Tag Archives: Colorado

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!!!! 🙂

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Genevieve Leoline (Bush) Paul

6 May

After being orphaned at 14, widowed with two small children at  30, watching her younger brother die of drug abuse, potentially surviving tuberculosis thereafter, and losing one of her daughters prematurely to cancer, this beautiful lady lived to be 85-years-old. She’s a survivor if I ever saw one, and I couldn’t be happier to call her my great-great grandmother.

Genevieve Bush was born in Smethport, Pennsylvania on August 12 1866 to Hiram M. Bush and Sarah Douglas Bush. She had two sisters, Lillian M. (the oldest), and Inestine C. (the youngest), and one brother Lionel (known as Lee). Her father Hiram worked as a lumberman and a farmer, and according to a very informative obituary written by Lillian for her brother Lionel, the Bush’s owned the flour mill and lumber mill in Smethport for a “good many years.” After her mother Sarah died around 1876, Hiram re-married at some point and the family continued to live in Smethport until his death a few years later on approximately Dec. 14, 1880, as seen in this Dec. 16, 1880 listing in the McKean County Miner.

Shortly before his death the 1880 census shows the entire Bush clan (minus Sarah) with Genevieve listed under the nickname Eva. This is the first and last time I’ve heard her called this. Interestingly enough, there is also a border by the name of Frank Ogilvie living with the Bush’s, who will later marry Genevieve’s sister Lillian.

Due to the lack of census data from 1890, the whereabouts of Genevieve and her siblings is hard to track after 1880, but not as difficult as it could’ve been thanks to the aforementioned obituary from 1898 written by Lillian about their brother, his struggles, and most interestingly the movement of each sister after their father’s death. Though it’s difficult to read, and we must take it’s accuracy with a grain of salt, this article gives many clues into the lives of the Bush sisters and their brother between 1880 and 1898.

According to Lillian, after their father’s death all three sisters and their brother went to Hamilton, New York to live with their “mother’s people” for about two years. Then, Lillian married Frank Ogilvie and they all returned to Smethport for a time and lived with them. In what could potentially be 1889 (it’s difficult to read), they all went to live in Washington Territory. Inestine had married Hugh J. Hamilton at that point, and Genevieve and Lee were the under the guardianship of a man by the name of William Haskell (connection to be determined). Genevieve asked to take charge of Lee, and according to Lillian he lived with her most of the time.

Genevieve at some point married John Charles Fremont Paul (a very difficult man to find) of Oakville, Washington (but born in Iowa). They had two children, Ethel, born in 1892, and Genevieve, born in 1896. Sadly, he died in 1896, the same year Genevieve was born. Family rumor had it down as a logging accident, but on the death index he’s listed as a farmer, and his cause of death was a “cerebral tumor.” We’ll talk more about him someday soon.

Shortly after John’s death, Lee was said to have come back to live with Genevieve, and was looking forward to moving with her and her daughters to Colorado Springs, where she was planning to go in the beginning of 1899 for health reasons. According to Lillian’s meanderings in Lee’s obituary she was at the time of his death in very poor health, presumably with tuberculosis.

By 1900 Genevieve Paul was living in Colorado Springs with her two daughters, along with her sister Lillian and brother-in-law Frank Ogilvie at a house on Colorado Avenue.

She’s listed on this census as an artist, which her sister Lillian had also mentioned in Lee’s obituary. This is well-known amongst our family members. In fact, two of her paintings hung at my Grandparents house for as long as any of us can remember. Recently, we discovered the one above the mantel was listed as a wedding present to my grandparents from her in their wedding gift log.

In 1910, she was living with her 13-year-old daughter Genevieve at a house on 616 West Platte Avenue in Colorado Springs. It’s hard to read what her profession was in this census, but she was working at home.

By 1920, her daughter Genevieve and husband Samuel Earnest Norris (a local dentist, and my great grandpa) were living with her along with their three-month old son, Lawrence (my grandpa). Genevieve is listed as a seamstress in this record.

In 1930, and in the recently released 1940 census she was living in the same house on North Platte, though here in the 1940 census the address is listed incorrectly as being on North Chestnut. This made it a bit of a challenge to find during my initial search of the 1940 census before it was indexed. She’s 73-years-old in this census record, which was taken the same year as the wonderful photograph at the top of this page.

In this photo of her from 1950, she’s celebrating her 84th birthday. We’re not sure who the girl on the far left is, but the other people in this photograph from left to right are her sister Inestine (Bush) Roberts, her granddaughter Lorraine(Essick) Crocker, her granddaughter Barbara (Norris) Shupe holding her great-grandson Bo, her daughter Ethel (Paul) Essick, and her granddaughter-in-law Dora (Collins) Norris (my grandma). The two girls right behind her are her great-granddaughters Vivalee and JoAnne.

She passed away the next year at 85-years-old. Note, the city of Smithport, PA is listed as her birthplace in the obituary below. This is also true in an article I’ll share about her sister Inestine’s death on Pikes Peak. It was only in searching for Smithport, and realizing there was no Smithport, that I tracked them to Smethport where I found a wealth of information about the well-known Bush family.

Denver Dental School

12 Nov

I stumbled upon this draft registration card for my great-grandpa, Samuel Ernest Norris or “Doc” on Ancestry.com the other day.

It’s pretty amazing in it’s own right just to see, but probably the coolest part for me is that it says he’s a Dental Student at Denver University in Denver, Colorado. Now, according to family lore he was a dental student in Boulder at The University of Colorado. Mysterious, right? So which is it?

I googled “Denver University dental school 1917”, and found this entry about the history of the Denver Dental School. http://libanubis.cair.du.edu/About/collections/SpecialCollections/AcUDental/orghist.cfm

It’s a little bit confusing, but as I understand it the first dental school formed in Colorado was indeed in Denver, and affiliated off and on with The University of Denver. The University of Colorado tried at one point to form a dental school in Denver, and there was a bit of an uproar about them putting it in Denver instead of Boulder. Thus, the two school’s combined to form the Denver Dental School, which was operated out of DU and even affiliated with DU at one point. I’m a little bit excited to go dig in DU’s records to see if I can find Doc listed. If he did go to The University of Denver instead of The University of Colorado, then we’re alumni together! I knew there was some reason I randomly ended up there. 🙂

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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