Welsh Surnames in Dixie
Pick up a telephone directory in any small town in Dixie and you will find as many Welsh surnames such as Adams, Jones, Jenkins, Williams or Price as you will find of the Irish, Scots or English.
What you wont find is a definitive explanation or written history of when they migrated into the Southern states of America. It does seem however, that they came into such places as Jamestown Virginia, Wilmington North Carolina, Charleston South Carolina and later settlements came from Delaware & Pennsylvania to settle along the Pee Dee River of South Carolina. All while America was nothing more than British colonies.
There are even accounts that some of the enlisted men of the 8th Alabama Infantry “Irish" Regiment of Mobile Alabama dockworkers also included a few Welshmen in 1861. However, most of the Welsh who had come into the American South had long before assimilated into the general society unlike their northern counterparts. For the most part the stories of they Welsh in the South are lost to us today. Their Grandfathers & fathers had probably fought for American Independence during the Revolutionary War & during the War of 1812.
We do know that some Welsh had been in the South for a long time as some had acquired enough wealth to own slaves. As most Americans know African slaves almost always took the family names of their old masters. There is no doubt this is why so many Welsh surnames are found among black communities today. Most freed blacks were uneducated fieldworkers & knew nothing about Wales or Welshmen so it is very, very doubtful that they assumed Welsh surnames because they had heard the Welsh were people who did not believe in the American institution of slavery. Some Welsh in the South had indeed practiced slavery as evidenced by so many blacks with Welsh surnames.
Perhaps someday new evidence will reveal more information about the early migration of the Welsh into the American South. What we do know is that they have been here in substantial numbers since before the beginning of America.
I suppose they came to America for the same reasons as everyone else. I just wish they had not done such a good job of assimilating & hiding their past among the English, Scots & Irish & we would know much more about them today.
Billy E. Price