Buena Vista County, IA
USGenWeb Project

Extracted from:  Wegerslev, C. H. and Thomas Walpole. 
 Past and Present of Buena Vista County, Iowa
Chicago:  S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909, p. 641-43.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of  James T. Norton

James T. Norton is president of the Bank of Newell and has been a resident of this state since November 30, 1873.  His career has been successful chiefly by reason of his natural ability, his thorough insight into each business situation with which he has become connected and the unfaltering industry which he has brought to the mastery of each business problem.  A native of Canada he was born in the province of Quebec, September 11, 1850, a son of Arunah and Fannie (Huntoon) Norton.  The paternal grandfather was Shadrack Norton, who more than a century ago removed to Canada with his father and there followed the occupation of farming as a life work.  His death occurred when he had reached the age of seventy-seven years.  His wife was also of that age at the time of her demise.  They reared a family of four sons and several daughters, including, Arunah, Porter, Martin, Arthur, Amelia, Sarah Loraney and Julia.


Arunah Norton followed farming in Stanstead county, Canada, near Coaticook.  He married Fannie Huntoon, a native of New Hampshire, in which state her parents lived for many years.  She was an Episcopalian in religious faith, while Mr. Noron [sic] was a Methodist.  He commanded a company of volunteers in Canada and by reason of his military service was usually called by his title of captain.  He died at the age of seventy-one years, while his wife died in January, 1902, when nearly eighty-two years of age.  Their family numbered three sons and a daughter who reached adult age:  Ernest V., living at Coaticook; Osmore A., a manufacturer of the Norton lifting jack, at Boston, Massachusetts; Annie M., the wife of P. T. Baldwin, of Coaticook, Canada; and James T. Norton.


The last named was reared in Stanstead county, Canada, upon the home farm and in the acquirement of an education attended the district schools, the high school and St. Francis College at Richmond, in the province of Quebec.  He resided at home until twenty-two years of age, when he entered the employ of a lumber company as bookkeeper and general overseer.  Believing that better opportunities were offered beyond the border where competition is greater and advancement is more quickly secured, he came to the United States in 1873 and, settling at Waterloo, Iowa, was appointed assistant bookkeeper in the master mechanic's office of the Illinois Central Railway Company.  After filling that position for about two years he came to Newell, Iowa, in September, 1875, purchased a grain business and conducted a warehouse in company with Harris & Parker for about two years.  He next purchased a general store in partnership with J. R. Welch and they also bought grain and stock for six years.  They likewise built one of the first creameries in the state and business enterprise and commercial activity were largely promoted by their efforts.  At length Mr. Norton purchased the interest of Mr. Welch and conducted the business alone for several years, after which he closed out the store and joined P. H. Judge in purchasing an interest in the Parker Bank, Mr. Harris having retired.  The firm name was then changed to Parker, Judge & Norton but several years later Messrs. Judge and Norton purchased Mr. Parker's interest and the bank was then conducted under the name of Judge & Norton.  Later Mr. Judge retired and the name of the Bank of Newell was assumed, Mr. Norton being then sole proprietor.  This is a private banking institution and is accorded a liberal patronage, for it is well known that the business methods of the house are sound and reliable and that progressiveness characterizes the conduct of the bank in its various departments.


On the 21st of June, 1882, Mr. Norton was married to Miss Belle A. Miller, a daughter of the Hon. De Witt C. and Agnes (Lawson) Miller.  Mrs. Norton was born in Illinois and by her marriage became the mother of three sons and four daughters:  Fannie A., De Witt A., Earnest R., Ruth E., J. Edgar, Caroline and Marion.  Mr. and Mrs. Norton are prominently known socially and the hospitality of their own home is greatly enjoyed by their many friends.  They own an attractive residence in Newell and Mr. Norton also owns farm land in Buena Vista county and a large tract in Conejos county, Colorado.  His political allegiance is given to the republican party and fraternally he is connected with the Modern Woodmen of America.  He belongs to the Episcopal church while his wife is a member of the Congregational church.  Throughout his entire business career he has always been the same genial, courteous gentleman whose ways are those of refinement and whose worth no man can question. Energetic, far-seeing, honest and public-spirited, he has operated continuously in various lines of business and by the stimulus of his ambition has aroused the enterprise of others.  For almost thirty years Mr. Norton has been a member of the town council and he has also served on the school board, while throughout his business life he has held many important relations to the public trust and his commercial affairs have contributed to the general prosperity as well as to individual success.