Merthyr Tydfil, Wales – Birthplace of David O. McKay’s mother and death place of extraordinary missionary, Abel Evans.
In the Merthyr Tydfil area, Pres. McKay went in search of the birth place of his mother, Jennette Evans McKay. Several townsfolk were inquired as to where the cottage was located. Finally, the small four-room cottage was found. Pres. McKay toured the home and found a six by nine bedroom in which the bed completely occupied the narrow end of the room. Here he stood weeping at being able to be at this beloved place. A memorial plaque was placed at the cottage which made his trip to this area extra special to him.
Prior to coming to Merthyr Tydfil, President McKay was given a dinner in his honor. He was presented with a beautiful organ and plaque in honor of his mother to be placed at the Merthyr Tydfil chapel which was soon to start construction.
On March 2, 1961, President McKay visited Merthyr Tydfil for the groundbreaking of the LDS chapel. President McKay was so touched by the people that he promised those present that he would return to Wales for the dedication of the chapel. Many doubted that the church would be finished on time. However, they underestimated the devotion of a united, dedicated people. Men, women, and younger people from the entire area joined to have everything in readiness. Of the 30,000 hours of donated labor on the building, 22,000 came from the Church builders, and 8,000 were given by local members. Probably the greatest record was set when more than 220 men, women, and young people from the entire district put in over 1,600 hours of work on one day. The donated hours for the week totaled 2,650.
The chapel went from the footing stage to its completion in less than eight months. It is no wonder they termed it “the miracle at Merthyr Tydfil.” On August 25, 1963, the dedication of the new chapel at Merthyr Tydfil, Wales took place. At that time Pres. McKay officially accepted and honored the gift of the organ that was given in memory of his mother.
Evans, Abel, one of the Latter-day Saint Elders who died while filling a foreign mission, was born June 24, 1813, at Carmarthenshire, South Wales. Becoming a convert to “Mormonism,” he was baptized Feb. 10, 1844, by William Henshaw and is believed to be the second person baptized by divine authortiy in Wales.
He devoted about six years to the ministry, traveling in South and North Wales and labored with great success. He was a man of strong faith, the Lord working many miracles through his instrumentality, many being healed of their maladies through his faith and prayers, among others several cases of cancer and cholera. He emigrated to America in 1850, and in the April 1865, he was called on a mission to his native country. After laboring as a traveling Elder in Wales he was appointed president of the Welsh district, where he labored with unceasing diligence. He became ill with a cough while assisting some Saints to embark on the ship “John Bright” at Liverpool in May, 1866, and while attending a conference in Birmingham the following September, he slept in a damp bed, which renewed the cold and coughing upon him.
Although his condition was serious, he continued his preaching, both indoors and out, being exposed from time to time, until he became so weak that he could not stand and until the day of his death, which occurred at Merther Tydfil, Wales, Nov. 30, 1866, he did not seem to realize his condition. Evans was a man of considerable ability and was especially endowed with the gift of healing and discernment of spirits.
Essentials in Church History by Joseph Fielding Smith, p. 540-544.Highlights in the Life of President David O. McKay by Jeanette McKay Morrell, p. 218-257.
Internet: November 20, 2011http://mormonhistory.org/content/view/467/88/lang,en/LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Andrew Jenson, Vol. 3, p.625-626