Tag Archives: Alabama

Connecting the Civil War Norris Dots

7 Jun

In this letter from my great-great grandfather William Norris’s sister Mary to my great-great grandmother Minnie Rose Norris, she describes what each of her brothers did during the Civil War.

“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 Vicksburg, 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.”

I wanted to confirm her information, so I looked up each of her brothers in the national park service’s Civil War database. As Brad Norris said in his genforum post, her brother Dock was Melville Norris. Melville was Alanson Blake Norris’s second eldest son, and was approximately 18 or 19 when the Civil War broke out. Mary’s information proves correct. There was in fact, a Melville Norris in the 4th Alabama Regiment company G. This is the link to his data in the National Park Service database: http://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-soldiers-detail.htm?soldier_id=078517bf-dc7a-df11-bf36-b8ac6f5d926a.

She’s correct again when it comes to her brother Jim (James B. Norris). He was Alanson’s eldest son, and about 22 when the war began. Here he is in the 20th Alabama Regiment, company F: http://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-soldiers-detail.htm?soldier_id=a68417bf-dc7a-df11-bf36-b8ac6f5d926a .

There was also a John Norris in the same regiment. However, according to this database, the only John W. Norris in the 20th Alabama Regiment entered as a private and exited as a corporal (quite the promotion). http://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-soldiers-detail.htm?soldier_id=a88417bf-dc7a-df11-bf36-b8ac6f5d926a .

This is confusing, because Mary says he died in Vicksburg in 1863. Here’s some nice info. on the Battle: http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/vicksburg.html. I’ve been trying to figure out if the database would list whether a soldier was killed in battle, or not. So far, I can’t find a list of soldiers killed in Vicksburg, or any record of John’s death. I can’t find him on a census after 1860 either. He would’ve been a mere 15 or 16 years old when the Civil War began. If Mary’s correct, that would make him 18 or 19 when he died.

My great-great grandfather William R. Norris wouldn’t have served in the war, because he was only one-year-old in 1860, and only five by the time the war ended. Alanson Blake Norris doesn’t seem to have served either, which would be logical since he’s rumored to be a Methodist minister and would’ve been around 44 at the time the war began. This would mean that neither of my direct great-great-great grandfather’s fought in the Civil War. Z.S. Hastings my great-great-great grandfather on my Dad’s side stated in his autobiography that he didn’t fight in the war, though some of his brother’s did fight for the Union. Like Alanson, Z.S. Hastings was also a minister.

Incidentally, as mentioned in a previous blog, William Norris’s future father-in-law Samuel Leslie Rose did serve. He was in the 30th Regiment, Mississippi Infantry and Swett’s Company, Mississippi Light Artillery. I haven’t looked into whether he was at any of the same battles as William’s brothers yet.

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: http://genforum.genealogy.com/norris/messages/6285.html.

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 Ancestry.com 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 FamilySearch.org 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 findagrave.com 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!

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