Phoenix Mine geneaology to be featured on BBC radio Sept. 6
Long dead Phoenix miners and a modern-day Welsh connection will be featured on a British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) radio Wales program on Thursday, Sept. 6 at 10:30 a.m. British time.
The popular BBC program, Jamie and Louise, hosted by Jamie Owen and Louise Elliott, will be including genealogist Cat Whiteaway in their morning discussions tomorrow. During her interview, Whiteaway will be offering advice on tracing your family history which includes a modern person with a connection to the Phoenix mine.
Whiteaway said she has found a living ancestor of one of the grave sites but she won't disclose who it is until the show airs tomorrow.
Why Grand Forks? Well, a small group of Welsh miners did come here to mine in the Phoenix. Many of them came from the California Gold Rush, so had originally arrived in the U.S. only to die in Canada.
This very fact intrigued Grand Forks resident David Bevan so much that he started looking into it. Bevan, who is also Welsh and has lived in Grand Forks for the past few years, originally spied the Welsh names on the gravestones at the Phoenix graveyard two years ago. He began researching their history with the help of local Phoenix historian Helen Durham.
"In amongst the picket fence grave markers there were five stones dedicated to people from Wales, which is where I originate from," said Bevan. "Young men died over here and it struck me to send pictures of these grave markers to Caernarvonshire and Carnarvon in North Wales."
Bevan sent the photos, which clearly state the men's communities of origin, to the local historical societies. But not much came of it initially.
Then in April of this year Bevan was contacted by Whiteaway. She said she would be interested in following up on the Welsh connection. And now the resulting research will be presented during the radio show.
"It will be interesting to see what Cat (Whiteaway) finds," said Bevan.
Sue Adrian, Boundary Museum archivist, became involved in the project when Bevan contacted her. They went to the Greenwood and Phoenix cemetaries to photograph the gravestones. Although the Phoenix graveyard was moved from it's original location in the late 1950s to accommodate the resurrected mine, the Boundary Historical Society continues to maintain the site, making it easy to find the graves.
She provided some of the research that was used by Whiteaway.
"A lot of the miners came from different countries and I always wondered if anyone they left behind wondered about what happened to them," said Adrian.
This isn't the first time Adrian has had calls from abroad.
"I have people who call from all over the world researching past generations,"said Adrian. "There is a lot of interest in our history and that brings in potential tourism dollars (when they visit)."
The Phoenix mine site, which was both underground and open pit, was used between 1895 and 1919 and was then resurrected in 1959 for copper and some gold mining. Between 1895 and 1919 an estimated 100 million tonnes of ore was mined from the site. The mine was initially closed when copper prices dropped in 1919. When the mine was reopened in the 1959, the graveyard was relocated to its present location, down the road toward Greenwood. The mine closed again in 1976.
BBC has also shown some interest in looking into the history of the first Phoenix mine manager of the same era, Yolen Williams. Williams was Welsh and likely recruited more Welsh men to the mine.
While the BBC show airs at 10:30 a.m. England time, allow for the eight hours difference and listen to it at 6:30 p.m. our time.
To listen in go to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/b01mgs3c .
If you miss it, the shows are archived on line at the same link for one week after the show.
To view Whiteaway's blog on her genealogy projects please visit her website at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/wales/authors/Cat_Whiteaway.
To see more about the Jamie and Louise show go to firstname.lastname@example.org .