MARRIAGES BETWEEN NORRIS AND ENYEART FAMILIES IN 18TH CENTURY HUNTINGDON COUNTY     

         

 

 

Enyearts were in South Central Pennsylvania at least as early as the 1770s.  The family of Joseph Norris, Sr. arrived in the 1780s.  William Enyeart (1748-1828), a native of New Jersey, was in Frederick County, Maryland, for a time where at about the age of 24 he married his first wife, 22-year old Catherine Schell.  Later, he came to southern Pennsylvania where he settled first in Trough Creek Valley.  Eventually he crossed Terrace Mountain, settling near the Raytown Branch of the Juniata River, where he began clearing land.  From 1777 to 1783, William served in the Colony’s Revolutionary army, having achieved the rank of 2nd Lieutenant by war’s end.                                

 

Joseph Norris, Sr. (1729-1813) who earlier lived along the Antietam Creek in Maryland moved to the valley of the Raystown Branch in the mid 1780s, having purchased 2 sizeable plots of land there.   Of his 12 children, a majority had married and remained in Maryland when Joseph moved north.  The youngest children accompanied Joseph, wife Mary Moody Norris, and 3 or 4 slaves to Pennsylvania.

 

Apparently the lands of Enyeart and Norris were adjacent or near to each other, for Norris later sold Enyeart a parcel of land that bordered on Enyeart’s existing land.  That near-neighbor status eventually lent itself to 2 marriages between the families.  The second marriage was of a usual relationship; the first was a little more unconventional, but not so uncommon as one might expect.

 

By 1787, William and Catherine Enyeart had 5 children, all younger than 14, and Joseph still had 2 teenagers at home.  In 1797, the second and more conventional marriage took place between Joseph Norris, Jr., by then age 24, and Elizabeth Enyeart, then age 18.  That marriage produced 11 children between 1798 and 1823.

 

 Earlier in March of 1788, William Enyeart’s wife Catherine was abed as she was expecting a child, just 15 months after her fifth child was born. On March 20, Catherine had stillborn twin girls and she died later that day. Perhaps, before his wife died, Enyeart enlisted the services of 15-year old Jane Norris, Joseph’s youngest daughter to care for the children and carry out household chores.  Whether before or after Catherine’s death isn’t known, but Jane was there to manage the household.  Thus Jane, at age 15, became responsible for 5 children, the eldest less than 2 years younger than she.

 

This led to the earlier and less conventional marriage between the Norris and Enyeart families.  On September 5, less than 6 months after Catherine’s death, 40-year old William Enyeart married Jane Norris, just past age 16 by 3 weeks.   Less than 1 year later, still at age 16, Jane had her first child.

 

Perhaps the number 16 was a prognosticator of things to come, for the birth of Jane’s child, James, was the first of 16 Enyeart children she bore.  The children, including one set of twins, were born over a period of 36 years. She had the last child, Eleanor, on Christmas day of 1825 at age 53. Earlier that year William celebrated his 77th birthday.  He died 3 years later and was buried beside his first wife in the Zion Reformed Church Cemetery just south of Marklesburg.

 

As a teenager, Jane had taken on a responsibility that carried well into her 60s.   She had to become an adult before there was time to enjoy her teenage years.  Motherhood was thrust on her rather early, and she had the responsibility of a large family much of her life.

 

In the 1830s or earlier, some of Jane’s children migrated to Ohio, then to Indiana.  Three of her sons were in Wabash Co., Indiana, by 1834-35.  Others followed later, and at some point in time Jane went with them.  All, or nearly all, of Jane’s children migrated to the Midwest over the years.

 

It appears that 4 of the 5 children Enyeart had with wife Catherine married and remained in Huntingdon County.   One source I found stated that only eldest son John moved to Indiana.  Most notable of those remaining was Elizabeth “Betsy” who married Joseph Norris, Jr. in 1797, creating the second Enyeart/Norris marriage stated above.

 

 Joseph and Betsy remained along the Raystown Branch where Junior accumulated more than 1900 acres of land before his death in 1839.  The marriage produced 11 children, of whom 10 lived and married.  All remained in Huntingdon County. 

 

A current telephone listing for the county reflects the difference in one family’s children who remained in the county and one whose children migrated.  In the age of cell phone use, which makes an accurate count of family names by telephone number very difficult, there are still nearly 60 Norris names in the current Huntingdon County telephone directory, while there are fewer than 5 Enyeart names listed.  This telephone source is one reflection of the divergent path of settlement taken by two families that once were next-door neighbors.

 

 

 

 

Written by Ron McCall

December 27, 2013