EDWARD NORTON, the late proprietor of the Madison Observer,--the oldest newspaper in the county, established in 1821,--is believed to have been connected with this enterprising weekly as editor and manager longer than anyone man has ever been similarly connected with any other paper in the State. He retained his physical and mental vigor to the close of a long and actively useful life, dying suddenly and unexpectedly after a brief illness, seemingly but a slight indisposition of scarcely forty-eight hours, on November 19,1893, at the age of seventy-six years, having been born in Clinton, Oneida County, November 2, 1817.
The founder of this branch of the Norton family in America was John Norton, whose name appears in the records of the town of Branford, Conn., July 7, 1646. In 1659 he went to Hartford, and in 1661 to Farmington. He married a lady named Clark, and died in 1711. Their son, Thomas, was born in 1697. He lived on his father's place, and died there in 1760. The next in line was his son, Colonel Ichabod Norton, who was born in 1736, and inherited property from his father at
Third Meadow, within the limits of Northington, and lying on both sides of Farmington River. He married Ruth Strong, daughter of Ashel Strong, and by her had nine children. In the early days of the Revolutionary War he commanded a company of militia in the service of the colonies. From August 1, 1776, he was stationed at Ticonderoga. In 1777 he was at Peekskill; and from April to November, 1779, he represented Farmington in the Lower House of the State Legislature. With the exception of one year, he was a representative from 1785 to 1791. His death occurred at Granby, Conn., August 1, 1825.
Thomas Norton, a son of Colonel Ichabod Norton, was born at Farmington, Conn., December 31, 1773. In his native town he learned the trade of silversmith, and afterward for a few years was engaged as a merchant, first in Hartford, Conn., later in Clinton, Oneida County, N .Y. Then, buying a farm, he was engaged in farming until 1823, when
he removed to Morrisville, where he followed his trade of silversmith until 1827, when he removed to Albion, Orleans County. At that time Albion was but a small place, and the country around but little improved. Mr. Norton remained there until his death, December 14, 1834. He married Mary (Dickinson) Bigelow, who was born in Granville, Mass., a
daughter of Captain Dickinson, a Revolutionary soldier, and the widow of Dr. Aaron Bigelow. On the death of her second husband Mrs. Norton returned with her family to Morrisville, and died at the home of the subject of this sketch. She reared three children, namely: Margaret, who died in 1888, at the age of eighty-one; James, who lives with his
brother's family, and who, though eighty-two years old, is still engaged as a compositor on the Madison Observer, and Edward.
Edward Norton began to learn the trade of printer in the office of the
Orleans Republican, while his parents were residents of Albion, in 1830. In 1834 he removed to Morrisville with his mother, and in 1839 became one of
the proprietors of the Madison Observer, with which paper he remained connected till his death,--a period of nearly fifty-five years, being for a portion of this time sole editor and proprietor. He was twice married: first, in 1843, to Almira Westfall, who died in 1852, leaving three children; namely, Mrs. Mary E. Cornell, Mrs. Harriet Mackie, and
Mrs. Elizabeth Shedlock. In 1855 he was married to Nancy Daniels, who died in 1860, leaving two children, namely: Miss Sarah D., at home; and Mrs. Emma Browne.
Mr. Norton, though a Democrat from his youth, was never an offensive partisan. He was always a stanch defender of the principles of his party as laid down by Jefferson and Jackson, and, as editor of the
Madison Observer, which has for a period of upward of half a century been a welcome visitor in very many of the best families of Madison County,
through its columns made those principles household words. Mr. Norton's editorial articles were uniformly characterized by honesty of thought, and evinced a desire to instruct his readers in the true principles of politics
and in the facts of history. That his efforts throughout his long editorial life were fully appreciated by the people of Madison County is abundantly evident from the fact of the extensive patronage of, his paper, resulting in a good circulation and profitable advertising,
by which means he was enabled to accumulate a comfortable competence.
While Mr. Norton was never in any sense an office-seeker, he was frequently requested to accept the people's trust in this way, and in a few instances consented, serving as Clerk of the County Board of Supervisors--elected by said board--for a period of six years, as Justice of the Peace four years, and as a member of the Morrisville Village Board of Trustees fifteen years, a greater portion of this time being its President, elected by the members of the board. He also held an office on the Board of School Trustees for about thirty five years. Naturally, he was interested in national, State, and local politics. Few were more ready than he to foster schemes for village improvement, to promote measures conducive to the common weal. To his intelligent zeal in the cause of education were largely due the consolidation of the school districts and the establishment of the Union School. At the time of his death he was a Trustee of the Congregational church, of which he had been a faithful member for nearly thirty-five years. Exemplary in conduct, irreproachable in character, he has left his children the priceless inheritance of a good name.
It is eminently fitting that the excellent likeness of Mr. Edward Norton here presented to our readers should adorn the pages of the “Biographical Review" of Madison County. Most highly esteemed by those who knew him
best, faithful to his convictions of duty, ever daring to say and to do what he thought was right, few have shown themselves more worthy than he of being held in honored remembrance.
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