James M. Norris, lawyer and soldier, was born in Greenville District, South Carolina, on November 13, 1819. Self-educated, he began the study of law at age sixteen and was licensed to practice at age eighteen. In 1840 he married Sophronia E. Robinson. They moved to Washington County, Texas, about 1841; Norris opened a law office and followed the sessions of the circuit court, often on foot. A business venture as a merchant failed. Norris spent ten years in Washington County and six years in Burleson County before moving to Coryell County, which he represented at the Secession Convention in 1861. On January 29, 1862, he was appointed by Governor Francis R. Lubbock as colonel of the Frontier Regiment but resigned the command in 1863. Norris's tenure as commander of the regiment was not memorable. He lacked experience in Indian fighting and had serious discipline problems with the troops and junior officers. The harshest criticism was his failure to take an aggressive stand in frontier defense. He practiced law in Burleson, Coryell, and McLennan counties. While trying a case at Belton, Norris suffered a stroke and died at his home in McLennan County a few days later on April 21, 1874. He was buried at First Street Cemetery in Waco.
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William Curry Holden, Frontier Problems and Movements in West Texas, 1846–1900 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1928). A Memorial and Biographical History of McLennan, Falls, Bell, and Coryell Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1893; rpt., St. Louis: Ingmire, 1984).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Anonymous, “Norris, James M.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 20, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/norris-james-m.
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