Norris family ancestor was a South Carolina native

Published 1:57 am Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Norris name is well known in the Covington County area, especially since Berley Bascum “B.B.” Norris served for any years as Fire Chief for the City of Andalusia. Today’s column will cover some of his ancestors and relatives, but more information is needed for a more thorough review.

The earliest ancestor identified by this writer was Toliver Norris who was born in 1794 in South Carolina. He had migrated to Alabama by 1834 when he was married in Montgomery to Rebecca “Beckie” Quarles or Qualls who was born in 1802 in Georgia. Toliver lived until 1878, and died in Pike County. Beckie died in 1871 in the same area.

Toliver settled in Covington County before moving later to Pike. He acquired two parcels of land from the government in 1855—39.90 acres and 120.05 acres in the Valley Grove Township, which is north of Opp. The next year, 1856, a John Norris purchased 119.70 acres in the Beulah Township. (John could likely be the brother of Toliver Norris.)

Toliver and Beckie reared the following children: Jim; John; Allen Mitchell, b. 1835, d. 1922, m. Mary Ann McLeod; Sarah Ann, b. 1841, d. 1936, m. John Daniel Piland and had four children: Mary Jane “Mollie,” b. 1848, d. 1944, m. Jeff Layfette Manring and had four children; and William Tolbert “Bill,” b. 1851, d. 1925, m. 1873 Martha A. “Mattie” Harrison and had eight or nine children.

This family will be continued through the families of Allen Mitchell Norris and that of William Tolbert “Bill” Norris. Allen Mitchell appears to have remained and reared his family in Pike County where his parents were for a period of time. He was married to Mary Ann McLeod (1842-1907). They had the following children: Sarah Mallissa, b. 1860, d. 1941, m. Joseph Thomas Ogletree; James William Lewis, b. 1863, d. 1937, m. Frances Eugenia Bruce; (twin) Joseph Lee, b. 1865, d. 1942, m. Martha Ella Fair Walden; (twin) Millie Josephine, b. 1865, d. 1901, m. Willie R. Locklar; Augustus Monroe, b. 1871, d. 1961, m. Callie Emma Locklar; Franklin Lafayette, b. 1874, d. 1949; and Emma Elizabeth, b. 1882, d. 1972, m. Edward Richmond “Eddie” Locklar.

The other son, William Tolbert Norris, moved from Pike County to Coffee and finally to Covington County by 1910. In 1880, he was residing in the Darbys community of Pike County; in 1900 in Dannelly Crossroads in Coffee County; in 1910 in Opp, Covington County; and in 1920 in the George precinct of Covington. In the early 1870s, he was married to Martha A. “Mattie” Harrison, daughter of James “Jim” and Elizabeth “Betsy” (Davis) Harrison.

William Tolbert and Mattie reared the following children: Ella, b. ca 1872, m. J.C. Dannelly; John Toliver, b. 1874, d. 1941, m. 1896 Catherine Gatlin (1878-1950); Mary E., b. 1876; Samuel James, b. 1879, d. 1975, m. Laura Anna Smith (1881-1946); Malissa “Babe,” b. 1883, d. 1956; Allen Daniel “Dan,” b. 1885, d. 1931, m. (1) Flora E. Smith (2) Ruby ?; (?) Bunnie, b. 1888; Lena “Lenie,” b. 1890, d. 1971; and William Joseph “Bill,” b. 1893, d. 1948.

In 1888, a William L. Norris homesteaded 159.58 acres of land in the Valley Grove Township, which adjoined that of Toliver Norris, so there is likely a close relationship, which is not known to this writer. It is possible that this William L. could actually be William Tolbert Norris. In 1896, William L. Norris, Jr. homesteaded 160.06 acres of previously reserved railroad land in the Valley Grove Township.

There was a William L. Norris enumerated in 1880 in Darbys, Pike County, in 1900 in Dannelly Crossroads, and in 1910 in Opp. His wife’s name was listed as Martha, and this could be Mattie. Also, the children’s names match those of William Tolbert and Mattie Norris, so it appears that William L. and William T. could be the same person.

John Toliver Norris, the oldest son of William Tolbert and Mattie Norris, was born in 1874 in Andalusia, and was living in Florala when he died in 1941. He was married in 1896 to Katherine “Katie” Gatlin (1878-1950), daughter of Harmon Sion (1839-1923) and Martha Ann (Henderson) (1837-1881) Gatlin. In 1910 they were residing in Opp, and in 1920 and 1930, they were in the George precinct.

John Toliver and Katherine Norris reared the following children: Arney Folster, b. 1897, d. 1910; William Dalton “Willie,” b. 1899, d. 1991, m. Odessa Sauls (1904-1971); Jesse Allan, b. 1901, m. Martha ?; Daniel Destin, b. 1902, d. 1989, m. 1921 Clara Evelyn Mitchell (1907-1973); Bertha Mae, b. 1905, m. John Young Mock; Birdie Arizona, b. 1907, m. ? Biggs; Johnny Preston, b. 1907; Minnie Mae, b. 1910, m. ? Adams; Obie Joseph, b. 1914, d. 1988; and Dallas Franklin.

The son, Daniel Destin Norris, grew up in the Opp area where he attended the Rock Hill and Cantaline Schools. He began working in farming and later engaged in sawmill work and shipyard work. He worked for the City of Andalusia for some 23 years. His wife, Clara Mitchell, the daughter of Joe Helms “Jody” (1885-1969) and Pachia Ardella (Barfield) (1892-1966) Mitchell, was the oldest of seven children. After marrying Daniel she became a full-time homemaker.

Daniel and Clara reared the following 12 children: Berley Bascum “B.B.,” m. (1) Lizzie Boyette (2) Ann Hudson; Eleanor Lucille, m. J.D. Bailey; Nellie Marie, m. Herman Kelley; Johnny Foy, m. Loyse Gleason; Cora Lee, m. (1) Chester Woodham (2) Paul Byrd; T.J., Margaret Rabren; Farris Collon, b. 1935, m. Barbara Ann Dillard; Evelyn Clara, m. (1) Maybury Strickland (2) George Shubert; Hazel Loraine, m. Pete Soles; Sara Alice, m. (1) Morris Holland (2) Dick Nadeau; Carl Elden, m. (1) Betty Sue Gleason (2) Joy McGougin (?); and Paul Eugene, m. (1) Jane Driggers (2) Ruth Morgan.

The son, Farris Colon, worked 30 years with the Andalusia Fire Department and in 1982-1984 owned the Norris Fire Extinguisher Service. He and his wife, Barbara, daughter of Robert Reynolds and Nettie Bernice (Gates) Dillard, reared three children: Larry Collon, m. Sandra Elva Pastor; Kimberly Denise, m. Thomas Neil Arrington; and Toni Melita, m. (1) Daniel Cowen Hudson (2) Joseph Willie Thornton.

Sources for today’s column include a family story written by Farris Collon Norris for The Heritage of Covington County, Alabama; Wyley Ward’s Original Land Sales and Grants in Covington County, Alabama, and


Additional genealogical data is needed on the Norris family to allow a more thorough review. Anyone who might have such or who might have any corrections to the above is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or email: