September 19th, 2004
|12:16 am - Military Records Arrive . . . Finally!|
Opened mail last week and found that Dad's records from the Natonal Personnel Records Center had arrived. I was elated!
Among the papers was his citation for the Bronze Star with a "V" for valor. It read:
"For heroic achievement in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States. On September 1 1950 when an infantry batalion with which Sergeant First Class Norris was serving as liaison sergeant bore the brunt of a determined attack by hostile forces in the vicinity of Haman, Korea, an enlisted man was seriously wounded and in need of immediate medical attention. Normal channels of evacuation had been closed by the enemy who had encircled the position. Sergeant First Class Norris, heedless of the deadly fire, carried the wounded man through enemy lines a distance of two miles to a point where he could be evacuated. Sergeant First Class Norris' outstanding courage and selfless regard for the welfare of his comrades reflect the highest credit on himself and the military service."
I'm a proud of him today as I was when I first read the original of this 45 years ago. Somehow the letter was misplaced which prompted my sending away for it. Also received a list verifying all the medals he was entitled to. The replacement medals came yesterday.
Current Mood: impressed
June 25th, 2004
|06:17 am - Trip to Alabama Archives|
Finally got over to Montgomery and the Archives. Wasn't exactly a bust but didn't find the breakthrough info that I was hoping for.
1867 Voter Registration List:Only able to look at this on microfilm which was unreadable for the precincts I'm researching. Archives in process of refilming and digitizing these records and was not able to look at actual registers. Told they are heavily water-damaged and quite fragile.
1867 Voter Registration Lists Available on self-service microfilm. This series was created in accordance with an act passed on March 2, 1867, "to provide for a more efficient government of the rebel States," and particularly to extend suffrage to the millions of freedmen across the south. All adult black and white males who had sworn an oath of loyalty to the United States were eligible to register to vote. Included is the person's name, race, length of residence in the state, county and precinct, the book and page where his oath is recorded, naturalization information, and reasons for rejecting some registrants. Arranged alphabetically by county, thereunder chronologically by date of registration.
Loyalty Oaths 1867-8Not exactly a perfect substitute for the voter Registrations which also list race but at least something! Found great-grandfather:
Loyalty Oaths. In order to regain their voting rights under the Reconstruction Acts of 1867, men who had borne arms against the United States or otherwise actively supported the Confederacy were required to swear an oath of loyalty to the government of the United States. This series consists of bound volumes of the loyalty oaths from each county and from the major cities in the state. The oaths contain the voter's name, county of residence, his oath swearing loyalty to the United States government, his voting precinct, and the voter registrar's name. Arranged alphabetically by county. Some volumes are closed due to their fragile condition.
Clark Thomas No 1082 dated 2 July 1867Also looked at the Chattel Mortgage Records (1870-1871) and the Chancery Court Minutes (1848-1868). Didn't find anything on my main lines.
Tax Collector, Tax Abstracts 1907-1911 and 1912-1916 Found Robert Norris and J. Henry Norris. Both paid taxes on personal property. Neither owned any real estate. Sample entry for Robert in 1910:
Alphabetical listing of the taxpayers of the county, a breakdown of assorted taxes, total taxes due, address of each taxpayer and fees assigned by assessor.
Beat 3 Receipt #859 Paid 10/28 Name Norris Robert Value Real Estate -- Value Personal Property $180 Toal Taxes $2.52Could not photocopy because these record books were in such fragile condition. Archivist suggested I photograph them. Took 36 pics. Got back on photo disc today. None of them came out ! !
June 12th, 2004
|06:17 pm - There's always something new under the sun|
Well, not new new . . . not newly created . . . but newly discovered.
I remember a time when folks told those of us researching slave ancestors that we would NEVER find them. While it's still hard to get over the 1870 brick wall, it's getting easier and easier. Not only are records that were once accessible only by scholars now being made routinely available but records are being newly uncovered.
Take for instance this case in NC where a researcher found that the 1860 Camden County census listed the names of slaves.
And in Alabama, archivists discovered ledgers just lying around in the basement which turned out to be 1867 voter registartion rolls. Together with the 1866 census they would make the first records after Emancipation wherein former slaves were recorded by name.
Records I have to research when I go to Montgomery (Tuesday, for sure!):
1. Chattel mortgage records to search for any mention of Papa Norris.
2. 1867 voter registrations to search for ANY of my surnames. Unfortunately the 1866 census taker did not record Blacks' names in Wilcox County as was done elswhere in Alabama. To do: check to see if there is another "copy" of the 1866. Maybe an earlier one lists individuals.
Current Mood: optimistic
June 11th, 2004
|04:08 am - Robert has to be there somewhere!|
I have spent several hours over the past week going over the 1870 Wilcox County census for Rehobeth and Prairie Bluff precincts. Using 1872 and 1938 maps the county I've been letting my fingers do the walking and literally travelling the roads much as the census taker would have done in 1870. Here are my working assumptions:
1. Robert is just where he was for the next 50 years but his name is misspelled or he's listed under another first name or nickname and/or a surname other than Norris.
2. Robert isn't in these places. Instead, he's somewhere else in Wilcox County or in nearby Dallas, Marengo or Perry counties.
3. Robert wasn't enumerated anywhere. Somehow he was just missed.
I've exhausted numero uno with this last foray. Robert would have been 9 or 10 in 1870 and the only boy that age that I find where I expect him to be is one listed as Robt with no last name enumerated in the HH of Becca Mixon (p. 41 (227), dw #402). The Mixon surname dovetails nicely with C. George' Mixon's story about Papa and Mama Julia being related somehow.
Still, I'm not satisfied with this conclusion; hence, my continuing to search. I need to find another Robert or some corroboration that he was a Mixon before I 'm convinced.
Still trying to make it over to the Alabama Archives to look at the chattel mortgage books and the newly uncovered 1867 voter registration books. Due to budget cuts, only open one Sat per month and that was last weekend. Cloed Mondays. Will try to do Tue or Wed.
June 1st, 2004
|03:04 am - Army 1st Sgt.Theodore Norris|
Dad and I spent Memorial Day talking about his military career. He mentioned that he was drafted in the Army in 1942 when he was 24 years old. Started me looking for records online and found him in this great database a little while ago.
Title: World War II Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 6/1/2002 - 9/30/2002
Creator:National Archives and Records Administration. Office of Records Services - Washington, D.C. Modern Records Programs. Electronic and Special Media Records Services Division.
Level of Description: Series from Record Group 64: Records of the National Archives and Records Administration
Series: World War II Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File
This series has records on about nine million men and women who enlisted during World War II in the United States Army, including Army Reserves and the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps. NARA scanned War Department microfilmed punch cards on enlistments to support the reconstruction of the military personnel records at its National Personnel Record Center. Because of the microfilm's poor condition, approximately 1.5 million records could not be scanned. Also, the file has no records for Army officers, members of other services or enlistments for other time periods. In general, each record has the serial number of a soldier, person's name, state and county of residence, place of enlistment, date of enlistment, grade, branch, term of enlistment, place of birth, year of birth, race, education, civilian occupation, marital status, and component. These records present unique searching challenges.
Photo of Army 1st Sgt. Theodore Norris
Current Mood: impressed
May 31st, 2004
|10:37 pm - Taking a Sidestep|
Frustrated as all heck. Not making any progress on Dad's Norris or Thomas lines so thought I'd spend some time on Mom's Caribbbean folks.
Was intrigued by a posting I saw on one of the AfriGeneas boards about DNA tests turning up Colombian ancestry. Lights, cameras! Remembered the entry in a ship manifest for my g-mother stating that her last permanent residence was Santa Marta, Colombia. Posted that info to the board and got back a response with information about Jamaican migration to Panama. GM Gladys was supposed to have been born in Cuba and at some point emigrated to Jamaica.
Feel like I'm onto something. Not sure what but will explore this further. Now back to my highest Brick Wall!
Current Mood: frustrated
May 24th, 2004
|10:31 am - First Cousins|
Wanted to record this before I forget. There was a discussion in my genealogy class about first cousins and I finally went back and counted my own. Seems I had 56, i.e. Robert Norris had 59 grandchildren that I know of. Been at this so long that I no longer think in terms of raw statistics but Robert's 27 (known) kids only had 59 children. And amazing how many of those children were childless. This entire line is being perpetuated by only a few very prolific families. I knew that somewhere in the deep recesses of what's left of my brain but it's coming into my consciousness again as a result of this discussion. Hmmmm.
Current Mood: contemplative
|02:49 am - Phone Call to Alabama Archives 21 May 2004|
Phoned the Research Room at the Archives to verify that the Chattel Mortgage records that I identified on Monday were indeed at the Archives. Told that books were there. Will call this week or put in a research request via website to have someone check the indexes before I drive over to Montgomery.
Current Mood: sleepy
|02:15 am - Research Trip to Wilcox County, AL 17 May 2004|
Took a trip down to Wilcox County on Monday 17 May 2004 to continue doing research on Dad's Norris line. Learned last year that some old ledgers had been found in a county office building annex and were on the garbage heap to be thrown out when discovered. Also the Wilcox County Historical Society contacted the Family History Library to film estate and other records, the originals of which were still in drawers in the Probate Office and disappearing at an alarming rate.
The old ledgers turned out to be Chattel Mortgage Records books. The ones in the local history room at the library dated from 1914 (Vol 134) through the 1940s. Many volumes were missing. Some had sustained a good deal of water damage and the edges of pages crumbled when touched. I was only interested in the pre-1920 books as most of the Norris ancestors and many of the Thomas ones had left Wilcox County for Selma, Birmingham and points north by that time.
Through Crop Lien records was able to establish that Mama Julia's family (Jim Thomas, Please Hodges, and Caroline Thomas) all lived on the Hayes Plantation. This is significant because had once heard that Robert Norris was said to have a brother named John Hayes who was White.
The Alabama Archives Wilcox County records finding aid indicated that Chattel Mortgage records dating from 1854 through the early 1900s were held in Montgomery. Will have to get over there ASAP.
No mention of Robert Norris which might mean that either 1) he was such a successful tenant farmer that he never had to borrow a cent or, 2) that he was related to Lee McMillan so was able to farm the land under special circumstances. This is what I'd always heard, i.e., that he enjoyed special privileges because he was related to 'them."
Current Mood: sleepy
May 16th, 2004
|02:04 pm - Lo!|
Let the show begin.