Jonas Smith married Elizabeth "Betty" Walker in 1771. Betty's parents, James and Ann Walker lived in Bolton, a section on the dividing line between Bradford and Eccleshill but belonging to Calverley parish. James Walker was a carpenter and his wife a schoolmarm. Studies show Betty had three sisters who lived to maturity: Mary (Walker) Parkinson, Ann (Walker) Gant, and Hannah (Walker) Child.
The Smith line goes back to Richard Smith of Manningham, father of Jonas Smith. A case has been made but not proven that Richard's father was Alexander Smith of Gilstead in Bingley Parish (a community about five miles from Eccleshill). Jonas had at least two sisters: Elizabeth, a spinster, and Ann (Smith) Skirrow. A third probable sister was Mary (Smith) Nichols, mother of Samuel Nichols, his nephew and executor of his will. Property transfer documents known as indentures and personal wills were used to establish these Smith connections. None of the Smith birth records for Jonas of Eccleshill, Richard of Manningham, Mary (Smith) Nichols, or Alexander of Gilstead has been found but that's another story possibly involving religion.
The Smith's and their in-laws were mostly Nonconformists. That is, Protestants who did not conform to the dictates of the Church of England. (Of course Catholics and Jews also did not conform but they were called Recusants and Jews respectively). Nonconformists were tolerated but not encouraged. Parliamentary acts passed in the 1660s denied many social privileges to the Nonconformists so they tended to stick together, help each other in business, marry within their own kind and worship together, often in informal or small groups. Their ministers, often itinerant, preached and baptized in outdoor fields because they weren't allowed to practice within five miles of their home parishes. Most of the religious records of these groups no longer exist, especially for dates before about 1835. Marriage data are an exception. One of the laws specified that only marriages performed in the Church of England would be considered valid so to preclude a possible illegitimate status for their children, the Nonconformists married in the established church.
Jonas Smith was a religious layman and was instrumental in forming two Nonconformist churches, one at Horton Lane, Bradford in 1782 and another in Eccleshill in 1823. He was also highly regarded in his community and for several years worked as an appraiser for the property tax system, a job given only to people who were widely trusted. His obituary touches on these aspects of his life:
[Jonas Smith] - "An exemplary professor of religion for more than 69 years, and an officer in, the Church for more than half a century. As a parent he was beloved and veneered - as a neighbor, he was esteemed and respected - and as a man of sound judgment and extensive knowledge in his profession of appraiser, he was frequently consulted and often instrumental in preventing expenses attended on litigations to those parties who followed his advises. Mr. Smith was deacon of the Independent Churches at Bradford and Eccleshill for more than half a century. "
Jonas Smith was a "jack of many trades". His marriage license showed him as a worstedman and after his marriage he worked at carpentry, probably in association with his father-in law. With the deaths of their fathers, Jonas and Betty inherited property and Jonas assumed the title of yeoman, a land owning class positioned socially between the gentry and artisan classes. Farming was another thing he did, probably as a consequence of his land inheritance. His work as an assessor required surveying skills and that's what his American descendants understood was his occupation.
Jonas died in 1835 and is buried in the graveyard of the Salem Independent Chapel in Eccleshill. He was the architect for the chapel building and served as deacon and clerk for the congregation from the chapel's inception in 1823 until his death. The street on which the chapel was situated was known as Dobby Row because the workers who lived on that street worked with dobbys, a textile device for making fancy woven patterns. The street's name was changed to Chapel Street after the chapel building was erected. Betty Smith, on the other hand, is buried at Bradford in the graveyard for their former congregation at Horton Lane, having died in 1811 before the Salem Chapel on Dobby Row was built.
The extended family all seemed to be reasonably successful. Nonconformists, as a class were perceived to be industrious, hard working and God fearing, a description which fits the Smiths. They emphasized education and worked more along the managerial side rather than as manual workers. Still they were of the working class rather than the gentry, pious bourgeoisie might best describe them.
Ephraim Smith's uncle William Smith built a lovely home in Eccleshill, known as Moorside Cottage which after 185 years remains one of the nicer homes in the village. William's son, William entered into a partnership which formed the Smith & Hutton Mill, a major employer in Eccleshill. Ephraim's uncle John Smith built impressive three story, row type housing in the 1850s. These units are still lived in and sought after in the closing years of the 20~' century. Ann (Lee) Smith's brother Abraham was somewhat of a philosopher and poet who sent a poignant letter to Ann on the occasion of Ephraim's death which was cherished and much copied by Ann's American descendants. Abraham's nephews Richard Robinson Lee and Abraham Lee became prominent, one in law and the other as a city counselor.
A tradition held by the American Smiths is that their ancestors were lace weavers who left the area of the lower Rhine, emigrating to Nottingham about twenty miles south of Eccleshill, in the early 1600s. The contemporary English cousins hold no such tradition although the family has a history of textile employment. But whether true or not, the number of generations between Ephraim Smith's day and the early 1600s equates to more than a hundred sets of grandparents who were surely mostly English. Since Eccleshill is located well within the Yorkshire borders, Ephraim has to be considered a Yorkshireman through and through.
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