Joseph Smith's Normanby

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Joseph Smith’s Normanby


“The free fair homes of England,

Long, long in hut and hall,

May hearts of native proof be reared,

To guard each hallowed wall.

And green forever be the groves,

And bright the flowery sod,

Where first the child's glad spirit loves

It’s country and it's God."



Normanby is a picturesque little village lying at the foot of a rather lofty hill, and situated on the high road between Kirbymoorside and Malton.  The church is a quaint old Norman edifice, with chancel and nave; a great part was renewed in 1718, and it has again recently been restored at great cost, which has mostly been raised by public subscription.  The interior now presents a bright and very comfortable appearance.  The village is on the western bank of the river Seven, a fine trout stream flowing from the moors through Sinnington and the quiet, homely little village of Marton; winding through open pastures and a long stretch of lowland country it joins the river Rye.  After a heavy rain on the moors this stream rises very rapidly and becomes a swift torrent, the volume of water carrying all before it.  For many years the agriculturists suffered great loss and damage by this stream bursting its banks and inundating the country for miles.



Space will not admit for us to enumerate the many exciting incidents occasioned by these floods.  We note from Joseph Smith's diary how a person had a very narrow escape from drowning in 1868.  A man on driving from Malton thought he would let his horse have a drink in the stream, where near the bridge is a watering place, being the place of the old ford. The river was partly swollen by recent rains, and in driven in the horse lost its feet and slipped quickly into midstream; very fortunately he was seen by some men at the bridge house, who at once came to his assistance, and by means of ropes, etc., all were pulled safe to land, after a voyage of nearly a quarter of a mile.  


The banks of the river have of late years been heightened and the country has fortunately, through this means and fine seasons, been exempt from these devastating floods.  We quote here from the diary, "that on September 5th, 1872, it was the highest flood at Marton and Normanby ever known."


Some years ago the annual Horticultural Show at Normanby was one of the attractions of the district.  The late worthy rector, the Rev. James Hill, took an especial interest in this show and the welfare of the village in general, always reading in a loud, sonorous voice, the list of successful exhibitors at the show as soon as the judging was completed.  Through Mr. Hill's absence on one occasion this honour fell to Joseph Smith, who amused the people by facetiously explaining that, although he was not a horticulturist, he hoped they would bear with him in the pronunciation of the long technical names of the respective plants and flowers.


A Mr. John Williams, going out from Horncastle as a missionary to the Fiji Islands, furnished Joseph Smith, through his relatives and friends, with valuable information respecting this cannibal and hostile people.  Joseph Smith being a great reader and thinker and having a very retentive memory, nothing escaped his vigorous mind, therefore it was a great treat to listen to his speeches on these occasions.  Mr. Williams was a cabinet maker, and Mrs. Milbah Smith had some very handsome furniture which this skilled workman made before he left for the mission field.



On the 4th of March, 1861, Joseph Smith's brother left the farm (Bridge farm) at Normanby, which he had held since his father's death, and sailed for South Africa, where he finally took up his abode.  He also had taken a great interest in the Normanby Sunday school, and was much esteemed by the people, who presented him with a handsome testimonial the night before he left.


His brother Joseph then took the farm and continued it until 1869, when the new owner (John Wood) came to reside at the house.  Having both these farms to manage-nearly 600 acres-people thought he would not have so much time for public work, but as one of his old friends remarked, he never met with anyone who could arrange his business affairs in such an expeditious manner," so that all this extra work only seemed to give a greater impetus to our active friend, who was never "slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."  We remember him in the summer months, toiling all day with his men amongst the hay till the last minute at night, and then riding away to some missionary meeting held in a village miles away, where he entertained his audience with some telling description of missionary enterprise, especially India and Fiji.


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