JAMES FRANKLIN NORTON, merchant and farmer of Eminence, Missouri, is a native of the Blue Grass State, born in Lawrence County, in 1839.
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His father, David Norton, who was reared in Virginia, moved to Kentucky at an early date and when our subject was but an infant came to Audrain County, Missouri, where he passed his last days. He was a prominent farmer and stockraiser, and while a resident of Audrain County held the office of justice of the peace. Politically he was a Democrat, and fraternally a Mason. His death occurred in 1852 when about forty years of age. His wife, whose maiden name was Emily Davidson, was a native of Virginia. She died in 1859 and was an exemplary member of the Methodist Church. They were the parents of nine children, seven of whom are now living, four sons and three daughters.
Our subject, who was one of these children, attended school in Audrain County, and took care of the family until all the children were married. In 1858 he came to Shannon County, where he had previously bought a small farm of government land which he entered at the land office at Jackson, Missouri, and here he found very few settlers. He turned his attention to farming and black smithing, having learned the latter in Audrain County, and followed his trade for the most part for twenty-two years. In June, 1861, he enlisted in the Missouri State Militia, under Gen. McBride, for six months. After that he joined the Confederate Army, but a short time after he was transferred to cavalry service. He was quartermaster of the regiment and held that position until surrendering, May 5, 1865, at Jacksonport, Arkansas During this time he was in the battles of Wilson Creek, Fort Scott, Lexington, Elkhorn and many others, and with Price in his raid through Missouri. He was never wounded severely although he had many narrow escapes, and returning home at the close of the war resumed his former occupation. He had nothing but his land, for all his property had been destroyed during the war, but he was used to privation and hard work and was not discouraged. After farming for some time he opened a store in Eminence on a limited scale, and now has a good general store and a thriving trade.
In 1882 he was elected sheriff and collector of the county and held the office two.terms, four years in all. During the war, in 1863, he was married to Miss Missouri Whitworth, a native of Alabama, who bore him seven children, two sons and five daughters. Mr. Norton is a member of the Masonic fraternity at Winona, the I. O. O.. F. at Eminence, of which he is warden, and in politics he is a Democrat. He is one of the representative citizens of the county.