poetry and prose about place

Where is Frank?

with 6 comments

In an attempt to keep making progress on my explorations of family history, and to justify my monthly contributions to, I have implemented ‘genealogy Saturday’. On most Saturday’s, I pledge to discover more about my family, and to organize into a written account the information I already have. We’ll see how long this intention lasts.


I continue to be interested in the life and family of my great-grandmother Ella (Mary Ellen) Hawk Norman (1859-1933). I now have information on much of her life. Thanks to the City Directories at, I know where she lived almost every year from 1894 onward.


Ella Hawk Norman

My only photo of my Great-Grandmother Ella (Hawk) Norman (in about 1928). She is second from the right, with her hands folded. The group is standing in front of Harowitz’ Restaurant in Scranton, Pennsylvania where she worked as a pastry cook in the early 1900s.


I also know about her husband, my great-grandfather Frank Norman, from the date of their marriage in 1886 onward

(see my post about their marriage

and about Frank’s fall from a horse

But I know nothing about him before 1886. Most of all, I would like to know the names of his parents, my great-great-grandparents. Of my sixteen great-great-grandparents, these are the only two names I do not know.


Unfortunately, the name Frank Norman was common in the mid-eighteen hundreds. I know from various documents that Frank was born about 1855 in Missouri. There were about forty Frank Normans born in Missouri in the mid-century and deciding ‘who was who’ has taken a major effort.


I used the following ‘rule base’ to help me sort through the many Frank Normans:

1. Discard any females (the names Francis or Frances have been used for both males and females)

2. Discard any Franks born before 1845 or after 1870 (he was at least 16 in 1886 when he married and no older than 40). Since Frank’s birth year (1855) comes from two sources and is likely near to correct, I was more stringent than this when looking at each record. I have often found birth dates in the Census suspect, probably because people were vague when providing information to the Census taker.

3. Discard any Frank Normans who had other spouses before 1896, especially those with children born in the 1880s (Ella and Frank divorced in 1896, so he could have remarried). This takes careful searching through the Census records and family trees, going back and forth to see who was in the various Frank Norman families. It is too bad we don’t have the 1890 Census !


Missouri map 1956

Hooker, Laclede County is in south-central Missouri; Bethany is in Harrison County in northern Missouri


After all this, I have found only one Frank Norman who meets my criteria. Francis M. Norman (born 1852 Missouri) lives with his father Moses Norman (born 1821 Tennessee), his mother Betsy (born 1820 Tennessee) and his brother Benj (born 1848 Missouri) in Hooker, Laclede County in Missouri (1860 Census).


1860 Census Missouri


There were two Moses Norman families living in Hooker, Laclede in 1860. The other Moses Norman (born 1895 Tennessee) lives with wife Lucinda and their children. Moses 1895 was a landowner in Laclede. Although I have not been able to connect the two Moses Normans, it is reasonable to think they were related. In the Census, they are living fifty houses from one another, perhaps a long way in the days of large farm properties and the ‘open country neighborhood’.


I cannot find Moses and Betsy in any Census after 1860. A person named Benj (died 1873) is buried in the Moses Norman Cemetery in Sleeper, Laclede and this may be Moses’ (1821) son Benj.


On Frank’s Application for a Marriage Licence (1886), he wrote that he lived in Bethany, Harrison County, Missouri. There were Norman families in the Bethany area by 1880 and Frank may have gone there from Laclede to live or work.


I may never know the names of my great-great-grandparents for certain, but Moses and Betsy sound like good candidates. I will keep looking until the powers invent a time travel machine just for genealogists!


Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

April 15, 2016 at 7:00 am

6 Responses

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  1. Hi Jane, my name is Debra Norman. I’m your 2nd cousin (Gordy’s daughter). I’ve been working on my family tree as well and am stuck on Frank. Have you had any luck at all? Would be interested in hearing anything you find. I’m still searching…

    Liked by 1 person

    Debra Norman

    January 18, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    • Hi Debra. Hello Cousin.
      I have looked at every aspect of our Great (Great) Grandfather Frank in terms of the Census. I know he was born/lived near Bethany Missouri before he headed out to Wyoming. As you can see from my blog, I have looked at every Norman family in Missouri and have narrowed it down to one or two families. No way of knowing for certain unless we find another document with information. A death certificate would be useful but there were so many Frank Normans in the US during the possible decades, who would know? The search has been fun. The marriage certificate of Frank and Ella Norman is a great source of information. I did locate the family of her previous, very short marriage to Peter Rhoderick. I’d love to get together sometime to show you what I have; perhaps in June when we will be down to visit my brother. I have two photos of Frank when he was in his 30s and 40s. Jane


      jane tims

      January 19, 2017 at 10:55 am

  2. I love your approach to the genealogical puzzle. It takes a good amount of critical thinking to make sense of the possibilities presented by so much data!

    Liked by 1 person

    Barbara Rodgers

    April 16, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    • But in the end, how can I ever be certain. I am always hoping to run across a later document that will verify some of my conjecture!


      jane tims

      April 16, 2016 at 6:49 pm

  3. I’ve been working on Steel family history except without the use of I have a distant relative in England who has provided me with a ton of information but only under the caution that I not enter it into, which he maintains is “a money suck”. However without that help, I have to rely on memories of relatives, family bibles and stories. There are significant gaps. Still, it is intriguing work. And time consuming.

    Liked by 1 person

    Carol Steel

    April 15, 2016 at 7:55 am

    • Hi Carol. I am not sure about the merits/demerits of using a genealogy site. I like the ready access to the Census, both Canadian and US, and the way saves the info. Also, they were more straightforward about price. Other sites say it’s free and then ask for money. I have found lots of information this way, but nothing compares with the first hand information you have! Jane


      jane tims

      April 15, 2016 at 8:33 am

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