In earlier posts, we promised to provide a little bit of background on the family who originally called Norris House home. Their story is very interesting, and we've been quite fortunate to make contact with living relatives right here in Raleigh who have been incredibly supportive of our efforts to revive Norris House. In fact, they were kind enough to share this beautiful portrait of Cornelia Alice Norris:
Cornelia Alice Norris married Matthew Tyson Norris in 1879, and Norris House was one of their wedding gifts. Cornelia's parents gave the newlyweds Norris House in celebration of their marriage, but deeded the property exclusively in her name. That deed was handwritten beautifully - it's like a work of art. The original records of the Wake County Register of Deeds for the time are also handwritten, ledger-style.
The extended families on both sides of the marriage lived further afield, and farmed - Cornelia's family land was in Holly Springs, NC. Cornelia and Matthew lived their entire married lives in Raleigh. Matthew owned and operated a dry goods store in downtown Raleigh with various partners over the years, along with a dry goods stall at City Market. He also served as the Raleigh cotton factor, which means he was responsible for noting and reporting the nature, quantity and quality of cotton traded at City Market, along with the price at which it sold. Cornelia operated the household, cared for their five children, and stayed active in a variety of ladies' pursuits of the day. Records reflect she was active in her Sunday School class at First Baptist Church, the ladies' auxiliary of the YMCA, and on the social circuit - there are lots of newspaper articles detailing soirees held at Norris House over the years. Cornelia was keenly interested in genealogy, and was the founding regent of the Caswell-Nash Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. In later years, she worked as a genealogist assisting clients in tracing their ancestry.