Coke County, Texas

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A Short Biography of Julia Ann Norris Brown

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).

Julia's mother, Mary Sarah STOCKMAN was born in 1811 at her parents home Villa de Salcedo in Nacogdoches county, the 8th child of Frederick Stockman (1749-1838) & Catherine DES BONNET/DISPONET (1771-1834). Handbook of Texas Online: Frederick Stockman

Her next older brother Joseph Anthony was also born in Nacogdoches county, at Atascosito in 1806. Mary Sarah's wedding to John NORRISS on 6 December 1826, was officiated by John's uncle, national Alcalde of Texas 1825-1826 & of Nacogdoches in 1827 Samuel NORRISS (ca 1788-ca 1855), where he lived on North street. After the Freedonia Rebellion when he was deposed by renegade Anglos he returned to Louisiana where he had been born & lived out the remainder of his life. Handbook of Texas Online: Samuel Norris

In 1865 James W. BROWN was discharged from the Confederate forces & returned home. He was 55 & had had 7 sons with Julia, now aged 39: Elias R born 1845-after 1880, Daniel born & died 1847, John Riley 1848-1897, James Claiborne 1851-1889, William Albert 1854-1938, Thomas Zacharias 1857-1916, & a disputed RE or DC 1861-1869. According to the Texas & Texans interview Elias also served in the Confederacy, along with 4 of Julia's brothers. Joseph Samuel BROWN was born to Julia & James on 25 January 1866 & died 9 December 1835.

In April 1866 James W. left for Mexico either to "settle the revolution of that time" or on a "prospecting trip", according to the 2 above interviews, & never returned In 1870 James is still listed in the Census of Nacogdoches county as head of
household, but RE/DC born in 1861 is not listed.

In 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 Scrapbook Julia lived in Browntown, later Stacy, where she & Susan Elizabeth Upton BROWN (1832-1908) were the 2 widows BROWN. Handbook of Texas Online: Stacy Tx At that time they were not related, there so far not being any connection found between James W. BROWN & Susan's husband Albert Burleson BROWN (1832-1870's) who was killed in an Indian raid in the 1870's in Coleman county & is buried near Leaday & Flat Top Ranch. However in 1877 in Brown county, James Claiborne BROWN would marry Mattie C. BROWN (1853-1921), daughter of Albert Burleson BROWN & Susan E. UPTON. At about the same time Mattie's brother Albert Berry BROWN (1856-1891) would marry Mary Jane NORRIS (1860-1914), niece to Julia Ann through her brother James Claiborne NORRIS (1829-1914).

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. 


Top: William Albert "W. A." Brown & Thomas Zacharias "Tom" Brown
Bottom: Joseph Samuel "Sam" Brown & James Claibourne "J. C." Brown
Picture taken about 1885 in Brownwood, Brown County, TX

In 1889 James 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.

James Riley Brown & wife Nancy Jane Sellers

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

Pictures contributed by Evelyn Owens.

Brown Family of Brown County Texas

Obituary: Jim Brown

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