In July 1795, Ezekiel Hughes and his cousin Edward Bebb left Llanbryn-mair on foot, bound for Philadelphia. It is believed that they were the first Welshmen to settle in Ohio.
For over two hundred years, Ezekial's family had lived on a large farm leased from Sir Watkin Williams Wynne. When his brother, inherited all the real estate, and continued to live on the farm, Ezekiel, who had received a good education in Shrewsbury and been apprenticed to a clockmaker and... jeweller in Machynlleth, decided to visit America, with a view of purchasing a large tract of land, and making it his home. With his cousin Edward Bebb, he gathered together a group of like minded people and in July 1795 they left Llanbryn Mair on foot headed for Bristol, from where they would set sail.
The journey began with the men having to avoid a Press Gang in Carmathen before continuing to Bristol and when their families followed later, they sailed on the Maria on 6 August 1795. After a tedious and tempestuous voyage of thirteen weeks, they arrived in Philadelphia harbor on Sunday, 25th October. Ezekiel and Edward decided to stay in Philadelphia over winter and headed west in the spring. Within three months they had arrived in the unbroken wilds of the Miami Valley near Cincinnati (pictured) where they subsisted by hunting and fishing and building a cabin, clearing the land and growing potatoes, turnip and corn. When the Government started to sell land in west Ohio in 1801, Ezekiel bought two parcels of fertile land not far from Paddy's Run in Whitewater Township.
Ezekiel returned to Wales in 1802, spreading the news that there was fertile land in the United States and plenty of it. He divided a great deal of the fertile land he had bought into homesteads and small holdings and leased them on very favorable terms. He was held in high regard by his tenants for being generous, wise and fair to all and looked after emigrants from Wales who followed in his footsteps by trying to find work for them and lending them money so they could buy land or animals and equipment.
Ezekiel Hughes was highly regarded and respected in Ohio. In 1805, he was appointed by the Governors of the state to be responsible for designing the new highway from the river Miami to the town of Hamilton. A year later, he was made a magistrate and was a founding members of the Congregational Church in Paddy's Run. After spending his life being a pioneer and helping fellow Welshmen in Ohio, Ezekiel Hughes died on 2 September 1849.
Note: It is said my relation John Evans was in he Iowa area in the same year so had to pass through Ohio! He was the first of 24 children my great-Nain was the last born in 1850!