by Annette Edwards.
This shattered grave stone tells a sad story, a mother who lost her child and a husband who lost his wife to mental illness for 18 years before she died.
Benjamin Powell was born in 1841 in the parish of Hope; his parents were John Powell and Elizabeth Jones. John was a shoemaker and had at least 9 children, only the youngest Hannah was a girl. John and his family moved around the local area and in 1861 they are in Summerhill. Benjamin isn`t there, he is in Hulme, aged 20, and a painter. He is lodging with an old Chelsea Pensioner who was from Llandrillo, Merionethshire.
He seems to have travelled for work as ten years later he is still a painter, but now he is lodging in St Marylebone, London. The housekeeper is a woman from Ruabon.
On 11 June 1873 Benjamin Powell decorator of Wrexham married Barbara Roberts milliner of Bala at the Congregational Chapel in Bala. The marriage was announced in the Cambrian News.
A daughter Catherine was born at 35 Chester Street on 28 June 1875 and then their son Emerson Robert Powell was born on 3 February 1876 in Chester Street. Both births were announced in the Wrexham Advertiser. Their young son Emerson died aged just 4 years old. He was the first to be buried in this grave on 1 November 1880.
The family stayed at 35 Chester Street, and in 1881 Benjamin is a master house painter and employing 4 men, Barbara is 42 and still working as a milliner. They now have another son Harold who is only 1, Catherine is now aged 6.
They moved to 40 Lambpit Street and in the next census it shows all the family speak both English and Welsh. This is last time Barbara is at home, as sadly she was admitted to
Denbigh Mental Hospital on 15 November 1893.
Benjamin moved to 14 Queen Street and died there aged 60, he was buried on 23 October 1906 with his son Emerson.
BARBARA POWELL c 1840-1911
Barbara Roberts was born in Bala, she was the daughter of John Roberts and Catherine, in 1841 John is a publican on High Street Bala, Barbara has 3 siblings. Ten years on and John is now a cattle drover, Catherine is a brewing woman, so she is keeping up the stocks of ale!
Barbara is still there and the next time we find her is in 1871, when she is a milliner, by this time her father has died, and her mother is a knitting woman.
Bala had been well known for years as a hand knitting centre, usually socks and there was a good supply of wool on the hills ready to be collected.
On 11 June 1873 Barbara Roberts married Benjamin Powell, at the Congregational Chapel in Bala. She moved to Wrexham, and they had a family. On the 15 November 1893 Barbara was admitted to Denbigh Mental Asylum. In the 1901 census she is listed as B P aged 61, a married patient born Bala, she is classed as a lunatic. She is still there ten year later, a widow but now her full name is given. The entry shows she was 54 when she was admitted, and sadly still classed as a lunatic. Barbara died there on 6 June 1911; she was brought back to Wrexham and laid to rest with her son and husband.
Harold and Catherine are still in Queens Street in 1911, Harold is also a painter, with them is their spinster Aunt Jane Roberts from Bala, she is 80 years old. Jane died there in the following year and was buried with their parents.
Harold joined the Army in August 1915; he was then 35 and was enlisted into the Royal Engineers.
After the war he travelled to Canada, and returned back in 1933 with a wife Annie, they arrived in Glasgow, he was a painter and their intended address was Victoria Avenue, Prestatyn.
In the 1939 register his sister Catherine is at 15 Victoria Avenue, Harold isn`t found, but he died in 1958 aged 78.
Catherine lived to the good age of 91, she remained unmarried and died in Rhyl on 2 March 1966, she came home and is buried with her parents.
Jane Roberts who died in 1912 is an Aunt who was born in Bala, she is likely to be Catherine Roberts` sister, but apart from when she is in Wrexham she has not been traced previously.
Researched by Annette Edwards. August 2018.
Grave ref: Wrexham Cemetery M-03531