A Photograph, the Internet and Some Helpful Scots
The Norris House in Edinburgh, Scotland
This happened in 1997. I still am amazed.
Like many families we have pictures. We have several sepia toned pictures on card stock, labelled from an Edinburgh, Scotland photographer. We know these to be of the Henry Lee Norris Jr. family, taken in Edinburgh during the 1860s and 1870s when HLN was manager of the North British Rubber Company. Among the pictures is a picture of a house - actually of two very nice houses. On the reverse is the information about that same Edinburgh Photographer, and a note in my mother's writing: "Norris house?"
I had been reading the Usenet newsgroup, soc.genealogy.uk+ireland since it began in 1995. I decided to ask the readers for advice about how to find out if the house is still there and who it might have belonged to about 1865. I had an immediate reply from a man from near Edinburgh who suggested I scan and post my picture on a web page so people could take a look. I had a very basic web page (which was not much to brag about) and a brand new scanner - so I scanned the very faded picture, enhanced it as much as possible, and and put it on the web - and told soc.genealogy.uk+ireland where to see it.
I posted the picture below on Monday evening, February 10, 1997 with this caption:
Do you recognize this house in Edinburgh, Scotland?
Here is another picture - sent by one of my helpful Scots!
Now isn't that the same as the house on the left!
Found! the house in Edinburgh, Scotland is now the Grange Hotel.
Read about the house and the family who lived there.
The morning after I first posted my picture to Prairienet I had email from someone who told me he had been past the house in the picture, gave me the correct address, and told me it is now the Grange Hotel, a very nice hotel in a very fine neighborhood!!!! At least two other people went by before the day was over, too. The house with the turret is at 8 Whitehouse Terrace. And I had thought the house in the center of the picture was the Norris House.
Maire Black, who also wrote, was extremely helpful. She visited the library and looked in the Edinburgh Post Office Directories for that time period and found a D.D. Williamson first living at #8 in 1865-66. Williamson was manager of the N.B. Rubber company before Norris. The first reference for H.L. Norris being at that address is 1866-67.
Thanks to Maire and to Jim Floyd who sent me a brochure from the Grange Hotel. The picture of the hotel is scanned from a postcard Jim sent.
And thank you, also, Forrest Anderson who found a history of the North British Rubber Company which describes the founder as "Henry Lee Norris, a wealthy American" and has some wonderful information in it. It appears Norris was a very successful man. This is wonderful! Thank you all! I sent my cousins copies of all this information, of course, and told them about the web page.
UPDATE: in January 1998, I shared the North British Rubber Company information with a lady in Scotland whose great-grandmother used to work for the company. She had written to soc.genealogy.britain (the uk+ireland group has been reorganized into .britain and .ireland) asking if anyone knew anything about this company. When I sent her the story about the company, I included a printout of the picture of the Grange Hotel and told her some of the story I have here .... and her reply was amazing! She stayed in that hotel one night on her honeymoon!!! Small world!
UPDATE: December 1998: My email this month contained a message from a man who had happened to find my web page (the Prairienet one which preceded this one) and this story. He goes regularly to the Grange Hotel and told me he was going to pass on my story to the owners and the people he sees there.
Here are the owners (or maybe renters) - the Henry Lee Norris Jr. family:They lived in the house with the turret from about 1865 to about 1870. That's Eliza, always known as Lillie, (my great-grandmother) standing in back with Henry III. Seated are Ada, Henry Jr, Maria and Will. The house was occupied by Henry Lee Norris, Jr. about 1865-1870. On the back in my mother's handwriting it says "Norris home in Edinburgh?". The photos are both on heavy cards and were taken by J. Moffat, Edinburgh.
I had two addresses in Edinburgh for HLN:
8 Waterhouse Terrace, Waitehouse, Edinburgh, which came from an address label on a trunk, .... turns out it should have said 8 Whitehouse Terrace - or maybe I misread it.
or Castle Mill & Fountain Bridge, Edinburgh, Scotland, which came from the address on a piece of mail. That one is almost right. Fountainbridge should be one word.
From the information from Maire,
1858-59 Norris, Henry Lee, N.B. Rubber Co., Castle mills, Fountainbridge. -House 48 North Castle Street.
About Henry Lee Norris, Jr - my great-great-grandfather.Henry Lee Norris Jr. born 22 Sep 1813 in Salem, Essex Co., MA; died 16 Apr 1881 in Princeton, Mercer Co., NJ; buried in Princeton, Mercer Co., NJ. He married (1) on 2 Nov 1837 in Salem, Essex Co., MA, Sarah King Churchill Norris, born 5 Oct 1813; died 9 Oct 1840, daughter of Benjamin King Churchill and Clara H. (Eaton) Churchill. He married (2) on 27 Oct 1847 in New York, NY, Maria Schaeffer Hoxie, born 5 Aug 1823 in New York, NY; died 14 Nov 1889 in New York, NY, daughter of Joseph Stanton Babcock Hoxie and Eliza (Blossom) Hoxie. I own a portrait of Maria, and have a gold medal she won in a mathematics competition in 1840. The medal is a seven pointed star and is engraved with the binomial theorem on one side and Maria's name and "Rutgers Female Institute" on the reverse.
NOTES:HLN Jr. had patent for vulcanizing rubber - obtained in Brazil - (the Portugese had the secret - he got it) .. was in Scotland with the North British Rubber Company - Mother has a trunk of his - contains Company letters (takeover.. fire.. patents.. also diaries of him and his wife ... Henry Norris Russell's birth recorded in one of them)
Above calendar copied from notes taken by HLN III in conversation with HLN II in 1880
- 1831 HLN II went to NY to enter David Perkins' drugstore aged 17 years. He received his board. He remained here till 1836 receiving salaries of $300, $400, $500. Failing to agree with Perkins' successor Chas Thomson he:
- 1836 took charge of India Rubber Warehouse of W.S. Armstrong, agent of Roxbury I.R. Co. at a salary of $1500 and made $300 more in commissions.
- 1837 married Sarah Churchill, his stepsister.
- 1840 Wife and child died; lost property & health, travelled, did commission business until 1842.
- 1842 Went to Para, Brazil to instruct Campbell & Co how to get or make rubber shoesets, returned at the end of the year.
- 1843 Took place of Dodge in Dodge & Cumming until 1845
- 1845 Went to Para in Bishop, Norris &Co. for 7 years receiving salary of $1500 & 1/3 share of profits of business, paying interest at 7 1/2% on $5000 share of capital.
- 1847 Married Maria S. Hoxie in New York.
- 1852 Came home w family to 26th St New York & afterwards to Staten Island. Paid visit to England to stimulate India Rubber.
- 1855 Took Ford & Meyers India rubber ??? to Edw's Sist. recvd salary of 600 pounds and 1000 present at end of 1856
- 1857 Converted Norris & Co. to joint stock North British Rubber Co.
- 1860 Came to New York, dissolved partnership with J. Bishop & Co.
- 1866 Received management of NBR Co at salary of 1400 pounds and percentage bringing it up to 2000 pounds
- 1870 Retired in favor of WEB to whom he gave 1000 pounds a asst. At this time property had accumulated to $140,000 which yielded income at 8%
- 1872 Income was 13,000 - partly commissions for NBR Co.
- 1880 Property had shrunk to $110,000 .. income between $7000 and $8000
- 1881 (Mar 15) HLN II died at Princeton NJ
Trunk:Belonged to HLN Jr. - When it was still in Indiana at my parents' house I took photographs and recorded on tape Mother & me commenting on the contents inside. I now have this trunk. The trunk used to be covered in leather. - now horse hair shows. Labels on trunk:
- Norris Edinburgh and
- HL Norris Princeton .. also
- London and Southwestern RR and
- South Western RR to Waterloo and
- Mr. Norris, 8 Waterhouse Terrace, Waitehouse, Edinburgh. Perhaps that is the address of the house.
Trunk contents include: envelope with 1852 postmark to:
- Henry L. Norris Esq, Castle Mill & Fountain Bridge, Edinburgh, Scotland from Capt. George Balchen, Lindsay Bro, chief broker, Rathbone Bros, Liverpool ..