Historical Details

Norris - Hill

Courtesy of Our Heritage: Niobrarans and Neighbors, 12/22/2020


(By Dona Eddy as told by John and Norma Hill)

Joshua and Ida (Crawford) Norris came to Wyoming in 1909 from Stewartville, Ind. with their two children, Earl (deceased) and Norma Hill.

The doctors had given Mrs. Norris a year to live if they stayed in Indiana. She was advised to go to a higher and drier climate; therefore, Mr. Norris came to Wyoming and filed on a homestead northwest of Keeline and later returned for his family and shipped their things to Wyoming.

Others who came and filed with Mr. Norris were Mrs. Norris' brother, Melvin Crawford and her sister's husband, Potter Cox.

After they arrived, a bad blizzard hit and many of the big ranchers' range cattle gathered around the Norris house bawling. Norma, about 5 years old, cried seeing all these cattle around because she wanted some milk.

They soon went to the Frank Brooks ranch and got their first milk cow. Later they got their pony from them. The Frank Brooks were their first acquaintances in this country.

Mrs. Norris being very ill, they came with nursing needed at times. Mrs. Carl Hahn, a neighbor to the east, would come and stay for two or three days at a time when needed.  Mrs. Hahn had been a nurse in Ohio before her correspondence romance with the early day cowboy. After Carl died she married George Nelson.

Because of Mrs. Norris' health, they slept with all the windows wide open summer and winter, even though the bed would be covered with snow by morning.

Mrs. Norris lived to be in her 90's, a healthy woman.

When Norma was small she rode horseback with her dad to Sunday School at the Trestle school. Mr. Norris went to the McGehee Sunday School also.

Jim Edwards, better known as "Nigger Jim" used to haul oil by the Norris place. One time his four horse team ran away and Mrs. Norris went out and stopped them. Jim was quite surprised and thankful that Mrs. Norris was able to stop them.

As a small child, Norma remembered "Nigger Jim" bringing his wife past their home headed for his homestead after the wed­ding.  Mrs. Edwards fancy blue satin dress with white insertion in the front caught Norma's eyes and she thought she was really dressed up to be going to the homestead.

Mrs. Edwards was a beautiful musician and singer. She had sung over the radio in Denver.  They were both liked and they did their best to bend over backwards with respect for those who respected them. At threshing time at their place a large table of good food was set for all hands. Jim and his wife wouldn't eat at the table with the others. She was known for her good cooking and Jim only ate twice a day except at threshing time when he would eat in the kitchen at noon.

Earl and Norma attended the Chimney Rock School.  Mrs. Ella Watson was the teacher.

Ernest, her youngest son, not being old enough for school came with his mother and sat on a small chair all day long doing things. They arrived each morning with a horse and cart.  During Norma's last year of grade school they moved the school with­ in a quarter mile of the Norris home.

Earl and Norma both attended and graduated from Jireh College. It was a four year high school with summer courses for those who wanted to teach school.

Mr. Norris bought his first car, a Ford, in 1917 from Walter Standorf, and Earl and Norma drove it to and from Jireh the last month of school. Earl graduated in 1917 and went right into the service in which he lost his life overseas. Norma graduated  from Jireh in 1920. She was the last student to graduate from there.

Mr. Joshua Norris was a member of the board of college trustees. It was here at Jireh Norma met John Hill from south of Van Tassell.

John's mother, Mrs. Millie Hill, had come from Lake Geneva, Wis. Because of her husband's death, she had to finish raising their family of seven boys and one girl.

Two of the older sons, Frank and James came to Wyoming and homesteaded near Van Tassell. Mrs. Millie Hill came to Wyoming to visit her sons in 1910 or 1912 and liked the country so much she took a homestead 12 miles south of Van Tassell.

Children were as follows; Helen, married and stayed in Wisconsin; Frank, James, Brother E (short for Israel Ebenizer), Charlie, Eddie and John.

John attended grade school in the Van Tassell area. Graduating from the eighth grade, he returned to Lake Geneva for his first year of high school. He had thought of going to Grand Island Business School, but when he heard of Jireh, it being  closer to home, he changed his mind and attended here. John's mother, Mrs. Hill, moved up and lived in the dormitory one winter.

Mr. C. W. Pfeifer and Mrs. Ella Watson were the only two teachers.

When Mrs. Millie Hill proved up on her homestead she sold it; the Hill sons also sold theirs and they moved back to Lake Geneva, Wisc.

John went back to Wisconsin, got a job and worked for awhile. He returned to Wyoming and he and Norma Norris were married the summer of 1920.  When they returned to Wisconsin his job was gone. They had enter­ ed the post war depression.  They came back to Wyoming where John farmed with Norma's dad, Joshua Norris. John went to work on the section. Frank Grammer was foreman.

John also worked at other odd jobs and sav­ed his money to go to Wisconsin again. He got a job and sent for Norma. Norma became ill in Wisconsin and spent some time at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. On the way to Norma's parents where she could recuper­ate, John took the Burlington train from Chadron to Custer, S.D. where he went to work in the Silver Night Hotel.  When Norma was able she joined John for the rest of the summer. They then returned to Norma's parents' place where John helped her father farm. The first year their crops were hail­ ed out.They had a good rye crop the second year, for which John received $250. He went with Burnice Cox in 1924 to the Sweeney Auto School in Kansas.  John then went to work for Vern Hulbert at the Keeline garage for $50. a month.  After Vern Hulbert was gone John bought the garage from Carl Spacht, who owned the building. Conrad Froshaiser, now of Cody, worked in the garage for awhile and boarded and roomed with the John Hills.

John and Norma rented the Mccumber house. They eventually bought the Sullivan house. After living there for a few years, a young man came to the door and asked if he could have a piece of vine growing in the yard. He said he was Sullivan's son and his mother had asked him to pick up a piece of that vine if he ever passed through Keeline. He took his piece of vine and went on his way.

John and Norma lived in Keeline for 17 years.  They ran the garage and post office and sold wind chargers. In 1942 they moved to Casper where John was owner of the Wyoming Electric Company. In 1949 they moved to Boise, Ida. where they still reside.  They have one son, John Marion Hill and family of Portland, Ore.

Mr. and Mrs. Joshua Norris left their place and moved into Keeline in 1928. Mr. Norris passed away in 1929. They lived in the house later lived in by Mr. and Mrs.

James Ringer Sr.  Mr. Norris bought the house at Manville from Lamb and had it moved and set on the basement of the old two-room house that once was there. The original building had been moved out. The house was sold in 1971 and moved to Indian Creek, where it is now the Richard Tollman resi­dence.

The Norris homestead is now part of the Larry Eddy ranch.

Images & Attachments

There are no attachments for this record.

Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Norris, Joshua (03/27/1861 - 01/15/1934) View Record
Obituary Norris, Ida (10/27/1873 - 01/23/1967) View Record