Willard & Related Families

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  • ID: I8990
  • Name: Charles NORRIS
  • Sex: M
  • Death: BEF 1806
  • Note:

    Charles probably lived in Washington Co., PA. where his father was. [This part of Pennsylvania and the West Virginia Panhandle was all part of the District of West Augusta in the 1770s.]

    ( Lyman C. Draper Manuscripts, interview with Robert Jones in Kentucky) says that Charles Norris moved across the Ohio river before 1779, the first white settlers in Ohio.
    "Charles Norris, and a woman named Bilderback, at the mouth of Short Creek above Wheeling, hadn't been married, it was said, and moved over to the other side to avoid the law. This was the first man and woman that lived in Ohio. He was there & this woman with him, when I came, August 1779, in first block house ever built in Ohio. It was on the upper side of Short Creek, right at the point. That was a stopping place, & crossing place for those who went out and over land jobbing. They then thought that preemptions could be made in Ohio, as well as in Ky. This until it became Congress land. I had an improvement there clear of timber, some old Indian village, I suppose. Norris got a still house on this side, & moved back over, and three or four years after, one day jumping from a little wagon, instead of springing forward, and throwing it back, he went straight up, and fell down on the standard, and was killed. 'Twas said he and her were never married at all."
    [See: http://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/ky/ky-footsteps/2000b/v00-147.txt ]

    From notes of Frank Hiett Rhea (1871-1926) "William Norris Jr, brother of Elizabeth, was jumping with some other men later in his father's wagon shop and fell on a standard of a little truck wagon and was killed."
    Charles is not listed in his father's will (1806), so he may have died before then.

    In 1779 Charles Norris had crossed over the Ohio River and built the first blockhouse ever built in what is now Ohio. Other settlers joined him in this settlement, called Norristown (located 11 miles down the Ohio River from present-day Steubenville).
    In 1782 he was still living on the west side of the Ohio.
    He would have been aware and maybe a part of the tragic events of Mar. 1782 when a militia group, following the Lt. Col. David Williamson, marched into Ohio and massacred about 93 peaceful Christian Indians (men, women, and children) who had been converted by the Moravian missionaries. Charles Norris may have been in this group.
    See: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~gwilli824/moravian.html

    The Norristown settlement was illegal, breaking the treaty with the Shawnee and Delaware Indians in Ohio, so Federal troops had to demolish it. In 1785 Army troops burned cabins and removed settlers.
    See: http://home.nycap.rr.com/smallfamily/reed-edgington.htm
    The settlers felt they would eventually be given title to the land, so by the next spring there were more cabins built. That spring, April 1786, the soldiers destroyed 35 houses, one being that of James Jolliff of "Noriss Town." This time the government succeeded in permanently closing the settlement, and thereby probably saving all the settlers from massacre by the Indians. The next year (1787) Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance allowing settlement in the Northwest Territory (Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois).

    During this time there were several other illegal attempts at settlement in Ohio.
    [See related story at: http://www.shawhan.com/fry.html
    In this example, James Fry in 1786 built a cabin on the Ohio side of the Ohio River about 30 miles downstream from Pittsburg. This man's house was also destroyed by the army, and he moved to Kentucky in 1787-88.]

    Some Sources:
    - Boyd Crumrine, "History of Washington County, Pennsylvania with Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men" (Philadelphia: L. H. Leverts & Co., 1882).

    Below is an interesting census entry (relationship unknown). This is not the same Charles, but it's interesting that he was a wagonmaker, as Charles' father probably was.
    1850 census - Lake County, Ohio Perry Township
    Charles Norris 43 M wagon maker - b Vermont

    Father: William NORRIS b: in Virginia?
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