The papers of the Norris family cover four generations, 1815-1960, in the lives of an Ypsilanti and Grand Rapids family. The first member of the family represented in the papers is Mark Norris (1796-1862). Mark Norris was born in Vermont, but by 1820 he was a businessman and postmaster in Covington, New York where he married Roccena B. Vaill (1797-1876). She was the daughter of James and Helen Compton Vaill and taught school in Covington. Mark and Roccena had two children, Elvira (b. 1821), who married Benjamin Follett in 1841; and Lyman Decatur (1823-1894).
Around 1828, largely because of anti-Masonic sentiment, the Norrises moved to the Ypsilanti, Michigan area. Roccena taught school briefly and Mark worked as postmaster while conducting other business interests. When his health failed in the late 1850's, the Norrises' son, Lyman Decatur, took over the family's business affairs.
Lyman D. Norris studied at Marshall College from 1839-1841. He then became the first student to matriculate at the University of Michigan in the fall of 1841. He studied further at Yale from 1844-1845 and graduated in 1845 with degrees from both universities.
Norris read law in Detroit with Alexander Fraser, was admitted to the bar in 1847, and began his practice in St. Louis, Missouri the following year. During the early 1850's he studied and traveled in Europe. In 1852, Norris participated on the state level in the Dred Scott slavery case as counsel for Scott's owner, Dr. John Emerson. Throughout his career in St. Louis, Norris was involved in local Democratic politics. Lyman D. Norris practiced law in Ypsilanti from 1854-1871 and then in Grand Rapids from 1871 until his death in 1894. In his later years he was fairly active in state Democratic politics and University of Michigan affairs, being appointed a regent in 1883.
Lyman D. Norris married Lucy Alsop Whittelsey of Middletown, Connecticut in 1854. They had two living children: Mark Norris (1857-1943) and Maria W. Norris (ca. 1858-1938). The son, Mark Norris studied at the University of Michigan and graduated from the law school in 1882. He practiced law with his father, Lyman D. Norris, for several years in Grand Rapids, and was very active in the Masonic Order being elected Grand Master in 1937. His son, Abbott L. Norris carried on the family law offices. Maria W. Norris was educated in Montreal and Boston. She studied medicine and later became a prominent Grand Rapids physician.
From the guide to the Norris Family Papers, 1815-1960, (Bentley Historical Library University of Michigan)
|creatorOf||Norris Family Papers, 1815-1960||Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan|
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|Grand Rapids (Mich.)|
|Antislavery movements--United States|