This index comprises a number of elements and draws information from many different sources. The index came about in a serendipitously way when I was asked to wait what seemed like endless days to get a birth certificate of my grandfathers’ in Rawson. The notion of spending two weeks in the civil registry had never entered my mind until that moment. However the uniqueness of the Argentinian culture contrasted so much with the English tradition of efficient record keeping that I was motivated through my natural sense of orderliness to organise the information for easier reference in future. The result of my work there, and the assistance given to me by other interested people, is a unique genealogical guide.
It is the first time that information on births, deaths and marriages on the Welsh in Argentina is publicly available. Without it, one would need to visit Rawson or Buenos Aires without guarantee that the information is there. The initial BDM information is complemented by lists from various other sources. The index presents information from the time of the first colony in 1865 up to 1900. The author did not have time to collect more genealogical information after that date, although it is around. It is possible that it may be collected in the future and published in a separate index.
Genesis of the Index
I have had several queries about my index, so I will take this opportunity to explain. As a child my father told me a stories about my grandfather being born in a tribe of Indians in South America and that we might reclaim the land he left behind if ever we returned. These myths were tackled, quite serendipitously, on a climbing trip to Argentina 1992.
From my fathers’ birth certificate I found out that my grandfather was born in the Chubut Colony. So I visited Gaiman there and stayed several weeks during which time I was permitted by the civil registry in the capital of Rawson to copy records from the birth, death and marriage registers. These entries form the most valuable parts of my Index; for many entries have the names of 3 generations. I did not find of my grandfathers’ birth certificate was one of the many that didn’t survive the ordeal of time and floods.
I found Uriena Rhys Lewis’s in Trelew, whose great-grandfather kept the first log of birth, death and marriage entries for the Welsh in the colony (1865-1885) before civil registrations were started. She interpreted the Welsh entries into English for me, and as chance has it, her grandparents were the witnesses to my great-grandparents wedding!
Tegai Roberts of the Gaiman historical museum helped me interpret the newspaper Y Drafod, found municipal records and old church records, all of which I used in the genealogical index. I visited the cemeteries for burial records to supplement the meagre details of deaths in the colony.
I located and visited numerous Government agencies, both in Rawson, and in Buenos Aires. Unfortunately their records were not systematically kept as and little information was available from the local equivalent of the Lands Titles Office. But the year I was in Argentina was the celebratory year for the founding of Americas, so I got a printout of the complete list of passengers on the Vesta. These ship records were confirmed and supplemented by research in London where I found the Mimosa ship list and others. I also digitized the complete census of 1895.
It was only through personal contact with the residents in the towns that I was able to access so much information. The culmination of my endeavours is an index which brings together for the first time much of the dispersed genealogical information on the Patagonian Welsh. The task of compiling the index gave me satisfaction by making a worthwhile contribution to the organized retrieval and dissemination of important historical information for the greater benefit of our society.
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