A CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITIES – WOULD THE REAL REVOLUTIONARY SOLDIER, THOMAS NORTON PLEASE STAND UP - (Written by Flora L. VerStraten Oct. 2009)

Chapter member, Warren Roberts, direct descendant of Thomas Norton Sr., 1114 Beaver Creek Parkway, Maplewood, MN 55119, email: rober028@tc.umn.edu

We received a letter from a chapter member, Warren Roberts and in his letter he shared some of the research he had compiled about his ancestor, Thomas Norton and his wife, Sarah McMurry/Mcmurray. Warren discovered that his ancestor, Thomas Norton was not a Revolutionary Veteran.

It appears that someone had joined the DAR and identified the wrong Thomas Norton in the application process and now that documentation seems almost impossible to correct. The following story is an example of how difficult it is to change documents, lineage society proof and bronze memorials to identify and correct a veteran.

Let’s go on to see how this all plays out: Thomas Norton, who moved to Jefferson County in about 1808/1809, also had a son, Thomas Norton. Thomas Norton Sr. was born about 1745/46 in the state of Maryland. When he came to Jefferson County, he appears in the county land records by 1810 as a land owner from State Route 43 from Wintersville northwest to Richmond. The area where he lived was labeled “Norton Hill” on the USGS topographic map and in the DeLorme atlas for Ohio. The USGS map shows that the area was surface mined extensively. This Thomas Norton Sr. is buried in Two Ridges Cemetery, Island Creek Township, Jefferson County, Ohio. His wife and other family members are buried there as well. His son, Thomas Norton Jr., farmed for a few years, then opened a hotel/saloon in Steubenville and was a respected citizen until his death.

Although some monuments in Steubenville list this Thomas Norton Sr., as having served in the American Revolution, Warren’s research proved different. He searched the printed Pennsylvania Archives and other sources that dashed his hopes that this might be true. The other Thomas Norton was from Bedford County, PA and is listed in the Historical Register of Officers of The Continental Army During The War of the Revolution, April, 1775 to December, 1783…Warren states, “I don’t see how this soldier could possibly be the Thomas Norton of Cumberland County who emigrated to Jefferson County, Ohio.” He also explains that the confusion of identical names occurred long ago when the facilities and tools for genealogical research were much more limited and membership in the DAR was more attractive than it is today. Warren fears that correction of misinformation, that is engraved in stone or bronze in public monuments is never likely to be fully successful.