Sunday, February 9, 2014

52 Ancestors: #6 - Sophia JOLLETT Norman

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued a challenge:  write one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor.  It can be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem – anything that focuses on one ancestor.

In the ever-growing saga of my “imagined” family – the ones whose connection to the family tree is still unsettled – I am proud to introduce Sophia Jollett.  Why proud?  Because I actually know some stuff. 

I believe Sophia is my 4th great grandaunt.  She was born about 1771 in Culpeper County, Virginia and married Cuthbert Norman August 2, 1791 in Orange County.  Marriage records indicate Mary was her mother and James Jollett was bondsman.  Therefore, it would be just lovely if Sophia turned out to be James’s sister.

One little wish that always punctuates my family research is to find where my ancestors actually lived, walk where they walked, see the view they woke to every day.  With Sophia, that wish has come true.  In 2004, the Greene County (Virginia) Historical Society magazine carried an article about the Powell-McMullan house.  Sophia and Cuthbert were one of the families that passed through as owners of this house, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.  They owned the house and 1 ¾ acres at the foot of Saddleback Mountain along the South River from 1819 to 1842 when they sold the property for $71.73. 

Powell-McMullan House Greene County, Virginia
image courtesy Greene County Historical Society
Powell-McMullan House built around 1800
Additions in 1842

I suspect the sale indicates a date of death for ol’ Cuthbert. 

Cuthbert Norman didn’t have much luck with census takers, I guess.  Perhaps he and Sophia began their married life in the household of his or her parents.  Cuthbert was not indexed as Head of Household until 1820 when he was indexed as “Cadbush Norman.”  In 1830 it was “Cathbert Werman,” which reflects poorly on the indexer because it’s an alphabetized list and there he was among the “N’s.”  Then in 1840, he was indexed as “Cuthlert Newman.”  Getting closer. 

At any rate, he was gone after 1840 and the aging and blind Sophia was living with her only known daughter Julia Ann and son-in-law James Taylor when the next census takers came around in both 1850 and 1860.  Sophia died sometime after 1860.

“Only known daughter” implies there may have been other children.  The 1820 census in Orange County, Virginia suggests there were three more children.  In the Norman household were Cuthbert and Sophia who were 45+, 2 males 16-25, 1 female under 10 (that would be Julia Ann), and 1 female 10-15. In the 1830 census, only Julia Ann was still at home.  If the other three were not dead, they were likely married and in their own homes somewhere else.  

While I have not performed an exhaustive search of Sophia’s line, it seems that for at least several generations the descendants remained close to Greene County, Virginia.  They seem also to have stayed close to their Taylor cousins and to the Lambs – lots of those marriages.

Three Generations
Sophia Jollett (Abt 1771 – After 1860) & Cuthbert Norman (Abt 1770 – About 1842) married 2 Aug 1791 Orange County, VA

1. Julia Ann NORMAN (Abt 1818 – After 1880) & James S. TAYLOR (Abt 1815 – After 1880) married 31 July 1834 Orange County, VA
  • Nancy E. TAYLOR (1833 - )
  • Andy TAYLOR (1837 - ) & Narcissus TAYLOR (May 1855 - ) married 9 Apr 1898 Greene County, VA
  • Larkin TAYLOR (1838 - )
  • Mary TAYLOR (1841 - )
  • Joseph TAYLOR (1843 - )
  • Martha S. TAYLOR (1845 - ) & Samuel LAMB (1853 - ) married 21 Jan 1871 Greene County, VA
  • Eliza Jane TAYLOR (1847 - ) & Jeremiah LAMB (1841 - ) married 14 Jul 1874 Greene County, VA
  • Henrietta TAYLOR (1850 - ) & Zachariah Jack TAYLOR (Sep 1846 - ) married 28 Aug 1873 Greene County, VA
  • Tyreeta TAYLOR (1852 - )

To do:
  1. Look for wills for Cuthbert Norman and Sophia Jollett Norman
  2. Research Larkin Norman of Rockingham County (Julia Ann had a son named Larkin, so maybe there is a connection)

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. A lovely post again that invigorates my soul! Yes, I also have those same feelings about the life of my ancestors. It's really an adventure, or perhaps a gift, is a better word to describe discovering an address, or nickname to a place that one of my relatives were, and then go check it out. I find draft registrations, besides birth certificates really can offer more hidden clues as to what they were up to, and even where they lived.

  2. What you said in paragraph three about walking where your ancestors walked—that's what fascinates me most about genealogy. What an amazing sense of wonder and discovery that must be!

  3. What a grand opportunity that must have been to actually see the home of your Sophia! It looks like the house has been well kept up, after all these years. How fortunate for you--and for all the others who've gotten to share seeing it, thanks to the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places. Nothing like getting to participate in a piece of tangible history.

  4. It is such fascinating research, I love reading about your family members.

  5. Glad to know the Jolletts helped populate the valley of VA. =)

    Cool house. We must go sometime.

  6. Like Dana said, there is an eerie sense of peace when I am able to walk where my ancestors walked. What a beautiful house!

  7. Wendy, I love it when I can visit places that my ancestors have lived; the land connects us through time.

  8. How wonderful to see the house where your ancestors lived!

  9. Hello! I ran across your post during genealogy research. The Powell McMullan house was also a part of my McMullan family. James McMullan was my 4th great grandfather. We also have Taylor cousins in our family. My great-grandmother, Catherine Brittie Taylor the daughter of Susan May and Evan T. Taylor married Willie Newton McMullan.