Category: Alabama Roots

Photos of William Hutchinson Norris and James Reece Norris

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By , November 9, 2011 4:26 am

Received this email from Doc Jones back on 5/10/2011. See any family resemblance?

For a good many years there has been some conflict about photos of some of the early Norris Family Members…. I just got this from Francisco Daniel in Brazil and I am confident that the photos contained in this email are correctly attributed…I would appreciate it if you guys would send this email to other family members who are not in the sent to list…..Thank you very much……doc jones sends

—– Forwarded Message —–
From: Kito <>
To: Doc Jones <>
Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 1:40 PM

William Hutchinson Norris and James Reece Norris

William Hutchinson Norris and James Reece Norris


Flanagan, Hayes, Kelley, Jones, Brooks, Edwards, Strother

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By , June 17, 1999 7:27 pm

Need leads on Flanagan, Hayes, Kelley, Jones, Brooks, Edwards and Strother in Wilcox and Marengo counties. Possibly also in Dallas or Perry counties.

Hi folks. After another long hard period of researching my g-grandparents and gg-grandparents (I work in bouts until I plateau), I found what looked to be info on them only to discover yet anther surname that needs to be followed. In addition I’m interested where they lived just after emancipation and who the land belonged to (they were slaves then tenant farmers their entire lives). I’m hoping that armed with this info I can find the names of their last slaveowners.

Although I’m not asking for anyone to do my work for me, I’d like to hear from anyone researching the lines mentioned below. I need help to make sense of all this conflicting data so that I can do as directed and focused research as possible.

So!, here’s where I am right now on this line:

While researching my paternal grandmother’s THOMAS-EDWARDS line (Julia Thomas Norris, Clark Thomas – Caroline ?, Mary ? m. Philip Jones – Calvin Edwards m. Susie ?), I found what appears to be my g-grandparents’ marriage license dated 10 Nov 1867 in the Wilcox County Colored Marriages 1868-1869, p.14-15: “…between Clark Thomas a freedman and Miss Caroline Brooks”. This is the first time I’ve ever come across the surname Brooks. Had previously thought my g-grandmother’s maiden name was Edwards. Tried to verify Brooks so looked for a record of her mother’s marriage to her last known husband. Found nothing in the Colored Marriage records but while searching the index of what was labelled White marriages, I came across: Philip Jones and Mrs. Mary Brooks on p.27 who were married “…at the Flanagan Plantation” on 11 July 1868.

Everything but race seemed to fit and when I checked the 1860 Census to see whether there was a Flanagan Plantation in the area where I know my grands and g-grands last lived, I found the household of Bennett Flanagan. What’s more, it was listed just before the household of W.S.W. Hayes.

This is significant because on g-grandma Caroline Thomas’s death certificate, it says she was buried on the old Hayes place! That was circa 1930 but today that land including the little African American cemetery belongs to a Black Shaw family, and before that it was owned by White Strothers.

This land is in the Catherine-Boiling Spring-Consul area, on either side of Hwy 28 (the road to Consul and Thomaston) and straddles the Marengo-Wilcox county line and borders Perry and Dallas counties. Three Black churches closely associated with my ancestors are situated on these properties: Bethel AME on Boiling Spring Rd in Catherine, Boiling Spring Baptist on Hwy 28, and Sidney Chapel AME in Consul. Boiling Spring Baptist was originally located on the road to Gastonburg.

Other landowners in this area whose names have popped up from time to time in my research are Kelley, as in the old Kelley place (which today is next to the Shaw place) on Hwy 28, and Jones.

ANY, ANY leads beyond the census enumeration appreciated. Especially interested in land, property and slave records and inventories. Will be researching in Wilcox, Marengo and Dallas counties this summer. My goal is to find these ancestors listed in some record prior to 1870 and to find the families that brought them from South Carolina (and possibly Georgia) circa 1830-1860.

Thanks for reading this far,

B.J. Smothers

Source: Reposted 6/15/2014 from ALDALLAS-L Archives:

A (modest) Success Story — at last!

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By , October 22, 1998 7:55 pm

Whenever someone on the list reports an advance in their research, no matter how minor, I’m so happy for them and encouraged. My own research has been stalled for years but reading about the success of others after similarly long periods of drought keeps me plugging away. I also admit to feeling just a little twinge of envy (along with joy for them) while reading their reports and having to fight the overwhelming urge to abandon what sometimes seems a futile pursuit. That little voice in my head keeps telling me to get a life! (I’m sure y’all know exactly what I mean).

Last week, though, I had a few days to waste so went to Selma, AL to do a some digging in the Dallas and Wilcox County libraries and dragged my dad along hoping that just being in Selma and the Wilcox County countryside would jog his memory and he could fill in some blanks. Dad is 81 but was the baby of his family and have to say that he couldn’t remember very much that I didn’t already know (I think it was probably more frustrating for him than for me). Was also disappointed that his 88 year old cousin who lives in Selma and who had been our guide in the past was suffering health problems that prevented his accompanying us “down to the country” this time. Needless to say I wasn’t expecting much.

But, I’m thrilled to report, I found my g-grandmother’s grave site (which I’ve been seeking for a while) and those of two of her daughters, AND, after all this time, I actually discovered something new that’s set me off in a different (and potentially productive) direction in the search for my paternal ancestors’ slaveholders.

We already knew that ggrandma Caroline’s grave wasn’t in the cemetery of her church, Bethel AME Church in Boiling Spring (Catherine), but was back in the woods someplace. She died in the ’30s and the few relatives who could remember her funeral couldn’t recall exactly how to get to the grave site. What I can’t understand is that NOBODY told us that a wonderful gentleman named Elijah Shaw who’d been superintendent at Bethel for the past 58 years lived on the grounds and knew where EVERYTHING concerning black folk in that part of the county was!

Mr. Shaw took us onto a farm some miles down the road from the church, then a mile or two along a dirt path on the property, through a barbed wire gate (which looked like a solid fence if you didn’t know where the opening was), another half mile or so through tall grass, across a stream, then left then right and a half mile through woods and then up a hill. The little cemetery was at the top!

You should have heard me a-whoopin’ and a-hollerin’ when after looking around for a while we found a well preserved narrow cement marker partly buried and hidden by weeds that read:

In Memory
Of Sister
Carolion (sic)

Born April
The 8, 1842

Died Aug.
The 19, 1933

My dad dug it out and laid it alongside the larger headstone of one of her daughters (I have mixed feelings about his having moved it but it probably wasn’t originally where we found it anyway).

Afterward, Mr. Shaw took us to another cemetery just over the Marengo County line (who’d a thunk!) and showed us where another of Caroline’s daughters and her whole family were buried (Sidney Chapel AME Zion Church in Consul). Then we visited Boiling Spring Baptist Church down the road from Bethel which was Caroline’s mother and my gggrandmother Mary Jones’ church. She wasn’t buried in the cemetery on the grounds but Mr. Shaw said the church had been moved from its original location when the road we were on was blacktopped and the old dirt road through town fell out of use. He told us that we could find the old site by taking the dirt road through the village of Gastonburg and past the Fluker Pond. Didn’t have time to before nightfall but will on next trip.

While were riding from place to place Mr. Shaw kept up a steady stream of chatter. (And, no, I DID NOT have a tape recorder! Take heed folks: be prepared for anything! My poor daughter was busily scribbling as fast as she could trying to get some of his recollections on paper.) In passing he pointed to a knoll in the distance and mentioned that one of Caroline’s sons had lived in the old “Kelly House” over there. My dad perked up then and said that he remembered that the house was “enormous”. Mr. Shaw added that it was because it was the “big house”. At that point my jaw dropped to my lap and I almost lost control of the car turning to look! But the more I queried him about it, the less he was able to tell me so I just shut up and listened.

My grandmother’s people were named THOMAS, EDWARDS, HODGES and JONES and these were the slaveholders’ names I’d been researching. KELLY! Never would have gone there! Sure enough, back at home, I found white Kellys living cheek by jowl with my ancestors in the 1870 census. Don’t know why I never thought to pursue it before but I will now!

Well, that’s my success story this past week. Even if I come across nothing else for a while these finds are enough to sustain me for a bit. And even though I didn’t bring a tape recorder I did have my camera and took lots of pictures. Had the camcorder too but neither my father or daughter could operate it while I drove!

Have a couple of suggestions for other things to keep in your car “just in case”: a GOOD map of the area — DOT county maps are the best; lots of film and more film; old shoes or sneakers and heavy socks or, better yet, boots; a small shovel, pruning shears and a pair of work gloves; band aids and insect repellant; newsprint and charcoal to make rubbings.

Thanks for indulging me and wishing everyone a Mr. Shaw and some modest successes,

B.J. Smothers

Source: Reposted 6/15/2014 from AfriGeneas List Archives:

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