Our Family Legacy
Caroline Tirrell was born August 26, 1824 at Wicken, Northamptonshire, England. Her parents were Jacob Tirrell and Elizabeth Billings. As a young girl she worked in a lace factory and also worked in homes as a nurse maid. She was married to William Norris Jr. 18 January 1844, and to this union nine children were born. The family was very poor and they suffered many hardships. Five of the children died in England. Alfred James, Elizabeth, Joseph, Heber Willard and Lavinia.
Wilford Woodruff and other missionaries came to their home and taught the family the Gospel and they were converted. Caroline was baptized 13 June 1850 by Samuel Reid and confirmed by him the same day. Her husband William was baptized 20 June 1850.
Matilda Norris Jones (Uncle Reuben Norris' daughter) gave me the following story:
"My grandmother was a lace maker by trade. Her master was a hard driver and each girl was required to make so many yards of lace each day. They worked ten or twelve hours a day and ate their lunch while they worked. She soon became an expert with the shuttle and could make as make as much lace each day as any of her associates. There was a poor orphan girl working near her, who had three brothers and a sister to support. This girl suffered from malnutrition and became ill and could not keep up with the other workers. Caroline would help her with her work and also share her lunch with her. One Monday morning she failed to come to work and it was learned that she had died and her brothers and sister were sent to the poor house."
Caroline was a tall, blue eyed girl and liked pretty clothes and was always neat and clean in her appearance. When the elders would come to visit the family, the blinds were always kept drawn as the Latter-day Saints were very unpopular. The police would come at 10:00 p.m. to see that all the lights were out. When they were baptized, they took an underground passage to the river so no one could see them, then they had to return home in their wet clothes.
Caroline was a wonderful housekeeper. She had a place for everything and everything in its place. Shoes were shined on Saturday night and the clothes all laid out for Sunday. She had a pretty flower garden, also a vegetable and herb garden and made medicine out of the herbs. Tansy, hemlock, yarrow, wormwood slippery elm and sage were grown in this garden. At Christmas time each grandchild was remembered with a bag of goodies. She made this bag out of bright colored mosquito netting. She always included a piece of her good gingerbread.
At the time of the Johnsons Flood, I remember going with Grandmother to the home of Brother and Sister Charles South, where a Fast Meeting was held in behalf of the stricken people. We fasted Saturday night and all day Sunday. Caroline gave clothing and the Randolph Ward gave food and clothing.
I was only five years old when my grandmother Caroline died and I can only remember seeing her once when she was sick in bed.
She left England with her husband and three sons; Walter, Reuben, and Hyrum Job, a daughter Emily and her brother-in-law Robert Norris. They were accompanied by the John Cox family, who later settled in Woodruff, Utah. It was a great trial to leave the old home where roses always bloomed around her door, her many friends and the five graves of her children in the cemetery, but she had embraced the Gospel and could not be free to live it in her native land, so she was willing to leave all and gather with the saints.
On May 5, 1866 the family set sail on the ship “Caroline”, which had 389 saints aboard. The leader of the company was Samuel H Hill. The ship landed in New York July 4, 1866. She crossed the plains in John D Halladay's Company, which was outfitted at Omaha, Nebraska. They left on July 19, 1866 with 350 souls in 69 wagons and arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah September 25, 1866.
Shortly after their arrival, Brigham Young sent them to Morgan, Utah to settle. Her husband and sons took up land and went to the canyon to get logs to build a house. They endured many hardships while living in Morgan. The grasshoppers destroyed the crops so they subsisted mostly on fish and game. One summer they raised a lot of peas which helped out with their meager diet. I remember my father telling me they could not get any grease to fry the fish in, so his mother tied them in a cloth and boiled them. The boys got work on the railroad to help out the family income.
In 1870 the family was called to settle in Liberty, Idaho. They passed through Randolph on their way. They only lived in Liberty one year and came to Randolph in 1871. They took up land and built a house where the Louis Cornia home now stands.
Caroline soon made the family comfortable. She liked pretty things and nice clothes and liked to take part in the Ward. President John M Baxter, who was afterward President of the Woodruff Stake for many years, said she sang at his wedding, so she must have been pretty good at singing.
She was endowed and sealed in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City October 9, 1876.
Agnes Norris Brooker, a granddaughter of Caroline's, said she visited her many times and stayed overnight. This was a poem she often repeated
“I might not throw upon the floor,
Agnes said when she slept at Caroline's house, she would always sit by the fireside and watch the flames flicker until it become quite dark, then she would light the coal oil lamp. When she went to bed, she would give each one a candle to undress by and then she would blow them out after they got into bed. Before going to bed, she would fix a glass of warm water for each member of the family, sweeten it, and add a tablespoon of gin; also give each one a cookie.
Arthur McKinnon, who lived next door to her as a boy said she often took him on her knee and patted him on the back and told him stories. He said she was always good and kind to children.
Caroline's granddaughter Mary Ann Norris, Walter's daughter, came to live with William and Caroline when she was only four years old. Caroline needed someone with her. Mary Ann lived with them until after she was married.
Caroline did not enjoy good health for several years prior to her death. She died 16 August 1894 at Randolph, Utah.
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