Sunday, September 27, 2015

Donhead St Mary Church and John G. Norris

     In the most recent posting I discussed the marriage record of James Norris and Eleanor Knype.  They were married in Donhead St Mary, Wiltshire, England in 1791.  Based upon baptismal records, they continued to live in Donhead St Mary Parish for about sixteen more years.   By my count Eleanor gave birth to twelve children between 1791 and 1807.  Several died in childhood but there are at least twelve records at Donhead St Mary.  Several more children were born in America.
   Wiltshire County is in the south-west England and Donhead St Mary is in the south-west portion of Wiltshire.   Donhead St Mary is about 30 miles north of Bournemouth and about 50 miles south-east of Bristol.
   Since so many family events occurred in this location, I needed to take a virtual trip.  Google Maps and a few internet searches found some needed information.  The church was started in the twelfth century and is still in use today.
   Another interesting connection is the name of my 3xGreat-Grandfather John Gilbert Norris.  His middle name (or middle initial) does not appear in the index of baptisms but appears on many subsequent documents.  The minister at Donhead St Mary around the time of John G Norris was Rev. Gilbert Jackson3.  John Norris was ordained many years later.
Donhead St Mary Church1  Photo by Simon Burchell

Interior of Donhead St Mary1 Photo by Simon Burchell

1. This file is licensed under Creative Commons  Attribution- Share Alike 3.0 Unported license Photo by Simon Burchell
2.   Jane Freeman and Janet H Stevenson, 'Parishes: Donhead St Mary,' in A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 13, South-West Wiltshire: Chalke and Dunworth Hundreds, ed. D A Crowley (London: Victoria County History, 1987), 138-155, accessed September 15, 2015,
3.  "Assignment by Rev. Gilbert Jackson to Rev. William Lisle ..." 2015. 22 Sep. 2015 <>

Monday, September 21, 2015

Eleanor Knype and James Norris

      James Norris and Eleanor Knype Norris are my 4xGreat-grandparents.  I first came across them when they were mentioned in a Union County History1.  On a trip to Harrison County, Ohio, we visited The Harrison County Genealogical Society, which is located in The Historical Society's building in Cadiz, Ohio.  These societies had rescued a large number of documents from the dump, among which was the 1820 Naturalization Record for James Norris.

The body of that record reads:
        James B. Norris aged fifty years Born in the County of Wilshear [sic] , England & Parish of Dunhead [sic], Removed from that to Novoscota [sic] and from thence to New York, arrived at New York within The United States of America from Novo Scota [sic] on the twentieth day of May in the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred & seventeen owing allegience to George the third King of the United Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland and intending to settle in the State of Ohio hereby reports himself for the purpose of being admitted to the rights of Citizenship within the United States, and prays that a record may be made of the same

July Ten 1820   J B Norris

     Last weekend, I was able to track down some new birth and marriage records. (new to me)  I haven't really done much research across the Atlantic, primarily because I was busy filling in the holes in the USA portion my existing family tree. (a British genealogical website) had a free weekend access and so I decided to give it a try.   I didn't find any original records but I found transcriptions of a number of vital records.  Among them was the Marriage License Bond record for James Norris and Eleanor Knype of Donhead St Mary, Wiltshire, England.    It is sort of nice when records match. 


1.  Durant, Pliny A. The History of Union County, Ohio,. Chicago: W.H. Beers, 1883.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Walking in His Footsteps

     Recently Jayme and I spent a little time in Park City, Utah and while there we drove over the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway into Wyoming.  The Scenic Byway ends in Evanston and is about 30 miles from Fort Bridger.  
     Prior to becoming a fort this was the site of Jim Bridger's Trading Post.   Before 1853, the transcontinental trails (including the Oregon and California Trails) passed by this post.  
     In 1849, my father-in-law's great-grandfather, James T. Lorton, traveled from Missouri to California along the California and Lassen Trail.  So most likely he would have passed by and spent time at Jim Bridger's Trading Post.  While at the location of the re-creation of the Trading Post we were able to walk along the path of these trails.   
A re-creation of Jim Bridger's Trading Post
It gave me chills to walk along the California Trail.
This wagon is standing along the original trail in front of the Trading Post.
     It is unfortunate but while traveling to California in 1849, William Lorton and Elizabeth Williams Lorton, James' parents both passed away.  We are not sure of the exact location of their death or burial.  But in 1849, James Lorton arrived in California as a fourteen year-old orphan.