Our Family Legacy
Walter Norris Sr. was born February 17, 1846 in Passenham, Deanshanger, Northamptonshire, England. He was the son of William Norris and Caroline Tirrell. He was the second child of a family of nine children. His father was a boatsman by trade.
What little education Walter received he received in the schools of England. The first job that he could remember having was herding black crows off from a large estate in England. For this work he received an equivalent of 25 cents per day. He was apprenticed out to a brick maker and learned to make brick. By this means he earned the money to pay for the transportation of his family to America.
The family were converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having joined the Church and been baptized in England. At the time they left England the family consisted of father, mother, three boys and one girl. The other children having passed away. On May 5, 1866 Walter and his parents and brothers and sisters sailed for America on the ship ''Caroline'' from London. The ship had 389 saints aboard and was under the presidency of Samuel R. Hill. During the crossing one of the Cox boys died. Walter was asked to help lower the body overboard, which he did. Otherwise the crossing was uneventful.
They arrived in New York June 11, 1866 going from there to the Saints in Utah. They left Council Bluffs, Iowa in the company of Captain John D. Halladay July 19, 1866. Walter was the oldest living child of the family at that time. He was given the job of teamster. He walked by the side of the wagon and drove an ox team all the way to Salt Lake City. He was twenty years old at the time. They arrived in Salt Lake City September 25, 1866.
Walter delighted in telling his grandchildren how with the other young men and children of the company he would crawl around on his hands and knees in the dark hunting buffalo chips to keep their fires burning while crossing the plains.
After their arrival in Salt Lake City they went to Morgan, making their home there. The grasshoppers were so thick and did so much damage to the crops that the farmers turned to the Union Pacific Railroad for work. Brigham Young signed a contract to grade ninety miles of the right of way being laid through Weber Canyon and a great number of men from Morgan and all other valleys turned out to work on the railroad. By this means money became more plentiful.
Walter went to work for the Railroad, but not on the grading job. He worked on the long tunnel in Weber Canyon. He was considered very good at holding and turning the drill for the man on the Jack hammer and was holding the drill when the tunnel was day-lighted. This was one of the high lights of his life. He never grew tired of telling the story of day-lighting the tunnel. Much of the hard work done on the tunnel was done by hand. The jack hammers were heavy, weighing from fifteen to twenty-five pounds apiece and the man turning the drill had to be an expert to keep from getting hit with the hammer.
They had fun along with the hard work and made bets as to who could hit the hardest blow, move the most dirt, and they made a contest to see which shift would day-light the tunnel. The winning team was to be given free supper and dance by the losing team, so of course both teams were out to win.
Walter was working on the night shift and as they went to work one night they tapped the walls to see how much farther they had to go by the sound. The foreman told them to take it easy that night or the day shift would day-light it. So they did. The next night they discovered that the day shift had had the same idea. They had taken it easy too. They then knew they really had to work if they day-lighted the tunnel. They worked hard all night and when they only had one hour of their shift left, they still had two hours work to do. The foreman was a powerful man and an expert with the jack-hammer. He took the hammer and changed the men off at holding the drill. The dirt really flew and it kept the men busy trying to keep the dirt out of the way and the drill clear. They day- lighted the tunnel and won the free supper.
Rose Hannah Parker came into Morgan on one of the first trains. She was a young girl of fifteen, a convert from Leicester, England. At that time the settlers were having a lot of trouble with the Indians driving off their cattle and carrying off the women and children. Brigham Young advised the young people to get married. Walter and Rose Hannah were married March 15, 1870 by President Brigham Young in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. He was twenty-four years old and she was not quite sixteen.
They were sent to Liberty, Bear Lake, Idaho by Brigham Young to help settle there. They lived there one year and their first child, Elizabeth Mary, was born there March 24, 1871. In 1871 they were called to help settle Randolph.
Walter was a good marksman and when the town was out of meat he would go out with his gun and supply it. One time while he was out a blizzard came up and Walter got lost. Roaming around and trying to find his way, he saw a light. He went to the light and found it to be an Indian camp. The Indians took him in and gave him something to eat. The next morning they took him to Bear River and Walter got home safely. He never forgot this experience and was always good to the Indians.
After he and Rose Hanna were married and started raising their family, Indians would come and ask he for "Bisquit" meaning something to eat. One day a new Indian came with the group, but the children played with the Indians unafraid. Finally Rose Hannah looked around for the children and Elizabeth was missing, so was the new brave. Walter was hot headed and went out to look for the Indian, but the other Indians stopped him and said "Give us time. If he sees you coming he may kill the girl". They felt they could get her back safely. So they set out to look for her and later did come back with the child. Walter never saw this strange Indian again, but later when he went to Evanston, Wyoming he saw the Indian's new grave. Walter felt he had paid the price for his treacherous act.
Walter lived in Randolph the remainder of his life. He took an active part in church and community affairs. They raised a large family being the parents of fourteen children. They buried two of the children as infants.
Walter loved to fish and hunt all of his life. He took a trip to Nevada to visit his daughter Mary Ann and her family because he had been told fishing there was the best. He had a very delightful fishing trip with Mary Ann's sons and husband out in Ruby Valley, Nevada. Walter continued hunting and fishing even in his old age, killing his last deer at the age of eighty-two.
Walter died at his home in Randolph June 27, 1933 at the age of eighty-seven years and five months. He is buried in the Randolph Cemetery.
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