Tag Archives: Grandparent

Family Photo of the Week: Harry Howell Hastings & His Brother Otho

10 Jul

This is my great-great grandfather Harry Howell Hastings, son of Z.S. Hastings standing with his brother Otho Ono Hastings. Harry looks so much like Dad and Grandpa in this photo. I love it!


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.

Grandma’s Stories

3 Aug

I feel like I’ve been sitting on a lot of information and not posting. I’ve been researching for sure, I just haven’t blogged in awhile. Perhaps, it’s because all I seem to have are a lot of random bits and pieces of facts and photos and ideas; a mish-mosh if you will. In an effort to move forward with my grand original plan of tracing each of my grandparents branches back to my great-great-great-grandparents, though, I’ll let a few discoveries sit a bit longer and share what I’ve uncovered about my Grandma Hastings’ side of the family tree.

The unique aspect of this research is that Grandma is still alive for me to ask for names, stories, and hopefully a few photos. This is wonderful for many reasons, and I absolutely encourage anyone who ever even THINKS they might ever THINK that they MIGHT be interested in doing family history research to ask their grandparents, great-grandparents, and even their parents what they remember. Perhaps, this method wasn’t as useful for actual hard dates and names, but the stories she told are priceless.

I started out by asking Grandma for the names of her parents and their birth and death dates. This is what she could tell me: Her mom, Cora Alaine Maret was born Cora Alaine Thayer, and died in 1986. I do vaguely remember meeting my great-grandmother Maret, however, I can’t recall a thing about her; just that she was there at Grandma’s house once upon a time when I was quite small. Mom and Grandma enjoy telling the quip of a story about the time she was watching me play in Grandma’s living room and then turned to Grandma and said, “I’ve never seen a little girl just sit there and play quietly like that. I just love to watch her play.” Mom believes that trait never left me, for now I sit for hours and hours and edit videos. Though, not nearly as quietly. Ask anyone. I definitely blast the sound.

I never had a chance to meet my great-grandfather Maret. He died in 1946 before Grandma was even 20-years old. His name, according to Grandma, was Hellick (spelling, in question) Floyd Maret. He never went by Hellick though, because quite frankly he hated it. Who can blame him really? Hell-ick? He went by Floyd.

Grandma also related the names of her grandparents, though she wasn’t 100 percent sure she had them right. She recalls her Grandma Maret very well, and believed her name was Martha. She remembers that this grandmother lived fairly close to her family growing up and that whenever her and her brothers and sisters (she has nine) went to visit they would insist they were hungry, “Grandma we’re hungry,” they would whine in their most pathetic little voices. Then their Grandma would open up a bread box and give each of them a piece of bread with butter and sugar on top. Sometimes, if they were lucky, she would sprinkle coffee on top instead. I couldn’t quite get my brain around that one. Coffee grounds? Prepared coffee? Coffee and sugar? I think I need to try to clarify again.

Grandma Maret wore long dresses with aprons. She put her hair in a bun, and had tall lace-up boots. She was also very short. One time, grandma recalls that she was riding in a car with her mom and grandma and she must’ve been behaving poorly, because her grandma turned around and lifted her dentures up out of her mouth; scaring Grandma to bits. It sure must’ve been memorable to make her list of stories 70-some years later!

She doesn’t have as fond of memories of her Grandmother Thayer. That is, if you want to count the tooth-raising story as fond. She believes her grandmother Thayer’s name was Ida, and her grandfather Thayer’s name was John. She said she knew them well, but she didn’t recall a single story about her grandpa. These grandparents lived in Hastings, Nebraska, and it took my grandma’s family all day to get there in the old car they owned at the time. They lived, as Grandma says, “way out in the country” near Moorefield, Nebraska. The way grandma described her grandmother, it didn’t sound like it was much worth the drive.

She told  me one story in which her and her sister Peggy found a little basket of their grandma’s buttons. They thought they were so pretty that they took them outside to examine them in the sun. They were happily enjoying gazing at each one, when they were caught by their grandmother and as grandma said, “She got after us!” Then Grandma made her disgusted face, which is quite rare, and told me that her Grandmother Thayer wasn’t her favorite. The only other thing she told me about her was that she died of pneumonia when Grandma was in around the 4th grade.

After telling me all of these stories, Grandma told me the names of all of her father and mother’s brothers and sisters. On her mother’s side there was Benny, Warren, Doris, Viola, and Elmer. On her father’s side there was Jeff, Thomas, Adeline, Nellie, Myrtle, (“They have funny names,” she laughed), Ellen, John, Elmer, Dan, and Art. It actually blows my mind that she remembers all of them. She told me the ones she knew well, but I didn’t ask for any stories about them this time. I actually met Uncle Benny at a family reunion several years back. Now, I finally understand how he’s related. Though if he’s my Grandma’s uncle, I’m not sure what that makes him to me. No quizzes, please.

Having the names of my great-great grandparents other children actually proved quite useful in tracking them all down in census records. But that my friends and family, is (as my 9th grade English teacher Mrs. Crafts would say), a story for another day.

%d bloggers like this: