A Glamorgan Family History
|Ann (Howell) Rees/Rhys
|Parents||Emigration||Denver||Later years||Name Index|
From census records, Ann appears to have been the eldest daughter of John and Ann Howell of Nantmoel Uchaf farm, Rhyndwyclydach, Llangyfelach. She was born in January 1842, when her grandparents, Roger and Sarah Howell were both still alive and living at Nantmoel. She is first recorded on the census of 1851 at Nantmoel Uchaf aged 9 years, where she is described as a scholar. By this time she had 2 younger sisters, Sarah Elizabeth and Jennet. An older brother, Roger, named after his paternal grandfather had been enumerated on the 1841 census at Nantmoel but died, aged about 2 years around the time of Ann's birth in 1842.
In the census of 1861, Ann is 19 and described as being employed at home. On this census there is no mention of Sarah Elizabeth or Jennet, but Ann has another sister, Mary Jane aged 8. Jennet, in fact died in 1860, aged 11 years and is buried with her brother, Roger in a family plot in Baran chapel graveyard while Sarah Elizabeth was enumerated in Swansea.
3 years later, on Christmas Day 1864, Ann married Joseph Benjamin Rees at Castle St. Chapel in Swansea. The Reverend T. Davies of Baran Chapel (which was not licensed to hold marriages) performed the ceremony. Joseph (described in the the Cambrian newspaper wedding notice as an architect) was the son of Benjamin and Ann Rees of Aberclydach, Rhyndwyclydach. In the 1861 census, Joseph, who was born circa 1832, had been enumerated as a carpenter (his father was a master carpenter who probably taught him his trade). By the following census of 1871, Joseph is again described as an architect. He and Ann live at 1, New Oxford Street, Swansea and are enumerated with their son, Benjamin Howell, aged 3 and their new-born daughter, Annie Rebecca, aged 17 days. Also in this census, Ann's youngest sister, Mary is enumerated in their household as a visitor - probably to help Ann with the new baby. However, this is not the full extent of their family; Ann and Joseph apparently also have 2 other children: Maud Matilda, aged 5 who is staying with Ann's parents at Tywith farm in Rhyndwyclydach and John Hamilton, aged 2 who is staying with Ann's younger sister, Sarah Elizabeth Powell and her husband, Morgan at Nantmoel Uchaf.
|Emigration to America:
After being unable to trace any member of Ann and Joseph's family in any subsequent British census, I came to the conclusion (after excluding Ann's possible remarriage) that they must have emigrated sometime between 1871 and 1881. The likelihood of this was bourne out by the fact that, although Ann is mentioned in her father, John's will, dated 1889, unlike her sisters, she is not an executrix of the will. Several initial searches of the American censuses proved fruitless but during one last ditch attempt to find them in America before looking further afield, I searched for Joseph Benjamin using only his forenames and the year and place of his birth. This yielded the result of a Joseph Benjamin Rhys in the 1880 census of Denver, Arapahoe County, Colorado. When I expanded the result of the search I found Joseph enumerated with all 4 children named in the 1871 census, together with a year old, American born daughter, Mary. Another member of the household, Maud Rhys aged 72, was recorded as grandmother, - probably Joseph's mother, rather than his grandmother (although the 1861 census named his mother as Ann). The family was completed by Joseph's wife, but she was unexpectedly named as 26 year old, Welsh born, Ida. The implication was that Ann had died and, since the older 4 children were aged 15, 13, 12 and 10 respectively, the infant, Mary was Ida's child in a new marriage. I was unable to find any record of either Ann's death or Joseph's remarriage in Wales - suggesting Ann had emigrated and later died in America.
|Denver Directory entries:
The 1880 census gave no indication of when the family might have emigrated but, the Denver City Directory of 1876 lists:
"Rhys J. B. (Rhys and Jones), residence Stanton Ave. (bet. 18th and 20th)" and
"RHYS and JONES (Joseph B. Rhys and E. F. Jones) plaster paris manufacturers, Wewetta north west corner 21st".
These entries indicate that by 1876 the family had been in the Denver area long enough for Joseph to establish both a partnership and a business - in a field he had not previously been connected with.
However, several newspaper advertisements in both the "Boulder County News" and "Denver Daily Times" dated between August 23rd 1876 and September 14th 1877 are for the business of:
(late Rhys and Jones)
Denver Calcined Plaster and Cement Mill.
Opposite K.F. Passenger Depot.
Orders left at Geo Ford's Hay Market 455 Larimer St.,
corner of 18th will be promptly attended to."
It's not clear whether Jones had died or the partnership had simply been amicably (or otherwise) dissolved sometime in 1876, but perhaps the business did not prove profitable because by the census of 1880, Joseph was described as a machinist. I have since discovered in Denver Daily Times, dated 20th October 1877, a reference to the Denver judicial court calendar which lists Tuesday 8th January 1878 as a date set for the trial of Gilbert v Rhys & Jones, case no. 3368, but can as yet, find no further details.
In Corbett & Ballenger's 10th Annual Denver City Directory (1882), Joseph is listed on page 476, described as a carpenter, and his eldest daughter, Miss Maude Rhys is listed as a clerk at Daniels & Fisher - which appears from other directory entries to have been a large department store in Denver. In fact, the Daniel's and Fisher store became Denver's largest and most prestigious store. In 1910 a clock tower, modelled on St. Mark's Campanile in Venice, was added to house the store's dry goods. When the rest of the store was demolished in the 1970s, the tower (originally the tallest building in Denver and a tourist attraction in itself) was preserved and still stands today at 16th Street Mall and Arapahoe Street.
Daniel's & Fisher Store
|Photograph now in the public domain|