Norris Family.

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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)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Norris Family Papers, 1815-1960 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Abbott, James. person
associatedWith Adams, Charles Kendall, 1835-1902 person
associatedWith Allen, John, 1796-1851 person
associatedWith Alpha Delta Phi. Peninsular Chapter (University of Michigan) corporateBody
associatedWith Angell, James Burrill, 1829-1916 person
associatedWith Biddle, John, 1792-1859 person
associatedWith Brown, Prentiss Marsh, 1889-1973 person
associatedWith Burgoyne, John. person
associatedWith Cass, Lewis, 1782-1866 person
associatedWith Clark, Mary H., d. 1875 person
associatedWith Conant, Shubael, b. 1783 person
associatedWith Crary, Isaac Edwin, 1804-1854 person
associatedWith Dickinson, Donald McDonald, 1846-1917 person
associatedWith Ferguson, Homer, 1889-1982 person
associatedWith Ferris, Woodbridge N., 1853-1928 person
associatedWith First Presbyterian Church (Ypsilanti, Mich.) corporateBody
associatedWith Gray, Fanny, d. 1911 person
associatedWith Gray, Mary Bury, 1820-1909 person
associatedWith Horsford, M. C. Mrs., d. 1859 person
associatedWith Jones, J. Elizabeth (Jane Elizabeth), 1813-1896 person
associatedWith Jonkman, Bartel J. (Bartel John), 1884-1955 person
associatedWith Kirkland, Caroline M. (Caroline Matilda), 1801-1864 person
associatedWith Knapp, Andrew B. person
associatedWith Knapp, George. person
associatedWith Knights Templar (Masonic Order) corporateBody
associatedWith Lyon Lucius, 1800-1851 person
associatedWith Mapes, Carl Edgar, 1874-1939 person
associatedWith Marshall College (Marshall, Mich.) corporateBody
associatedWith Norris, Abbott. person
associatedWith Norris, Lyman, 1823-1894 person
associatedWith Norris, Maria, 1856-1938 person
associatedWith Norris, Mark, 1796-1862 person
associatedWith Norris, Mark, 1857-1943 person
associatedWith Norris, Roccena Vaill, 1797-1876 person
associatedWith Norvell, John, 1789-1850 person
associatedWith Palmer, Thomas Witherell, 1830-1913 person
associatedWith Presbyterian Church corporateBody
associatedWith Rogers, Abigail C., 1818-1869 person
associatedWith Scott, Dred, 1809-1858 person
associatedWith Sheldon, E. M. (Electa Maria), 1817-1902 person
associatedWith Taft, J. (Jonathan), 1820-1903 person
associatedWith Trowbridge, C. C. (Charles Christopher), 1800-1883 person
associatedWith University of Michigan corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Board of Regents. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. School of Dentistry. corporateBody
associatedWith Vandenberg, Arthur H. (Arthur Hendrick), 1884-1951 person
associatedWith Victor, Frances Fuller, 1826-1902 person
associatedWith Victor, Metta Victoria Fuller, 1831-1885 person
associatedWith Weed, Caroline. person
associatedWith Wheeler, Burton K. (Burton Kendall), 1882-1975 person
associatedWith Whittelsey family. family
associatedWith Woodbridge, William, 1780-1861 person
associatedWith Yale University. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Ypsilanti (Mich.)
United States
Grand Rapids (Mich.)
Antislavery movements--United States


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