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Pontypool Free Press and the Herald of the Hills, 1862

5th April 1862

(Morgans of Hill Farm’s prospecting adventure to British Columbia, Part 1).

BRITISH COLUMBIA.- The excitement resulting from the recent discovery of extensive gold-fields at Vancouver's Island and the neighbourhood of Fraser's River has reached this locality, and the flattering accounts lately received have induced several young men to leave and seek their fortunes in that distant region, and several others are making active preparations for following them. The first party, viz., Messrs. T. and W. Morgan, from the Hill Farm, Glascoed; John Jones, Estate Yard, Pontypool; J. Knapton, carpenter, Pontypool; Roger Richards, grocer, Abersychan; and - Butler, grocer, Abersychan, started from Pontypool-road station on Monday morning for Liverpool. A great many friends accompanied them as far as the station to bid them farewell. They left Liverpool by the City of New York steamship on Wednesday last for New York; from thence they will proceed by steamer to Panama, cross the Isthmus by rail, and finish the journey - which will take about six weeks from the start - by the New York and San Fransico Mail.

12th April 1862

USK TO PONTYPOOL AND BACK.- Martha Meredith was charged with trespass on the property of the Duke of Beaufort.- Mr. Williams: Who sent you here?-Prosecutor: Mr. Relph of Usk, who refused to grant a summons, sent me here and told me to say he sent me. There was a dispute about the ownership of the land. Had received instructions from Mr. Waddington of Usk, to hedge the land round, and defendant pulled it up again.- The magistrates told complainant he must go back to Usk- that he was premature in bringing the case here. There would be no costs to pay, as the summons ought not to have been issued.

The “Prosecutor” in this case was John Pitt, my Great-Great Grandfather, who I believe would have recently moved to Rose Cottage, on Pergoed Lane. The family previously lived at Panta House.

The defendant was one of the Meredith family from Sunny Bank Cottage, near the head of Pergoed Lane. This was about three houses away from Rose Cottage. One year previously, the Merediths had been at the centre of the “Glascoed Riots”. They had provoked the wrath of the majority of the village by enclosing common land.

Here the Merediths are actually the ones pulling down hedges, I assume since they would have been the party alleging that they owned the land in question.

Saturday May 24, 1862.

ACCIDENT. On Saturday last, as Mr David Williams, of the Manachty farm, in the parish of Llanfihangel Pontymoil, was driving his wife and two other parties to the Pontypool market, the horse, just before reaching Pontypool turnpike, became frightened and ran away, and could not be stopped till they arrived at Pontymoil. Fortunately, none of the party attempted to jump out of the vehicle, but Mrs. Williams, by some means sustained a fracture of the left arm, just above the wrist. Under the skilful attendance of D. Lawrence, Esq., surgeon, we are happy to say that Mrs. Williams is progressing favourably, notwithstanding her having attained the age of 78 years.

Saturday June 7, 1862.

AFFILIATION.—Emwyre Davies (Ed. Note – this was Emmyra Davies, daughter of Jesse Davies and Eliza nee Pritchard of Lower Cwmare) v. Henry Morgan (Ed. note, of Little/ Middle Wernhir). Mr Greenway for defendant. Plaintiff had received money from defendant and he had promised to marry her:a long cross examination shook plaintiff’s temper more than her evidence, which being corroborated by her mother, Eliza Jones, and a Miss Baldwin, defendant was ordered to pay 2s. Weekly.

(This story was reported in more detail in the Usk Observer - here).

Saturday July 12, 1862

(Morgans of Hill Farm’s prospecting adventure to British Columbia, Part 2).

In the Free Press of April 5, we noticed the fact that a party of young men – among whom were T. and W. Morgan, of the Hill Farm, Glascoed- had left this neighbourhood for British Columbia. They embarked from Liverpool on the 7th, per City of New York steamship, and proceeded from New York to Panama by steamer, crossing the Isthmus by rail, and taking the New York and San Francisco Mail for the remainder of their journey. Several interesting letters have been received from the party, from which we purpose giving extracts, as many of our readers will doubtless be glad to learn whatever is to be told of that Land of Promise, and the journey thither, to which so many anxious eyes are turning in these “hard times.” We give the extracts in the order of their dates, and shall continue them from week to week.

Diary from New York to Panama, Steam-ship “Champion.”

April 21.- Left New York at 12 o’clock, with 900 passengers on board. Here may be seen people of every nation, and dressed in as many different costumes; more than 500 on board from Canada, wearing fur coats and jack-boots of that country. They are an extremely fine, good-natured race of people, quite different to the Yankees, who they dislike quite as much as the English do.

22.- Weather altered to severe cold, which we did not expect, as it was very warm when we left New York; but these sudden changes are more common than in England. Saw a few whales and some porpoises, and quantities of beautiful seaweed.

23.- Beautiful morning- not a cloud to be seen. Flying fish in abundance. They are as bright as salmon pink, and near the same size.

24.- On deck to see the sun rise, which is a beautiful sight in this part of the world. A great many miners on board, from whom we have gathered a great deal of information respecting our new trade.

25.- The weather, much warmer, but there is an awning to cover the deck, and there is not muchfear of fever from high living, for we do not have much more than half as much as we could really eat, although we are second-cabin passengers. We do not forget to complain – some in rather rough style- but it is not much use. The Company will make £27,000 out of this one trip.

26.- Weather much warmer. Lots of passenger sleeping on deck last night. Passed some small islands, the commencement of the West Indies, Burm Key being one, where the Conqueror man-of-war was lost a few months since. Weighing luggage today. Tom and I had 200lbs. weight, and only 50lbs. each is allowed but we got the loan of another passenger’s ticket and so saved the £2 we should otherwise have had to pay. Many others did the same.

27.- Day and night almost equal, the sun being nearly over our heads. I think it must be very hot on land, but it is not so hot on sea as I expected to find it. Passed the island of Cuba; nothing very inviting on it to look upon, being the most barren, mountainous place I have not yet seen, but there are parts of it very fertile and well cultivated.

28.- So hot below last night, that nearly all the passengers slept on the bare boards on deck. The ship is badly ventilated, and carries twice as many passengers as she has accommodation for, but there is no law in America to prevent it, and so every one does as he likes, and the greatest rogue is considered the best man.

29.- Some excellent musicians on board, who are playing “God save the Queen” and “Rule, Britannia,” to the great annoyance of the Yankees. It is surprising the hostile feeling of the American people towards the English and anything that belongs to them. Talk to any of them about Columbia, and they don’t believe there is the least particle of truth in the reports. All the Americans, with scarcely an exception are going to California.

30.- Still continues too hot to sleep below. I slept on deck last night, rolled in Mrs, New’s blanket, and slept as well as if I had been in bed with John at home; but I was obliged to turn out of it at three o’clock in the morning, for the sailors to wash the deck. Heavy sleepers sometimes got a shower-bath, but I always tried to hook it in time, for it was famous fun for them to catch any asleep after they had been called once. Arrived at Aspinwall at 10pm.

[Continuation of Diary to arrival at Francisca, next week.]


We landed at four o’clock on the 1st of May, and being nice and cool, as it generally  is at this time of the evening even in the hottest of climates, we went for a walk along the railway that crosses the Isthmus of Panama, and from there we had our first good view of the splendour of this strange place- the stately cocoa-nut tree growing without the least culture and free for any who could climb for the fruit; the lemon, orange, and bay growing with the wild honeysuckle and palm tree, entwined in one impenetrable mass as far as the eye could reach, forming a scene of magnificence which it is impossible to describe. There are some flowers to be seen, but not many near the town. The birds are really beautiful, but I saw but few except of one kind- the Turkey Buzzard. These are regarded as sacred here, and for that reason were not killed. After a long walk we returned to the town, where the natives were selling fruit of all kinds, but especially pine apples, to the crowds of passengers who were just landed. The natives are very sharp in their dealings, and unless the buyer keep a sharp look-out he will be cheated by them; but they are a very good-humoured race of people, and can take a joke better than many a white man. After breakfast, I got a friend to accompany me, and we went into the bush about half a mile to obtain some cotton as it grew on the tree. We passed two or three wigwams on our way, and had a little conversation with the natives, who were extremely civil, and gave us leave to pick some flowers in their garden. We had some difficulty in finding the cotton bush, the place being thickly covered with wood or bushes of different kinds. After picking a few pods we returned, and the train which was to take us


being nearly ready, got our luggage, and were soon rolling along through the most magnificent, romantic, and beautiful country it is possible to imagine: any description I can give of the loveliness and grandeur of the scene will be very faint indeed. The railway passes through a swamp or jungle for a few miles, where trees, plants, shrubs, and flowers grow in such a mass that it would be impossible for a human being to penetrate a yard into them; but further on, the country presents the most varied scenes. Hill, dale, and river, with the huts of the natives here and there in the groves of the cocoa-nut trees, and their cattle and pigs all around them (for they all live together,) present a sight that may be better imagined than described. Indeed, the scene altogether is such as to inspire thoughts of reverence and awe in the minds of the most thoughtless. Perhaps you may think I have over-coloured the picture. All I can say is, that it would be impossible to give a description of anything like half of what it is in reality- it must be seen to be believed.

I could not get much information as to the kinds of timber we saw, except mahogany, orange, cocoa-nut, and a few more, but by appearance there are hundreds of other kinds.

Fruit and flowers were hanging in great variety from almost every tree, and parrots of beautiful plumage were sitting-on the branches, and pine-apples growing underneath. There was a red kind of fruit hanging in great abundance from some of the trees. Sugar cane was in great plenty; the stem is about nine inches in circumference, and grows to the height of ten or twelve feet.




In the hamlet of GLASCOED, near the Church.-

Apply to Mr. RICHARD MILES, Glascoed.