Sunday, August 17, 2014

52 Ancestors #18: Luther Norton, the missing link

I have continued my climb up the Norton side of the family tree.  I thought this would lead to a long trail of Asahels as I mentioned in my post about Asahel Wellington Norton.  So I was excited to prepare for my trip to the Allen County Public Library last month.  In doing so, I reviewed some research I had done last summer in Livingston County.  There were letters at the historian's office from a David Kendall Martin written in 1979.  He seemed to have an interest in and knowledge of the Norton family.  But could I find him after 35 years?

Amazingly enough a Google search turned up his name on a genealogy website with an email address.  There was no date but it was worth a try.  I sent an email on Friday and had an answer the next day!  He sent me information adding 5 generations to the family and introducing me to

Luther Norton

Rosemary Norton at the grave of her 4th great-grandfather
Luther Norton
Luther was a name that was familiar to me from census records and I had assumed it was an uncle of Asahel, father of Asahel Wellington.  But instead it is his father.  In essence, Luther is the father, brother and son of an Asahel Norton!  No wonder I was confused.

So here is how it looks:
Asahel Norton
Luther Norton
Asahel Norton
Asahel Wellington Norton
William Wellington Norton

I was able to trace the first Asahel back to John Norton, born 1634 in Bedfordshire, England.  This John emigrated to the colonies and died in Connecticut in 1704.  It was exciting to finally "cross the pond".

Luther was born in Saratoga, New York where his family (including uncles) had moved from Connecticut sometimes between 1770 and 1776, as the Revolutionary War was starting.  When the English came to  Saratoga under General  Burgoyne, his uncle fought and died serving the crown.  But Luther's father, Asahel, seemed to have stayed out of the combat.  This Asahel died in New York around 1790.

Luther can then be traced to Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, where he settled on land that was being "colonized" by a group from Connecticut.  This group was originally formed with his grandfather, Samuel, as a founding member.  But the Pennsylvanians were not too happy to think that Connecticut was encroaching on its territory.  When the war ended, the Norton family was driven off its land and moved to Livingston County, New York.  There they remained until Asahel Wellington left the state for work in the 1890s.

Luther is buried in Livonia, Livingston, New York and I was recently able to visit.  It is a tiny cemetery right off county road 15.  Unfortunately, his gravestone is completely worn off - only a quote remains on the top, and even that was mostly illegible.  Buried next to him is his wife and a son, Luther A.  It was exciting to find the site but sad to realize that time had eroded so much history.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

52 Ancestors: #17 Capturing Four Generations

I've heard it said that we can only remember two generations back - our parents and our grandparents.  So it is always exciting when we can get four generations together and document it in a photo.  Of course, the youngest generation is usually an infant when the photo takes place.

So we were excited earlier this year to take a 4 generation of the Hammon-Brooks-Norton-Cox family.  I've uncovered another 4 generation photo here at Silver Lake New York just hanging on the refrigerator.  So to honor these events I am posting the three different 4-gen photos in my data base.  

Here's my newest discovery:



The very tiny man in the middle of this photo is James Nelson Hackett, affectionately known as Grandpa Hackett. I wrote about him here.  This picture was taken at Butler PA on Easter Sunday, April 1968 at the home of his daughter, Gladys Dorothy Hackett Palmer.  Grandpa Hackett died the next year in April of 1969.

Gladys is the small woman next to him and they are both standing in front of her very tall husband, Nelson Pattison Palmer.  To Nelson's right is his son-in-law, Clinton Edward Norton, and his daughter, Doris Jennie Palmer Norton.  Nelson and Gladys' youngest daughter, Dianne Kay Palmer Wetjen is on their left (and her husband Alan Wetjen is probably taking the photo).  

The three adorable children are Eve, Phillip Nelson and Chris Norton.  It's so cool that this time the youngest generation is old enough to remember their great-grandfather.  Here's how it looks in a chart:

                                                 James Nelson Hackett
                                                 Gladys Hackett Palmer
                                                 Doris Palmer Norton
                                                Eve, Phil & Chris Norton


Here is a picture from my side of the family (which I published previously here):


Here is the family tree tracing the women from left to right.

Rebecca Jane Spangler Nifong
Mary Esther Nifong Autry
Ruth Autry Brooks
Walter Allen Brooks (my father's brother)



And finally here is the newest four generation photo, taken this past Mother's Day 2014:

And in case you can't remember these faces I'll give the tree.

Jean Hammon & Robert Autry Brooks
Janet Esther Brooks (Norton)
Danielle Helen Norton Cox
Chloe Rose Cox

Thursday, June 26, 2014

52 Ancestors: #16 Doris Jennie Palmer Norton - Happy (Belated) Birthday!

Doris Jennie Palmer Norton

Doris mid-1930s
Silver Lake 2009

Doris Jennie Palmer was born on 17 June 1929 in Olean, New York while her parents were visiting her maternal grandparents, the Hacketts.  She was the first child of her parents, Nelson Pattison Palmer and Gladys Dorothy Hackett. Doris grew up in Butler, Pennsylvania where her father taught Physics at Butler High School.  Here is an excerpt from a biography she started about her early life.  I love the little details about sneaking out of church and finding her classes boring!

As I grew up, I learned to do my homework faithfully (being careful not to neglect my Physics homework), practice piano every day, and go to the Methodist Church on Sunday.  All of these tasks were reasonably pleasurable, but being a normal kid, I usually complained about homework and practicing. The Methodist church was easy to like because I had  fine girl friends and a really nice Sunday School teacher (the wife of our Pennsylvania Senator).  I admit that sometimes my girlfriends and I would sit in the balcony during church then sneak out and get a coke at the nearby drugstore. Actually, my experience at the Methodist church for 10 years while I was growing up was probably my reason for seeking churches in the cities where I lived when I left Butler.

Graduating from Butler High School expanded my ego because I was Valedictorian.  Later, I found out that college was full of valedictorians and most of them were a lot smarter than I was. My college of choice was the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, NY.  As a piano major I was required to practice 4 hours a day.  This was an experience in discipline; and my teacher was very encouraging. However, at the end of my first year, I decided to do a double major in piano and business administration so that I would have more job opportunities. Quite honestly, I didn't know how boring the business courses would be.  Then, I met The Boyfriend, Clint Norton, who liked all my courses better than I did so he helped me with my business administration homework. I learned that Clint was a theory /flute major but was interested in performing arts management as a career. Clint and I soon discovered that we liked each other well enough to get married, so I accelerated my studies and completed my BA in Piano and Business Administration in January and we got married in March.

The marriage was 11 March 1951 in Butler.  This wedding photo shows Clint Norton with his father William Wellington Norton.  Doris' maid of honor was Jeanne Moore.

Wedding of Clinton Norton and Doris Palmer

I love this story of their first apartment and the life of a newlywed.

April, 1,1951.  Here we are, Clint Norton and Doris Norton, who was yesterday Doris Palmer, now Mrs. Norton.  We are now on our way from Butler, PA to Rochester, NY.  Collectively, Doris and Clint have a cloudy youthfully optimistic view of their future together but they are young enough not to be worried about that far away sometimes ominous philosophy called “the future”.
             Being borderline penniless, we were on the look for a free lunch, as well as family nourishment, so we stopped in Smethport, PA, to see Aunt Virginia and Uncle Leo (my mother’s brother), for lunch. Then, we moved on to Perry, NY.  We found a free sleepover and dinner at the Hedwig Highway House where I had been a waitress during our summer at Silver Lake, NY. You might think that we had no plan.  Not true.  Both of us had found jobs in Rochester after graduation, before our wedding so we were on our way back to the city where we went to college, The University of Rochester, Eastman School of Music.  Clint’s job was Assistant Manager of the Riviera Movie Theatre.  My job was nebulously defined—something in the office of Taylor Instruments (maker of thermometers).  The “something” turned out to be deadly boring.  Clint wasn't exactly thrilled with movies and box office every night.  But then there was our cute little furnished apartment where we could relax—as long as we didn't stretch out too far.  The bathroom was neon pink so no nite-lite was needed; the bedroom was mostly taken up by the mattress.  The kitchen and living room were the same.  Next to the breakfast table was an old upright piano.  For lounging we sat on the back porch and talked to the neighbors’ whose back porches were connected to ours.  

The Nortons lived a peripatetic lifestyle.  Fortunately, Doris has compiled a list of where they lived and why.

5. Duxbury, MA 1951 summer theater
6. Hopewell, VA 1951 Dad music store; Mom teaches 3rd grade; Mom writes copy station WHAP
7. Olean, NY 1953 Dad at paper company; Eve born
8. Wichita Falls, TX 1956  Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra
9. Columbus OH 1957 Phil born; Dad managing Symphony
10. San Antonio 1959 Mom teaches K-6 music; Dad manages Symphony; Chris born
11. Baltimore, MD 1963 Dad manages Symphony; Mom teaches at Peabody Prep school for Music (piano)
12. San Antonio 1965 Mom teaches K-6 music; Dad sells Real Estate
13. Fredonia, NY 1966 Mom gets her Masters Degree in Organ from SUNY-Fredonia; Dad works at SUNY-Fredonia in Arts Management (Rockefeller Performing Arts Center)
14. Akron, OH 1970 Mom gets Ph.D. from Kent State; Mom teaches at University of Akron and Walsh College (Private college in Canton, OH); she also takes on some private piano students; Dad works managing the EJ Thomas Performing Arts Hall
15.Austin, TX 1979 Mom was instructor in class piano at UT; p/t clerk at Foley's department store when she first got there;  Dad worked at UT Performing Arts Center and then retired to take on position at International Society of Performing Arts (ISPA) as Executive Director; Mom was the Administrative Director of ISPA and ran the conferences throughout the world. 
16. Nashville 2011 (December) Mom moves to Blakeford.

As you can see, Doris continued to add to her professional and academic credentials despite all the moves. She also added three children -Eve, Phillip and Christopher - who kept her busy with their own musical, athletic and scholastic pursuits. She and Clint were married for almost 57 years before his death in February 2008.  Here are some great family photos (though I am glad we have left the 70s behind us!)

Last week, Doris celebrated her 85th birthday!  She continues to play the piano several hours each day, takes a daily walk at the nearby mall and loves attending the movies.  She also keeps up on all the antics of her 8 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild.  Happy Belated Birthday!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

52 Ancestors #15: Asahel Wellington Norton - What's In A Name?

In my return to genealogy research I am trying to be more methodical.  I am working my way up my husband's paternal line from father to father.  So I guess that it is fitting for my Father's Day post.

The name Asahel appears to have entered the Norton family by the late 1700s through a man I believe was the father of an Asahel Norton born in 1806 in Pennsylvania.  This Asahel is my husband's 2nd great grandfather.  His son and namesake was born in 1845 as

Asahel Wellington Norton

In following the trail of Asahel W's life, it was interesting to see how many different ways the name Asahel was recorded.  Here's how it looked on a variety of documents:

                   1850 US Census - Asahel W, age 5
                   1855 NY Census - Asael W, age 9
                   1860 US Census - Wellington, age 15
                   1870 US Census - Norton, Wm A, age 24
                   1873 US Passport - Asa Wellington Norton though he signed the form A. Wellington Norton
                   1880 US Census -  A. W. Norton, age 35
                   1892 NY Census - Albert W. Norton, age 46
                   1900 US Census - A. W. Norton, age 55
                   1910 US Census - Wellington A Norton, age 64
                   1920 US Census - Asahel W Norton, age 74

Asahel died in 1927.  For years, the family only knew of him as A.W. and didn't know what those initials actually meant. But due to his association with the University of Rochester, we were able to get more details. Here is a snapshot of a listing from the University's directory:

I have never found a picture of any of these Asahels though I hope to do so someday.  I did find an interesting description of A. W. Norton in his 1873 passport application.  At the age of 28, Asahel W is described as being 5 feet 8 inches tall with a high forehead, brown eyes and a prominent nose.  His mouth as of medium size a regular tilt.  His chin was full on a square, rather angular face.  He had dark brown hair and  a rather dark complexion.  The most fascinating detail is that his right leg is about four inches shorter than his left.  I can't quite read it correctly but I believe the note is that his right leg is lame.  Still, Asahel went to Europe that summer, returning on 13 August aboard the S.S. California from Glasgow Scotland.  A few months later he married Martha Sampson, a young woman he met while boarding with her family as a teacher.

The name Asahel did not continue to the next generation.  But the middle name Wellington did - it was given to A. W.'s son, William Wellington, who I wrote about here.  I would conjecture that the name Wellington came from the very popular Duke of Wellington who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo in the first half of the 1800s.  Now my job is to see how many generations back I can take the name.  Is it only 3 generations or are there more?!?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

52 Ancestors #14: Mary A Norton - and how I got caught down the wrong tree

After a long hiatus, it's hard to get started again with blogging.  I had meant to write every Sunday about someone with someone who was born that month.  I got caught up in needing pictures, more information, etc.  ENOUGH ALREADY.  I need to just write about what I have to write about.  So here's my problem this week.

Mary A Norton

born around 1838

All I really knew about Mary A Norton came from the 1850 census of Groveland, Livingston, New York where she is listed in the household of Asahel and Sally Norton.  The record shows Mary A, age 12, female, born in New York.  And there it stops.  All we know is that she was probably born in 1838 in New York, most likely as a child of these two adults.  Interestingly, there is another Mary A listed as the wife of Calvin Norton, Asahel's brother, living next door!

Of course, that didn't keep the shaky leaves from popping up on my Ancestry tree.  And I followed them right down to a Mary Ann Norton of Wilkes-Barre, PA.  For some reason, I thought these two were one and the same.  I think it was on of those late nights and I kept right-clicking, saving and moving on.  I found a husband for Mary Ann, children, a death date etc.  It was a gold mine. But all along I felt uneasy.  This Mary Norton was shown as being born in PA not NY.  Of course, I'd seen that kind of thing before and also knew that the boundary between the two states was often crossed by the Norton family (Asahel was born in PA for example).  

I even put all this information on Family Search thinking I had found a new family.  Fortunately someone caught the error and pointed out the differences.  Now I am spending my Sunday going back and unlinking all these people who should never have been connected in the first place.

Where did my Mary A go?  I'm not sure.  There is a 20 year old Mary A Norton listed in the 1860 census as a teacher - though not a child - with the John B Norton family of Hartford, Washington, New York.  This would date her birth year to 1840.  Is this an uncle?  Hartford is a long way east of Groveland, but it could be possible if she was seeking employment.

Another family history mystery to solve with a lot of erroneous information created by ME that still need to be cleaned up!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

52 Ancestors #13: Robert Autry Brooks

NOTE:  I started this post on 3/30 and then never got back to blogging.  So I want to get this out - two months after his birthday but in plenty of time for Father's Day!! I will add the pictures I was waiting for later!

I have an extra week in March to play with (though I'm very late posting this - it should have been Sunday, March 30!).  But I couldn't find someone in our ancestral history born in March that I wanted to include - after doing three women last week, I was a bit drained!  So I picked my favorite male ancestor in the world: my dad.  Fortunately he only has a birthdate and his story is still being written.  Again I am missing all my pictures and information at home but here's what I have:

Robert Autry Brooks

My father was born in Russellville, Pope, Arkansas on April 3, 1929.  He was the youngest of two boys born to Ruth Autry and Walter Caswell Brooks.  I have written about his parents here, and about his brother here.  My father tells wonderful stories about growing up as a little boy in this small farming town on the Arkansas river.  There was always a lot of work to do on the farm and around the house.  He had chickens to feed, cows to milk and butter to churn. He went to the local elementary school where his mother and aunt taught. Here he describes some of his favorite childhood memories:

I have lots of childhood memories so to select the "best" is hardly possible. I think the most distinctive ones would be the trips out of town into the mountains and lakes of the Ozarks. When I was young and my father was alive, we would travel north of Russellville into the mountains and up to a farm that my family owned part of on the Illinois Bayou (that is the name of a river coming down west of Russellville). We would stop and have a picnic or visit with some other farmers. In later years, such as teen age years, the memory would be of Boy Scout camp at Camp Caudle. The camp was about 20 miles above Russellville, also on Illinois Bayou. It had been donated and the scout master, a wonderful teacher from Ark Tech named Mr Turrentine, had gotten rock cabins and activity center built. Every stay there was a great pleasure. 

                     This is Robert as a toddler with his older brother Walter and a neighbor (we think). 

After high school, Robert attended Arkansas Tech in Russellville Arkansas and then transferred to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville to complete his degree in Chemistry. Following the example of his uncle, Daniel Hill Autry, and his brother, he then applied to Arkansas medical school in Little Rock.  This is his story of an unlikely turn of events. In fact he called it one of the "craziest things" that happened to him.

The most unlikely thing that happened to me is probably the transfer from Arkansas Medical School to Harvard Medical School. And that was all related to a friend named Peter H'Doubler who was an outstanding student at University of Arkansas. He came there to play football and then ended up being Phi Beta Kappa at third year and president of the Sigma Nu fraternity where I got to know him, and in general, a BMOC.
I entered Arkansas Med School at the last minute because they had trouble filling the freshman class with qualified students. I guess no one wanted to be a doctor. Peter had gone to Harvard Med School which was still competitive. After 1-2 years, he was visiting his girl friend, later his wife Evelyn, in Arkansas. He told me I should transfer. Harvard Med School was used to taking additional students for the third year from the many two year med schools, which were just then expanding. I thought it unlikely but he told me to just apply, which I did. And I was accepted which surprised me. I laughed later when I got a note from Harvard Med School after they had accepted my transfer, asking me to send my med school transcript. So I figured they were hard up for students!

And such an unlikely event has made all the difference.  My father went on to intern in Salt Lake City UT where he met my mother, Jean Hammon.  Then they moved to Galveston TX where both my brother and I were born.  After starting in practice in Lincoln, NE, they settled in Phoenix AZ in 1968 where they live to this day.

Here are pictures of my folks at their lovely Sagewood residence.  Their story is still being told as they celebrate having a great-grandchild and continue to share their stories by email on a weekly basis.  I can't wait to add more as time permits.

It seems fitting that I could only find pictures of the two of them on my laptop.  They celebrated 58 years of marriage on January 19 2014.  An amazing couple who are examples to us all.

Monday, March 24, 2014

52 Ancestors #12: Three Hammon sisters born in March

If you have 15 children, there will obviously be several born in the same month.  Of the fifteen children born to my great-grandparents Levi Byram and Martha Jane Belnap Hammon, three girls were born in March.

Lettie, Robena and Ethel Hammon

Lettie (or Letty) Matilda Hammon was born on 13 March 1883 in South Hooper Utah.  She was the 8th child born to Levi and Martha.  Two of her previous siblings had died as infants and a third sister passed away just a month before she was born.  A brother died just two weeks later. So when Lettie grew up with only three older siblings.

Six years and two additional children later, Betsy Robena Hammon was born on 25 March 1889, also in South Hooper Utah.  She went by the name Robena and was known to my mom as Aunt "Bean".   Then an additional seven years and two more children (one of whom died as an infant) happened before Ethel Hammon was born on 16 March 1896 in nearby Roy Utah.

I can only give dates and facts here as I don't have my family history books with me.  But I'll come back later and fill in some details.

Lettie Matilda Hammon 

Lettie lived most of her life in Roy Utah.  She married Jesse Stoker on 10 July 1900 when she was only 17.  They had eleven children.  After Jesse's death in 1942, Lettie married twice more before she passed away on 24 September 1975 at the age of 92.

Betsy Robena also spent her life in the Weber County, Utah area. She married Lance (Lancelot) Greenwell on 14 November 1906, also at the age of 17. They were the parents of 7 children.  Robena died just a few days after her sister Lettie, on 2 October 1975 in Roy, Utah.  She was 86.  I wonder if there was a close connection between these two women.  Robena wrote a book about her grandparents that is a tremendous resource for our family (and is at home!).

Ethel Hammon McEntire
on her 50th wedding anniversary

Ethel stayed close to home, too, and lived in Roy or Ogden her entire life.  She married Horace McEntire on 19 December 1917 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  They had also had a large family of 6 or 7 children.  Ethel died on 17 May 1987 in Ogden Utah.

The family often got together for picnics and reunions.  I have a couple of group pictures that I enjoy. The first one is probably from the early 1900s, maybe 1908-1910 as my grandfather is the little boy on the left and he was born in 1898.

Levi Byram and Martha Jane Belnap Hammon and family
Front row: Martha, Levi, Polly
Middle row: Glenn, Jane, Lettie, Frank
Back row: Amasa, Rhoda, Robena, Ethel

 Here is a picture from the 1940s which I love as it shows my grandfather as a man with his siblings.

The three men are Amasa, Glenn (my grandfather) and Frank Hammon.  The sisters are Robena, Janie, Ethel, Lettie, and Rhoda.  I am so grateful that my family has recorded these times together so I can look back and know there was love and joy in the times they had.