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The Normans of Normandy - Part II

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By The Staff

 Abner died in 1856 in Spencer County, his will follows:

I Abner Norman of the County of Spencer and state of Kentucky do hereby make this my last will and testament in manner and form following, that is to say.

“First I desire that after my decease all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid out of the money due me.

Second, I give unto my wife Frances Norman all my lands and personal property during her lifetime and widowhood, to have and to hold the same for the benefit of herself and her daughter Sarah Norman.  And after the death of my wife I give unto my son, Solomon R. Norman and his heirs, all my landed estate

Third, after my decease I give to my three married daughters, Mary Coyer, (Collings), Millie Beauchamp and Patsy Crutcher the benefit of all my cash notes, the interest to be accounted and equally divided between them, the interest to be received every year during the lifetime of my wife and after her decease, these notes be given to them by my curator hereinafter named.  If the debts and interest should not be their equal portion of my estate, I wish them to be made equal out of the personal part of my estate.

Fourth and lastly, at the death of my wife, my daughter Sarah Norman shall be made equal with the rest of my children out of my estate.  I do hereby appoint my son Solomon R. Norman my curator to superintend and manage the estate of his mother.  In testimony I have personally set my hand this 1st day of January 1856”.  Abner and Frances are buried near his father in the Elk Creek Baptist Cemetery.

Richard V. Norman, the eldest son of Abner and  Frances, chose politics instead of farming, and was elected to the Legislature of Kentucky, and served in that capacity for many years..

Solomon Redman Norman was raised as a farmer and continued in that occupation on the land his grandfather worked.  He was deeded 150 acres of land upon his marriage where he would build their home.  This farm grew to more than 400 acres under his management.  The house still stands in the Normandy Community and is now owned by Ken and Lisa Kaleher who are continuing the renovation of the house. In addition to farming, he served as a Justice of the Peace for Spencer County for twenty years and was a Master Mason.  He incorporated the Masonic symbols on the front of his house and they remain there today.

Solomon married Lucinda W. Vandyke June 29, 1846 in Spencer County, KY, Daughter of Richard and Sarah Green Vandyke, and granddaughter of Peter and Elizabeth Reed Vandyke who had migrated to Kentucky from Culpepper, Virginia, about the same time as Isaac Norman and Solomon Redman.  Lucinda was born May 28, 1828 in Spencer County, and died October 25, 1912.  Col. Solomon Norman and Lucinda had thirteen children, sadly only five survived to adulthood.  Those children were; Lillie V. 18??:  Richard, (1847-1917); Abner Ernest. (1850-1922) Married Kate Barry and they had three children; Emma Gertrude (1852-1876) married George Leonard Talley;  Sallie F. (1854-1857); Amelia, (Millie)(1856-1878) married W.F. Hunsinger; Mary E., (1858) married John Farris; Martha, (Mattie) (1859), married Dr. N.T. Willis and had three children; Fannie B., (1865-1876);  Cora V. (1867-1873); Carrie V., (1869- 1870); Jonathon V. (1870-1873); and Laura Bell, (1872-1872).  Solomon, Lucinda and most of the children are buried in the Elk Creek Baptist Cemetery.  Colonel Sol Norman had been a leading citizen in all internal improvements, education institutions and public and private charities of the county.  As he aged, he turned the management of the farms over to his son Abner, who ran them for several years. 

Solomon Norman and Lucinda VanDyke Norman built a large brick house on the Norman farms around 1860 as evidenced by writings found on the walls of the house.  They imported furniture from New Orleans, having it come up the river on a barge, and shipped from Louisville by wagons.  It is thought that some of the finish trim in the house also came from New Orleans.

The reader will observe that the following obituary was written by Morrison Heady, the renowned blind poet who was a friend and neighbor. 

 “Col. S.R. Norman died at his home at Normandy, KY May 5, 1897 from pneumonia, resulting from an accident.  The deceased was born in the year 1823 in Spencer County, Kentucky, where he has always lived with the exception of about two years which shortly after his marriage in 1846 he spent in business in Louisville.  His wife Mrs. Lucinda Vandyke Norman has been his faithful and devoted companion for more than fifty years and together with five surviving children remains to mourn his loss.  R.V. Norman now represents Spencer and Bullitt Counties in the Legislature, the other son, Abner E. Norman is president of the Norman Lumber Co. at Louisville, KY.

Col. Norman believed in religious liberty and was charitable in his views towards all denominations, but from his early manhood he was an active member of the Baptist Church and a firm believer in all its doctrines.  He was a most affectionate and indulgent husband and father.  He was one of 

 

our most progressive Kentucky Farmers, displaying in all rural matters a constant and intelligent inquiry and uncommon power of observation that made this experience as a man on the county singularly rich and varied.

Apart from this he was a man of fine general information, having read much, and always displayed and enlightened interest in all the great questions of the times in which he lived.  Then too, he was a man of rare wit and humor, having an infinite fund of fine anecdotes, many of the drollest of which he drew from his own personal experience and observations, and what was rarer still he always knew when to narrate them with telling effect.

An exceedingly kind neighbor, he was gentle as a companion and generous as a friend.  The writer of this notice will ever remember him, sometimes with a smile, sometimes with a tear, but always with gratitude.”

It is believed that the title “Colonel” as applied to Solomon Norman was honorary not military.

A Normandy post office was approved and opened in 1881 with Solomon as the postmaster.  His son assumed that title and duty in 1883.  This post office was closed in 1917.

Of his surviving children, Richard V. Norman, the eldest son of Solomon and Lucinda, chose politics instead of farming, and was elected to the Legislature of Kentucky, and served in that capacity for many years.  The other son was Abner E. Norman followed a different star.

Abner was born at Normandy in Spencer County, Kentucky on January 18, 1850.  He was the second son of Col. Solomon Redman Norman and Lucinda Vandyke Norman.  He attended public schools in Spencer and Shelby Counties and completed his education at Forrest Home Academy located near Louisville.  At the academy he studied Mathematics and Surveying.  Leaving School in January 1871, he went west with two of his classmates.  About February 1st they reached Baxter Springs Kansas, a small town near the border of Indian Territory.

From Baxter Springs they traveled by wagon to Fort Arbuckle where they were hired by Mr. Theodore H. Barrett.  Mr. Barrett worked for the U.S. Land Office, and was charged with affecting a land survey of what is now Western Oklahoma.  

Initially Abner was a chainman for the survey of the area from Fort Arbuckle, eighteen miles north and six wide.  Shortly, according to Norman he was placed in charge of the corps working from the Red River to North of the Canadian.  Accompanying these survey teams was a troop of soldiers to protect them from Indians.

At the time, the surveys were made in the vicinity of the present day city of Norman, Oklahoma.  One of Norman’s survey parties while working in the area camped in a grove of trees near a spring.  At this camp the bark was removed from one side of a large elm tree, and the words, “Normans Camp” were burned into the tree.  This was done by one of the survey parties, somewhat in jest to taunt their young supervisor.  It is said that some of the gold and silver prospectors heading west passed through Norman’s Camp, continuing the name of the area.  As the territory was opened up for settlement, the quarter section of land that held Norman’s Camp was claimed by several men, but each referenced the location to be at Norman’s Spring, and the location of Norman’s Camp. The town of Norman, Oklahoma sprung up at or near Norman’s Camp and the railroad which passed close by.  Years later a stone placed by Norman was found at the location of the spring.  In years following, hundreds of people, mainly University of Oklahoma students picnicked there until it was finally filled in and Norman’s Camp disappeared.

Norman remained with the Government survey until it was completed in 1873, when he returned to his home in Kentucky.  The following year he was offered a position in the U.S. Land Department, but declined because of his approaching marriage.  He married Katherine Linden Barry (1850-1927), of Price Georges County, Maryland, on October 13, 1874.  Miss Barry was a teacher at Georgetown College, a Baptist Church School.  She was the daughter of David and Elizabeth Coots Barry of Washington D.C., and a descendant of James Barry, who was President of the first city council of that city.

The children of Abner and Katherine were: Ernest Barry, (1875 -1931); Jonathon VanDyke, (1877-1952); and Abner Edwin, (1890-1964)

At the time of his marriage Abner was overseeing the operation of his father’s farm at Normandy in Spencer County, and continued to do so until 1887.  That year he moved his family to Washington, Indiana where for the next two years was employed in the lumber business.  In 1889 the Normans moved to Louisville, Kentucky where he operated a wholesale lumber business at 9th and Magnolia Streets, under the firm name of Norman Lumber Company.

Under Abner’s management, the company grew and prospered, and within three years became president of the firm.  From 1911 to 1915 the company ran a sawmill at Holly Ridge, Louisiana as well as the yard in Louisville.  Norman served as president of the company for more than 30 years until his death.  He made plans for the summer of 1922 to visit the town that bears his name, his first visit since 1873.  He was especially proud that a university was located there.  His death on March 18, 1922 at his home in Louisville cancelled those plans.  He was buried at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville on March 20, 1922.  During his thirty-three year residence in Louisville, he was active in local church and business affairs of the community.

Jonathon V. Norman chose law instead of farming or the lumber business.  He moved to Louisville with his parents when he was 13, completed his courses at Male High, then earned his B.A. and L.L.D degrees from Central University in Richmond.  He specialized in corporate and transportation law.  In 1904 he married Mary Robinson Cecil, a daughter of Dr. John G. and Elizabeth Robinson Cecil.

Ernest Barry, the second son of Abner married Mabel Colgan and had two children, Colgan and E. Barry Jr.

Abner Edwin Norman succeeded his father as president of the lumber company and remained in that position until retirement when it was operated by his son, John Cecil Norman.  John held that position until the company was liquidated in 1962 and became the Dawson Lumber Company. 

There are a number of Norman descendents still in Kentucky, though no Norman family member remains in Spencer County.

Call it Normandy or Nor-Mandy, the Normandy community survives today much as it did 200 years ago, with green rolling hills, homes and farms.  Gone is the Normandy railroad station that handled the shipping of produce from the community and provided transportation to its citizens to Taylorsville or to Louisville. Gone is the little county store that stocked the basic food commodities necessary to the tables of the community.  Gone too is the doctor who cared for Normandy’s citizens.  The road through Normandy is now asphalt instead of dirt and gravel.  The constant traffic through the Normandy community is no longer the farmers taking their grain to Rivals to the VanDyke mill for grinding or to nearby fields for plowing, or the Sunday travel to Elk Creek Church.  

Now the traffic is those homeowners traveling to and from their jobs in offices and factories in cities some miles away.  With modern highways nearby, the Normandy community is more easily accessible to its citizens.  

Though the community has changed somewhat, Normandy remains.