Some Prominent Welshmen
of Scranton, Pennsylvania

From the book
Portrait and Biographical Record
of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania
Chapman Publishing Co., New York, 1897

The purpose of this page is to present biographies of several prominent 19th-century Welshmen who emigrated to Scranton, Pennsylvania, mentioned in the book referenced above. By the mid-19th century, Hyde Park and Scranton had begun a dramatic transformation from sleepy community to industrial giant, due primarily to the iron and coal industries and the building of a railroad that helped export their products to other parts of the country. As Scranton grew and prospered, immigrants from different ethnic groups flooded to the area to take part in the great industrial boom. Although groups of individuals from places like Ireland, Italy, Germany, Austria, Poland, Russia, and other countries, all made important contributions to the city, in Scranton's early boom days, most of the workers that fed the city's coal and iron industries were of Welsh extraction. The biographical book mentioned above goes a step further, by declaring in the beginning of the biography for Welshman David M. Jones:

"The cosmopolitan character of the population of the United States is indicated by the fact that every country in the world is represented among its citizens. While many of these nations have sent hither men and women of energy, thrifty habits and honest hearts, yet it may be said, without injustice to the others, that no land has contributed to the citizenship of our country a higher class of people, men of intelligence, industry and perseverance, men of brain and brawn, than has Wales."

Indeed, one cannot overstate the importance of Welsh workers who were recruited and came to Scranton and the surrounding communities by the thousands beginning in the mid 19th century. Here, it is important to understand the distinction between being recruited to America as opposed to simply coming to America. While miners and engineers in Wales and England had been practicing the mining of coal for decades, in the mid-19th century coal mining was still relatively new in Pennsylvania. In other words, in the early days, Pennsylvania's new coal companies desperately needed Welsh and English mining expertise to be successful. As mines and iron works in parts of southern Wales began closing in the last quarter of the 19th century, depressing wages, many workers emigrated to America or moved to the coal-rich region of the Rhonnda Valley in Glamorganshire, in search of better employment opportunities.

Although it can be argued that at one point in time, the Welsh virtually controlled most of the mines in Scranton, by the end of the century their influence had begun to wane, as the sons and grandsons of Welsh miners chose not to follow forebear's into the mines. As that process accelerated, their numbers were replaced by some of the other ethnic groups mentioned above, as Scranton's Welsh population began the steady transformation from industrial worker to merchant or businessman. You will notice this trend in several of the biographies listed here. As always, I welcome any comments on these pages.

Jeffrey L. Thomas

Biographies of Scranton's notable Welshmen include:

Benjamin Hughes Thomas Eynon William W. Jenkins Thomas T. Morgan
William Thomas John T. Williams David M. Jones Thomas Carson
Joseph P. Phillips Joseph D. Lloyd Frederick Peters Dan Powell
J. Milford Morgan Owen D. John Daniel H. Jenkins Haydn Evans
Henry Chappell Reese Hughes Eliezer D. Jenkins William W. Price

Read more about the connection between Scranton and Brynmawr, Wales
Read more about the history of Hyde Park
Return to the main page at the Thomas family website

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