The Story of Our Robert Norris, Jr. (1785-1867)

From West Deer Township-A Century and Half of Progress,
by John Graff
(p. 187)

Robert (1785-1867) the son of Robert’s first wife, his wife Catherine Dowling Norris and their son James (1810-1870) came to America in the early 1800’s.  It is not known if more of their ten children were born in Ireland.  Robert and Catherine settled in Deer Township in the vicinity of what is now Culmerville.  Robert sent back such a glowing report of his new home that his stepmother (then a widow) decided to take her family to America.

Shortly after the family started their long journey the mother became ill.  Fearing her death, two sons took their mother back to Ireland in a life raft, staying with her until her death two years later.  In the meantime the oldest brother had a difficult time managing to get his charges to their destination.  A story is told about one of the little girls falling overboard and was kept afloat by her hoop-skirt until she could be reached by life raft.

These young people went to the home of their halfbrother, Robert.  Daniel, Adam, John, James and Henry settled in Deer an Buffalo Townships.  The two girls, Nancy and Esther, went to New Jersey and two other brothers, not mentioned above settled in Norristown. It is known that Robert, the halfbrother, owned two hundred fifty-five acres of land in and around Culmerville.  There were two tract of land purchased from Sara Collins.

It is not known what kind of house they had at first but a brick home was constructed later from bricks fired at a nearby kiln.  This home was located west of Culmerville along Saxonburg Boulevard.  Robert and Catherine’s daughter, Margaret, married Robert Culmer and had a daughter Mary Ann.  It is for this daughter, Mary Ann Culmer, which Culmerville was named.

The property of Robert and Catherine was willed to their children and grandchildren and much of it was sold by these heirs, to H.M. Davidson.  Their son, Dowling, inherited the seection where the brick home stood.  Dowling died at the age of twenty-nine and the property was willed to his wife Elizabeth K. Norris

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