Calumet Roots

Welsh women and steelmakers influenced Calumet Region settlement

2013-06-16T00:00:00Z Welsh women and steelmakers influenced Calumet Region settlementBy Archibald McKinlay Times Columnist
June 16, 2013 12:00 am  • 

There are a number of characteristics to the pattern of settlement in the Calumet Region, one of which is the importance of certain ethnic customs and another is the custom of women.

Today, there are few among us who would argue that the Welsh influenced settlement. And yet, if you were to walk a few yards into East Chicago, you would find that the Welsh were major factors in a variety of ways.

First, their numbers would be high. In East Chicago, at a time when local investors were tossing up steel mills like they were about to go out of style, there was even a mill that employed nothing but Welshmen. In fact, one of the investors bought an entire plant (Midland Steel) and uprooted it from Muncie so that it became an early part of Inland Steel.

Women played an important part, too. First, Welsh girls were better educated than most and had more energy than a team of Clydesdales. That is, wherever they went, they made a material difference in the way an operation was run.

They had a trait about them that critics might call “pushy.” As a result, a man coming to the new world could do worse than bring with him a bride who materially moved a man’s company ahead.

Another factor, which is very hard to nail down, is that Welsh women seemed to have an ability to surround all the problems of the day and bring order to chaos. In this way, they resembled German brides.

In any case, the Welsh (and German) ladies of the neighborhood eventually ran the place. They may still be running it, for all I know.

Of course many of them would have moved out to the blue collar suburbs and are ruling the roost from there. Incidentally, the reason we had so many Welsh in these parts is that, over time, they became the captains of making steel and managing the making of steel.

Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

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