing the family names of the early Welsh settlers – Griffith, Evans and Davis.

The cemetery was established in 1802 on part of the 401 acres originally deeded to Rees Lloyd, who donated the land on the condition that members of the Lloyd family be buried there free, according to published reports.

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