Come and experience Welsh-American heritage in Wymore, Nebraska.
Please note: the Welsh Heritage Centre is currently open to visitors on a one-to-one basis in compliance with state guidelines. Please contact us to arrange a visit.
Phone: (402) 432-3656 Email: email@example.com
For more of the story, watch our mini documentary, Pobl y Paith/People of the Prairie: the Welsh in Nebraska
You can also view our film on YouTube or Vimeo .
Dr. Berwyn E. Jones, 1937-2020
It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Berwyn Emrys Jones, 82, who died at his home in Lincoln, Nebraska on February 26, 2020. Berwyn was actively involved in many Welsh cultural activities and will be deeply missed by the Welsh-American community. He was known to his many friends on both sides of the Atlantic through his attendance at the North American Festival Wales, Cwrs Cymraeg, and the National Eisteddfod in Wales.
Born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska and raised in Lincoln, Berwyn was the grandson of Welsh immigrants who settled and farmed land near Wymore, Nebraska and where his father, Emrys Jones, grew up. He graduated from Lincoln High School in 1954, earned a BA in Chemistry at Nebraska Wesleyan University, then received his PhD in Chemistry from Kansas State University in 1962. After teaching at Monmouth College, Upper Iowa University, and Longwood University, he joined the U.S, Geological Survey in 1978 in Atlanta Georgia. He moved to Evergreen Colorado in 1985 and continued to work for the USGS until his retirement in 1999.
While in Evergreen he was a member of the vestry of the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration and with his first wife, Sue Jones, began the Evergreen Welsh Choir. He was a member of the Studebaker club and he lovingly restored a 1953 Studebaker, his pride and joy.
After the death of his first wife, he married Martha Davies, a fellow member of National Welsh-American Foundation, and moved back home to Lincoln. He served on the Board of Trustees of the Welsh National Gymanfa Ganu Association, and was a member of the North America Wales Foundation and Undeb Cymru a’r Byd (Wales International). In addition, he is listed as a Friend of the National Library of Wales. In 2004 Berwyn and his second wife, Martha Davies, joined the board of directors of the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Project in Wymore, the only cultural center, museum and archive dedicated to the history of Welsh settlers on the Great Plains. Through their many Welsh contacts and organizations, Berwyn and Martha brought the project national and international recognition, making it one of North America’s most celebrated Welsh heritage sites. In 2010, both were recognized with the North America Wales Foundation Heritage Medallion for this work. Berwyn served as President of the Board of the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Project for 11 years and remained on the board until his passing.
In 2017, Berwyn appeared in Pobl y Paith/People of the Prairie: The Welsh in Nebraska, a mini-documentary produced by the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Project to celebrate the Nebraska Sesquicentennial. In the film, Berwyn recounts the story of his grandparents’ immigration from Wales and shares fond memories of his Welsh-speaking grandfather. He also discusses his father’s service in the US Army Signal Corps in the First World War. Berwyn was very proud of his upbringing and heritage and shared these memories with his many friends in the Welsh community. Pobl y Paith was broadcast on Nebraska public television in Nebraska and can be viewed online at welsheritageproject.org.
In Lincoln he served on the Vestry of the St. Mark’s on the Campus Episcopal Church. He was a fine musician, singing in Welsh and church choirs, and was always willing to play his beloved trumpet for Easter Services. He remained a stalwart Democrat throughout his life.
Berwyn was preceded in death by his first wife and the mother of his children, Janet Sue Hall, and his second wife, Martha Davies. He is survived by a sister, Sara Gadeken of Denver Colorado, two loving sons, Roderick Hall Jones of Loganville, Georgia, and Bruce Gordon Jones of Lawrenceville, Georgia, seven grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. His memorial service will be held at St. Mark’s on the Campus Episcopal Church in Lincoln at a later date.
Memorial donations may be to the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Project, PO Box 253, Wymore, NE 68466 USA.
Heddwch i’w lwch. May he rest in peace.
The Mari Lwyd Joins us for Christmas Tea
The Mari Lwyd (Gray Mare) recently made her premiere at the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Centre during our Christmas Tea on December 20. Dating back hundreds of years, and possibly recalling pre-Christian traditions, the Mari Lwyd is made from a horses skull (ours is artificial), decorated and mounted on a pole. Traditionally in Wales, she would be carried from house to house asking to enter for treats by singing—the residents would play along by singing back. We had a most willing attendee carry the Mari Lloyd throughout the room while Gail Price Baker relayed the history of this unusual tradition. We want to personally thank the individuals who made this such a special Christmas event; friends from Wilbur who sang carols in Czech, our local German speakers singing “O Tannenbaum” and the Southern High School Chorus.
Ninnau Editor Visits Wymore
Megan Williams, editor of Ninnau and Y Drych, the Welsh-American monthly newspaper, visited the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Project on September 17. Board president Gwenith Closs Colgrove gave her a tour of our Welsh Heritage Centre and archives, as well as our recently-restored one-room schoolhouse. Megan will be publishing an illustrated article about her visit in the next issue of Ninnau.
Great Plains Welsh Heritage Project Celebrates 32nd Annual Sam Wymore Days
On Saturday, June 8, volunteers and members of the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Project came out to participate in our community’s annual celebration named in honor of Wymore’s founder and namesake. This year’s theme was the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. After the parade through the streets of Wymore, the Welsh Heritage Centre hosted a talk on the moon landing by NASA Ambassador and President of the St. David’s Welsh Society of Nebraska, Julie Allen.
Also visiting us in Wymore were Monreve Klingebiel and Mary Johnson, who presented a photograph of their parents’ store —Kohlmeyer Hatchery & Produce—which is now our Welsh Heritage Centre. We are honored to add the photograph to our collection.
A Very Welsh May Day
In Wymore we celebrated May Day—Calan Mai —by welcoming local 4th grade students to the historic District 81 Schoolhouse. The visitors learned about our community’s Welsh immigrant history and enjoyed a Welsh-language lesson. We also had fun playing pioneer games. Diolch yn fawr to our volunteers and especially to our Welsh teacher, Gail Price Baker.
Visitors From Wales
The Great Plains Welsh Heritage Project welcomed three visitors from South Wales this April. Gail Price Baker (center) and her sister and brother-in-law, Elaine & Barrie Phillips. All three hail from Brynmawr in Breconshire, South Wales. A former Welsh women’s rugby player, Elaine is employed at a school in Abergavenny. Barrie is employed as an Engineer at the Kerndale Company, Caerphilly. Gail graduated from Bangor University and has taught at various Welsh language schools in South Wales as well as in Omaha, NE.