Norton, Anthony Banning (1821–1893)

By: Justin M. Sanders

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: November 20, 2014

Anthony Banning Norton, journalist and politician, son of Daniel Sheldon and Sarah (Banning) Norton, was born at Mount Vernon, Ohio, on May 15, 1821. His brother, Daniel Sheldon Norton, Jr., became a United States senator from Minnesota. Anthony Norton graduated from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, in 1840 and was admitted to the bar later that year. He became active in the Ohio Whig party and edited several Whig newspapers. In 1844 he vowed never to shave or to cut his hair until Henry Clay should be elected president; he kept his vow to his death. About 1855 Norton moved to Texas. He was elected a representative in the Texas legislature from Henderson and Kaufman counties in 1857 and 1859 as a Know-Nothing (see AMERICAN PARTY). As a staunch Unionist, he strongly supported Sam Houston for governor in 1859. Houston reciprocated by appointing Norton adjutant general in April 1860. Norton was chairman of the Texas delegation to the Constitutional Union party convention in May 1860, where he urged the nomination of Houston for president. Also in 1860 he became the editor of the Austin Southern Intelligencer, a Unionist newspaper.

Although he had opposed secession, Norton remained in Texas until he was forced to leave. He returned to Mount Vernon, Ohio, in November 1861. During the Civil War he helped ease the living conditions of Texas prisoners of war at Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio. He returned to Texas in 1865 and was elected to the Constitutional Convention of 1866 as a representative of Henderson, Kaufman, and Van Zandt counties. In the convention he served as chairman of the Committee on the Condition of the State. By 1868 Norton had allied himself with the Republican party. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1878 and 1884 and for Congress in 1866 and 1871. He was appointed judge of the Fifth Judicial District of Texas in 1868, postmaster of Dallas in 1875, and United States marshal for northern Texas in 1879. Around 1868 he settled in Dallas, where he spent the remainder of his life. He there established a newspaper, Norton's Union Intelligencer, which he published until his death. Norton married H. Ellen Burr of Mount Vernon, Ohio, about 1846; H. Maria Neyland of Jasper, Texas, in 1857; and Mary Martin of Dallas in 1892. He had two children by his first marriage and three by his second. He died on December 31, 1893, in Dallas.

Dallas Morning News, January 1, 1894. Marilyn M. Sibley, Lone Stars and State Gazettes: Texas Newspapers before the Civil War (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1983). William S. Speer and John H. Brown, eds., Encyclopedia of the New West (Marshall, Texas: United States Biographical Publishing, 1881; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978).

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

Justin M. Sanders, “Norton, Anthony Banning,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 18, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 20, 2014

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: