last updated 20 Feb 2016

William Herbert journal - Trip to Wales 1886-1887

William's Journal - transcription & translation

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For the journal transcription and translation with notes and index in pdf format, click here - William's journal. The book is 112 pages and was set up to be printed double-sided. Printing single-sided you will find a few blank pages.

The journal itself is quite small - just 3 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches. So you can imagine the writing is really, really small and hard to read.

William Herbert (1850-1933) wrote the journal from November 1886 through January 1887 while on a trip back to Wales from his home in the United States. It had been six years since he left Wales for the U.S. William made the trip alone, leaving Margaret and their four children back in Bridgeport, Ohio. William's father David died in 1885 and his brother Edward died in 1884 in Aetnaville, Ohio (near Bridgeport). These two deaths likely prompted William, at his family's urging, to make the journey home.

The journal is full of William's travels in the old country, visits with family and friends, and a tour of a local coal mine operation. Besides the interest to us, his descendants, as a document of our family, the diary also includes prominent people in the local coal industry and community leaders. The journal is an important historical document of a time and place over 125 years ago.

William wrote the journal in Welsh. The journal has been transcribed and translated into English. We have been very lucky to have Robert Humphries as our translator, and I am very grateful for all his hard work. He has identified places and people that I would not overwise have been able to do had William written the journal in English. The page images and our self-published book of the translation with notes and index has been donated to the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Project (Wymore, Nebraska) and the National Library of Wales.

Here are a few passages from the diary:

"My journey in Wales. I reached my mother's house on Nov. 28 1886 at 10 PM many of my old friends went up with me to Trebanog those who came to meet the train: Henry, George, Tommy and John Herbert (my brothers) Rachie Morgan (Margaret's sister). Azeriah Thomas. R. Edmund, John Jones, John (Mair's husband), Ann Thomas, Tom (Sara Ann's husband), Sam Trefaldwyn, Johnny Williams and others too numerous to name it was a sober and serious time when we came to the house nobody spoke for a long time. and having begun to speak, there was no end to the conversation."

"12/2/86 - we reached C. H. Rowe's house but about twelve o'clock when we went there the old people were not in the house then only the oldest daughter but soon the old people came to the house and understood from their children that I was coming and when I started talking to them the tears began to trickle down their little cheeks and the old man could not speak for quite some time"

"12/8/86 - around 18 left for America from this place today and among them the son of Mary, wife of David Jenkins and Lewis of the Cottage. they went and left a great sum of debts for the merchants to remember them by they numbered 43 who met each other in Pontypridd and all going to Nanticoke Pennsylvania"

"1/25/87 - Henry and I went for a walk we were in the cemetery among the graves I saw dear Father's grave a headstone has been placed on the grave and it looks very good I would love to have a photo of It for a keepsake because he was so gentle to me"