Whatever its meanings, the name America filled a need. By the middle of the 16th century it had caught on, and mapmakers were using it to define not only South but North America. But Ringmann himself didn’t live to see the day. By 1511 he was complaining of weakness and shortness of breath, and before the year’s end he was dead, probably of tuberculosis. He hadn’t yet reached 30.
According to Welsh legend, Madog ab Owain Gwynedd was a 12th century prince from Gwynedd who sailed westward with a group of followers seeking lands far away from the constant warfare of his native Wales. According to the story, his eight ships made landfall at what is now called Mobile Bay, Alabama in 1169. Owain's little flagship was the "Gwennan Gorn." Liking what he found, Madog then returned to Wales for additional settlers, who consequently left with the explorer in a small fleet of ships. Sailing westward from Lundy Island in 1171, the courageous little band was never heard from again, at least in Europe.
Welsh tradition has it that the adventurers settled in the Mississippi Valley, befriending the natives, whom they showed how to build stone forts. Some of these mysterious forts and stone walls can still found in the area. Some sources describe the Welsh explorers as moving northward through Alabama and battling the Iroquois in Ohio, with a remnant moving westward where they were discovered at the time of the Revolutionary War as the light-skinned, bearded Mandan Indians of North Dakota. The Mandans were decimated by smallpox in 1838, but many scholars have supposedly found much of their language and customs, as similar to those of Wales. For example, they used a small round boat made of buffalo hides (the bull boat) stretched over a willow frame. This is almost identical to the Welsh coracle.
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