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JELFS, Thomas – emigrated 1874

Thomas Jelfs (1844-1878) was born at Badsey in 1844, the second of six children of Richard Jelfs, an agricultural labourer, and his wife, Mary (née Rogers).  They lived in an old cottage just off the High Street (present-day Orchard Way, 9 High Street).

On 30th January 1869 in St James’ Church, Badsey, Thomas married Emma Edkins whose family had moved to Wickhamford in the late 1850s; both Thomas and Emma were recorded as living at Badsey at the time of their marriage.  The witnesses at the wedding were Thomas’ cousin, Oliver Rogers, and his wife, Ruth, who, four years later, emigrated to Ohio, USA.  Oliver was the son of Thomas’ mother’s older brother, John, and, not long after Oliver and Ruth emigrated, John and his wife, Ann, both in their sixties, also emigrated.

Thomas and Emma had a son, Jesse, who was born at Aldington in 1870.  By the time of the 1871 census, they were living in Wickhamford, not far from Emma’s parents.  Also nearby were John and Mary Ann Sears who, the following year emigrated to Ohio.  By February 1873, Emma and Thomas were living in Birmingham where a son, Frederick Richard, was born.

According to Frederick’s obituary when he died in 1953 at the age of 80, he had arrived in Canada with his parents 79 years previously (it was actually America, and then they moved to Canada in 1897).  No shipping record has been found, but it seems that the Jelfs family emigrated in early 1874 and were probably the first of Emma’s family to make the journey.  It is perhaps not surprising that, with family, friends and neighbours who had emigrated, Emma and Thomas also decided to make the voyage overseas.   They settled in the state of Ohio, where a number of Badsey and Wickhamford families were already living.

Emma and Thomas had two more children once they arrived in America:  Mynie/Mina (1874-1969) born at Troy, Geauga County, Ohio, and Mary Ethel (1876-1951).  

Thomas died on 28th February 1878 at Parkman, Ohio, aged 34.  

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