David's Reformed Church Congregation

David's Reformed Church Congregation
Congregation of David's Reformed Church, Montgomery Co, Ohio, Circa, 1900

Monday, February 1, 2010

Madness Monday - Joshua Hammond Norris

Searching for information about my great great grandfather, Joshua Hammond Norris and his first wife, Sarah Alice Munshower Norris, has certainly fallen into the category of adding to my "madness" many times. So, I felt it appropriate for today's "Madness Monday" prompt to tell a little of my trials and tribulations relating to the search for Joshua.

7 years ago, all I knew of Joshua was this photograph and a page in the Norris family Bible that stated that Joshua H. Norris married Alice C. Norris. Then, are sorting through some papers at my mother's I found a letter sent to my great aunt Grace from her cousin in Maryland detailing the Norris family ancestry. Jackpot! Wow, this is just what I needed. I wouldn't even have to work that hard now that I had all the names. I could just "plug" these into Ancestry.com and I was home free. Yeah....

At first, it seemed liked that was true. The information I had on those papers seemed to match Ancestry pretty closely. I did have a few problems though. Joshua's wife wasn't included on the papers. They began with Joshua's father, Amon and his wife, Mary Ann Miller Rouzer. But, that didn't stop me from printing out ancestry reports for all of my mother's family, detailing our Norris family history. However, a few months later, I began studying the Maryland Archives, looking through court records online. It was while I was doing this that I discovered a court case regarding my 5th great grandmother and it wasn't the lady I had named in my ancestry report! It was quite a detailed court case though, listing the name of my great great grandfather, Amon Norris, his father, and his mother, and his grandmother whose name was Hannah Hammond. When I read it, it made sense why Joshua's middle name was "Hammond".

Oh no! Amend that branch of the tree....quickly.

I don't know how the previous researchers got it so wrong, but it seems that there was quite a bit of "following the leader" going on because many people had the incorrect name.

Then, I set about researching Joshua and Alice's immediate family. I knew, again from the family Bible, that "Alice Norris died in 1888". I found Joshua, Alice, Harry (my great grandfather), Effa, and Vincent in the 1880 census, living in Creagerstown, Frederick County, Maryland. Prior to 1880, the only census information I can find on Joshua is the 1850 census when he is 11 years old and living with his parents, Amon and Mary. From 1850 to 1880, I can find no record of Joshua. Maddening is the fact that there is another Joshua Norris living in Frederick County during that same time period. That Joshua married a Catherine McBride and they seem to appear just about everywhere with regularity. I have no idea what Joshua did between 1850 and the time he appears again in 1880, other than marrying Alice. I don't know when or where they were married, which is frustrating as well.

Alice herself is another story entirely. She appears in the 1880 as "Alice" and on the gravesite of their daughter, Flarance, as "Alice", but everywhere else she is known as "Sarah A. Norris". I'm not sure where the "Alice C" in the family Bible came from, but the cemetery and census records are what I chose to ascribe to. From their daughter, Effa Norris Rowe's obituary, I learned that Sarah's maiden name was Munshower. I haven't found anything yet to confirm this, but I believe she is the daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth Munshower.

Sometime after Alice died in 1888 (at only 40 years of age), Joshua married Amelia Cahill. After his death on 3 January, 1908, he was buried with Alice in Mt. Tabor Cemetery. I have found a great deal more information about Joshua than I knew a few years ago, but there is so much more to know....and sometimes it does drive me a little mad!


  1. Thanks for stopping by!

    Ah, yes, the whole "follow the leader" thing. I must agree with your comment to me that so many of us are experiencing that same problem! How funny that you also have the problem with the varying names for one person.

    Hopefully we will figure some of it out someday.

  2. Thanks Lori for sharing your experiences about Joshua Norris. I agree with what Wendy wrote, so I won't repeat here. Many women seemed to go by two names, often I've thought it was a second wife, but it wasn't. Good article.

  3. Oh, yeah, I have been led down so many detours by erroneous family research. Even when starting from the point of skepticism, we still have to "disprove" the errors ...