Ceredigion children travel back in time to first Ohio emigration in 1818

Pupils from Ysgol Cilcennin and Ysgol Dihewyd at Ceredigon Museum.
Pupils from Ysgol Cilcennin and Ysgol Dihewyd at Ceredigon Museum.

Ceredigion Museum in Aberystwyth has been working with the Ohio Schools Project to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the first Ohio emigration from Ceredigion on April 1, 1818.

In 1818, six families from the Cilcennin area of Cardiganshire set sail from Aberaeron, emigrating to America and settled in Ohio, USA. They were the first families to emigrate from the county to South East Ohio. Subsequently, another 3,000 people from mid-Cardiganshire followed in the footsteps of the first Cilcennin emigres.

In the spring, nine local primary schools visited Ceredigion Museum, looking into the history behind the migration.

Pupils from Ysgol Cilcennin and Ysgol Dihewyd at Ceredigon Museum.
Pupils from Ysgol Cilcennin and Ysgol Dihewyd at Ceredigon Museum.

Three hundred pupils got the chance to handle museum objects, wear 19th century costume and re-imagine life in a rural cottage. The pupils found out about the hardship of rural life in Ceredigion 200 years ago and the reasons behind the 1818 emigration.

Anna Evans, Ceredigion Museum’s learning officer, said: “It’s been a pleasure working with the Ohio Schools Project team, especially in inspiring young minds to imagine the past.

“The children were very inquisitive, especially when exploring the museum’s replica cottage asking all sorts of interesting questions in regards to the living habits of a 19th century cottage dweller.”

Following on from the museum sessions, art workshops were held at all the schools involved in the project where pupils produced panoramas illustrating life in rural cottages, working on the farm and the treacherous three-month journey from Aberaeron to Baltimore. All the artwork created was displayed, for the public to view, in Llangeitho Village Hall at the end of June.

Anna continued: “It was fantastic to see the amazing artwork that the children created. It’s always good to see how the museum collection can instigate learning across the curriculum, enthusing young people to practice their literacy and numeracy, whilst learning about the history of their own community.”

The artwork display was part of a week of planned events and activities to mark the 200th anniversary, which included exhibitions, a hymn festival on the Mynydd Bach and a concert on the Square Field in Aberaeron.

Councillor Rhodri Evans, cabinet member with responsibility for economy and regeneration, said: “This has been a great opportunity for children of Ceredigion to learn more about local history in a fun and engaging way and it’s great that Ceredigion Museum is able to provide these experiences. The display in Llangeitho Village Hall was a great showcase, where pupils and their teachers could share what they had created with the local community.”

To find out more, follow the Cymru – Ohio 2018 project Facebook page or visit the website; http://www.cilcennin.wales/wales-celebrations-ohio-2018/