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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Thriller Thursday - Clark Norton Kills Benjamin Franklin

These people are not related to any of our lines but I came across this story and found it interesting.


Clark Norton was born 5/10/1881 in Madison County, NC to Martin Richard Norton (DOB 7/13/1839 in Madison County, NC; DOD 1/12/1924 in Greeneville, Greene County, TN) and Lavina "Viney" Chandler (DOB 1/16/1849 in Madison County, NC; DOD 5/8/1927 in Greene County, TN).


Shelton Laurel area


I found these photos online about Shelton Laurel and hiking some trails there. I thought these showed how dense the mountain laurel could be which is where the area gets it's name and why it was remote and isolated. During the War of Northern Aggression there could be snipers and men behind every bush.


1900 U.S. Census of Shelton Laurel, Madison, North Carolina; Page: 10; Enumeration District: 0074; FHL microfilm: 1241205, "Martin Norton"
Martin Norton, Head, W(hite), M(ale), Born July, 1836, 63 yrs old, Married 34 yrs, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC, Farmer, Can read, Cannot write, Owns farm free of mortgage
Vinnie Norton, Wife, W, F, Born Jan, 1848, 52 yrs old, Married 34 yrs, 12 children with 10 still living, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC, Can read and cannot write
Mary Norton, Daughter, W, F, Born Apr, 1879, 21 yrs old, Single, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC, Can read and cannot write
Line E. Norton (sic), Daughter, W, F, Born Feb, 1880, 20 yrs old, Single, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC, Can read and cannot write
Ambers Norton, Son, W, M, Born Nov, 1882, Single, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC
Clark Norton, Son, W, M, Born May, 1884, 16 yrs old, Single, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC
George W. Norton, Daughter (sic), W, M, Born Nov, 1886, 13 yrs old, Single, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC
Armedy Rice, Granddaughter, W, F, Born Jan, 1898, 2 yrs old, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC

Clark Norton had a child with Vinnie Norton. Vinnie Norton was born Abt. 1882 in Madison County, NC to John Norton and Samantha Talton (aka Samantha Tarlton). The child was raised by her maternal grandmother:

1) Samantha Norton (DOB 5/1/1903 in Madison County, NC; DOD 1/3/1991 in Cocke County, TN) married Dillard Franklin (aka Dellard Franklin) (DOB 6/18/1900 in NC; DOD 7/19/1973 in Parrotsville, Cocke County, TN)

Vinnie Norton went on to marry Joseph "Joe" Cantrell on 4/23/1908 in Madison County, NC. Joseph Cantrell was born 4/1888 in NC and died 5/9/1940 in Madison County, NC.


The Charlotte News, Charlotte, NC, 11/13/1907
He Went For Sweetheart With Marriage License And Revolver In Hand
Sensational Murder Over Love Affair is Reported From White Rock, N.C., Parties From Prominent Families
Within a Half Hour After Young Clarke Norton Had Killed His Rival He and Girl Were Married
By Associated Press
Asheville, N.C., Nov 13-Further particulars of the killing of young William Franklin (sic), at White Rock, N.C., by Clarke Norton, both of whom were members of well-known families, state that Norton went to the home of George Franklin where Elizabeth Gentry, over whom the killing was about, lived.
He had a marriage license and a revolver.
After killing Franklin, his rival for Miss Gentry's hand, whom he found at her house, Norton and Miss Gentry left for a nearby minister, and were married within a half hour afterward.
Norton was not arrested until the following morning, when he was taken to the jail at Marshall, N.C.
He was accompanied by his bride, who begged to be allowed to go to jail with him, but was refused.
The bride is a pretty 17-year-old girl.


The North Carolinian, Raleigh, NC, 11/14/1907, Pg 3
Sunday Homicide
Both In Love With Same Girl
Clerk Norton (sic, Clark Norton) Kills Benjamin Franklin, Both Young and of Highly Respected Madison County Families
Asheville, N.C., Nov. 11-News was received here this afternoon of another homicide in Madison County. The killing occurred last evening at the home of George Franklin at White Rock in the Shelton Laurel section. It seems that two young men, Clerk Norton (sic) and Benj. Franklin, were paying attention to a young lady, Miss Gentry, guest at the home of George Franklin and there they met last evening, when young Norton, it is alleged, through jealousy, shot and killed Franklin.
Franklin was twenty-two years of age while Norton, the slayer, is scarcely eighteen. Norton was arrested. Full particulars of the affair could not be learned as the scene of the killing is some sixteen or eighteen miles from Marshall. Both men, it is said, are of well known and highly respected families.

The Wilmington Morning Star, Wilmington, NC, 11/13/1907, Pg 4


The Asheville Weekly Citizen, Asheville, NC, 11/14/1907, Pg 5


The Charlotte Observer, Charlotte, NC, 11/15/1907, Pg 10
Slayer of Ben Franklin Refuses to Make a Statement
Asheville, Nov. 15-A Telephone message from Marshall this afternoon said that efforts to secure a statement from Clark Norton, the 18-year-old slayer of Ben Franklin, now in the Marshall jail, have been futile; that Norton's attorneys had advised him not to talk. It is understood, however, that the accused will plead self defense.
Norton shot and killed Ben Franklin Sunday evening at the home of George Franklin, in Madison county. He had gone to Franklin's home for the purpose of marrying a young lady at the home and there met Ben Franklin. Trouble ensued and Norton killed Franklin, afterwards during the night carrying out his previous intentions of marrying the young woman of his choice.

The French Broad News, Marshall, NC, 5/7/1908, Pg 3


The French Broad News, Marshall, NC, 8/27/1908, Pg 2
Clark Norton, murder. This was the killing of Ben Franklin on Shelton Laurel some months ago. Norton entered plea of nolo contendre and was sentenced to the roads 18 months.

Madison County Record, Marshall, NC, 8/28/1908, Pg 5


He killed his rival and married the girl all in the same night. As you can see from the record below that the girl was Daisy Gentry.

North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011
Name: Clark Norton
Gender: Male
Race: White
Age: 22
Birth Year: abt 1885
Marriage Date: 10 Nov 1907
Marriage Place: Madison, North Carolina, USA
Spouse: Daisy Gentry
Spouse Gender: Female
Spouse Race: White
Spouse Age: 22
Event Type: Marriage


Daisy C. Gentry was born 9/1884 in NC to Lucinda "Lucy" Gentry (DOB 11/8/1846 in Buncombe County, NC; DOD 7/8/1930 in Flat Creek, Buncombe County, NC) and an unknown father. In fact, Lucinda had 3 children with unknown father. The other two were Thomas Edgar Gentry (DOB 6/4/1882 in NC; DOD 4/5/1969 in Weaverville, Buncombe County, NC) and Ruby L. Gentry (DOB 10/1888 in NC; DOD ? in ? ). Lucinda Gentry was the daughter of John Homes Gentry and Sarah Bale or Sarah Ball.

Despite murdering Benjamin Franklin, Clark Norton only got 18 months "on the Buncombe roads". This meant he had to work in the chain gang that worked on the roads. It seems the marriage didn't last long as he is back living with his parents in the 1910 U.S. Census. But they no longer live in Shelton Laurel, Madison County, NC. Maybe Clark Norton was no longer welcome in the community there or they were afraid the Franklin family would retaliate.

1910 U.S. Census of Civil District 2, Cocke, Tennessee; Roll: T624_1494; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 0037; FHL microfilm: 1375507, "Martin Norton"
Martin Norton, Head, M(ale), W(hite), 72 yrs old, 2nd marriage, Married 40 yrs, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC, Farmer, Cannot read and write, Rents farm
Lavina Norton, Wife, F, W, 60 yrs old, 1st marriage, Married 40 yrs, 11 children with 9 still living, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC, Cannot read or write
Clark Norton, Son, M, W, 23 yrs old, Single, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC, Laborer on home farm, Can read and write
Meta Rice, Granddaughter, F, W, 13 yrs old, Single, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC
Winson Norton, Grandson, M, W, 14 yrs old, Single, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC

As far as Daisy Gentry is concerned, I found a "Daisy Norton" (her married name) marrying a J.N. Epley on 1/23/1908 in Buncombe County, NC. She and Clark got married 11/10/1907, and she remarried on 1/23/1908, that would be a pretty fast turnaround. Maybe the Daisy Norton who married J.N. Epley wasn't the same Daisy? I couldn't really be sure and there were other Daisies. Therefore I didn't follow her any further. It's possible that she got an annulment or quick divorce if it seemed that Clark forced her to marry him?

Clark Norton next married Eliza Franklin. Yep, he killed a Ben Franklin at a George Franklin home over Daisy Gentry and then married a Franklin!

Tennessee, Marriage Records, 1780-2002
Name: Liza Franklin
Gender: Female
Marriage Date: 25 Feb 1911
Marriage Place: Greene, Tennessee, USA
Spouse: Clark Marton (sic, Clark Norton)

Liza Franklin was born 6/8/1871 in Madison County, NC to James Henry Franklin and Emaline Gentry.

TN Death Certificate #30, Registration District #43003, Registered #6, Eliza Norton, DOD 2/25/1914 in Greeneville, Greene County, TN
Female, White, DOB 1/15/1884 in NC, 30 yrs old
Occupation: Housewife
Father: Henry Franklin, born in NC
Mother: Emaline Gentry, born in NC
Informant: Henry Franklin, Greeneville, TN
DOD 2/25/1914
Cause of death: "Dr. Ed Bell of Greeneville treated this case. No certificate turned in"
Burial: 2/26/1914 in Cocke County, TN

We have no idea how Clark's 2nd wife died as the death certificate is unusual. I have seen other death certificates that say, generally, "no physician in attendance". But this death certificate doesn't say that. It says, "Dr. Ed Bell of Greeneville treated this case". So a doctor was in the loop but he didn't fill out a death certificate. Why? There is a medical code #205 which may be "heart failure". She was only 30 yrs old. Very sad.

FindAGrave.com
Eliza Franklin Norton
BIRTH 8 Jun 1871
DEATH 26 Feb 1914 (aged 42)
BURIAL White Cemetery, Newport, Cocke County, Tennessee, USA
MEMORIAL ID 14619263


Clark Norton married a 3rd time to Matilda "Tildey" Shelton on 1/23/1915 in Cocke County, TN. Matilda Shelton was born 1/7/1895 in NC to Willard and Angeline Shelton.

Tennessee, Marriage Records, 1780-2002
Name: Matilda Shelton
Gender: Female
Marriage Date: 23 Jan 1915
Marriage Place: Cocke, Tennessee, USA
Spouse: Clark Norton

U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Registration State: Tennessee; Registration County: Cocke; Roll: 1852930
Serial #230, Order #333, 41-1-10C
Clark Norton
Rt 3, Parrotsville, Cocke County, TN
DOB 5/10/1881, 36 yrs old
White
Farmer for self
Nearest relative: Matilda Norton (wife), Rt 3, Parrotsville, Cocke County, TN
Medium Height, Slender Build, Blue Eyes, Dark Hair
Signed by him on 9/12/1918


Clark Norton and Matilda Shelton had 4 children:

1) Carrie Mae Norton (DOB 3/1916 in Cocke County, TN; DOD ? in ? ) married W.M. Parton

2) Vina "Viney" Norton (DOB 3/17/1917 in Newport, Cocke County, TN; DOD 12/24/2007 in Marshall, Madison County, NC) married Elmer Gunter.

3) Jessie Norton (DOB 6/12/1918 in Cocke County, TN; DOD 6/20/1979 in Greene County, TN) married Herbert Franklin and Donald Calvin Gunter.

4) Martin E. Norton (DOB 8/4/1919 in Cocke County, TN; DOD 7/31/2000 in Greene County, TN) married Sadie Opal Norton.

1920 U.S. Census of Civil District 2, Cocke, Tennessee; Roll: T625_1733; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 40, "Clark Norton"
Clark Norton, Head, Owned farm, M(ale), W(hite), 37 yrs old (DOB 1883), Married, Can read and write, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC, Farmer
Matilda Norton, Wife, F, W, 25 yrs old (DOB 1895), Married, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC
Carrie Mae Norton, Daughter, F, W, 3 yrs old (DOB 1917), Born in TN, Both parents born in NC
Vina Norton, Daughter, F, W, 2 yrs old, Single, Born in TN, Both parents born in NC
Jessie Norton, Daughter, F, W, 1 yr old, Born in TN, Both parents born in NC
Martin Norton, Son, M, W, 6/12 mos old, Born in TN, Both parents born in NC

Matilda Shelton Norton died at just 26 yrs old.

TN Death Certificate #410, Registration District #41502, File #410, Registered #30, Matilda Norton, DOD 12/16/1921 in Parrotsville, Cocke County, NC
Female, White, Married, DOB 1/7/1895 in NC, 26 yrs old
Occupation: Housewife
Father: Willard Shelton, born in NC
Mother: Angeline Shelton, born in NC
Informant: Angeline Shelton, Parrotsville, TN
DOD 12/16/1921
Cause of death: Puerperal fever (septic fever)
Buried: 12/16/1921 in St. James

So Clark Norton married a 4th time to Mary E. Ricker on 9/5/1922 in Greene County, TN.

FindAGrave.com
Matilda Shelton Norton
BIRTH 1894
DEATH 1920 (aged 25–26)
BURIAL White Cemetery, Newport, Cocke County, Tennessee, USA
MEMORIAL ID 102206906

Tennessee, Marriage Records, 1780-2002
Name: Clark Norton
Gender: Male
Marriage Date: 5 Sep 1922
Marriage Place: Greene, Tennessee, USA
Spouse: Mary Ricker

Clark Norton and Mary Ricker Norton had 2 children:

1) Ruby Irene Norton (DOB 12/19/1923 in Newport, Cocke County, TN; DOD 1/9/1996 in Madison County, NC)

2) Amarada Norton (DOB 2/1/1926 in Greene County, TN; DOD 10/31/2008 in Newport, Cocke County, TN)

1930 U.S. Census of District 2, Cocke, Tennessee; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0005; FHL microfilm: 2341972, "Clark L. Norton"
Clark L. Norton, Head, Owns farm, M(ale), W(hite), 52 yrs old, Married at 22 yrs old, Can read and write, Born in NC, Both parents born in NC, Farmer
Marry Norton (sic), Wife, F, W, 46 yrs old, Married 28 yrs old, Born in TN, Both parents born in TN
Carry M. Norton, Daughter, F, W, 16 yrs old, Single, Born in TN, Father born in NC, Mother born in TN
Vina A. Norton, Daughter, F, W, 15 yrs old, Single, Born in TN, Father born in NC, Mother born in TN
Jessie Norton, Daughter, F, W, 12 yrs old, Single, Born in TN, Father born in NC, Mother born in TN
Martin E. Norton, Son, M, W, 10 yrs old, Single, Born in TN, Father born in NC, Mother born in TN
Ruby Norton, Daughter, F, W, 5 yrs old, Born in TN, Father born in NC, Mother born in TN
Amarada Norton, Daughter, F, W, 3 yrs old, Born in TN, Father born in NC, Mother born in TN

1940 U.S. Census of Greene, Tennessee; Roll: m-t0627-03896; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 30-3, "Clark Norton"
Clark Norton, Head, M(ale), W(hite), 56 yrs old, Married, Attended school thru 3rd grade, Born in NC, Lived in the same place in 1935, Farmer
Mary Norton, Wife, F, W, 52 yrs old, Married, Attended school thru 1st grade, Born in TN, Lived in the same place in 1935
Ruby Norton, Daughter, F, W, 16 yrs old, Single, Attended school thru 3rd grade, Born in TN, Lived in the same place in 1935
Amarada Norton, Daughter, F, W, 14 yrs old, Single, Attended school thru 1st grade, Born in TN, Lived in the same place in 1935
Emery Norton, Hired hand, M, W, 24 yrs old, Divorced, Attended school thru 2nd grade, Born in TN, Lived in the same place in 1935, common laborer

Mary Ricker Norton died 5/27/1959 at the age of 68 yrs old. This time Clark Norton had managed to stay married 37 yrs!

NC Death Certificate #12023, Registration District #11-95, Mary Norton, DOD 5/27/1959 in Mission Hospital, Asheville, Buncombe County, NC
Usual residence: Paint Rock, Madison County, NC
Female, White, Married, DOB 6/5/1890 in TN, 68 yrs old
Father: Columbus Ricker, Mother: Unknown (Susan Catherine Davis), Spouse: Clark Norton, Informant: Amarada Norton, Paint Rock, NC
DOD 5/27/1959 at 23:45am
Cause of death: Ventricular fibrillation due to congestive heart failure
Buried: 5/29/1959 in Cedar Creek, Greeneville, Greene County, TN

FindAGrave.com
Mary Ricker Norton
BIRTH 5 Jun 1888
DEATH 27 May 1959 (aged 70)
BURIAL Cedar Creek Cemetery, Cedar Creek, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
MEMORIAL ID 70862909

He may have married a 5th time as Clark Norton lived to 1973 and he had never been without a woman more than a year in his life. Clark Norton died 1/1973 in Greene County, TN.

U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014
Name: Clark Norton
SSN: ***********
Last Residence: 37743 Greeneville, Greene, Tennessee, USA
BORN: 10 May 1881
Died: Jan 1973
State (Year) SSN issued: Tennessee (1965)

FindAGrave.com
Clark Norton
BIRTH 1884
DEATH 1973 (aged 88–89)
BURIAL White Cemetery, Newport, Cocke County, Tennessee, USA
MEMORIAL ID 14619280

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