Ancestral Wales

Our Stories, Our History


Welsh Abroad: Ann Ellen Owen 1861 – 1897

I love everything about genealogy – the twists and turns that our family trees take, the ups and downs of dead ends, the excitement of finding something unexpected and sharing in someone elses excitement at their finds.  All of these things keep me absolutely hooked.

I’m also aware how lucky I am to be living in this age of computers and online access, because many of these surprises arrive that way.  I’m also lucky because I have a very easy life compared to many of my ancestors.  Technology and machines have made my life a very easy one, from doing laundry to cooking and more.  However I’m not convinced that they save me time…….especially the one I’m using to write this post!!

I did get a surprise last week though and I’d like to share it with you.  A gentleman sent me a photograph of a gravestone from a remote area in South Africa.  He wanted it to be available in case anyone might be searching for the person listed on the grave.  I was very moved by his thoughtfulness, the fact that he sent it to me via Ancestral Wales because “you never know who might be looking for family” was one of the coolest things that has happened since I launched the website, and so thanks for sending it!

It reads:  In Loving Memory of Ann Ellen beloved wife of Ellis Owen born in Carnarvon, Wales who departed this life at Pilgrim’s Rest Nov 1st 1897 aged 36 years. (Also their infant daughter).

If you have a connection to this family please feel free to contact me.  I haven’t posted the photo because it’s tagged with a different name than the person who sent it.

The photograph intrigued me and so I did a little bit of research, and found that the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations),1861-1941, shows that Ann Ellen Owen, wife of Ellis Owen had a will that was probated in 1898 and that Ellis Owen was a miner.

Pelgrimsrus (Pilgrim’s Rest) where Ann and Ellis lived is in Mpumalanga, South Africa and  was a gold rush town.  The cemetery where Ann is buried started during that time.  I can’t begin to imagine what kind of life people like Ann and others had, moving to remote areas of the world in search of a dream.  These days if we want to move around the world, we can look up just about any where we want to go on the internet, but I think it took much more courage to follow a dream as Ann and Ellis did.

Remembrance Day

Although this post links to World War I & II websites, my thoughts and prayers this Remembrance Day are also with those Welsh men and women currently serving and families of those who have lost their lives in service since both wars.

Some places to locate names of those who gave their lives:   Commonwealth War Graves Commission Roll of Honour Victoria Cross Holders – Wales

For those of you too young to know what life was like in Wales and for Welsh people during the two World Wars, here are some links:  Their Past, Your Future.  Commemorating Word War II World War I and Wales World War II and Wales

Where to begin searching for your ancestors who served? The National Archives

and their Wiki ‘Your Archives’ at:

My thoughts this Remembrance Day are also of Albert and George Cadman (WWI) and my Dad Tom Fitton(WWII), his Dad William and his Uncle Thomas who died in Italy July 3, 1918.

I shall always remember them.

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