Finding Your Folks: James and Mary Herndon Norris

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

I'm going to pick up on a family from last week - James and Mary Herndon Norris, a member of the Norris family of Walton, Gwinnett, Fayette, Campbell, Douglas and Cobb counties. When I mentioned them a couple of weeks ago I had no idea that someone would pick up on this particular couple. I was thrilled. I had very little myself. But Pat Vermeer wrote and gave us a little more information for which I am very grateful. Let me give you a little of what I have, then I'll tell you some of what Pat said.

James C.H. Norris, born about 1831, probably in Walton County, was the first son, and second child, of John "Jethro" and Mary Johnson Norris. Jethro and Mary appear in the 1830 Walton County census and in 1840 and 1850 in Gwinnett. In 1830, they had one daughter, my GG grandmother, Sarah Ann Norris (later Fowler). By 1840, they had added James, Joel, William J., Lucy Ann and Temperance. By the 1850 census, they added John, Lucinda, Henry, Linsey and Reuben J., and by 1860 they added their final daughter, Mary Catherine, born in 1854, probably in Fayette County.

I'll pick up here with Pat's email. This is what she wrote back on July 18:

"Hi Judy,

 "I read your column on the Web today and got a complete surprise!! I have been searching for the Norris family for some time and could not break through the brick wall. When I read that Sarah Ann was a sister of James C. Norris who married Mary Herndon, I could have jumped for joy!! James C. Norris is my great-great grandfather. I could not figure out who James's parents were. Thank you!!  Thank you!!

"Here's my lineage. James married Mary [Herndon] sometime between 1848 and 1851.  On the 1880 census, there were eight children at home. One of the girls was Carrie Lola Norris, my great grandmother. Carrie Lola Norris married John Nelson Holloway on 26 Oct. 1887. Carrie Lola Norris Holloway and John Nelson Holloway had 10 children. One of the boys, Johnnie Rufus Holloway, was my grandfather.  Johnnie Rufus Holloway married Opal Irene Smith (who is from the Parrott/Griggs lines in Fayette County) on 26 Aug 1928. Johnnie and Opal had eight children.  One died shortly after birth. My father was Johnnie Rufus Holloway Jr.

"James C. and Mary are buried in the Union Grove Baptist Church cemetery in Lithia Springs. Mary died in 1903 and James died in 1908. Most of John Nelson and Carrie Lola's kids lived in or around Coweta County and most are buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Newnan.

 "I have a picture of James and Mary Norris and am attaching it to this email. This particular picture is hanging in my parents' home. I would love to share more information with you. I was wondering if you knew more about the Herndon family. Stories that I have heard are that Mary Herndon is half or a quarter Indian. I got into dispute with a cousin who thinks that she was an 'Indian Princess' and would not listen to me when I tried to explain to him that there were no such things as Indian princesses …"

"I would love to hear from you. Please let me know if you know anything about the Herndon family that Mary belonged too. I know that she had a brother named C. W. and that he is listed on the 1880 census living with James, Mary and the kids in Powder Springs. It appears that we may be 'branch kin.' Hope you enjoy the pictures.

"Thank you, Pat Vermeer"

Pat also included some personal stories her father had told her about James and Mary. I was very happy to receive the photo since I have no pictures of my Norris kin except the one of Mary Catherine Norris and her husband William Christopher White which is in the Cleburne County Heritage Book. Well … I do have a picture of Arthur Norris (of the Norris Candy Company) and his son sent to me by Blanche Henderson several years ago.

I did find James and Mary in the 1880 census. Since Pat did not list all the children, I thought I would do it since someone may connect to one of them.

Living in the Powder Springs District of Cobb County in 1880 were James C. and Mary Norris and children: W.W., 29 and widowed or divorced; James R., 19; J.A. (son), 17; Emeline, 22; L.J., (son), 10; Robert L., 6; C.L. (daughter … this is Pat's Carrie Lola), 8; and E.L. (daughter), 5. Also living with James and Mary was Mary's brother, C.W. Herndon, 47, widowed/divorced, a schoolteacher.

Unfortunately, I have nothing on Mary Herndon. If the birthplace of her parents is correct in the 1880 census, they were born in South Carolina. The only Herndon family I have studied came from Virginia to Elbert County and migrated to Meriwether, Coweta and Campbell. If Pat's James and Mary were married between 1848 and 1851, they could have been married in Gwinnett or Fayette … or anywhere in between. The marriage location is usually the bride's county of residence at the time of the marriage.

James and Mary's burial place (Union Grove in Lithia Springs) is the same as that of Lucy Ann Norris Fowler McFalls, sister of James, daughter of Jethro and Mary Norris, widow of Zephaniah Fowler, and wife of Green B. McFalls.

If anyone can connect to these Norris children or has any further information on James and Mary, I'm sure Pat would love to hear from you. Her email address is

Stories about your families who lived on Atlanta's south side are always welcome. Send stories to or Mail to The Citizen, P.O. Drawer 1719, Fayetteville, GA 30214. All letters and e-mails I receive are subject to being used in the column.

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