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Colorado Springs During The Spanish Flu

16 Apr

Note: Most sources are linked or cited in the body of the text, so that you can read them or view them for yourselves. Those used only for slight reference are listed in the endnotes.

Most days are the same. I get up each morning, have a bowl of cereal or a fruit smoothie, a cup or two of coffee, and then get dressed and ready to go… nowhere. My boyfriend sets his laptop up, and begins to work remotely. At some point, I have an apple, a carrot, and bathe in the sun. Our dog typically joins me, reveling in the remains of the apple and the carrot. Some days, I can’t remember if I’ve had my apple or my carrot, or if it’s the day before I’m recollecting. The chickadees have discovered our bird feeder and bath, and come to visit and chatter each morning and evening. Our cat, Finn, comes running when he hears their call. The big excitement comes when we have a grocery pickup. I order days in advance to get a pickup slot, and until half an hour before the order is ready, it’s a guessing game as to what items will be in stock. After driving to the grocery and back, we empty everything onto the patio. We wipe down everything we need to put in the fridge or freezer and put everything else into a three day quarantine. I don’t know how long it will take for this to feel like a normal practice. Because of cell phones, video calls through the Portal and the Zoom app, and Facebook, I don’t feel too disconnected. Though, to read a story in person to my niece and nephews or go on a bug hunt or give my grandma a hug would be an occasion of great joy right about now.

As I ponder my own sudden confinement and the ways in which my community, state, and nation are reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic, I find myself contemplating which of my ancestors would have experienced something similar about 100 years ago during the Spanish Flu Pandemic in 1918. To my knowledge, every one of my relatives survived this outbreak, and it is a point which gives me hope. In the photo below, are my great great grandmother Genevieve L. Paul (in the hat) and my great grandmother Genevieve A. Norris (in the lovely dark-colored dress). I fondly call them, “The Genevieves.” The young girl may be my grandpa’s sister, Barbara. I would love to identify the woman in the gorgeous white dress.

Genevieve Norris, Genevieve Paul,

Genevieve Paul and Genevieve Norris

Here’s what I know about their life during the Spanish Flu:

Doc, Genevieve, and Grandpa

Doc, Lawrence, and Genevieve Norris

On Jan. 16, 1918 in Golden, Colorado my great grandfather Samuel Ernest “Doc” Norris married Genevieve A. Paul. Doc attended dental school at The University of Denver. He grew up in Colorado Springs, as did Genevieve, so I suspect they knew each other from high school or some other Colorado Springs gathering spot. Doc’s mother, Minnie Norris, lived in Colorado Springs as well. Genevieve’s mother, Genevieve L. Paul, came to Colorado Springs after her husband John Charles Fremont Paul died in Washington. The story goes she came here with her two daughters, Genevieve and Ethel, for tuberculosis treatment. Her sister, Lillian Ogilvie, moved here around the same time. A third sister, Inestine Roberts (an adventurer famous for climbing Pikes Peak many times and going missing on her final ascent) lived in Colorado Springs by the early 20s as well. According to Colorado Springs City Directories, Genevieve L. Paul lived in a house on W. Platte Avenue in Colorado Springs. After marriage, Samuel and Genevieve lived there too for many years. My grandfather, Lawrence, was born in Sept. 1919, and then they all resided there together.

Doc was a dentist in town with his own practice in the Robbins Building on


A snowstorm in 1913 showing The Robbins Building on S. Tejon St. in Colorado Springs

Tejon St. (it looks quite different, but was right about where the Thirsty Parrot was located). In this photo from Pikes Peak Library District’s Stewarts Commercial Photograph Collection, you can see what that block looked like in 1913. It’s interesting, because there is a dentist office in this photograph in the Robbins Building, which likely belonged to C.A. Dennis who was still practicing in the building at the time my great grandfather opened his office.

Advice from Oct 1918 gazetteThe 1918 pandemic was said to have started in Kansas (either in Haskell County or at Camp Funston in Fort Riley, Kansas) as early as January 1918. (1) It  reached Colorado by the fall. (2) During that time, the city of Colorado Springs shut down operations in almost the same way as it has in 2020. An article from October 5, 1918 announced the closing of, “all schools and colleges, churches, theaters, moving picture houses, pool an billiard halls and amusement parlors.” It also noted that, “all indoor public gatherings, dances, lodge meetings, etc. be prohibited, and that the public be excluded from all court rooms and be prohibited from congregating in public buildings.” All public libraries were also closed as were the gyms and pools at the YMCA and YWCA. At that time there were four known deaths in Colorado Springs from the flu. The advice at right was included with the article.

Over a month later, a Colorado Springs Gazette article from Nov. 22, 1918 notes:

All members of the police department have been given strict orders to see that influenza rules are strictly observed. Yesterday patrolmen and officers visited all restaurants and hotel dining rooms in order to see that the rules were properly observed.

Another article on Dec. 5, 1918, announced a new regulation issued by the Health Officer in Colorado Springs, which required anyone with symptoms of the flu to quarantine in their home. Unless they were properly separated from others in the home, everyone in the house was also under quarantine. A white quarantine card was placed on the home and the only people allowed to enter and exit were doctors and nurses. The quarantine would end when the person with the flu was moved to a hospital. An article on  Nov. 30, 1918 announced a temporary hospital with extra space was set up in the YWCA building in town. Oral histories from the time recall how people would seem fine one day, and die the next. Check out what Harry Collier says in this one. Reports included new cases and cases of pneumonia, which was the major cause of death during this pandemic. It must have been a terrifying time in a sense. Then again, I can’t help but wonder in an era with so few vaccines, less travel, and so much uncertainty post World War I, if it actually wasn’t as scary to them as it is to us now.

On Dec. 13, 1918 it was announced the “Ban would be lifted next Sunday.” Unfortunately, I cannot see this full article right now, or order it since the library is closed for the exact same reasons as it was in 1918. An article the following day, however, lists rules that will be in place after the ban is lifted. These include filling only every other row in churches and theaters,  no gatherings of children from more than two families, no dances, no crowding around pool tables, no public funerals for those dying of influenza or pneumonia,  and additional notes that people who are sick must stay home and be reported. By Jan. 6, 1919, schools in Colorado Springs re-opened.

While it would seem life was back to normal, by January 1920 the city started shutting down again due to a flue epidemic. Schools closed indefinitely on Feb. 5, 1920, and the city health officer urged residents of the city to voluntarily keep away from, “needless gatherings.” Physicians of the time signed a petition noting that, “The mere advice to the people to refrain from public gatherings is inadequate.” They go on to describe what they believe should happen. Check out the article and note the similarities. It’s fascinating!

An article from Feb. 8, 1920 soon announced that public meetings were prohibited. This solidified the closing of,  “schools, churches, theaters, and the prohibition of all public gatherings, both indoors and out of doors.”


The house where my great grandmother lived on W. Platte

In order to get a sense of the space my great grandparents lived in during the 1918 pandemic and 1920 epidemic, I drove past their house on West Platte, which is still standing. It is small, only four rooms according to the assessors website. What’s interesting is that there is another small house behind it, which I determined was built in 1920. I couldn’t get a great photo of this second house. All this time, I imagined my great grandparents and great great grandmother all living together, but now suspect one family lived in the other house starting around 1920 until they moved to the house which became my Grandpa’s around 1924.

Like my great grandparents, our home isn’t super spacious, but we have a yard and can garden and sunbathe and wander about. The 1918 pandemic took place in the winter, though, so perhaps they spent more time indoors. Genevieve Paul had already survived tuberculosis (if the story is correct) and must have known the magic of sunshine. I have to believe if it was sunny, then they were soaking it in. She was also a painter and in the 1917 Colorado Springs City Directory she was described as a seamstress, so I like to imagine she was spending time creating in some way. I wonder if my great grandfather, Doc, was getting many dental patients during this time and how he protected himself and his family. By the time my grandpa was born in Sept. of 1919, did they believe they were safe from the flu, or were they bracing for another round? 

  1. Barry, J. M. (Nov. 2017). How the Horrific 1918 Flu Spread Across America. Smithsonian Magazine.
  2. (1976, Oct. 10) State Spanish Flu may have started among trainees. Colorado Springs Gazette, A 3:1. Retrieved April 16, 2020 from:

Family Photo of the Week: Genevieve Norris & Family

5 Jun

I was looking for something else, when I stumbled upon this photograph that I’d scanned and never shared. I know the woman on the far left is my great-grandmother Genevieve Norris, below is her daughter Barbara. I believe the older woman in the photo is Genevieve Bush Paul, my great-great-grandmother, but it could be Minnie Lee Rose Norris (my other great-great-grandmother). I’m not sure who the younger woman is yet, but possibly Genevieve Norris’ niece Lorraine. Based on the age of Barbara, I would say this photo is from the late 1930’s.

What struck me as interesting is that I recognized the street behind them. I’m fairly certain that it’s a road within  Evergreen cemetery in Colorado Springs. If you look closely, I think you can even see tombstones behind them. I don’t know why they took this photo in the cemetery. It could be Memorial Day or it could be for a funeral that I’ve yet to associate with that year. In any case, it’s a lovely picture of them, isn’t it?

And so it begins… In Search of Robert Norris

1 Jun

In this quick, and long overdue entry, I just want to share something I found over a year ago while searching for William Norris’s father Alanson Blake (or A.B.) Norris. It’s a post to a genealogy forum by Brad Norris (grandson of Elmer Norris, Minnie Lee Rose Norris’s eldest son). In it he shares two letters that my great-great-grandmother Minnie Lee Rose Norris received from her husband’s siblings regarding their father Alanson and grandfather Robert. It’s a bit of a mystery tracking down Robert, and I’ll be sharing that quest over the next few weeks. In the meantime, enjoy these letters with much thanks to Brad for posting them. Below is the text from his post, and here’s the original link:

This is a quote from a letter written by my gg uncle, James B. Norris, in 1912 from Elmore, Alabama to my ggrandmother, Minnie Lee Rose Norris in answer to her inquiry about his family. He was 73 when this was written:

“…In regard to my Father Family I know very little about them But I will tell you all I know. I think that he had 4 Brothers their names were John Harris Andrew and Singleton I think were the names of the Boys. My Fathers name was Alanson Blake Norris my GrandFathers name was Robbert Norris. I never did see any of them and I think there were 4 sisters there names were Jane and Nancy I have seen them the other two girls names were Hildy and Kissiah I think were all. I have seen Aunt Jane She married a man by the name of Joshua Smith. Aunt Nancy married Jacob Goodwin (my mothers Brother) and one married a man by the name of Maldin and Kissiah married Jubilee Chitwood. They all lived in South Carolina. Father left his People when he was eighteen years old and never visited them But once that I know of that was in 1846 Rode a fine Horse named Ball Hornett and lost his Pocket Book with two hundred Dollars in it. Borrowed $20.00 Dollars from his Father (my Grand Father) to Pay his way coming home he was gone about six weeks. My Mothers People her Fathers name was Ephraim Goodwin his wife’s name was SuSanna Shook (She was a Dutch girl) They lived in Cherokee Cty, Ala. I have seen them several times when I was small….”

And this from a letter written by Mary Norris Spigener, James B.’s sister. Written again to Minnie Lee Rose Norris in 1917 from her home in Arizona, Louisiana (near Athens, east of Shreveport):

“…I hardly know what to say to you, as I know nothing in reference to my ancestors. My Grandfather Goodwin came from Missouri, I believe grand father Norris from N.C. Buncomb Co I think. have no family bible other than my fathers. he was born Oct 7, 1815, his name Alanson Blake. Esther Catherine Goodwin, his [wife] born April 20, 1819. Bro Dock was in the 4th Ala Regt. Col Bee commanding Hoods Div. Longsteets Cor L Company F or G. I don’t remember which. he was in the 1st battle of Manassas until he surrendered under Lee at Appomattox C H at the end of the war. Bro’s Jim and John was in the 20 Ala Regt company F or G. Capt Shapherd, Colonel Pettus under Joseph E. Johnston was captured a the fall of Vicsburg, Surrendered in Georgia I think. John was killed in Vicksburg during the siege 1st of June 1863, so you see I don’t know much about any of them….”

The reference to “Bro Dock” would be Melville Norris. I have good info on the Shook and Goodwin Families (Google Jacob Shook, Clyde NC). I know Alanson was born in SC. James B. said his grandfather was “Robbert”. Mary says he was from NC, Buncombe County. That would put him in proximity with the Shooks and the Goodwins in adjacent Haywood County (They were devout Methodists, Jacob Shook and Francis Asbury being friends. The Goodwins were missionaries to Missouri, thus the birth of Esther Catherine in Missouri. Alanson Blake Norris was also a Methodist minister). I have long been stuck on the assumption that this Norris clan originated from Abbeville or Pendleton Districts of SC.

I’ve worked recently on deciphering and confirming what’s recollected in these two amazing letters, and have attempted to track down the elusive Robert Norris. More on that shortly… I’m assuming this is enough of a gem to enjoy for the time being! 🙂 I’m still hoping to get scans of the original letters from Brad. Thanks in advance!!!! 🙂

Our Confederate Connection

22 Apr

Rumors of our Alabama ancestors and their involvement in The Civil War have circulated through my family for as long as I can remember. Alabama being a Southern state made it likely that, despite our better hopes, we did have some members of the confederacy in our family tree.

During previous research, I’d tracked down both Alanson B. Norris and Samuel Leslie Rose (parents of William R. Norris and Minnie Lee Rose (respectively), my great-great grandparents) to Montgomery, Alabama. I’d also found an obituary that listed Minnie Lee Rose as a Daughter of the Confederacy. I hadn’t, however, tracked down the confederate connection, nor did I know if it was on the Rose or Norris side…. or both. I’d searched military records for Samuel Leslie Rose in Alabama, and found nothing.

I decided, then, that perhaps it was his father who was the soldier. After a bit of difficulty, I happened upon the Rose family living in Carroll, Mississippi on the 1860 census. The Rose’s were listed by initials only. There was A.C. Rose, M.J. Rose, and S.L. Rose amongst several others in the household. I knew this was the correct family, because in the 1880 census I found a Margaret J. Rose living with Samuel Leslie Rose and his wife Sarah Elizabeth Rose. She was listed in this record as his mother. You can check out both of these census entries below. The first two screen captures are from the 1860 census, and the last one is from 1880.

Finding the Rose’s in Mississippi was a huge break. By 1870, Samuel Leslie Rose is listed on the Alabama census with his wife Sarah and one-year-old baby girl Minnie. Placing them in Mississippi in 1860 meant they were more likely to be there when the war broke out, than in Alabama. Oddly enough, Samuel is listed as being born in Alabama, so it makes you wonder why they moved to Mississippi, and then back. I spent a lot of time trying to find A.C. Rose in another census entry, with the hope of finding out what his first name was. The only information I had on him from 1860, besides the initials of his family members, was that he was 53-years-old and born in New York. He was listed as an M.D., but it’s unclear to me what that is an abbreviation for. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find either A.C. or Margaret Rose on any other census on or HeritageQuest. I’d hit a dead end with good ‘ole A.C., and I still didn’t know who the confederate solder could be.

In search of a lucky lead, I visited with the hope that either Samuel Leslie Rose or A.C. Rose would have a tombstone photo. I’ve noticed that some volunteers will take the extra step of listing related tombstones, and I was hoping that maybe an entry for Samuel Leslie Rose would lead to A.C. This, unfortunately, was not the case…

However, I did strike gold.

I could’ve sworn I’d searched for Samuel L. Rose’s tombstone before, but apparently not, because here in front of me there was suddenly a photo of a confederate tombstone, complete with his regiment. Sure enough, he served in Mississippi and not Alabama. I’m still not certain what the WATT part of the tombstone engraving means, but I did place him in the 30th Regiment, Mississippi Infantry and Swett’s Company, Mississippi Light Artillery. He entered as a private and exited as a Sergeant. I’m still working on locating his original records to see if I can find any more information. If you visit the National Parks Service site, however, you can find information about both Swett’s Company, Mississippi Light Artillery and the 30th Regiment, Mississippi Infantry and you can find Samuel L. Rose listed in both.

I later tracked down A.C. Rose’s name and a lot of information about his father (my great-great-great-great-great grandfather) on the East coast, but that’s a story for another day.

A Pictoral Bible is Worth 1,000 Words

21 Jun
To close my Norris research for a little while, in order to spend some time tracing the remaining two branches, here (at long last) are photos of both Genevieve Paul’s Bible and William R. Norris’ Bible. Click on any of them for a better view. 

Genevieve Paul’s Bible

An Obituary for William R. Norris in the Book of Samuel in Genevieve Paul's Bible

William R. Norris & Minnie Lee Norris’ Bible

Spine of Bible

William R. Norris Writing in Inside Cover

Note the witnesses to the wedding: Minnie’s parents and the pastor M.B. Wharton. Wharton, incidentally, is the middle name of William and Minnie’s first son Elmer (great-grandfather Samuel “Doc” E. Norris’ brother). This was something Mom caught the second time we looked over the names.

Marriages Listed in Bible


Births Listed in Bible

Deaths Listed in Bible


 One of the other things I’d like to know about the Bible is who wrote the entries. Are they in Minnie or William’s handwriting? I hope to find some of Minnie’s handwriting to compare.

Inside Title Page

Aren’t these pages amazing, though? There are many pages just as intricately drawn as this one. Sadly, there are also places for family photos, but there aren’t any there. I’d love to see a photo of Minnie or William when they were younger; well William at any age actually.

The Family Bible

3 Jun

After spending several nights (one per week to maintain my sanity) trying to confirm the name of William R. Norris’ father, I finally got my mom to dig out “The Bible.”

 The Bible? Why had I never seen this Bible before. She gave such a mysterious and all-knowing persona to it. Every time I told mom about what I had or hadn’t found she would say, “I’ll have to dig out the Bible.” She never did. After my last post about so very many William Norris’ with none matching up quite right, I needed to see this Bible.

It had at some point been passed down to my great-grandfather Doc, and then to my Grandpa. Apparently Mom had never seen it before stumbling across it a few years ago, though. It was my understanding that within its pages there was a family tree of some sort. Apparently old bibles had these. I, for one, had no idea. I was so nervous to see “The Bible” and find out who William R. Norris’ father really was. There had been a sort of thrill to the hunt, and now the moment of truth…

My first impression was, “How intricate!” The cover is fantastic. The marriage page for William and Minnie is even more fantastic. The information is written in beautiful calligraphy on an illuminated manuscript style page. These are the facts about their wedding that I summarized from the page.

William R. Norris married Minnie Lee Rose in Montgomery, AL on Dec. 1, 1886 in the presence of S.L. Rose and S. Elizabeth Rose.

The next several pages listed births, deaths, and marriages. William and Minnie were there, along with my great-grandfather and his brothers Elmer and William Jr. and another brother who died as a baby. Here are a few dates, that I noted to begin with.

  • Samuel Leslie Rose (S.L.) died May 3, 1904 (Minnie’s father)
  • S. Elizabeth Rose died May 16, 1890 (Minnie’s mother)
  • Minnie Lee Rose born Oct. 23, 1868 in Benton, AL
  • William R. Norris born August 13, 1859 in Marion, AL
  • Elmer Wharton Norris born Dec. 23, 1887 in Montgomery, AL
  • William Robert Norris Jr. born April 3, 1890 in Montgomery, AL
  • Leslie Alanson Norris born Oct. 3, 1892 and died Nov. 15, 1892

There were additional dates that I didn’t include here, because I already knew them. There are many wedding dates too, which I’ll save for later.

You’ll see pictures of the Bible in my next post. I’m afraid I didn’t have a camera that day, and the pages are too frail to scan

In addition to these amazing pages, the Norris family Bible also contained an envelope full of obituaries from various family members. Here, I found one for Minnie Lee Norris that stated that they’d moved to Colorado in 1904. That was definitely one of the questions in my mind. I knew they were in Alabama in 1900 and in Colorado in 1908 (the year William died), but I wasn’t sure when they’d moved.

One of the other questions my aunt and mom had about Minnie was why she stayed here after William died. To our knowledge, they’d moved to Colorado (like so many) in hopes of curing William’s tuberculosis. They were here for four years before he passed away, which must’ve been long enough for the Norris’ to set down new roots. One of the things that we learned from the Bible entries was that both of Minnie’s parents died before she moved to Colorado with William and her boys. This could be one reason why she didn’t feel like returning to Alabama…or maybe she just liked it here.

Overall though, the facts in the Bible were a little disappointing at first. Amazing as it was, it didn’t have the one piece of information I was looking for. Who was William’s father? He wasn’t mentioned anywhere… Or was he?

In looking back over all of the entries, Mom and I noticed that the baby Norris who died within a year of being born had a very interesting name. Leslie…Alanson…Norris. The middle name Alanson couldn’t be a coincidence. It looks to me as if the baby was named after both Minnie and William’s fathers (Leslie being Minnie Lee’s father’s middle name, and Alanson being William’s father). This was a HUGE indicator that Alanson was indeed the father of the “right” William.

The next big  clue was that, according to the Bible, William was born in Marion, AL. Since I’d found the Alanson Norris family in the 1860 census (under A.B. Norris),  in which that William was one year old, I guessed that the Norris’ would still live in the town where William had been born. If the town from that census record was Marion, AL, then I felt confident that Alanson/A.B. Norris was, in fact, my great-great-great grandfather.

As you can see (if you click on it to make it larger)…

…there it is on the top of the page; Marion, AL.

At the bottom of this page, you’ll see A.B. Norris, his wife, and several children listed.

At the top of the next page, you’ll see William, age 1.

One mystery solved. Many, many more to go. Oh, and something VERY exciting (in addition to the Bible pictures) in my next post!

The Wrong William or A Lot To Say About Nothing

29 May

Reubin Norris: Born in 1835 in Alabama, married to Hanor E. Norris, farmer, father of 10, one of which was a William R. Norris (born 1861).


My great-great grandfather William R. Norris was born in 1859, according to both the 1900 census (which you’ll see shortly) and his tombstone. Both seem like fairly substantial proof that this is the wrong William. This is a little sad, because Reubin and Hanor would’ve been fun names to add to my tree. They’d go well with Z.S., Tarpley, Kenyon, and well…you haven’t met them yet, but… Elisha and Hirim.

Nathan J. Norris: Married to Mary A. Norris, 3 children, including a William Norris (estimated birth year 1860).

This was worth investigating to see whether 1860 was just an estimated year, because it was so close to 1859. According to the 1870 census where I found Nathan Norris, this William was 10 when the census was taken. Our William should be 11 in 1870. Of course, it also says he was a girl, which seems unlikely. Another flaw with this record that eliminated it (along with the age of William) is that Nathan J. Norris and his wife Mary were both born in South Carolina. This is problematic, because…

Check out the 1900 census, in which I placed William and Minnie in Alabama in 1900. They’re at the very bottom of the page.

Here it says that William was 40-years-old, a milk dealer, born in Alabama, married for 14 years, and that his father and mother were both born in Alabama. A milk dealer?

Check out page 2 of this 1900 census entry for the Norris’ as well. They’re at the top of the page.

I actually didn’t realize that this was a continuation of the Norris’ from 1900, until I saw additional entries in the listing. FamilySearch is an interesting site created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. . Actually it creeps me out a little bit that they’ve created this HUGE database with as many ancestry records as they can find, but… I digress. What’s cool about this site is that they’ve transcribed tons of records, including the census records. It’s also fairly easy to search, and it’s free. If you don’t have access to or for free, then this is a good option. Since I’d last done research on the site several years ago, they’ve added scans from the census pages as well, and you can save those to your computer just as you can from HeritageQuest or Ancestry.

Moving forward, though, in searching for William on FamilySearch, I noticed two additional children transcribed from the record, which I hadn’t noticed before. Looking at them confused me completely, because as far as I knew my great-grandfather Doc only had two brothers. Also, Doc (Samuel Earnest) wasn’t listed. Then, noting the birth year and age of Earnest S. Davis I realized it matched that of Samuel Earnest. I have no idea why he was listed this way in the census record. In addition, the “daughter” that FamilySearch had transcribed was actually listed as an aunt of the head of household, William, in the original census document. Both of these factors make for an interesting lesson.

First of all, be sure to check the actual record against what has been transcribed. People make mistakes, and so it’s always a good idea to check what they’ve seen with your own eyes and make your own interpretation of what is written down. In this same census record, my great-great uncle Elmer was transcribed as Eleanore. One might wonder, whether this census transcriber was in their right mind when transcribing. The other lesson to take from this is that census records themselves may not be accurate either. Remember that they were filled out by whoever answered the questions. In the case of these older handwritten records, they were also filtered through the census taker. Once again, people make mistakes. Something interesting to note in the case of my great-grandfather, however, is that this isn’t the first time his first name was written down as Earnest instead of Samuel. This was also the case in the 1920 census in El Paso County. Remember? Also, my mom vaguely remembers him having a second middle name, which would explain the “Davis” in his name. Of course, she thought it was Woods not Davis.

In the words of the double rainbow guy…

What does it meeeeean?

After another 1870 record with a 10-year-old William (son of George, born in South Carolina, and Margaret, born in Alabama), I go back to a record I’d found previously on HeritageQuest, which seems the most promising.

Here, what has been transcribed on both HeritageQuest and FamilySearch as Alanson Norris (what do you think it says?)  has several children, including William Norris, 11. BINGO! Everything seems to match up here, except the birthplace of William’s father is wrong. Here, once again, South Carolina is listed as his birthplace.

No Bingo?

I believe what we have here is a roadblock. As far as I can find, this is the only William Norris born in 1859 in Alabama, making this the best lead I have as to finding another generation of Norris’ back. Of course, there’s a good chance that once again this is the wrong William.

Beautiful Stones

22 May
I decided to spend the late afternoon/early evening of the 2011 rapture (heh) at the graveyard. More of a coincidence than a morbid plan on my part, though I do find the timing amusing (hence, the prior heh). Needless to say, I am still here, thus able to post my findings from the cemetery.

My mission seemed simple. I had three tombstones to find; Genevieve Norris (my great-grandmother), Genevieve Paul (my great-great grandmother, mother of Genevieve Norris), and the shared burial site of Minnie Lee Norris and William Robert Norris.

Lesson number one in tombstone searching: Don’t leave home without the location of the stones. Sometimes our trusty smart phones, aren’t nearly as trusty as one would hope. In this instance my “smart” phone decided not to search the cemetery’s website. Luckily, I could access the other tombstone database that I’d used to find info. about their burials. Sadly, T-237 and T-60, were rather mysterious descriptions. There was no section T on the map, and if they were buried in 237 and 60, then the next big question was…WHERE? There was no plot number listed.

After a quick text to mom to see if she could access the cemetery’s website, she came back with the same results (well minus the mysTery T). I began to fear my whole trip would be a bust. The office was closed for the day, so there was no one to tell me what plot numbers my Norris relatives lie (lay?) beneath. I decided to take a meager attempt at wandering about randomly (once even counting the rows up to what might’ve been row “T”).

Just as I had decided my day of reckoning should’ve been spent elsewhere, and right after I pulled my car along the side of section 237 to do a drive-by search, I spotted her.

My next hope was that Genevieve Paul, her mother, was nearby. No such luck. I proceeded with my random search, in hopes that her tombstone would magically appear to me just as my great-grandmother’s had. I really don’t know how I lucked out, but I did. Three or four rows away, I found this beautiful stone.

 Check out the columbines carved on it.
Feeling rather smug, but mostly just lucky, I ventured to section 60 of the cemetery, where I hoped to find the burial site of Minnie L. Norris and William R. Norris (my great-great grandparents). My guess was that good luck wouldn’t strike three times, plus I had to pee. I found the section, pulled my car to the side, and started to walk toward the graves (debating in my head where to begin, and how long I could search before driving two miles down the road to the nearest gas station bathroom). I hadn’t even gotten across the street to start my search, when my eyes were directed right toward their gravestone. The sunlight beamed down upon it, lighting it up, and literally drawing me right toward it. It was as if Minnie herself saw me coming, and said, “Look! Right here! Here I am! Here I am!” You probably think I’m exaggerating, but I really couldn’t have made this up (okay, I could’ve, but I didn’t). It was so fantastic that I’m quite certain I breathed an, “Oh my goodness No way!” out loud immediately. You can even see the remnants of the sun-shimmer on the stone in this picture. (If you really think about it).

I was so happy to find them; in the very first plot in section 60.

With a lot of room around them…

Gravesites are strange. There’s this aura about them that makes you want to reach out to the people buried there, and yet at the same time they are just stones…and well…bones. I was amazed at how beautifully preserved all three of the gravestones I found were, of course the oldest one was only from 1942, but still… I think in my mind I expected something strange, fading, and distant, when in reality they were clear,strong, and present. Minnie and William and the Genevieves were right there in front of me, and didn’t feel like they’d been gone nearly as long as they have. I never knew any of them, but I touched each of their stones, and told them how much I would’ve loved them. They were, of course, the people who brought me my Grandpa, my mom, and my aunt. They were just as wonderful. I know it.

The Evasive Norris

10 May

After spending several weeks on the Hastings side of our tree, I decided to switch gears and see if I could trace back my mom’s side (Norris) the same number of branches as I had the Hastings. After knowing for sure that I’ve gone back to my great-great-great-grandfather Hastings (and as you will soon find out, probably my great-great-great-great-grandfather— that’s a lot of greats), my next step will be to get to my great-great-great-grandfather Norris. Once you say great that many times, it no longer looks like a word. Try it!

Starting out, the only Norris’ I knew the names of besides my own grandparents were my great-grandfather and grandmother and his mother (my great-grandmother Norris).

Samuel Ernest Norris, known as “Doc,” for he was a dentist was married to Genevieve Paul Norris. Genevieve’s mother, incidentally, was also named Genevieve, and oddly enough my Grandma Hastings is ALSO a Genevieve. There have not been any Genevieve’s since. Doc is my great-grandfather and, as I’ve been told, came to Colorado when he was quite young. His mother, Minnie Lee Rose, my great-great-grandmother was from Alabama and lived at one point on a place called The Rose Plantation. This is really all I know. 

Below is a photo of Doc, Genevieve, and my Grandpa as a boy.

Doc, Genevieve, and Grandpa

In doing some census research, I first found a 24-year-old Doc (listed as Ernest instead of Samuel), a 23-year-old Genevieve, and my Grandpa who wasn’t even a year old in the 1920 census living with Genevieve’s mother, Genevieve Paul, 53. Genevieve Paul has listed her profession as seamstress, though I know she was also a very talented painter. Doc is listed as a dentist. Click on the census record to make it larger.

1920 Census Record for Genevieve Norris

Incidentally, Minnie Lee Rose Norris, 51, was also on the 1920 census for El Paso County, Colorado. She was living by herself at this point, leaving me no clues as to the name of my great-great-grandpa. Click on the record to make it larger.

1920 Census Record for Minnie L. Norris

Next, I tried looking forward to the 1930 census to see if I could find my great-grandpa and my grandpa in the house I know he lived in most of his life. However, though the 1930 census has been released, it seems as if Heritage Quest, where I’ve been doing my research (for now), doesn’t have the census roll I need digitized just yet. I’ll find them eventually, but for now, let’s go back farther.

By searching for “Norris” in the 1910 census, I found a listing for Minnie L. Here, at age 41, she’s listed as the head of household and has three sons living with her. My great grandpa, Samuel (Doc), at age 15 seems to have been working for a florist at a greenhouse and his brothers William and Elmer were working as a clerk at a real estate office and salesman for (well I can’t read it, but it looks like cooking utensils) respectively. All of the boys and their mother are shown to have been born in Alabama. Her mother is also shown to be born in Alabama, while her father was born in Mississippi. Click on the census record to make it larger.

1910 Census Record for Minnie L. Norris

So… At this point I’m thinking this is all REALLY cool, but where is great, great-grandfather Norris? I don’t even know his name! I try the 1900 census for El Paso County, Colorado. There is no sign of them in Colorado in 1900. Shoot!

At this point, I have two ideas. I can either begin searching for them in 1900 in Alabama in hopes that they moved straight from Alabama to Colorado OR I can try looking for obituaries and cemetery records in Colorado Springs in hopes that Minnie L. Norris’ husband is listed somewhere in one of those. First, I try finding her obituary in Pikes Peak Newsfinder, which is a really cool database available from the Pikes Peak Library District’s site. There are tons of local articles and obituaries digitized. Unfortunately, Minnie’s isn’t one of them. But then, I’d never heard whether she was buried here, so it was a long shot anyway. Afterall, I couldn’t trace her past 1920, and she was only 51 then. She could’ve been anywhere when she died.

I decided to search the Colorado Springs cemetery records, though, on the off-chance that she stayed in Colorado Springs. By going to the cemetery records at this site:,I was able to search for Minnie Norris and BINGO! I found her.

According to the cemetery record she was buried 12/30/1958, making her about 87 years old when she died. This record, however,  just directs you to the grave itself and offers key birth, death, and burial dates (though in Minnie’s case the record only had a burial date). There were still no clues as to who my great-great-grandfather was. Perhaps he never made it to Colorado?

I decided to try one more thing before checking the Alabama census’ or making a trip to a microfilm station to find Minnie’s obituary. In many cases, there are people who go out with the sole purpose of transcribing gravestones and going to the arduous task of typing them out and posting them online. From what I understand it is both to preserve what they say on them before the stones become hard to read, and also a means of sharing them for genealogists who aren’t near the stones to read them in person. This is a cool site I found that has links to many different transcription sites as well as official cemetery records.

By clicking on El Paso County Cemetaries from the Colorado Tombstone Transcription Project, I was directed to this site: which allows you to search by cemetery and date. By looking in the cemetery book from 1972, and scrolling down to Norris, I easily found this entry for Minnie L. Norris.

NORRIS               MINNIE L.                             1868               30 DEC 1958 T-060 (Bur w/William Robert)

Ch-ching! As you can see, here it says that Minnie L. was buried with William Robert. Looking down the page a very short distance, I can see a William Robert Norris. His entry reads:

NORRIS               WILLIAM ROBERT                        1859               12 FEB 1908 T-060 (Bur w/Minnie L.)

As you can tell, William Robert Norris died in 1908, according to this transcription. This would explain why he didn’t appear in the 1910 census, which could be the first census record for the Norris’ in Colorado. Clearly, they moved here before then, though, since we now have him buried in Colorado Springs in 1908.

After finding these transcriptions, of course I want to go find the gravestones for myself. I had no idea my great-great-grandmother and grandfather Norris were buried here. I knew that my great-grandmother, Genevieve Norris, and her mother, Genevieve Paul, were buried here, and I’ve been meaning to find their stones. Now, it seems I have a surplus of tombstones to find, and this, I believe will be my next mission.

For now though, I’m quite satisfied to have traced another generation back on the Norris side. Heck, I even have a lead to  Alabama where I hope to pick up the trail. Hopefully William Robert Norris, will be the only evasive Norris for a while…

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