Welsh Origins of Reese Powell Thomas
Nathan W. Murphy, AG®
February 1815, Thomas Thomas and his wife Sarah (Powell) Thomas became the
parents of Rees or Rhys Thomas. In
Rees would later go by the name Reese Powell Thomas. At present, his specific
birthplace remains undetermined. His father Thomas Thomas, a native of
Llantrisant Parish, Glamorganshire, Wales, settled in Carmarthenshire
as an adult. He married Sarah Powell, from Llanllawddog Parish in
Carmarthenshire in the 1810s. Their children included: Thomas (b. abt 1823),
Hesther or Esther (b. abt 1826), Margaret (b. abt 1826), David (b. abt 1832),
and a daughter whose given name is currently unknown, who married Mr. Coldwell.
These children would have grown up speaking the Welsh language.
early 1820s, Thomas Thomas and his family settled in Llanfihangel-ar-Arth
Parish, Carmarthenshire, Wales.
In the 1840s, Thomas moved his family a few parishes eastward, and managed a 27-acre
farm known as Ty-r-cae (House in the field) in Llanfihangel Rhos-y-Corn Parish.
The Thomas family's religious preference at that time is currently unknown.
Saint missionaries arrived in this area in the 1840s. Led by stalwardt
missionaries such as Dan Jones, they established a branch in Brechfa and
another in neighboring Llanybyther. Brechfa was just a small village community
with little over one hundred inhabitants. Many
nonconformists, such as Methodists and Independents, in addition to the Church of Wales operated in this area. The
LDS missionaries found the Jeremy family who became some of the strongest
converts to come out of eastern Carmarthenshire. Church leaders appointed
Thomas Jeremy as branch president of Llanybyther, and his brother, David
Jeremy, as branch president of Brechfa.
The LDS Branch Records for Brechfa record that Thomas Jeremy baptized Rees
Thomas, who was a grown man, on 19 Medi [September] 1847. Thomas Jeremy
confirmed him on the same day. A few months later, David Jeremy baptized Rees's
sister, "Ester" Thomas, age 21, and his brother David Thomas, age 15, on 14
Rhagfyr [December] 1847. Abel Evans confirmed the two siblings as members of
the Church on 6 Ionawr [January] 1848.
All three identified their residence as Ty-r-cae, which is located near the village of Gwernogle, in the neighboring parish of
Since there were only two LDS Welsh Branches in this area, these brothers and
sisters had to travel several miles to worship with the saints. Church services
were held at various members' homes in the area and conducted in the Welsh
became very active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, while
his siblings dwindled. On 9 Ionawr [January] 1848, Thomas Jeremy and his
brother David Jeremy ordained Rees as a priest in the Aaronic priesthood. The
27 Mehefin [June] 1848, Captain Dan Jones ordained Rees as an Elder in the
Church. When the Lord's servants called the converts to Zion, Rees Thomas obeyed. He left Brechfa
Branch, with his sister Margaret, in February 1849.
The two boarded the ship Buena Vista, led by Captain Dan Jones, along with Mary
Evans, Rees's future wife, and disembarked from Liverpool
on 26 February 1849.
younger brother and sister did not heed the call to come to Zion. They remained behind in their dwelling
at Ty-r-cae, and eight months after their brother's depature, were
excommunicated from the Church. The leaders of the Brechfa Branch explained
that the two had been disobedient.
Since the Brechfa Branch Minutes do not survive, we do not know exactly what
they had disobeyed.
Thomas' parents and siblings continued to reside at Ty-r-cae following his
emigration. The 1851 Census of Llanfihangel Rhos-y-Corn shows these individuals
in that home: Thomas Thomas, 56, farmer; Sarah Thomas, 57, farmer's wife;
Thomas Thomas, 28, farmer's son, unmarried; Hesther Thomas, 25, farmer's
daughter, unmarried; David Thomas, 19, farmer's son, unmarried; John Coldwell,
6, grandson. Another excommunicated member of the Church, Methusalem Rees,
lived at Llydiadmawr, in the same parish.
He may have been an acquaintance of this family. The Thomas family held this
land, which consisted of 27 acres in 1851
and 53 acres in 1871,
until at least 1881. By 1881, Rees' parents had died, and his brother, Thomas
Thomas Jr., his wife, and two small children owned the farm, which at that time
had increased to 58 acres in size.
known about what happened to Rees' brother David and his sister Hesther. Both
of them left their parents' home before 1871. Hopefully
inquisitive descendants will pursue these families to find their long lost
cousins. Rees Thomas must have demonstrated considerable faith to remain strong
in his beliefs surrounded by a wavering family and he should be held in high
regard amongst his posterity.