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!