Research Trip to Wilcox County, AL 17 May 2004

By , May 24, 2004 2:15 am

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.”

Source: Reposted from LiveJournal on 11/8/2011,


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