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William Hutchinson Norris

William Hutchinson Norris (born Oglethorpe County, Georgia in September 25, 1800; died July 13, 1893 in Santa Bárbara d'Oeste, São Paulo, Brazil) is known for being a founder of the city of Americana and a significant figure in the history of the Confederados. He was a Mexican-American War veteran and Alabama senator who left the US for Brazil with 30 Confederate families.

Career in the United States[]

Norris served in the Alabama State Legislature, both as a Senator and member of the Alabama House of Representatives from Dallas County during the late 1830s and early 1840s. On December 2, 1861 he was elected Grand Master of the Alabama Masonic Lodge.

Career in Brazil[]

On December 27, 1865, Norris and his son Robert C. Norris arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil aboard the ship South America. It is uncertain what his departure point was; probably either New Orleans or Mobile, Alabama. Norris had left his home at Mount Pleasant in Monroe County. The only member of this immediate family who did not accompany the group to Brazil was his son Francis Johnson Norris.

On January 10, 1867, the rest of the Norris family left New Orleans aboard the Talisman bound for Rio. After a bad storm, with damage to the ship, they wound up in the Cape Verde Islands and did not reach Rio until April 19, 1867.

Norris died at Santa Bárbara d'Oeste, Brazil on July 13, 1893.


Norris's parents were William Norris b 31 March 1757 in Johnston County, North Carolina and Nancy Watkins b 1772 in Augusta County, Virginia. They married in Wilkes County, Georgia in the late 1780s and their marriage bond was posted in February 1792. In 1793 a portion of Wilkes County became part of the new Oglethorpe County where he was born in 1800.

Harry Alexander Davis wrote a long (the typed manuscript, held at the US Library of Congress, is nearly 1,500 pages long) unpublished work about several Norris families. He claims that Norris's parents were William Norris (b. 1758 Maryland) and Sarah Rigdon, the daughter of Alexander Rigdon of Harford County. This claim, like others in the Davis Manuscript, is controversial and unattributed; The Rigdons of Maryland has a well documented entry on Alexander Rigdon and there is no indication that he ever had a daughter named Sarah as stated by Davis, nor is there any indication that a Sarah Rigdon married into the Norris family.

In approximately 1812, the family relocated to Jasper County, Georgia and shortly before 1820, Norris migrated to Alabama where he remained until he left the United States and moved to Brazil.

Prior to his marriage to Mary Black, Norris was married to Melinda Black who is thought to have been a cousin of Mary.[1]

Norris had three sons-in-law: Willie Daniel (married to Nancy Angeline), Edward Townsend and Joseph Whitaker.


  • Norris is credited with founding the city of Americana, as years after his death, the land where he first arrived became the new town.


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