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2 Oct 2015

The battle of the Smith men

The battle of the Smith men
The 1851 census records Henry (left) and Mary Smith and absolutely no kids having arrived.  This might look suspicious as the bride is 32, but actually she'd only been married 3 months.  Three babies would come along within two winters and all five children would be baptised at Mulbarton parish church, Norfolk, but we lacked a single census entry that showed them all.

It will be seen that by 1871, only one child is at home; and in fact, the husband has remarried.  Were there any other children?
So where can this census be found showing all the happy Smiths together?  Right here, at High Common, South Lopham in 1861. 

William Smith (the son) appears only in this census.  In 1869, the mother died and a stepmother (Ann) arrives the following year.  In 1871, the four eldest children (all under 20) have left home; William is a carpenter in a nearby village.  William marries age 21 and uses his £180 inheritance (minus tax) to begin a new life in Jamestown, New York.

A few genealogical researchers, including myself, linked him to Norfolk, as his bride's uncle was a noted early settled of Chautauqua county.  I pinned William down to Jamestown by the simple expedient of looking for all the Williams with a wife named Anna in the entire censused world, noting only the one in Jamestown.

It all seemed most preposterously unlikely, until I found the photo (top right) which was embossed by a studio in Jamestown, and which turned up among the effects of his British niece.  William's father, Henry Smith, was less well-loved, his photograph nonetheless hanging in a frame reserved for forebears at my grandparents' home.

It is worth noting that neither photo indicated a name; but it was possibly to identify the subjects from the manner in which the photo was stored or found.

(Henry had great-grandchildren in Jamestown by the time he came to die, age 78, full of years at his niece's pub, the Greyhound Inn at Ilkesthall St Margaret.  He was lucky to find a home - his children sadly never forgiving him for removing himself so fully from their beautiful childhood at Mulbarton Old Hall.)

Henry was the first forebear to disappoint by leaving no will - more on wills is here.

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