Theophilus Rees was one of the first Welsh migrants to Ohio in the late eighteenth and the early nineteenth centuries.
Rees was born on May 6, 1747, in Carmarthenshire County, Wales. With warfare encompassing much of Western Europe during the eighteenth century and also facing religious persecution, Rees, his wife, and some of their children chose to migrate to the United States of America in 1795. Arriving on May 14, 1795, Rees, his family, and several other Welsh migrants briefly settled in Chester County, Pennsylvania, before relocating to Cambria County, Pennsylvania. In 1801, Rees purchased with Thomas Phillips approximately two thousand acres of land near modern-day Granville, Ohio.
During the early 1800s, Welsh Americans viewed the abundance of land in Ohio as a godsend and hoped to make a stable life for themselves on the frontier. In 1802, Rees, Phillips, and other Welsh migrants to Ohio traveled down the Ohio River from Pennsylvania. Upon reaching the mouth of the Muskingum River, they traveled northward to Zanesville. Numerous other Welsh Americans followed them. Future migrants usually came along Zane's Trace. Eventually Rees, Phillips, and these other people moved to present-day Licking County, where they founded the community of Welsh Hills. Rees and his fellow Welsh migrants flourished in Ohio. He donated land for Granville, Ohio's Welsh Hills Cemetery in 1808. He died on February 16, 1814, and he was interred in the Welsh Hills Cemetery.