by Beverly Roberts, her great great-granddaughter
10 July 2001
Julia Ann NORRIS was born 27 October 1827 in what is now Nacogdoches county, the state of Tejas in Mexico, the first of 10 children born to John NORRISS (1804 LA-1881 TX) & Mary Sarah STOCKMAN (1811 Nacogdoches county TX Spain-1856 TX). Julia was married 31 May 1843, not yet turned 17 years old, in Nacogdoches county under the laws of Mexican Texas to James W. BROWN, almost 27 years old (born 20 December 1810 TN-after 1866) who is first recorded in the Tax Roll of 1837 in Nacogdoches county. They had 8 children, all sons. Julia Ann died 11 February 1917 Midland, TX & is buried alongside a son, Thomas Z. BROWN & his daughter Jessie Juanita in Fairview Cemetery. Thanks to another great great granddaughter in Coke county she now has a tombstone.
Julia's father arrived in Tejas at age 4, with his parents, about 17 years before Mexico gained its independence in 1821 & Stephen F. Austin's subsequent colonial grant from Mexico City. Texas A&M University In an article in "A History of Texas and Texans" by Frank W. Johnson, Volume V, published in 1914 by The American Historical Society, Julia states that her father's family arrived from Maryland & via Louisiana in Nacogdoches in "1804 & was granted 4 leagues & labors of headright land north of Nacogdoches, extending to Atoyache River, her grandfather (Edmund NORRISS ca 1757-1829) settling 12 miles north of Nacogdoches on a small tributary to Nacognich Creek". She also recalled that a permit was required from the Alcalde to plant certain amounts of seed & her father was granted less than a peck of tobacco seed. She mentions that a great part of their food supply came from deer & other wild game & their cornmeal was obtained by beating it up in a mortar. There were no schools. Not many Anglos were allowed to stay near the outpost of Nacogdoches by the Spanish government because of the lack of protection but the Norris' were one of 2 families permitted. At that time Nacogdoches had only a stone church & an old stone fort; homes were of logs, single pens 16 x 24 & double pens, facing South with a chimney either facing east or west & built of native rock. During the Texas Revolution her family loaded up their belongings on pack horses & fled the 45 miles to Louisiana for safety.
In an interview by L. W. Evans of the Dallas News in 1907 Julia states that it was some time before they had any wheat & then there were no mills or theshers & so tramped the sheaves with horses, then winded the chaff from the grain & made flour by the mortar process. She recalled meeting & entertaining Sam Houston in the zenith of his power in Nacogdoches (this supports the family legend of her dancing with him & being so small compared to his great height that she held onto his belt loops).
Sarah STOCKMAN was born in 1811 at her parents home Villa de Salcedo in
Nacogdoches county, the 8th child of Frederick Stockman (1749-1838)
DES BONNET/DISPONET (1771-1834). Handbook of Texas Online: Frederick
Joseph Anthony was also born in Nacogdoches county, at Atascosito in
Mary Sarah's wedding to John NORRISS on 6 December 1826, was officiated
John's uncle, national Alcalde of Texas 1825-1826 & of
1827 Samuel NORRISS (ca 1788-ca 1855), where he lived on North street.
the Freedonia Rebellion when he was deposed by renegade Anglos he
to Louisiana where he had been born & lived out the remainder
life. Handbook of Texas Online: Samuel Norris
1865 James W.
was discharged from the Confederate forces & returned home. He
& had had 7 sons with Julia, now aged 39: Elias R born
Daniel born & died 1847, John Riley 1848-1897, James Claiborne
William Albert 1854-1938, Thomas Zacharias 1857-1916, & a
or DC 1861-1869. According to the Texas & Texans interview
served in the Confederacy, along with 4 of Julia's brothers. Joseph
BROWN was born to Julia & James on 25 January 1866 &
April 1866 James
left for Mexico either to "settle the revolution of that time" or on a
"prospecting trip", according to the 2 above interviews, &
returned In 1870
James is still listed in the Census of Nacogdoches county as head of
1880 Julia is
listed as head of household in the Census of McCulloch county along
with 2 sons
Thomas Z. & Joseph S. According to the McCulloch County
lived in Browntown, later Stacy, where she & Susan Elizabeth
(1832-1908) were the 2 widows BROWN. Handbook of Texas Online: Stacy Tx
that time they were not related, there so far not being any connection
between James W. BROWN & Susan's husband Albert Burleson BROWN
who was killed in an Indian raid in the 1870's in Coleman county
buried near Leaday & Flat Top Ranch. However in 1877 in Brown
James Claiborne BROWN would marry Mattie C. BROWN (1853-1921), daughter
Albert Burleson BROWN & Susan E. UPTON. At about the same time
brother Albert Berry BROWN (1856-1891) would marry Mary Jane NORRIS
(1860-1914), niece to Julia Ann through her brother James Claiborne
In 1888, 27 October, James Claiborne BROWN in Brown county Texas
issued a power of attorney to Thomas MAPLES to obtain patents to any & all lands unpatented in the state of Texas in the name of James W. BROWN, especially a survey of 320 acres in Hamilton county & another in Milam county, for all the heirs of James W. BROWN: Julia Ann BROWN, J R BROWN, W A BROWN, T Z BROWN, J S BROWN. It is unknown at this time what became of this search. Please also note that Elias is not listed.
"W. A." Brown & Thomas Zacharias "Tom" Brown
Claiborne BROWN was killed, in what has been handed down as an accident
when his brother Joseph Samuel fired a signal shot from down in a
valley to alert J. C. up on a hill, to the cattle he had found.
In 1899, at age 72, Julia submitted a claim from Coke county for a Confederate Widow's Pension. An affidavit by her brother James Claiborne NORRIS swears that James W. BROWN served in Company H of the 4th Cavalry Regiment of Texas from 1861-1865, while James C. NORRIS served in Company A, 17th Cavalry Volunteer Regiment 1861-1865.
In 1900 Julia is again listed as head of household, in the Census, in Coke county, with only Thomas still living at home. The next house lists Joseph S. BROWN as the head of household with wife Lizzie, son Teddie & daughters Birdie & Dovie. There are many listings 1900-1910 of the buying & selling of various tracts of land in the Coke county courthouse by Joseph Samuel & his brother Thomas Z. & a few between them & their mother Julia. In 1901 Julia made another application for the widows pension & it was approved in 1902. Her post office at that time is listed as Sanco in Coke County Texas. Handbook of Texas Online: Sanco TX
In the above quoted interview of 1907 Julia is reported to be living near Gail Texas with her son Samuel on his ranch.
In 1910 Julia (age 83) is listed in the Midland county Census as living alone with a servant. There is an unsubstantiated story that by this time Julia was an invalid & woke up one night hearing scratchings at one of her windows. She decided it was an intruder & yelled out "Sam, get the gun". The scratchings stopped. The next morning when the scene was investigated a screen was found removed from one of her windows.
In 1913 from Midland Julia again applied for assistance as a Confederate widow. This is accompanied by an affidavit from her son Samuel & her doctor J. F. HALEY.
In May 1917 Julia's estate record is signed by her nephew Tom NORRIS (1876-1936, son of John Samuel NORRIS & Elizabeth CHOATE) as principal & her son J. S. BROWN. N. W. Ellis is listed as the undertaker with a balance due of $146.00 & the funeral home has furnished us with the date of her death, 11 February 1917. John Samuel NORRIS (1844-1930) was a stone mason & is believed to have built the courthouse in Brownwood; having settled in Pecan Bayou. Handbook of Texas Online: Pecan Bayou. He served in the Confederate forces in Company H, 4th Texas Cavalry, aka Sibley's Brigade; he was shot during battle in Louisiana below the left knee & through the tibia on the right leg with this wound never healing properly. He is said to have hunted buffalo with his brother William Nathaniel (1890-1947) ca 1870's on the plains of Texas (this would have been during the last years of Comanche freedom).
Handbook of Texas Online: Quanah Parker
Other Sources of information on this family:
James Claibourne Norris, 1829-1914, by Evelyn Owens
contributed by Evelyn Owens.