Norris City Cemetery

Norris City Cemetery's "residents"

There seem to have been about 3300 individuals interred at Norris City Cemetery over the course of its active life, which lasted from about 1860 through the early 2000s. The cemetery was most active in the few decades after it opened, and activity diminished each year in the decades after 1920. This chart shows the number of burials (as inferred from year of death) in each decade, and gives an indication of the "popularity" of the cemetery over time.

From these data, it is not possible to discern a spike in deaths resulting from the Spanish Flu epidemic at the close of the 1910s.

It is also of interest to see the profile of ages of those interred here. This chart shows the number of burials of individuals of the indicated age over the lifetime of the cemetery (again, as inferred from year of death). The profile is not altogether unexpected, except for the significant number of young children buried here. To examine this more thoroughly, the chart above (burials per decade) was recreated but looking only at children age five and under. It is clear even from this rather naive analysis that advances in medical care beginning at the turn of the century resulted in significant improvement in child mortality.

Finally, one can see that many prominent local families chose Norris City Cemetery for their family burial location. This graphic shows the top twenty-five family names (drawn from last names and maiden names). It also illustrates a relative lack of mobility relative to today's world, in which family members scatter themselves much more widely.

Railroad accident takes toll on family

A gravesite at Norris City Cemetery tells a tale of tragedy and sadness. Uriah Heebner lost his wife, Catharine, and teenage son, Uriah P., in a railroad accident near Harrisburg, as they all were going to attend the funeral of a former governor from the area. Uriah himself sustained injuries in that accident, but survived. Then, just three months later, another son, Harry, was killed nearby in another railroad-related incident. Uriah lived for another sixteen years.

A transcription of a contemporaneous newspaper article documenting the incident can be found here.

J. Kerrigan has shared the information that Joseph Ditterline's daughter Anna (both in lot D-104) was killed on the railroad in Norristown at the age of 13 in an unrelated incident. (Anna's sister Josephine married Joseph Beaumont and both are buried in lot D-103.)

Unmarked Graves at Norris City Cemetery

Family records and obituaries can refer to interments at Norris City Cemetery and yet no grave markers can be located. This can happen if the remains had been transferred to another cemetery (more than a few burials at Norris City Cemetery are the result of transfers into this cemetery). More likely, though, is that the grave markers were never installed, or had deteriorated to the point that they had to be discarded. Further, there are many cases of worn stones on which the inscriptions have become illegible.

Ironically, the marker for the single famous grave burial at Norris City Cemetery, that of Ephraim Acker, a former US Congressman, could not be located.

There have also been hints that Norris City Cemetery was the site of mass burials during the 1918 flu epidemic, but this has yet to be substantiated.

With the addition of multiple sources of information, this site's normal Search functionality can locate whatever records there are about graves lacking markers.

Norris City Cemetery Deeds

Cemetery deeds are not true real property deeds, but rather are contracts to allow the use of a particular plot within the cemetery for a specific purpose, that of interment, and an agreement about the provision of care of the property over time. As was typical for legal documents of the time, the deed form for Norris City Cemetery was ornately prepared, and was completed at time of issuance with a similar level of care and ceremony, as is evident in these examples:

Thanks to Tracy Myers, Paul Glaser and Sharon Laspina for sharing these.

Though the Nuss deed was purchased by Edmund Nuss, it was used by Tracy's grandfather, Edward Rodenbaugh, in 1954. (Edmund Nuss was Edward's wife's grandfather.) Unfortunately, Mr. Rodenbaugh is someone with a missing grave marker, though his name does appear in the cemetery records. This example also shows the difficulty of inference from records such as deeds; there can be no certainty that the person who purchased the deed used it him or herself.

When deeds such as these turn up in caches of old documents, other related artifacts may as well. Here are some documents related to the Crinan burial and deed that Paul Glaser shared:

Click here to see a transcription of the text of the Nuss deed.

DEED of Norris City Cemetery, to Edmund B. Nuss Conshohocken Pa

This Indenture, Made the Tenth Day of October in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and ninety-five Between E. L. Hallman President of the Norris City Cemetery Company, for and in behalf of said Corporation, of the One Part, and Edmund B. Nuss of the Borough of Conshohocken, Montgomery Co. Pa of the Other Part, Witnesseth, That the said E. L. Hallman President as aforesaid, for in consideration of the sum of Twenty Five Dollars lawful money of the United States of America, wall and truly paid by the said Edmund B. Nuss as the time of the execution hereof, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, Hath granted, bargained, sold, released and confirmed, and by these presents Doth grant, bargain, sell, release and confirm unto the said Edmund B. Nuss and to his heirs and assigns, the exclusive and entire right of Interment or Sepulture in the Burial Lot in the Norris City Cemetery, situate in the Township of Norriton, in said County of Montgomery, marked in the Map or Plan of said Cemetery with the Number Two Hundred Thirty Two (232) Section C, containing Together with all and singular the Ways, Avenues, Rights, Liberties, Privileges, Improvements, Hereditaments and Appurtenances whatsoever thereunto belonging or in any wise appertaining, and the reversions and remainders thereof, To Have and to Hold the said Lot or Piece of Ground above mentioned, hereditaments and premises hereby granted or mentioned, or intended so to be, with the appurtenances, unto the said Edmumd B. Nuss his heirs and assigns forever, For the Uses of Sepulture Only, and to and for no other use, intent or purpose whatsoever: Subject to all the Rules, Regulations, Conditions and Restrictions contained in the Act of Incorporation or which may hereafter be made and adopted by the Corporators or Trustees of the said Cemetery for the government of Lot Holder, Visitors of the Cemetery, and the Burial of the Dead, and in any By Laws made or adopted, or which may hereafter be made and adopted conformably to the Act of Incorporation, incorporating the said Cemetery Company.

In Witness Whereof, the said parties to these presents hae hereunto interchangeably set their hands and seals, the day and year first above written.
E. L. Hallman President

I hereby Certify that the above named Edmund B. Nuss has paid the sum of Twenty Five Dollars, being the consideration money above specified.
Engl. K. Ebert, Treasurer

Sealed and delivered in the presence of
Frances L Roberts
F. W. Birmingham

The Tenth day of October A. D. 1895 Before me the subscriber, a Notary Public in and for the County of Montgomery, personally appeared the above named E. L. Hallman President aforesaid, and in due form of law acknowledged the above written Indenture to be the act and deed of said Corporation, and desired that the same might be recorded as such, and that the Seal annexed is the Seal of said Corporation. Witness my hand and seal the date above written.
A. R. Place
Notary Public

Elsewhere on the web...

This blog entry talks about a pleasant walk in the cemetery, and has some nice pictures.

Here are two videos ( video 1 , video 2 ) paying homage to civil war veterans buried at Norris City Cemetery.

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