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NORTON, NIMROD LINDSAY

NORTON, NIMROD LINDSAY (1830–1903). Nimrod Lindsay Norton, government official, was born near Carlisle, Nicholas County, Kentucky, on April 18, 1830, the son of Hiram and Nancy (Spencer) Norton. He was educated at Fredonia Military Academy in New York and Kentucky Military Institute. On October 27, 1853, he was married to Mary C. Hall in Nicholas County; they had eight children. The family moved to Missouri, where he farmed. At the beginning of the Civil War Norton organized one of the first companies north of the Missouri River for the defense against federal troops. In May 1864 he was chosen as one of the Missouri representatives in the Confederate States Congress. After the war he returned to Missouri. In 1867 he and his family moved to DeWitt County, Texas, then to Salado, in Bell County, where in 1873 Norton was a charter member of the Grange, an agrarian order that powerfully influenced the Constitutional Convention of 1875.

A section of the Constitution of 1876 provided for the designation, survey, and sale of 3,050,000 acres of public land in the High Plains to pay for the construction of a new Capitol. Governor Oran Milo Roberts selected Norton as commissioner to supervise the survey of that land for the state in July 1879. With surveyors and a ranger escort, Norton made the necessary land surveys, which opened the Llano Estacado to settlement. In his diary (from August to December 1879) and in his letters to Governor Roberts, Norton described the country, the daily camp life, and the flora and fauna that the survey party encountered. In 1880 he was appointed a member of the three-man Capitol building commission, which considered eleven designs submitted for the Capitol, made a survey of various quarries in the Austin area, and studied qualities of various building materials. On February 1, 1882, Norton and another Capitol building commissioner, Joseph Lee, shoveled the first spade of dirt for the beginning of construction. Norton with his two business partners, W. H. Westfall and G. W. Lacy, ended the limestone-granite controversy by donating all the red granite needed for construction from Granite Mountain in Burnet County.

Although Norton had purchased land in the Montopolis area in 1872 and journeyed to Austin to supervise the annual Travis County fairs, he continued to live in Salado. He and his family were living in Austin later, however, and in 1893 he built a large home north of the site of the present Travis County Courthouse. He died on September 28, 1903, in Austin and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery there.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Anthony Garland Adair and E. H. Perry, Sr., Austin and Commodore Perry (Austin: Texas Heritage Foundation, 1956). John Henry Brown, Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas (Austin: Daniell, 1880; reprod., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). S. W. Geiser, "Men of Science in Texas, 1820–1880," Field and Laboratory 26–27 (July, October 1958, October 1959). Frederick W. Rathjen, "The Texas State House," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 60 (April 1957).

Lucie C. Price

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Lucie C. Price, "NORTON, NIMROD LINDSAY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fno13), accessed September 18, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.