Russell Success Stories
Margaret Edmondson Olson's
Russell Success Stories

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, 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 where to see it.

I posted the picture below on Monday evening, February 10, 1997 with this caption:

-(photo) Norris House?-Do you recognize this house in Edinburgh, Scotland?

 Here is another picture - sent by one of my helpful Scots!

-(photo) The Grange Hotel-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.

-(photo) Norris Family-

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.


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


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:

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