Jonathan Dorr Norton.During twenty-five years' of residence in Topeka Col. Jonathan Dorr Norton, who at the present time (1911) is serving his first term as sheriff of Shawnee county, has become well known to the people of that city, where his life record is an honored one and where his usefulness as a citizen, his efficiency in the discharge of duty, his enterprising spirit, and force of high character have brought him to the fore among Topeka's most prominent and influential men of affairs.
Kansas is Colonel Norton's state by adoption. He was born at Harpersfield, Ashtabula county, Ohio, Oct. 22, 1841, a son of Washington Adams and Caroline (Harper) Norton. The father, who at different periods of his business career was a farmer, a foundryman, and a merchant, was born in the State of New York Feb. 6, 1808, and the mother was born in Ashtabula county, Ohio, May 25, 1820. Colonel Norton is of Colonial descent on both the paternal and maternal sides, and through his mother is the scion of a Revolutionary ancestor, her father, John Harper, having been the son of Col. Alexander Harper, who served with the rank of colonel in the Continental army of the American Revolution. The Nortons are an ancient family, originally out of England, who trace their English history to Count De Norville, the High Sheriff of William the Conqueror, as their common ancestor. The family was planted in this country by three brothers, who emigrated from England prior to the Revolution, one of them settling at Martha's Vineyard, Mass., another near Boston, Mass., and the third in Connecticut. Washington Adams Norton was a son of Zadok and Katharine (Carr) Norton, natives of Connecticut, the latter of whom lived to be ninety-nine years of age. The Harper family, of Presbyterian faith, was Scotch-Irish, a strain of blood well known for its physical vigor, mental alertness, and robust moral sentiments, and emigrated to America from the North of Ireland. Washington Adams Norton and Caroline Harper were married in Ashtabula county, Ohio, in 1839, and became the parents of five children, of whom Colonel Norton is the eldest. The other children were: Elijah Harper, who served as a non-commissioned officer in Company E, Eighty-fourth Ohio infantry during the Civil war, and after the war became a banker at Toledo, Ohio, where he died in 1886; John Adams, who gave loyal and faithful service in behalf the Union during the great national conflict as a private in Company C, One-Hundred and Fiftieth Ohio infantry, and was sent to London after the close of the war as the European representative of the Gardner Gun Company, of Cleveland, Ohio, and died in London after having induced the English government to adopt the use of the Gardner machine gun in the British army and navy; David Z., of Cleveland, Ohio, who is a wealthy dealer in Lake Superior iron ore; and Mrs. Caroline Watterson, of New York City. The parents removed from Ashtabula county to Cleveland, Ohio, in the year 1845, and spent the remainder of their lives in that city. The father died there Dec. 22, 1855, his wife surviving him until 1890. Though Jonathan D. Norton was old enough to serve in the Civil war, as did two of his brothers, he was barred from active service on account of having lost the sight of one eye when a mere lad. But for this physical defect he, too, would have served in the war, for he volunteered, but was rejected. He was fond of military life, however, and though deprived of serving his country in actual war he was for many years identified with the Ohio National Guard, first captain of Company F, of the Sixteenth regiment, later as lieutenant-colonel of that regiment for three years, and then as colonel, commanding the same regiment seven years.
Colonel Norton was educated at Cleveland, Ohio. The earlier part of his business career was spent in his native State of Ohio, where for eight years he was chief clerk and cashier for the Cleveland & Toledo Railroad Company. There he also served as a member of the Ohio state senate two years, his reputation in that body having been that of a man of high attainments and a worthy representative of a great state, giving vigorous and devoted attention to the interests of his constituency. In September, 1887, he came to Topeka, Kan., where he served in the treasury department of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Company for five years, and later was associated with the fuel department nine years. His public life in that city began as a member of the Topeka board of education, in which capacity he served six years. He is now completing his first term as sheriff of Shawnee county, the duties of which office he has discharged fearlessly, in a manner to beget and retain for himself the confidence and good will of the general public and to serve the best interests of the citizens of Shawnee county. It is the belief of his many friends throughout Shawnee county that in 1912 he will again be the choice of his party for the office of sheriff and that he will be reëlected by an increased majority.
On Dec. 24, 1863, Colonel Norton was united in marriage to Miss Ada Sheffield, of Napoleon, Ohio. Seven children have been born of their union, five of whom are living. Dr. William Sheffield is a physician at Muscatine, Iowa; Marie is the wife of Dr. H. S. Judd, of Tacoma, Wash.; David Watterson is cashier of the First National Bank of Guymon, Okla.; Jonathan Dorr, Jr., resides at Kansas City, Mo., and Ralph H. is a deputy in his father's office. All five of these children are married. The two deceased children were Ada May, first born, who died when two years of age, and John Harper, fourth born, who died at the age of twenty-nine, leaving a widow and one child. Colonel Norton and wife have nine grandchildren. Both are members of the New Jerusalem or Swedenborgian Church of Topeka.
Colonel Norton has led a busy and useful life, which has been marked by great energy, industry, and correct habits. He is public-spirited, progressive in his views, and keenly interested in all that pertains to the welfare of his city. He believes in education, temperance, and continual advancement along all lines of substantial progress, and is himself temperate in all things. In the matter of intoxicants he is a tee-totaler, and does not use tobacco in any form. The abstemious life he has led is no doubt responsible to some extent for his remarkably welll-preserved physique, for though he is now three-score and ten and has reached an age at which many men are either completely worn out or ready to retire, he yet possesses the vigor and energy of a many of fifty, and would readily pass for a man fifteen years his junior.
Colonel Norton is very prominently affiliated with the Masonic order, in which he has attained the Thirty-third Scottish Rite degree; is a life member of the Ohio Consistory, Scottish Rite Masons, of Cincinnati, Ohio; is a past eminent commander of the Knights Templars; a member of the Ancient Arabic Order, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine; a member of the Royal Order of Scotland, and has been treasurer of the council of administration of the Scottish Rite bodies of Topeka for the past fifteen years. He is also a member of the Royal Arcanum and of the Knights and Ladies of Security. By virtue of lineal descent he is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution and has served as treasurer of the Kansas branch of that order for ten years. He is an ex-director of the Central National Bank, of Topeka, and is a life member of the Kansas Stale Historical Society.Pages 184-186 from volume III, part 1 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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