Come and experience Welsh-American history and culture in Wymore, Nebraska.
COVID-19 INFORMATION: In compliance with state and CDC guidelines, the Welsh Heritage Centre is currently open BY APPOINTMENT ONLY if staff are available. Please call 402-432-3656 for details. We look forward to reopening on our regular schedule (Sundays through Labor Day) once we are permitted.
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 .
We’ve Been Busy Updating Our Exhibits & Library
Virtual Tours Coming Soon!
Since last year, the board and volunteers of the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Project have been hard at work updating the exhibits and facilities at the organization’s sites in Wymore, Nebraska: the Welsh Heritage Centre, the Historic Pleasant View Schoolhouse; and the Railroad Museum.
Volunteers have given two areas inside the Welsh Heritage Centre a fresh coat of paint, and rehung historic textiles for easier viewing, including a quilt sewn in 1910 to raise funds for the Welsh church in Denver. Exhibits have been refreshed with additional interpretive panels, and new items are now displayed, most notably: an original map of Wales printed in 1610; a 1930s dollhouse modeled on “Y Bwthyn Bach,” the Welsh-built playhouse presented to Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret; and furniture and portraits from Wales donated by Welsh-born Nebraska agronomist Rosalind Morris. The research library has also been reorganized and volunteers continue to preserve and catalog items in the archives.
Just a few blocks away from the Welsh Heritage Centre, volunteer staff have been updating exhibits at the Railroad Museum, which commemorates Wymore’s years as a depot for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad where some of the community’s Welsh Americans worked. In nearby McCandless Park, an interior restoration of the Historic Pleasant View Schoolhouse was completed in 2019, returning the classroom to its appearance in the early 1900s when many children of Welsh immigrants attended the one-room school.
To expand its outreach the project is planning to create and share a series of “virtual tours” on video. Please check our website or follow the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Centre on Facebook for further developments. Although many events, including the North American Festival of Wales and National Eisteddfod in Wales have been canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the board and volunteers look forward to participating in future events and fully reopening the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Centre for visitors and researchers as soon as the situation improves.
Historic Stained-Glass Window Installed at Welsh Heritage Centre
The Great Plains Welsh Heritage Project recently installed a stained-glass window donated by former members of the Bethany Welsh Presbyterian Church near Carroll, Nebraska. Reframed by craftsman David Jones and backlit to display its colors, the window takes pride of place in the auditorium at the projects Welsh Heritage Centre in Wymore. Bearing the congregation’s Welsh name, “Bethania,” and the dates 1889 and 1917, the window commemorates the first Welsh Calvinistic Methodist church established at Carroll and was originally installed in the larger church built to replace it in 1918. Milton and Jacqulyn Owens, who attended Bethany, donated the window to the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Project after the church was demolished in 2011. Both also appeared in the mini-documentary Pobl y Paith/People of the Prairie: The Welsh in Nebraska produced by the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Project in 2017, in which they recalled the history of the Bethany church. The window now takes pride of place in our auditorium.
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.