Noah Norton

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Noah Norton (1786 - 1877) was a government agent, museum founder and California Gold Rush prospector. He was instrumental in founding two towns, Adrian, Michigan, and Nortonville, California.

Early life[edit]

Mr. Norton was born in Greene County, New York, on April 7, 1786.[1] As a young man he moved to near Lake Ontario, and became a government officer having the duty to stop the smuggling of contraband traffic across the US-Canada border.[2]

When the War of 1812 commenced, he volunteered and served as a Lieutenant and participated in the Battle of Lundy's Lane.[2]

Life in Michigan[edit]

After the war, Mr. Norton relocated his family to a wilderness area that would eventually become Adrian, Michigan. In 1827 the Norton residence was the site of the first church service in Adrain.[3]

Mr. Norton volunteered during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and became a member of the secret service.[2]

Museum Work[edit]

After the Mexican-American War he spent a short time back in Adrian, then embarked on a mission to gather specimens and other objects of interest for a museum in Pensacola, Florida. He later founded a museum of his own at Adrian.[2]

Life in California[edit]

During the California Gold Rush (1848–1855), he disposed of the museum and joined a wagon train for California. He took the so-called "southern route," and was one of the first settlers of Los Angeles, California in 1850.[2]

After a few years working in Los Angeles as a farmer, Mr. Norton returned to Adrian where his wife soon died. He then remarried and moved back to California, this time settling in Contra Costa County, California, where he prospected for coal.[2] In 1855 he founded the town of Nortonville, California[4] where a large coal mine named the "Black Diamond" was located.[5] Nortonville is now a historic preserve managed by the East Bay Regional Park District.[6] His wife, Sarah Norton, became a locally famous midwife who met a violent death in October, 1879, by a run-away horse pulling her carriage.[7] She is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, at Nortonville, where it is rumored that she periodically presents herself to visitors as a white ghost.[8]

Death and Burial[edit]

Noah Norton died on January 31, 1877 and is buried in the Webster Family Plot (Plot #1) at the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California.[9] (The Websters were his grandchildren.)[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ J. P. Munro-Fraser, History of Contra Costa County, California, W. A. Slocum & Co., Publishers, 1882, page 626.
  2. ^ a b c d e f J. P. Munro-Fraser, History of Contra Costa County, California, W. A. Slocum & Co., Publishers, 1882, page 627.
  3. ^ W. A. Whitney and R. I. Bonner, History and Biographical Record of Lenawee County, Michigan, W. Stearns & Co., 1879, page 51.
  4. ^ Jacqueline Byer Dial, The Move of Coal Miners from Nortonville, California to Black Diamond, Washington Territory, 1885, self published, 1980.
  5. ^ Traci Parent and Karen Terhune, Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, Arcadia Publishing, 2009, pages 9-11.
  6. ^ Traci Parent and Karen Terhune, Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, Arcadia Publishing, 2009, pages 115-126.
  7. ^ Traci Parent and Karen Terhune, Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, Arcadia Publishing, 2009, page 69.
  8. ^ Ghost Stories, http://paranormalstories.blogspot.com/2007/04/black-diamond-mines.html Retrieved on 20 January 2011; The White Witch of Nortonville, http://www.thriftymoving.com/rosehill.html Retrieved on 20 January 2011.
  9. ^ David Johnson, California Tombstone Project, http://www.usgwtombstones.org/california/californ.html
  10. ^ William Holcolm Webster and Rev. Melville Reuben Webster, History and Genealogy of the Gov. John Webster Family of Connecticut, E. R. Andrews Printing Company, 1915, page 641.

External links[edit]