Wesley Wilshire Norris

Photos from the Past

Wesley Wilshire Norris

Wesley Wilshire Norris was born November 24, 1829 in Brown County, Ohio near Cincinnati and died d. July 15, 1904 in Rock Rapids, Iowa. His parents were James and Sarah Norris and his siblings were Hannah, Elizabeth, James, Delilah, Francis Sears, Margaret, Parmelia, and Gashem. The James (Sr.) Norris family moved into the southwestern part of Indiana and lived in the towns of Bowling Green and Terre Haute shortly after Wesley's birth.

Wesley and his older brother, Francis Sears, volunteered and enlisted for duty in 1847 in Captain Cochrane's, Company H of the 4th Indiana Regiment Volunteers in the Mexican War.

Wesley married Harriet Coppock in 1852 but found her carrying his brother's child and divorced her and then married her sister Adeline in 1858. It was also in 1857-58 that Wesley attended the Medical College of Ohio (Cincinnati Medical School) for one semester. From this, Wesley became a physician and doctor. Wesley and Adeline eventually had twelve children - with Wesley, Jr. being born in 1864 (Wesley had received a medical furlough of one month in 1863 [nine months earlier] to save his life due to severe stress).

At the outbreak of the Civil War, it appears that Wesley had seen enough horrors in the Mexican War that he chose to not enlist with the 11th Indiana Regiment who mustered in from Terre Haute. By September of 1861, Wesley decided that his country again needed his services. On September 18, 1861 Wesley marched a group of men from Terre Haute up to Indianapolis and became the Captain of Company D of the 43rd Indiana Infantry Regiment. On October 18, 1862, Wesley was transferred from Company D to Field and Staff and became Major of the 43rd and retroactive to May 20, 1865 Wesley was Lt. Colonel of the 43rd.

The 43rd served as part of the 13th and 7th Corps in the Union Armies of Ohio and Mississippi, Departments of Missouri and Tennessee, the Arkansas Expedition and the Department of Arkansas from 1861 through 1865. Major engagements included: Siege of New Madrid and Island No. 10 / Fort Pillow / the FIRST regiment to enter Memphis, Tennessee / White River and Helena, Arkansas (at this battle the 43rd set a record of being the ONLY regiment in the Union Armies to capture a regiment LARGER than it's own numbers) / Grenada, Mississippi / Yazoo Pass / Elkin's and Jenkin's Ferrys, Camden and Mark's Mill, Arkansas (losing over 200 men as captured [Wesley was one of them] and taken to Camp Ford in Tyler, Texas for 11 months). Its original strength was 985; gain by recruits, 1,154; reenlistments, 165; total, 2,304. Loss by death - 206, desertion - 121; unaccounted for - 285.

After the Civil War, Wesley moved his family to Illinois and then pioneered the city of Rock Rapids, Iowa. An 1876 Lyon County Reporter newspaper lists, In August it was announced that Rock Rapids had its first resident doctor. He was Dr. W.W. Norris who had, it was announced, 13 years experience. Another source lists W.W. Norris elected as County Coroner in 1879. The roster of the Dunlap Post (Iowa), No. 147, in May 28, 1904 lists Wesley W. Norris as a member of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.). The history of the 43rd was published in 1903 by William E. McLean, Col. of the 43rd. Wesley has a chapter included in that book titled, The Battle of Mark's Mill.

Wesley's youngest half-brother, Gashem, served in the 6th Indiana (90-day) as a Sgt. and the 15th Kentucky, U.S. as 3rd Corporal during the Civil War.

Photograph and information submitted by Wesley Wilshire Norris's great great great grandnephew Bruce B. Butgereit, John A. Logan Camp #1, Department of Michigan, SUVCW and Michigan Commandery, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the U.S.

Lt Col. Wesley Wilshire Norris