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J. T. Norris

J. T. Norris, merchant, Newton, Baker County, Georgia, son of Thomas and Frances (Myr1ck) Norris, was born in Chambers County, Alabama, in 1843.

His father was born near Yorktown, Virginia, in 1807. When he was about ten years old his father died, and he was taken in charge by his uncle. A few vears later he left his uncle and worked in a blacksmith shop until he saved money enough to buy a horse. He then came to Georgia on horseback, and stopped in Macon, Georgia, where he engaged as overseer with Hon. Henry G. Lamar, with whom he remained several years. In the meantime he had married, and decided to go to Alabama, which he did, and lived some years in Chambers County. Returning to Bibb County, Georgia, in 1852, with his family, he purchased land in Baker County, and settled his negroes on it, and in 1856 settled his family there. He engaged extensively in planting, and lived on this plantation till his death, which occurred in 1874. Mr. Norris’ mother, who was a devoted member of the Methodist church, died in 1875, aged fifty-nine years. Of eleven children born to them, four died in childhood, two—Abner H. and Samuel A.—died after reaching maturity, and five are living: J. T., the subject of this sketch; Julia F., wife of John Bowman, Macon County, Georgia; C. E., merchant, Newton, Georgia; Lucia O., wife of S. J. W. Livingston, Albany, Georgia; C. F., merchant, Newton, Georgia.

Mr. Norris was raised and educated in Bibb County, and when seventeen years of age joined Cobb's Legion—going from Baker and enlisting in Dougherty county—and remained in the service until the surrender. With his command he participated in the most important battles fought by the army of northern Virginia, and came out of the service as adjutant of Wright’s Brigade (he entered the army weighing ninety-four pounds, and left it weighing 156). Mr. Norris was wounded—not dangerously—three times, never missed a day when able to be on duty, never was sick except a few days with small-pox, and missed roll call only three days.

After the war he returned to Baker County and farmed until 1868, when he engaged in merchandising. In 1873, on account of the panic, he returned to his farm, which occupied his attention several years. He next went to Decatur, Alabama, and went into the restaurant business, which he continued until the yellow fever drove him out. He then returned to Newton, and re-entered the general merchandise business, in which he is now successfully and profitably engaged. He is a shrewd business man, one of a high sense of honor, and throws his whole soul into whatever he undertakes.

Mr. Norris married Miss Mattie O., daughter of James C. Lark, of the mercantile firm of Hammond & Lark, Hamburg, Macon County, Georgia. One child only—Thomas P.—has blessed this union, who is now a student at the university at Macon, Georgia. Mr. Norris is an unadulterated democrat, and took a very active part against the third (or populist) party; is a Master Mason; a Knight of Honor, a member of the Legion of Honor and an influential member of the Presbyterian Church.

Source: Memoirs of Georgia, Containing historical accounts of the states civil, military, industrial and professional interests and personal sketches of many of it’s people, Volume I, The Southern Historical Association, Atlanta, Georgia, 1895.

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