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Who Really Discovered America?

Madoc Discover's America - Maddox Genealogy Madog

Madoc ap Owen Gwynnedd, a prince, was a member of a family of great wealth.  He grew tired of the wrangling of his brothers over their father's domain and determined to seek some new country where peace would rule.  Madoc was evidently as great a navigator as he was a colonist, and sailed westward in search of a new world, about the 11th century.  He was very much pleased with his new home and returned to Wales and carried another party to his new home in the West.  He was never heard of again.

The International Encyclopedia (page 659) gives an interesting account of this Welsh prince.

The land he found was America from reports of a tribe of fair-haired, light-skinned Indians living there.  He may be assumed an ancestor of the Madogs of Llanfydnach, according to Catlin's North American Indians' Stephen's Literature of Kymyr (2nd Edition, page150) and Lincoln's Library of Essential Information (page 298).

Robert Southey, the English poet, chose the name Madoc for his epic poem, written in 1805.

There is an old Welsh Ode which translates:

Madoc am I,
the son of Owain Gwynedd
with stature large and comply grace adorned
No land at home, nor store of wealth
My mind was whole to search the Sea.
Young Prince Madoc of Wales may have discovered America in 1170 or 322 years before Columbus arrived, according to British historian Richard Deacon, in his book,  Madoc and the Discovery of America:  
  • "Prince Madoc ab Owain Gwynedd son of a king of Wales, was born in 1150 the story goes.  He sailed from Wales and landed hear the present site of Mobile, Alabama.  He returned home, then made another voyage to the continent.  This time he went up the Alabama River and other streams, then disappeared in the wilds of what is now Tennessee.  But a traveler's account of the 1800's tells of fair-skinned Indians in that area who spoke some Welsh words and put sentences together in the way Welsh people do.
  • A Welsh poem of the 15th century tells how Prince Madoc sailed away in 10 ships, and his countrymen long supposed that he discovered America.
  • In his very interesting book, Mr. Deacon gives facts for and against his conclusions, but h seems to believe the evidence is in the Prince's favor.  Mr. Deacon himself served in the British Royal Navy in World War II, and sailed a small flat-bottomed boat from Norfolk, Virginia to North Africa.  He concluded "that if we could cross the Atlantic in a keeless craft, such a voyage was perfectly possible in Madoc's day."
Another account of the claim, in James G. Perry's Kinfolk, puts it this way:

Prince Madoc (son of Owain ab Gwynedd) it is said, sailed to America 300 years before Columbus in 1170 with one ship.  He returned and equipped ten ships and with colonists sailed again for the new world.  It is presumed that he landed at Mobile Bay, Alabama.  Early explorers and pioneers have found evidences of the Welsh influence along the Tennessee and Missouri Rivers, among certain tribes of Indians.

There is no record that the Prince ever returned to the land of his birth.  Peculiar things have been found in America.  There are Welsh speaking Indians up the Missouri River called the White Indians.  Also, they fish with coracles, and pull the little skin covered boats with one oar, like a spade.  These boats (depicted at right) are used in Wales today.

Website note:  While this account (or myth) of a Madoc Welsh visit to America is not widely known, it was used by Queen Elizabeth I as evidence to British claim to America in its territorial struggles with Spain.

Historic UK - a Site about Prince Madoc and Wales

IT'S ALL BALONEY - says Southern Researcher Ron Fritze

More on Madoc arriving in the US South about 1170 A.D., from Alabama and Southern Memories website.

Our researcher Dorothy Maddox Bishop has also looked into the Madog story from her Southern vantagepoint and she adds the following:  

I have portions of the following books that were sent to me by a distant cousin, Glenda Maddox Newton many years ago.

"Modoc, Mobile and the Mandans", By Hugh H. Stranes, with Hank Black  (She found this book in the MADOC file, in Mobile Public Library).
A very small picture of the Madoc sign, is in this book. Under the Madoc sign it reads: A local D.A.R. chapter posted this marker near Fort Morgan, Alabama.  Above that picture is a larger sign which reads:  "OLD STONE FORT" About 1/2 mile. S.W. are remains of stone fortification and most of ancient and unknown origin. One theory is that it was built by a part of 12th Century Welch voyagers who entered the country via the Gulf of Mexico. Near here also was the capital of the Indian province of Chisca, to which Desoto sent scouts in 1540.  (Photocredit Ron Fritze)

Glenda (Maddox) Newton also found in the MADOC file, Mobile AL Public Library, a newspaper article titled:  Devil's Backbone" one Of History's spine-tinglers, by Jodi Perras (Associated Press Writer), CHARLESTON, Ind. (AP)

On a rugged bluff overlooking the Ohio River, a site known locally as the "Devil's Backbone", natural debris accumulated over the centuries shrouds a historical mystery.

Popular legend says that there lie the remains of a large stone fort and a lost colony of Welshmen who sailed to America three centuries before Christopher Columbus.

In 1799, early settlers found six skeletons wearing breastplates with a Welsh coat of arms. Indian legends told of "yellow-haired giants" who settled in Kentucky, southern Indiana, southern Ohio and Tennessee - a region they knew as "the Dark and Forbidden Land."

Debunking the legend, archeologists say better evidence indicates native American Indians once conducted a vigorous trading network nearby and buried their dead on the bluff. Etc.

The walls no longer exist, the area's early settlers having carried the huge, un-mortared stones away to build foundations, bridges and fences seen throughout the county's rolling countryside.

Local legend says the walls were built by followers of Prince Madoc, who led an expedition away from his native Wales in the late 12th century and ws never seen again. Oral tradition says they landed in America, settling briefly in Tennessee before moving on to Kentucky and southern Indiana.

Legend says they landed in Mobile Bay in 1170 and traveled up the Alabama River to where it meets the Coosa River, close to Alabama's borders with Georgia and Tennessee.

According to Cherokee tradition, they settled there and inter-married with native Indians, building five stone forts in the Chattanooga area. Treasure hunters have found Roman coins, European oil lamps and goblets among the forts. 

The legend says the Welsh Indians were forced out of Tennessee by the Cherokee Indians.

American Indians apparently first spread the tale of a race of White Indians who lived in the Falls of the Ohio area, where Madoc's followers may have established their largest settlement.

Another book that Glenda (Maddox) Newton found in the same library is: "OF MEN & SHIPS, PRINCE MADOC ...DISCOVERER OF MOBILE BAY?

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