|JOHNSON COUNTY IAGenWeb Project|
the Iowa City Press Citizen By Courtney Greve
photo by Matthew Holst
Wednesday, December 26, 2001
format updated 28 Sep 2010
Tudors helped revive
church of their heritage
Family started Welsh Church
after moving in 1845
Today's story about the Tudors of Johnson County is the fifth in a week-long series celebrating people who, long ago, came to the area, got married and settled down to raise their families.
Their reasons for coming were many - jobs, adventure, family. For generations, their descendants have helped shape Johnson County.
Baking sugar cookies is a Tudor family Christmas tradition. The recipe has been passed down through generations, and Conni (Tudor) Lynch swears by the sweet taste.
"When my sister and I were little, my mother would always bake the cookies, so I did it every year and now the grandkids are doing it, too," she said.
Another tradition from Lynch's youth was her her family singing Christmas carols while her grandmother, Georgena Tudor, played the pump organ.
Including Lynch's children and grandchildren, eight generations of the Tudor family have been Iowa City or Johnson County residents since 1845.
Lynch said people always wonder if she's related to the ruling English Tudors. But try as she might, Lynch cannot link her relatives to Queen Elizabeth, Henry VIII or his six wives.
"I've tried to make the connection, but I haven't found anything yet," Lynch said. "I guess it's still possible."
Richard Tudor, born May 29, 1792 in Montgomeryshire, Wales, settled in Pennsylvania before moving to Iowa City in 1845. He made the trip with his wife, Elizabeth Lumley, and at least five of their seven children.
The original Tudor farm, located four miles southwest of Iowa City off Highway 1 on Sharon Center Road, was called Glyn Mawr, which means "beautiful valley" in Welsh.
While growing up, Lynch remembers her grandparents speaking Welsh with members of the Welsh Church congregation.
"They sounded like they were talking with a mouth full of mush," Lynch said.
Just one year after arriving in Johnson County, Richard's children - Edward, Hugh, Richard, Elizabeth and Margaret - were among the charter members of the First Welsh Congregational Church.
Hugh Tudor, Lynch's great great grandfather, raised black angus cattle on Glyn Mawr farm. Hugh and his wife, Gwen Pryce, were the first Tudors to have children born in America and in Iowa City. They named them Lumley and Julius Tudor.
In 1856, Hugh Tudor donated land from the farm to the Welsh congregation for a small church and cemetery. Lynch said they piped hot water under the road from the house when the church was built so there would be heat during the cold winter months.
The Tudors' patronage to the church continued through the generations. In 1971, Lynch's father, Keith Tudor, donated money to help restore the church after it had been closed for 20 years. The donation was made just before the 126th Homecoming the church was built so there would be heat during the cold winter months.
The Tudors' patronage to the church continued through the generations. In 1971, Lynch's father, Keith Tudor, donated money to help restore the church after it had been closed for 20 years. The donation was made just before the 126th Homecoming Anniversary celebration.
The celebration, called Gynanfa Ganu, is a singing festival held annually on the closest Sunday to the Fourth of July. Lynch said the Welsh are known for their voices, and the congregation would sing American patriotic songs and traditional Welsh songs.
The 126th homecoming was such a success the church decided to start holding regular services again. In turn, Keith Tudor decided to help purchase a new furnace, central heat, a septic tank and a kitchen and bathroom with running water.
Keith Tudor, the son of Merton and Georgia, was born April 1, 1921. He was a prominent Iowa City and Coralville businessman who died of a sudden illness while on vacation in Spain in 1977.
In 1940, he married his high school sweetheart, Patricia Maruth, before serving with the Air Corps on Guam in World War II. They had two daughters, Conni and Cathy (Tudor) Atherton.
Lynch said she has the letters her parents wrote to each other during WWII, but she hasn't been able to read them since her mother died four years ago because she thinks it will be too emotional for her.
Keith Tudor was president of Lantern Park Development Co. and chairman of the board of directors for Drug Fair Inc. and Hawkeye Real Estate Investment Co.
"Most people didn't think Coralville would grow. They thought Iowa City would stay the center," Lynch said. "Dad saw it coming."