By Megan Heyl
Enjoy this excerpt from British Connections Vol. 24, Issue 2, May 2023. Become a member to read the entire issue and peruse decades of articles British Connections.
As we are gearing up for our trip to the British Institute in Salt Lake City (yes, we are going to drive from Holland, Michigan), my husband and I have been reminiscing about some things we discovered on previous road trips to Salt Lake City—because we always take time to be tourists!
A few years back, we were driving toward Lincoln, Nebraska, and a billboard caught our eye: Stauffer’s Cafe and Pie Shoppe. The message was loud and clear: Come for the food but leave room for pie. Exit Now. And before I knew it, Jim had merged over a lane and taken the exit. He said, “I know how much you love pie, and we’re hungry! The car needs gas too, so let’s go!” We googled the restaurant, got an address, and we were there. So was half the town. This local family restaurant was obviously the place to be. The food was very good, and the portions were huge! A dry erase board displayed today’s choices–about 40 pies! All baked fresh, and each slice was about a quarter of the pie. Nearly every patron left with a to-go box because they’d left room for pie, including us.
While we were there taking in the ambiance and aroma, I noticed an information tent on the table: While in Lincoln, visit . . . . While flipping through the advertisements, I found one for the Great Plains Welsh Heritage Center, Wymore, Nebraska. Wait—what? Remember, I’m on my way to Salt Lake City, and I’m going to take a Welsh course taught by Darris Williams! I showed Jim, and he said,” Looks like we’re going to be getting to our hotel later than expected.” And with another address in the GPS, we were off to Wymore: a one-hour drive south. Easy peasy. We’re just five hours away from Sidney, our stop for the night.
Welcome to Wymore
According to Gwenith Closs Colgrove, president of The Great Plains Welsh Heritage Project (GPWHP), the museum was started in 2002 by three community leaders in Wymore, Nebraska, to recognize and honor the town’s Welsh heritage. Shortly after the passage of the Homestead Act of 1862, Wymore attracted a large number of Welsh immigrants. About 75% of the old Wymore grave markers bear Welsh names, and of course, many of the early pioneers who came to southeast Nebraska were Welsh.
The Great Plains Welsh Heritage Project is the only Welsh museum in the U.S. and Canada dedicated to those hearty souls who crossed the Atlantic with dreams of owning farmland. Attached to the Welsh museum is the Archive for Welsh America, the only such archive in North America. It houses one-of-a-kind artifacts, including the only microfilm of the early Welsh newspaper, Y Drych, which started in 1852.
After touring the museum, school, and railroad museum (a hit with Jim), we saddled up and headed for Sidney. The whole way there I kept saying, “Who would have thought there was a Welsh community here? And why didn’t I know about this?”
Jim smiled and replied that maybe I should look for other Welsh points of interest in the continental U.S., and if these locations offer some sort of public transportation or a museum nearby, even better! We finally arrived in Sidney, checked into our hotel, and carried in our dinner, which consisted of leftovers from lunch, and oh—an extra piece of pie for each of us! Because of this trip, I am now a member of NAFOW, have been to two of their conferences, and look forward to many more. Make these adventures part of your bucket list when it is your time to be tourists!