Posts Tagged ‘Blaenavon’

Catharine Harris-Davis of Wales

Obituaries are fantastic sources of information.  Dates and names are great, but hints at what kind of people your ancestors were are priceless.  I love searching through old newspapers, especially the society section and obituaries.  Usually the articles are short and give a couple little clues, but this particular obituary is practically a novel in comparison.

Catharine Harris-Davis
(grandmother of John William Updegraff, great-grandmother of Robert Lee Updegraff, my 3rd great grandmother)
Monday, August 19, 1895
The Cambria Tribune

Born in Blaenavon, Wales on 19 August 1833 to Walter and Sarah Harris.  She married David H. Davis on 21 November 1851.  They came to America in 1854 with a young son and daughter.  Unfortunately, the young daughter died during the voyage and was buried at sea.  The young couple and child settled in Johnstown, Pennsylvania; David Davis purchased land and built a house on the corner of  Vine and Walnut Streets.  He was also the proprietor of a hotel on Washington Street.

Catharine and David Davis had SIXTEEN children.  Catharine buried seven of her children, one of which was killed in Montana.  She died on 18 August 1895 (one day before her 63rd birthday) after she became ill and took to her bed eight months prior.

Not only does this give us her birth information, parent’s names, date of immigration, children’s names, and street address in Johnstown, Pennsylvania; but what I found most interesting in the obituary was the naming of the church Catharine attended in Wales.  Catharine was once a member of the Blaenavon Congregational Church, and a little bit of research revealed that the church, built in 1820, is still standing and is a designated World Heritage Site.  This is why I love genealogy!

Click here to read more about the history of Catharine Harris-Davis’ hometown and church.  The history of religion in Blanaevon is also fascinating; “nonconformity became too conformist.”

I think this definitely requires a trip to Wales for more research!