The first listing of the Nortons I could find in the North Carolina census was Nicholas Norton (139) in 1800. This would have been Nicholas, Sr. who was born in 1770 and lived in what was then Rowan County. As more counties were formed, they were shown in census records in Iredell, then Alexander Counties. They didn’t necessarily move, the larger counties were split into smaller ones.
By 1850 the census records show more information than previously when they only named the head of the household. The 1850 census shows household #209 consists of Nicholas Norton, Sr., an 80 year old farmer with $700 worth of property, born in Maryland. With him lived Sarah, 72 and Norman, 40 a doctor worth $400.
In another household Nicholas Norton Jr.(137), a 37 year old blacksmith is shown, worth $200, along with his 34 year old wife, Lucy. (Lucy Adilla Ellis (138) Children are named Sarah, 14, William 10, Louisa 7, Sidney 3 and (Nerusha?) 6/12.
In 1860 the two Nicholas Norton families are still shown in different households even though the senior one is 90 and his wife is 82. It is noted that he is deaf, has $1,000 in real estate and $10,800 in personal property.
Nicholas Jr. (now with property worth $300) is shown to have seven children identified by their initials only, but the sixth one is identified as "M F", six years old, and is our ancestor Melvina Florentine (116).
In 1870 the senior Nortons are gone and Nicholas Jr. is now worth $1300! Hulet, Melvina and John are shown as "attending school" and the other children have gone.
I thought it quite remarkable that in 1860 with not much in the way of medical care available, the senior Nortons were able to maintain themselves in their own household. One might expect that their son might enjoy the benefits of those good genes and also live a long and independent life, but the 1880 census has bad news. N.S. Norton, son of Nicholas Jr. is
shown as a "preacher" living with his wife, four children from 1 to 7 years old and his parents, Nicholas and Lucy, 65 and 63 years old. Nicholas has a notation that he is blind, dyspeptic and disabled.
Can you picture that household with 4 little children and the "elderly" parents in that condition? It seems a little odd that they mentioned it on the census form, but beside the one year old, Mary Edith, is the notation, "teething!" Maybe the teething with its accompanying crying, was just the last straw! Nicholas Jr. lived twelve more years until October 1892, whether it was always with this son, I don’t know. Well, at least the baby was through teething before then.