Our Family Legacy
William Norris Jr. was born December 13, 1819 at Old Stratford, Northamptonshire, England, the son of William Norris Sr. and Ann Walton. His parents were very poor and as they could not pay the requited tuition, William did not have much schooling. He had to go to work while very young to help with the family income.
There was a cotton mill in Stratford and some farming, but I do not know what occupation he followed. I have heard that he was a boatman. I remember his telling this story. He said he was going home on a boat with his week's wages in his pocket. When he pulled his tobacco out of his pocket his purse came with it and fell into the water. He felt so badly and was so angry at himself that he threw his tobacco in the water and that was the end of the tobacco habit. His family suffered many hardships, being deprived of his wages that week. He also worked for a farmer who gave him a pound of butter and a gallon of milk to take home on Saturday night and that was all the butter and milk the family had until the next Saturday. It was a real treat.
William married Caroline Tirrell 18 January 1844. To this union nine children were born, namely; Alfred James, Walter, Reuben, Hyrum Job, Joseph, Heber Willard, Elizabeth, Emily and Lavinia. Five of these children died and were buried in England. They lived in a home which consisted of one large room downstairs and two upstairs.
Wilford Woodruff and other missionaries came to their home and soon the family became interested in the Mormon religion. When the Elders would visit and stay overnight with the family the blinds were drawn as the Mormon were very unpopular in the neighborhood and were sometimes handled roughly. William Norris was baptized 20 June 1850, by S. Reid and confirmed the same day by this Elder. The ice had to be cut for the baptism but he has no ill effects from this ice immersion.
As the children grew up and were schooled in the gospel the family all looked forward to the time when they could gather with the Saints. The children earned what little they could and the older ones pooled their resources to help pay for the journey to America. On May 5, 1866 William Norris, his wife Caroline and three sons, Walter, Reuben, Hyrum J. and a daughter Emily, also a brother, Robert Norris, left Liverpool on the ship “Caroline” which carried 389 saints. The leader of the company was Samuel H. Hill and place of landing was New York. The voyage lasted six weeks. The ship docked in New York harbor July 4, 1866.
This company came across the plains with ox teams outfitting at Omaha, Nebraska, leaving there July 19 in Captain John D. Halladay's company. There were sixty-nine wagons and 350 souls. The John Cox Company travelled with William Norris. William and John Cox were good friends. This family bought a cow and often shared the milk with the Norris family. A son, Hyrum Cox, died on the ship and was buried in the ocean. Another son, Heber Cox is now living at Woodruff, Utah. They endured all the hardships incident to pioneer travel with ox teams and arrived in Salt Lake December 25. 25, 1866.
Brigham Young sent them to Morgan, Utah. William and his sons each took up twenty acres of land and started to get logs to build a house. They endured many hardships in Morgan. The grasshoppers devoured the crops so they subsisted mostly on fish and game. I remember my father, Hyrum, telling us they couldn't get grease to fry fish in so his mother would boil them in a cloth rag. One summer they raised a lot of peas which helped out with their meager diet. The boys went to work on the railroad.
In 1870 they were called to settle Liberty, Idaho together with four other families, and passed through Randolph on their way. They remained in Liberty one year and in the spring of 1871 moved to Randolph. They took up land and built a home on what is now known as the Bill Fearn lot. At this time Randolph could boast a post office, with William Howard as postmaster, Edwin T. Pope was a shoe cobbler, William Howard, blacksmith, and a saw mill owned by James and David Huff.
A log meeting house was built in Randolph that first year and finished with a shingled roof, which was the first shingled roof in town. There were about twenty log houses with dirt roofs in the town and the sage brush was cleared from the streets. The family was glad to settle down, clear the brush and build roads, canals and bridges. The frost took the crops year after year, so the boys had to go and work in the timber every winter, or the railroad to earn money to help with the family expenses.
Walter married Rose Hannah Parker while in Morgan and the other boys married soon after. Reuben to Elizabeth Brown, Hyrum to Selina Hoffman. Emily married Joseph Bowden and moved to Vernal and soon the parents were left alone. William's brother Robert died November 1888 and was buried in Randolph. Their grand-daughter Mary Ann Norris lived with them most of the time from the time she was four years of age until she was married.
On August 16, 1894 William lost his wife, Caroline, after an extended illness. He was seventy-five years old and felt that he could not live alone, and he came to live at Hyrum Job's home. He liked to visit his other two sons and many grandchildren. He walked uptown most every day and would stop in at Walter's and have dinner with Rose Hannah. On Sunday he went to church when he was able, and that was most of the tine, as he enjoyed good health up to a few weeks before he died. He was always kind and considerate of us children. He died November 21, 1907 at Randolph, Utah.
My grandfather was William Norris and his wife was Caroline Tirrell. Grandfather was born in Stratford, Northamptonshire, England on December 18, 1819 and Caroline Tirrell was born in Wicken, Northamptonshire, England August 26, 1824.
My grandparents heard the gospel in faraway England. It was brought to then by Wilford Woodruff. Grandfather was baptized by S. Reid 20 June 1850.
My grandparents had a good home in England. Grandfather was a farmer by trade and he often entertained the missionaries and helped them. Whenever a missionary was at their home they had to keep the blinds drawn, so that no one of other religions would find them. This couple had nine children, five of whom were buried in England.
Three sons and one daughter heard the gospel and came to America with their parents. Namely; Walter, Reuben, Hyrum, and daughter Emily, all living true to the faith which they had embraced. They left their home, friends, and everything dear to them to come and join the saints where they could live the gospel. Leaving England May 5, 1866 they arrived in New York July 4, 1866, crossed the plains in Captain Halladay's company and arrived in Salt Lake City, September 25, 1866. Grandfather was called that fall to help settle Morgan. He and each son bought twenty acres each, making eighty acres in all. My father, Reuben, a boy of seventeen years, helped get logs from the canyon to build a log room for their home.
The family was no sooner settled in Morgan than they were called to help settle and colonize Liberty. Idaho. They left with four other families and stayed one year. Then they were called to help settle Randolph, Utah in May 1871. William died in Randolph November 21, 1907.
William and Caroline Norris lived in Morgan Utah, and worked on the railroad. When the railroad was first being put into Ogden they were present at the driving of the Golden Spike.
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