Sunday, 7 February 2016

The life and times of brother and sister - Joe and Clara Smith originally of Birmingham but later of the USA.

This is something I wrote back in 2008 after 8 years on and off researching the family for a lovely man in the USA. I have sadly learnt that he has now passed on and that there are descendants who are interested in the main subject namely, Joseph Smith. I am putting this online so that it is not lost.  I will update where new information has been found.

The life and times of brother and sister - Joe and Clara Smith

Joe was born on 19 November 1858 in Ladywood, Birmingham, England to Joseph and Eliza Smith (nee Hobbs). Joseph Smith being a Pocketbook Maker.

By 1861 Joe was living with his mother and father and older sister, Clara. His father, Joseph, is now a 30 year old Fishmonger of London and his mother, Eliza, a 22 year old born in Bristol, Gloucestershire, England.

In 1865 Joseph gains a younger brother, John. [note: need to establish when John was born and to confirm his mother was Eliza as has been assumed].

By 1868 Joe's mother, Eliza, must have died [note: need to find the death entry which should be between 1865 and 1868] because on 16 April 1868 Joe's father, Joseph Smith, marries Ann Southall (neeHines). Joseph is shown as a 37 year old widower and Ann as a 46 year old widow. Both are shown as living at Steelhouse Lane, with Joseph now listed as a Leather Worker. Joseph's father is shown as George Smith, Tailor and Ann's father as Thomas Hines, Rule Maker. [note: need to find the marriage of Joseph Smith and Eliza to confirm the father's name(update - possibly in December Qtr 1853 in Bristol)/Also it would be useful to cross reference the details on Joseph Smith's birth certificate (update - this might be the right one as it came up in the search and the occupation of the father was Tailor].

By 1871, the family are living at 190 Icknield Port Road, Ladywood, Birmingham. Joseph is shown as a 39 year old Fruiterer, born in London. Ann (appears incorrectly as Clara) aged 49 of Birmingham. The children are listed as follows:
  • Thomas Southall, son, 24, Stacker
  • Clara Smith, daughter, 13, Scholar
  • George Southall, son, 13, Scholar
  • Joseph Smith, son, 12, Scholar (Old Joe)
  • John Smith, son, 6 Scholar
All are shown as born in Birmingham.

By the time Joe was 20 years old he was working as a Caster [note: need to confirm this as he is later shown as a Metal Carter]. On 22 June 1879, at St Matthew's Church, Harborne, Joe married Ellen Gittus, a 19 year old spinster of Rabone Lane. Her father is shown as Leonard Gittus, Carpenter. Joe was living at London Street and his father is shown as Joseph Smith, Greengrocer. Leonard Gittus and Clara Smith (Joe's sister) were the witnesses.

Little over a year later the family were all back at St Matthew's for the wedding of Ellen's sister. Emma Gittus, 22 year old spinster, married Joseph Miles, a 21 year old, bachelor on 18 July 1880. He was of Howard Street and Emma was, like her sister the year before, from Rabone Street.

Joseph Smith, Snr, must have died by 1881 [note: need to find this death/burial entry] because Ann Smith is shown as a widow on the 1881 census. She is listed as a 59 year old boarder at 4 Court, 1 House, Oster Street, Rotten Park. Head of the household is George Southall – her son – a 23 year old general labourer. His wife is shown as Clara, 23 years old. It is believed that Clara is Clara Smith, Joe's sister and step daughter of Ann. [note: need to find the marriage certificate of George Southall and Clara Smith].

Joe, by now was living at 14 Molliett Street, Harborne with Ellen Smith and young son, Joseph L. Smith. Joe was a 22 year old metal carter of Birmingham, whilst Ellen is shown as a 20 year old born Stoke, Worcestershire. Joseph L Smith (could the L be for Leonard after Ellen's father?) is shown as 11 months old and born in Smethwick, Staffordshire. The rest of Ellen's family are also living at the same address. Her father and mother, Leonard and Harriet and her uncle John and his wife, Emily.

In the years that followed, Joe and Ellen were to have three more children. Clara Smith in 1882, Caroline Smith in 1884 and Charles Smith in 1889.  [Updated] There may have been another child - William Henry Smith - who was christened on 18 January 1887 but he doesn't appear on the 1891.

[Updated] At the time of the 1891 census Ellen with her father, William L. Gittus (her mother, Harriet, isn't home) at Broomfield, Smethwick.  Ellen has three of her children with her, Joseph (11), Clara (9) and Charles (2).

[Updated] Joe, it would appear (according to the 1900/1910 census) disappeared off to the USA around the time of the 1891 census. Had he taken William Henry Smith with him since William does not appear on the 1891 census with his mother and his siblings?

By 1891 George H Southall and his family are living at 119 Aberdeen Street, Rotton Park, Birmingham. He is shown as a 33 year old Grocer. His wife, Clara, aged 33 and children, Arthur, 7, Eliza A, 6, George H, 2 and Agnes M, 1 month old are joined in the household by Sarah E Anslow, niece, shown as a 24 year old, widow.

[Updated] Joe, in 1900, was now a boiler maker living as a boarder in ED60 Precinct 1 Altoona city Ward 8, Blair , Pennsylvania, USA. (you might have to click next picture as I can't get the link to land on the right page - Joe is the second person listed on page 4).

By 1901 the Southall family are still living at 119 Aberdeen Street. George is now a 43 year old Grocer Shopkeeper living on his own account. Clara is also 43 years old. Eliza A, now 16, is a commercial clerk. George H is 13, Agnes M, 10 with new son Thomas aged 7.

George and Clara ran a grocer's shop at 119 Aberdeen Street and later at 44 Aberdeen Street for many years [note: need to find the research which shows how long they and the shop were there].

Ann Smith, George H Southall's mother and Joe's stepmother, is a 79 year old Lacquerer living at Turner Street, Birmingham. She is in the household of Sarah Kitchen, a widow aged 49. Sarah Kitchen is Ann Smith's daughter Sarah Southall (see 1861 census when Sarah is 8). [note:Sarah Southall's marriage to Thomas Kitchen 1869]. Living with Sarah are daughters, Nellie, 27 year old confectioner and Amy, 20 year old wrapper. Also in the household is niece, Clara Southall, aged 24 and two boarders.

In September Quarter 1907 Amy Kitchen married Joseph Allen. 

Photo of Joe Smith (with kind permission from Chris)

[Updated] By 1910 Joe (51 year old widower!) was living in ED45, Danville Ward 1, Montour, Pennsylvania, USA with his 32 year old 'niece' Clara Mae Kitchen. Joe is listed as an Hotel Proprietor with Clara being the Hotel Housekeeper.  Clara, it would seem, arrived on 3rd October 1909 (anyone understand the 1935 date above her name?) on the Haverford from Liverpool. Her destination was Danville, Pa. - Uncle Joseph Smith, 428 East Market St. She paid for her passage herself.  She was apparently of dark complexion, with black hair and grey eyes and stood at 5 ft 4 ins.  At some point Joe and Clara have a child.

Photo of Ellen Smith - very much alive at the time her husband is listed as a widower!
 (with kind permission from Chris)

It has not yet been established who Clara Mae Kitchen is. Amy (Kitchen/Allen) had an older sister, Clara born 1876. She would have been 18 years Joe's junior. Whilst it is unlikely, it is not impossible, that this is the right Clara Kitchen. [note: research will need to be undertaken to establish if Clara Kitchen sister of Amy is Clara Mae or not].

[Updated] Could this be Joe in the 1920 census? Living as a boarder in Mauch Chunk Ward 1, Carbon, Pennsylvania, United States. The occupation looks to be retailer, grocer, fruit. This could be a likely occupation as this is the trade his family in England were in.

George H Southall died in 1921 leaving his estate to his wife, Clara Southall (Joe's sister).

[Updated] In September of 1928 Joe writes his will and returns to England.

Joe died at Dudley Road Hospital, Birmingham on 27 March 1929. It would appear that the A. Allen, niece of 52 Aberdeen Street, that registered Joe's death in 1929 was Amy Allen nee Kitchen. Joe would have been Amy's step uncle.

The following day the will of Joe's sister, Clara Southall nee Smith, was proved in Birmingham. So it would seem that Clara had died shortly before her brother. The trustees of the will were George Gittus, Builder of 143 Gillott Road, Edgbaston and Arthur Southall (her son), Gas Meter inspector of Winson Green Road, Birmingham. It is assumed that George Gittus was related to Clara's sister in law – Ellen Smith nee Gittus. Clara left the proceeds of her estate to her five children: Arthur Southall; Mrs Eliza Ann Roche (married to William Roche pre 1920); George Henry Southall; Agnes May Southall; and Thomas Southall. It is believed that Clara's son, George Henry Southall moved to Ohio, USA.

Willam Henry Smith (the child missing from the 1891 census and wife Laura Ellen Bloom 

(with kind permission from Chris)

Willam Henry Smith 

(with kind permission from Chris)

The hunt is now on for Joe's grandfather - George Smith - if anyone has any information please let us know in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. The may 1 1935 above Clara kitchens name is when she had to leave to go back to England and she was59 at that time .uk incoming passenger record shows Clara kitchen proposed address as 53 Aberdeen st. Winston green Birmingham .shown as housekeeper ..follow up comments can be sent to