George & Susannah Amis and their daughters Christina & Betsy
This is the story of Susannah, nee Lines, her husband George Amis and their two daughters Christina and Betsy.
Researching them is made complicated by several variations of their names. Susannah Maria Lines was sometimes recorded with the surname Lynes and mostly was referred to as Susan. George’s surname was sometimes recorded as Amos. Their gravestone has the surname spelt as Amos. Occasionally records list them as Amiss rather than Amis. Their children are no better; their first daughter was born in Martham on 14th October 1867 and her name was officially registered with the General Registry Office as Christena Amis. During the course of her life she was also listed as Christiana and Christina. The family seem to have mostly called her Christina so that is the name I will use. Her sister was originally registered with the name Caroline Elizabeth Amis after her birth at Martham in 1869 but is never referred to as Caroline in subsequent records. Sometimes she is recorded as Elizabeth and on other occasions as Bessie or Betsy. The family seems to have mostly called her Betsy so that is the name I will use here.
George was born in Martham in 1842 and his wife Susan was born in Honing, Norfolk in 1844 and they were married on Christmas day 1864 at St Nicholas Church, Great Yarmouth.
A few years after the birth of their daughters their lives took a tragic turn. Susan, who reports say suffered from fits, drowned in the river Thurne on 27th July 1872. The newspaper report published on 3rd August 1872 and shown on the left said she was crossing the river and was presumed to have had an attack and fell into the water. Her basket was found in a boat drifting downstream. She was buried at St Mary the Virgin, Martham on 30th July 1872. It was bad enough for the girls to lose their mother, but things were to get worse. Their father, George, also died about three months later on 12th October leaving the girls orphaned. George is buried with his wife and their gravestone alludes to the tragic circumstances.
Christina, who was 4 when her parents died, grew up in the care of her grandparents Robert & Susan Amis at Bell Yard, White Street next to the church in Martham. Next an even more amazing thing happened in her young life. When she was only 14 years old, she emigrated to America. She appears to have gone almost alone but the ship’s manifest also lists an unknown boy called George Amis as a travelling companion. His background is a mystery, but he was only seven. Christina must have been very brave to undertake such a journey when so young and probably being a carer for George. It is said that she was going to live with an aunt and uncle who were already there, but records don’t make it clear who they were. She arrived in New York 26th June 1882.
Meanwhile Betsy was growing up mainly in the care of her aunt Hannah Piggin at Mustard Hyrn. On 1st June 1889 she married James Scrurrell Youngs at his home village of Tunstall in Norfolk. She had her first son, James, on 5th November that year and two more boys followed; Benjamin in 1892 and Daniel in 1895. By the time of the 1901 census James was a successful self-employed bricklayer and builder and he lived with Betsy and their three sons at Broad View, Hall Road, Oulton Broad. They were not alone as Christina was also listed as staying there on a visit from America by which time, she had settled into life at Portland Avenue, Rochester, New York State.
Seven years passed and fate took hold again. Besty died on 11th July 1908 leaving her husband James widowed with their three sons still living at Oulton Broad. Her sister Christina may have returned to England for the funeral and perhaps the influence of her own upbringing as an orphan had an effect on how she thought her nephews should be raised because she married her brother-in-law, James, in October or November 1910 and within weeks they had returned to America on the SS Philadelphia and arrived in New York on 5th November 1910. All three boys followed them the next year.
Christina, James and the three boys went on to build a successful life in the USA. Christina was active in the Young Women’s Christian Association and held Sunday School classes at Gates, New York State, with James in the 1930’s. They moved to 2115 Long Pond Road, Rochester and helped found and donate the land for a new Wesleyan Methodist Church there in 1932. James, who died in 1953, had become a mason and builder and he helped build the church and its parsonage and was the Sunday school superintendent. Christina died, aged 100, on 6th January 1968.