Over recent weeks we have been pondering the origin of the word Yeltz, and we thank those who have contacted us with suggestions.
One possibility is that the word is a piece of Black Country twang that was bellowed from the terraces at Halesowen Town football club, or it could be an alternative name for one of the original settlers in this area, the Celts.
As one of those who has been puzzled by the origins of the word for a while, Bryn Williams from Cradley remembered a word he used to hear a lot when he worked at the Halesowen button makers James Grove. It was yet as in “I yet doing it”.
Bryn then went on to tell us, “In my searches into James Grove’s history, I came across a chap called Rex Butler from the British Button Society who had managed to secure an old Grove button display card. I contacted him and we arranged to meet.
“He told me he had something quite exciting to show me, and printed on the card of buttons was the James Grove logo, the head of a water buffalo, with the addition of the name Yelts Brand.” The word Yeltz may be of ancient origin but was James Grove instrumental in reinventing the word? Did the family firm decide to use Yeltz because it was a colloquialism unique to the town of Halesowen, a word lost in the mists of time that had never previously been used to name a product? Or is there a closer connection between the word Yeltz and the local football club after all? The land upon which Halesowen Town FC play their football was given to them by James Grove and the ground is known as “The Grove”. The team’s nickname is the “Yeltz”, so could they have adopted this ancient name after its reinvention by the button manufacturer, or did James Grove copy the football team’s nickname (they were founded in 1873) for a brand new set of his buttons? Two weeks ago we showed what a superb job Bryn Williams had made restoring an Alma Button Company hand-operated press that had been made in Baltimore, USA, in around 1904, but then left unused at the James Grove factory for many decades.
In the article we suggested that perhaps the press had been brought back to Halesowen from a World Trade Fair, possibly one that took place at St Louis, Missouri, in 1904.
If this was the case, the two most likely candidates to have made the trip are Arthur James Grove Junior or Henry Grove, third generation members of the button making family and whose pictures appeared in a book written by George Frederick Grove in 1923.
If any Bugle readers can add more information to this Black Country conundrum of the origin of the word Yeltz contact jworkman@ blackcountrybugle.co.uk.