by Jeffrey L. Thomas
Although it was not uncommon for entire families from Brynmawr and the surrounding communities to leave their homeland in search of better opportunities in the coal fields of northeastern Pennsylvania, many times those who struck out for the New World left most of their family behind in Wales. This was certainly true of my own Davies ancestors. Of the eleven known children of David and Hannah Davies of Brynmawr, it appears that only their daughter Elizabeth emigrated to the U.S., arriving in Scranton, Pennsylvania with her husband John J. Thomas and family in May of 1848.
Another Brynmawr family with connections to Scranton is the family of David and Mary Aubrey. Although David and most of his family remained either in or near Brynmawr, it now appears that at least two, and perhaps three of their children spent time in Scranton. We begin with David Aubrey, who was born in Llanwenarth, Monmouthshire, circa 1810. David married Mary Lewis, and by 1851 their growing family was living on King Street in Brynmawr. Mary was born in Brynmawr, and, although we do not have her exact date of birth, census and cemetery information indicates that she was likely born circa 1813. In the 1851 census the Aubrey family appears as follows:
1851 Census, King Street, Brynmawr, Llanelly Parish, Breconshire, Wales
David Aubrey H M 36 Coal Miner Monmouthshire, Llanwenarth Mary Aubrey W M 35 Breconshire, Llanelly John Aubrey S U 15 Breconshire, Llanelly David Aubrey S U 12 Breconshire, Llanelly Ann Aubrey D U 10 Breconshire, Llanelly Jane Aubrey D U 8 Breconshire, Llanelly Sarah Aubrey D U 5 Breconshire, Llanelly William Aubrey S U 3 Breconshire, Llanelly Elizabeth Aubrey D U 1 Breconshire, Llanelly John Aubrey CO U 42 Collier Monmouthshire, Llanwenarth
It appears that the John Aubrey who is listed last was a cousin of David, Sr. as he was also born in Llanwenarth. By the time of the 1861 census, David had become an innkeeper at the Clydach Bridge Inn and he and Mary had added three additional children to the family, Aubrey, Elizabeth and Alfred.
1861 Census, Clydach Bridge Inn, Brynmawr, Llanelly Parish, Breconshire, Wales
David Aubrey H M 50 innkeeper Monmouthshire Mary Aubrey W M 48 Breconshire David Aubrey S U 23 miner Breconshire Jane Aubrey D U 17 barmaid Breconshire Sarah Aubrey D U 15 scholar Breconshire William Aubrey S U 13 Breconshire Aubrey Aubrey S U 9 scholar Breconshire Elizabeth Aubrey D U 6 Breconshire Alfred Aubrey S U 4 Breconshire John Aubrey U 55 miner Monmouthshire
David's son John Aubrey was born in 1835 at Pont Clydach. He married Jane Henry at the parish church of Llanelly near Brynmawr, on 15 July 1857. Jane was born in Brynmawr circa 1838. By the time of the 1861 census John and Jane Aubrey were living on Bailey Street in Brynmawr, with their two daughters, Mary (2) and Sarah (5m). Although, like his father, John was a coal miner, the 1861 returns list John's occupation as "landed proprietor." John and Jane would give birth to more children, including daughter Margaret who was born in 1866. Margaret has proved to be one of the more elusive members of the family. She appears in the 1881 census in Kent, where she is listed as a servant, however she has not yet been found in the 1871 or 1891 census. There is family tradition that says Margaret possibly sailed to America as a small child, but eventually returned to England. As it turns out, we know that at least two of her uncles from Brynmawr, and possibly her father, traveled to America as well.
City directories and U.S. census returns indicate that two of David and Mary Aubrey's children, David and Aubrey, spent time in Scranton, Pennsylvania. By 1870 David had moved to Scranton, where we find him working as a miner and living with the family of Thomas Evans, as follows:
1870 Census, 1st Ward, Scranton, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania
Thomas Evans M 36 Miner Wales Dinah Evans F 33 Keeping House Wales Ann Evans F 16 at home Wales Sarah Evans F 14 at home Wales Jane Evans F 11/12 Penna David Aubrey M 31 Miner Wales
The 1870 city directory for Scranton provides us with some additional information and tells us that David worked as a miner at the Von Storch Mine, in a section of Scranton known as Providence. The directory indicates that there was a John Aubrey also working in the Von Storch mine. Although it has yet to be proven, there is the possibility that this individual was David's brother John, who married Jane Henry and was the father of the above-mentioned Margaret Aubrey.
By the time of the 1880 census, David was living with the family of Thomas Williams, and was still working as a miner in the Von Storch mine. By then he had been joined in Scranton by his younger brother Aubrey Aubrey, who returns show was living with the family of John Silkman and working as a "Meat Pedler."
1880 Census, 2nd Ward, Scranton, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania
Thomas Williams Self 49 Wales Coal Miner Ella B. Williams Wife 49 Wales House Keeping Kate Williams Dau 20 PA Dress Maker J B Williams Son 9 PA At School David Aubrey Other 41 Wales Coal Miner John Williams Other 46 Wales Coal Miner
1880 Census, 1st Ward, Scranton, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania
John Silkman Self 51 NY Boss Carpenter Sarah Silkman Wife 50 PA Keeping House Aubrey Aubrey Other 27 Wales Meat Pedler Kate Kurtz Other 16 PA Servant
The 1880 census also tells us that David Aubrey was widowed. At this point in time we do not know who David’s wife was, nor when she died, however, since she was not living with David ten years earlier (see above) she may have died prior to 1870. David and Aubrey's presence in Scranton is further confirmed by the following city directory listings which help us track their occupations and movements over several years:
The Aubrey Family in Scranton City Directories
Key to abbreviations:
HP = Hyde Park, P = Providence, bds = boards, h = home, ab = above, cor = corner
Year Name Occupation Address 1870 Aubrey, David miner, Von Storch mine h HP Aubrey, John miner, Von Storch mine h HP 1873 Aubrey, David miner h HP Aubrey, John D. Saloon, Market cor Main, Pro 1875 Aubrey, David inside foreman V.S. mine HP Aubrey, John miner LC mine h North Graded School, P 1876/77 Aubrey, David miner h Orchard near Williams, P 1879/80 Aubrey, Aubrey butcher bds Main ab Market, P 1881 Aubrey, David miner bds Church near Oak, P 1882 Aubrey, Aubrey machinist bds Mifflin ave near Mulberry 1883 Aubrey, David miner bds 1811 Church Ave 1884 Aubrey, David miner bds 1811 Church Ave 1885 Aubrey, David miner bds 1811 Church Ave 1886 Aubrey, David miner bds 1811 Church Ave 1887 Aubrey, David miner bds 1811 Church Ave 1888 Aubrey, David miner bds 2020 Wayne Ave
In commenting on the entries, we can see that David at one point rose to the important position of Inside Foreman in the Von Storch mine, although he seems later to have reverted to being simply a miner. Aubrey Aubrey's occupation of butcher is consistent with information from the 1880 census that lists him as a meat peddler. The fact that Aubrey is later listed as a machinist and had moved across the river into Scranton proper, can certainly be seen as a positive a sign of upward mobility, although he seemingly disappears after 1882. David makes his final appearance in Scranton city directories a few years later in 1888.
The 1890 census was destroyed by fire and there is no sign of the family in the 1900 census, which leaves unresolved the fate of the Aubrey brothers in Scranton. It seems likely that David adopted his new homeland on a permanent basis and likely died in Scranton or perhaps some other nearby community. The fate of Aubrey is less certain and there seems to be no record of his later life in either Scranton or Wales. If the John Aubrey listed in the directories was David and Aubrey’s brother, we can be certain that he eventually returned to Wales, and possibly remarried, his first wife Jane having died in 1876 (see below). What we do know is that David Aubrey, the younger, spent at least twenty years in Scranton, and was joined there for at least a few of those years by his brother Aubrey and possibly his brother John.
A further argument for John Aubrey of Brynmawr being present in Scranton in the 1870s, comes from the 1881 census, where we find a John Aubrey, aged 46, living in Brynmawr, with wife Elizabeth, and two children, John D. aged 12, and Edith W, aged 10. The place of birth for both children is listed as "Gargem State, America," which could be a corruption of the state of New Jersey, which is nicknamed the Garden State. Also, information from the Ellis Island (immigration) site indicates that in 1922 and 1924, a John Daniel Aubrey, born 1869, traveled to New York where he stated that he had been in America previously, from 1869-1873, and was born in Providence, U.S.A. This individual was likely the same John D. Aubrey listed in the 1881 census of Brynmawr. From this information we can now theorize that John and Jane Aubrey both traveled to America and that their children John Daniel and Edith were born there before the family returned to Wales sometime in the mid-1870s. Jane Aubrey then died shortly after returning to Wales, so the Elizabeth mentioned in the 1881 census was likely John's second wife. Again, although definitive proof of this scenario has yet to be found, the circumstantial evidence for it continues to build.
Back in Wales, burial records from Llanelly parish tell us that David Aubrey, Sr. died in 1874 at age 65, and was buried in the church graveyard. His wife Mary died in 1891 at age 76. David and Mary joined their daughters Elizabeth (died 1851 at 2 years of age), Sarah Ann (died 1861 at 9 months), the four located in plot "D" of the cemetery. Their well-worn grave marker reads as follows:
Also the said Mary Aubrey w/o David Aubrey died May 18th 1891 aged 76 yrs. Side 2. In mem of Elizabeth d/o David & Mary Aubrey of Brynmawr died Dec ... Also the said David Aubrey ...
John Aubrey's wife Jane died in 1876 at age 38, and John died in 1896 at age age 60. Although John and Jane Aubrey are listed in Llanelly's burial records, they are missing from monumental inscriptions lists, so it is difficult to tell whether they are buried near David and Mary. Again, if this John was the same individual that was living in Scranton in the 1870s, it proves that at least one of the Aubrey brothers did in fact return to Wales. So, although it seems that we can place much of the history of the Aubrey family squarely in Brynmawr, there remains this interesting chapter regarding the family’s journey from Brynmawr to Scranton.
Return to the Brynmawr-Scranton connection page
Read more about the history of Brynmawr
Read more about Llanelly Church near Brynmawr
Read more about the history of Scranton/Hyde Park
Return to the Brynmawr, Wales History - Genealogy website
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