Those attending last Thursday’s meeting of Troed-y-rhiw Local History Forum were treated to an extremely interesting and enjoyable talk given by E. Wyn James. The content of the talk included:-
- 153 Welsh emigrants departed from Liverpool in 1865 on an aging clipper called the Mimosa in search of a place where they would be free to speak their own language, practice their religion and preserve a culture that they felt was under threat at home.
- After an arduous eight-week sea voyage these pioneers landed on the coast of Patagonia in southern Argentina.
- Amongst their number were Aaron Jenkins and his wife Rachel who had been members of Saron Chapel in Troed-y-rhiw and were to become prominent in the new community. They brought with them their children one of whom had been born at sea but, sadly, died quite soon after landing while another had not survived the journey.
- The settlers were to suffer many hardships while they were establishing what would eventually become a thriving agricultural community.
- They received early help from the native Teheulche Indians and, after several crop failures, it was Rachel Jenkins who made the key observation that allowed an effective irrigation system to be developed.
- Sadly, Aaron Jenkins was to become the victim of the first murder in the settlement when he was killed by a captured bandit.
- Aaron Jenkins’ son Richard Jenkins, who had been born in Troed-y-rhiw, would later become one of the leaders of the community.
- Although, over the years, some members of the Welsh settlement in Patagonia were to return to Wales or translocated to other places including Canada, overall the inward flow of Welsh immigrants continued up to the time of the First World War.
- The last wave of settlers included members of the Day family of Troed-y-rhiw. Descendants of the Patagonian and Troed-y-rhiw branches of this family are in contact today.
- The Welsh-Argentine community is centred on Gaiman, Trelew and Trevelin in the Chubut province of Patagonia. It has been estimated that the population of this region is now 150,000 with 50,000 able to claim Welsh ancestry around 5,000 of whom are Welsh speakers.