The following was taken from
"The Mount Ephraim Folk"
(published by Perry M. Smith in 1998)
The first of our branch of the Smith family to emigrate to America was a Yorkshireman named Ephraim Smith. He came from Eccleshill, a working class village located near the middle of the main British island and situated along the River Aire Valley in the West Riding section of Yorkshire. Ephraim was born at Pudsey, an adjacent village and his extended family resided up and down the valley within about a ten mile radius from Bradford and Leeds, the two closest towns, both textile centers. His parents were Alexander and Sarah "Sally" (Ellsworth) Smith.
Ephraim was orphaned at the age of four. His father, while trying to catch up a riding horse in a pasture, was attacked and fatally injured by a cow. Ephraim and probably his mother and sisters, Sally and Hannah, went to live with grandfather Ellsworth. Ephraim's mother reportedly remarried and we don't know if the family stayed together. Land records show the Ellsworths owned property on Fagley Lane which is on the lower edge of Eccleshill and also owned property in Kixkstall, near Leeds. But wherever he was raised, Ephraim, as a young man, ended up in Eccleshill.
As part of his education, Ephraim apprenticed in the woolen mills in the West Riding area. He continued in that industry and by the age of twenty-four was recognized as a clothier and listed in a gazetteer published by the Leeds Mercury newspaper as a woolen manufacturer, an occupation that translates roughly as a broker, one who organized the efforts of home woolen workers and moved their products to market, in his case to the textile market at Leeds. He also had some exposure to surveying and the skills acquired helped in his later life in America where he did some surveying and showed adeptness at figures and calculations.
In 1824 Ephraim married Ann Lee; she was seventeen and he was twenty-six; they were first cousins. Ann's father died when she was twelve so she, like Ephraim, was orphaned at an early age. Her parents, Abraham and Mary (Smith) Lee, lived in Eccleshill and her mother remained there after her husband's death. The marriage of Ann and Ephraim took place at the Cathedral in Dewsbury, an ancient church dating back to Anglo-Saxon times.
Ann and Ephraim made their home in Eccleshill. There, two children were born, Hannah in 1825 and Elizabeth "Betty" in 1827. Both were baptized at the Salem Independent Congregational Chapel in Eccleshill that had been designed by their great-grandfather Jonas Smith and was the church where all of Jonas' family worshipped. Shortly after Betty's birth, Ephraim and Ann sold their furniture and he left for America; Ann and the girls went to live with her mother.
Two unanswered questions about those early times were: 1) Why did Ephraim leave England where his prospects for favorable employment were quite promising? and 2) Why were Ephraim and Ann not married at Bradford, in their home parish? A religious conflict has been suggested as one explanation. Ephraim, as the oldest son and head of the family, was required to pay a tithe to the Church of England, a practice that was abhorrent to his Nonconformist point of view. He paid the tithe once but avoided further payments, possibly by keeping ahead of the authorities, changing parishes, etc. For example, his marriage license shows his parish registry at Dewsbury even though his employment base was Eccleshill. Leaving for America may have been another way of staying one step ahead of the church authorities. Economics might also provide answers to the above two questions. In Ann's case, she may have been working in Dewsbury to help her widowed mother with the family finances and, as a convenience, transferred her parish membership to Dewsbury. For Ephraim, the specter of the Industrial Revolution was potentially bad economic news for the hand weaving industry in Eccleshill and he may have concluded that better prospects would await him in the new world.
August 29, 1829 was the day Ephraim landed in New York, having sailed from Liverpool, England on the "Eliza Grant." He made his way to Philadelphia where he had friends among the Quakers but they could not place him in a paying position. He spent his last five dollars for an ax and went to work cutting wood for a living. Shortly, he joined a government party surveying the western boundary of Louisiana and the territory of Arkansas. From there he made his way to Fallston, a frontier. village in western Pennsylvania. He then sent money for his family's passage to America, but delays in scheduling passage and the lateness of the season persuaded him to join another survey party, this one headed for Illinois. That decision was a miscalculation because Ann and the girls arrived in the fall of that year landing in New York, October 12a', 1835. They sailed on the ship Carroll of Carrolton with a party that included twenty one souls from the vicinity of Eccleshill.
Ann and the girls made their way to western Pennsylvania and from the junction of the Ohio and the Beaver Rivers walked the final two miles to Fallston where they inquired for Mr. Smith. She was asked if she meant "Corn Smith"? "Why do you call him that" she asked. "Because he takes care of other people's gardens and corn fields" was the answer. To which she replied, "Oh no, it's Ephraim Smith I want." She was directed to Mr. Townsend's store where Ephraim had left credit for his family until his return. They lived in a single room there over the winter, doing their cooking in the fire place. Ann was displeased with her husband's absence and grew impatient, but Ephraim finally returned before she got to the point of going back to England.
With his family all together, Ephraim embarked on a career in manufacturing, sometimes renting but mostly buying woolen businesses which he operated. The family first moved to Butler County, PA where he was a partner in a carding mill. They soon returned to Fallston where he rented the Townsend felt factory and in 1840 advertised in the local paper that he would do carding for country customers, taking produce in payment. Ephraim eventually owned and operated a woolen mill in Fallston and was also in partnership in a shawl making operation in New Brighton, PA known as Wilds Woolen Factory. Times were bad and the business went into bankruptcy. Some of the partners undertook to save themselves by transferring their other assets into their wives names but Ephraim was not of that caliber and made good the entire loss himself at a cost of about $25,000. This nearly broke him financially but didn't hurt his good name in the community.
About 1846, Ephraim began acquiring lots in Pulaski County, north of New Brighton, and in 1852 he and Ann built a house there in which they resided until their deaths. The property comprised several acres and was named Mount Ephraim after its owner. Near the house, he planted an extensive orchard and operated a small nursery for the propagation of fruit trees. The area behind the house and barn was leased to a Mr. Dewhirst who operated a brickyard using the surface clay. And on the hillside below the house (towards New Brighton) Ephraim was influential in establishing the Dinkey Pottery, the first pottery in that part of the state. By the 1870s his various textile operations had been phased out but he continued on in farming and in clay mining/brick making. His other interests included holding stock in various businesses and public works and owning rental properties. He was also active in civic affairs and did some surveying for the local governments.
Outside the New Brighton/Fallston area, Ephraim owned two farms, one in Mercer County Illinois and the other in southern Indiana. Those farms were instrumental in helping some of his grandchildren get a start in life. He also owned property in Spruce Vale, Ohio, occupied by his daughter Hannah Huddleston.
Ephraim died in his sleep of a heart attack at eighty-two years of age.
Ann Smith continued to live in the old homestead on Mount Ephraim until just before her death, spending her last three months at the home of her daughter Mary Ann Hay. Ephraim and Ann are buried in Grove Cemetery, New Brighton, PA.
Ann Smith was a person of great character and determination and every bit the equal of her similarly inclined husband. Their part of England, the West Riding of Yorkshire was not conducive to an easy life. The soil was bare; farming was difficult, and the people eked out a living as best they could. It has been said of their countrymen that they were Yorkshiremen first and Englishmen only second. The stereotype of the hardheaded Yorkshireman, blunt, aggressive, and given to no nonsense, is an image carefully nurtured by comedians and politicians and contains a considerable measure of truth. Even though Ann and Ephraim adopted America as their home, they retained the toughness and resilience characteristic of their native land. An anecdote from the original "Ephraim Smith Chronicles" illustrates that point in Ann's life:
When one of her neighbors was under the influence of liquor and menacing his family with a butcher knife, Ann Smith was informed of the trouble and went to stop it. Upon reaching the house she walked right in and in her firm tone of voice demanded to be given the knife. The man promptly handed it to her even though he was nearly twice her size.
But with all her strength of will and strong character, Ann Smith was a kindly woman and greatly beloved by her family and neighbors.
Ann had two brothers and a sister who grew to maturity and had families of their own. But records from the Independent Chapel at Horton Lane, Bradford show there were four other siblings who evidently died at an early age. James, the first in the family was born in 1802 and died at the age of eight; he was probably named after his grandfather James Lee who was baptized at the Calverley Parish Church in 1781. No other records fox Ann's other Lee ancestors have been found.
Ephraim Smith had two sisters and a brother. The brother, Jonas died in infancy while the sisters, Hannah and Sally are believed to have lived to maturity and had families of their own. The marriage of Ephraim's parents, Alexander and Sally Smith took place at the Bradfoxd Parish Church. And records show a marriage at the Calverley Parish Church for Ephraim and Hannah Elsworth who are believed to be Ephraim Smith's grandparents. Calverley is immediately adjacent to Eccleshill but Eccleshill belongs to the Bradford parish. The religious events for the several family members occurred with about equal frequencies between these two parishes. Just where an event took place depended on which side of the street (or part of town) the individual lived when that event was scheduled.
Ephraim's father and Ann's mother were brother and sister, children of Jonas Smith whose family tree is presented in the chart on the next page.
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