Biography - John Norris

JOHN H. NORRIS, M. D., one of the leading physicians of Metropolis, was born in Marion County, Ky., August 29, 1830. His father, Moses Norris, was born in Virginia, and his father, Thomas Norris, was born in Ireland, and, from the best information obtainable, is believed to have been of Scotch ancestry. He and his brothers, William and James, were the only members of the family that ever came to this country, and they all settled in Virginia. The grandfather of Dr. Norris resided there until about 1825, and then emigrated to Kentucky, accompanied by his wife and child, making the journey by means of an ox-team. He purchased a tract of timber land on the Rolling Fork of Salt River, cleared a farm and lived there until 1840, when he came to Illinois, and spent his last days in Tazewell County. The maiden name of his wife was Judith Rogers. She was a native of Virginia, and died in Tazewell County, Ill. She and her husband reared eight children: Moses, William, Susan, Mary, Thomas, John, James and Joseph. Moses Norris was reared to agricultural pursuits and bought a tract of land in Marion County, Ky., on which he resided until 1832, when he sold out and emigrated to Illinois, accompanied by his wife and child. They made the journey on horseback, carrying their son in their arms, and located in Tazewell County, twenty-five miles from Bloomington and fifteen miles east of Peoria.
Mr. Norris chose a tract of Government land near the site of the village of Mackinaw, and was one of the first settlers. At that time northern Illinois was practically uninhabited, and Chicago as a city had not yet been heard of. He entered three hundred and twenty acres of land, erected a cabin of round logs, and commenced at once to improve his farm. In 1840 he sold this land and again started for the frontier, making an overland journey to the Territory of Iowa, settling in Black Hawk, and purchasing about twenty miles north of Cedar Rapids, near Cedar River. At that time all the land in that part of the country was owned by the Government. He made a claim and began to improve the land, but found the winters too severe for him, and in 1843 he sold his claim and removed to near the Osage River, Mo., and in 1845 settled permanently near Rolla. Here he was successful in his operations, and erected good buildings and accumulated a large stock of cattle and horses. During the war that part of the country was infested with guerrillas, and his buildings and fences were destroyed, and his stock stolen, entailing upon him a loss of $20,000. He then removed to Rolla and lived retired until his death. The maiden name of his wife was Keziah D. Tucker, a native of Kentucky, and a daughter of Matthew Tucker. She died in Rolla, Mo., having reared four children: John H., Annie, and Sarah and Mary, twins.
John H. Norris was in his second year when his parents moved to Illinois, hence he has no recollection of his native home. He attended the pioneer schools of Tazewell County ten weeks in the winter before his eleventh birthday, and the school he attended he entered as its teacher at eighteen years of age. He acquired his education with the aid of his mother by the kitchen fireplace, and sometimes by the old-fashioned sheet-iron lamp with the canton cloth rag for a wick, and supplied with bear and 'coon oil. This was the start of what the world now acknowledges to be an educated man, not only in his profession but as a literary man of ability. While engaged in teaching he studied medicine, and in 1856 graduated from the St. Louis Medical College, after which he immediately began practice in Mulkeytown, Franklin County, Ill., remaining there until 1857, when he removed to Sulphur Springs, Williamson County, and was engaged in practice there until 1860. He then removed to Grantsburg, Johnson County, Ill., and continued in active practice there until December 21, 1863, when he enlisted in Company M, Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry, of which company he was commissioned Captain. He served with this regiment until August, 1865, and was in command of the regiment the greater part of the time, on account of the absence and sickness of his superior officers. Among the most important battles in which he participated may be mentioned Prairie Du Anne, Camden, Pine Bluffs, Mt. Elba, Little Rock Road and Bayou Metoe. After his return from the war he practiced medicine in Grantsburg one year and then removed to Vienna, Johnson County.
Our subject remained in Johnson County until 1870, when he removed to Carmi, where he practiced one year and then returned to Vienna and remained there until 1873, when he removed to Metropolis and has been engaged in law practice here ever since. He was first married to Martha McMahan, who was born in Alabama, and died in 1870. In December, 1870, he married Celia Handley, a native of White County, Ill., who died in 1881. His third marriage occurred in 1882, to Anna Lukens, of Cincinnati, Ohio. He has three children living by the first marriage: Miscal, Peter Hoche, and Lillian, widow of Pleasant J. Carson. By the second marriage he has one child living, Bella, wife of A. J. Jacobs; and by the third marriage he has one son, John H., Jr.
Dr. Norris is a member of the Chosen Friends; of Lodge No. 86, I. O. O. F.; of Orestes Lodge No. 268, K. P.; and of Tom Smith Post No. 345, G. A. R. He was for some years Secretary of the Massac County Medical Society, and has served as Vice-President of the Southern Medical Society, of which he is still a member. He is also a member of the Southwestern Kentucky Medical Association. Politically, Dr. Norris is a Republican, and religiously he affiliates with the Methodist Episcopal Church, as does also his wife, who is a zealous worker in that denomination.

Extracted 16 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 372-373.

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