Welsh: Nineteenth-Century Immigrants from Wales

For centuries, the Welsh gained international fame as miners. Nevertheless, they were slow to come to Nevada's mines. This was largely due to the fact that coal dominates Wales's industry, giving its workers experience more useful in the coal fields of the eastern United States than in western hard rock mines.

Still, Welsh immigrants arrived in sufficient numbers to have an effect on Nevada. Compared with other Celtic immigrants, the Welsh were consistently outnumbered by the Irish, Cornish, and Scots as documented by the federal census records from 1860 to 1920. The 1860 census documented twenty-one Welsh immigrants in the western Great Basin. In ten years, that population increased to nearly 300, a number that remained stable through the following decade.

The Welsh were often Methodists, but the presence of one of these churches in a Nevada mining town was more likely due to immigrants from Cornwall than from Wales. There were sufficient of the latter, however, to form immigrant organizations and warrant a Welsh language sermon at least once in Virginia City.

Perhaps the most notable Welsh immigrant to nineteenth-century Nevada was John P. Jones. He fought the Bank of California for control of Gold Hill's Crown Point Mine and defeated William Sharon for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

The failure of the state's economy in the last part of the nineteenth-century witnessed a corresponding decline in the number of Welsh in Nevada. By the turn of the century, their population in the state had diminished to 127.

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