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Biographical Sketch of Jesse Peters Norfleet (1814-1889)

by Phil Norfleet


JESSE PETERS6 NORFLEET (ABRAHAM5, JOHN4, JOHN3, JOHN2, THOMAS1 NORTHFLEETE) was born 13 March 1814 in Nansemond County VA, and died 24 April 1889 in Holly Springs MS. He married JANE H. CARLOCK 21 October 1841 in Holly Springs MS. She was born 10 April 1820 in AL, and died 18 February 1864 in Holly Springs MS.  Jesse was the son of Abraham Norfleet (1774-1827) and Elizabeth Alston (1788-1852) of Nansemond County, Virginia.



Last Will and Testament of Jesse Peters Norfleet

The will of Jesse Peters Norfleet, dated 01 August 1880, was entered into probate in Marshall County MS on 17 May 1889.  A transcription of this will is set forth below:

I, J. P. Norfleet of the City of Holly Springs, Marshall County, State of Mississippi:

Knowing the certainty of death & the uncertainty of life, do hereby make this my last will and testament.  I desire after death a decent burial and after paying all my just debts, the remainder of my Estate and property real & personal, to be equally divided between my three children:  Ada E. Rand, Frank M. Norfleet and Jesse C. Norfleet.  I hereby give to them full power and authority to act & to do whatsoever they may think best in the premises.

In the event of the death of any of my children, the survivor or survivors shall have the same power as the whole.  My son-in-law, H. O. Rand, shall act as agent for his wife.  I wish it distinctly understood that my estate shall be settled in full by my children & not by the Chancery Court.  In thus giving to them such absolute control, it is my earnest desire that an amicable, an honorable, an equitable and an equal distribution shall be made.  I wish each one of my children to be charged with the respective amounts I have given them heretofore.

Given under my hand & seal this the first day of August 1880.

/S/ J. P. Norfleet (Seal)

Witnessed by:

P. S. Allison

Israel Sailer

R. A. McWilliams


Newspaper Clippings Re Jesse Norfleet

1)  A good article concerning Jesse Peters Norfleet's life in Holly Springs, Mississippi has been published in the "Old-Timer Press" (Ripley MS), Volume 2, Number 11 (June 1983), pages 2-3. A pertinent extract from that article follows:


The Norfleets and Their Connections

By Hubert McAlexander, Jr.

A charming survivor from the early days of Holly Springs, "Dunvegan" stands on the northwest corner of Gholson and Craft, where it has stood since a traveler through the town in the late 1840's described the place as a "village of white cottages."

The corner lot was purchased by the builder of the house, Jesse P. Norfleet, on January 3, 1845 (Deed Book L, p. 672). As is the case with many houses, we cannot establish an exact date for the structure, but it is reasonable to suppose that Norfleet had the house put up soon after he bought the land.

According to a published family sketch, Norfleet (1814-1889) had come to Holly Swings in 1838 from Suffolk, Virginia. A cabinetmaker by trade, he set up shop in a wooden building on Spring Street (on the site of the present First Baptist Church and facing west). The first advertisement that I can find for his business appears in an 1839 newspaper.

About 1840, he was married to Jane H. Carlock, daughter of Moses and Lydia Carlock. A prosperous planter, Carlock lived in the Wesley Chapel neighborhood about seven miles north and west of town. Members of his family lie beneath handsome monuments in the Old Wesley Chapel Cemetery.

Norfleet is listed in the 1850 census as a cabinetmaker, but appears in the 1860 report as a farmer. This is not an unusual pattern for the times, for most people saw cotton as the way to wealth, and many from various trades and professions (including sometimes even the ministry) went into farming after raising sufficient capital.

Two of Norfleet's brothers-in-law were engaged in a profitable planting partnership under the name Chambless and Carlock in DeSoto County, and Norfleet may well have followed their lead.

About a year after the latter census was taken, Norfleet sold the house that he had built. But, before we follow the subsequent owners, Jesse P. Norfleet deserves further attention, for not only was he a prominent citizen of Holly Springs for many years, but his descendants occupy an important position in the history of the whole region.

After the Civil War, Norfleet went into business with Israel Sailer, a prewar "master builder" in Holly Springs, under the style Norfleet and Sailer, Furniture and Undertaking. (This was a common combination of services. The Lucas Furniture Company, which was in the present cafe building on the southeast corner of the square, also buried people.)

I know that Norfleet and Sailer were in business by 1870 and in the l880's the firm occupied the Seale Drug Store building on the northeast corner of the square.

Jesse P. Norfleet's three children all did well. The oldest, Ada (1842-1898), was married shortly after the Civil War to Henry Oscar Rand, who at that time was farming near Red Banks, but who in the 1880's moved to Holly Springs and established a mercantile firm, Rand, Johnson, and Company, which included his two sons and his nephews Jackson and Oscar Johnson.

At Oscar Rand's death in 1892, the Holly Springs business was sold. The remaining partners moved to Memphis and entered the shoe business. The partnership later located in St. Louis and founded the International Shoe Company, a giant of the industry.

Norfleet's first son, Frank M. (1846-1921) married Octavia Stinson of Marshall County in 1866. He settled first in Panola County, then in Tate, and finally, in 1884, in Memphis, where in that year he established Sledge & Norfleet Company on the Memphis Cotton Exchange.

His younger brother, Jesse Chambless, known as Cham (b. 1856), also settled in Memphis, and the Norfleet family has long been prominent there.

The year 1861, however, ended the Norfleet connection with the "white cottage" now known as "Dunvegan" -- though it was long identified primarily as the Norfleet homestead. On the twenty-eighth of September, Jesse P. Norfleet sold the house to James Jarrell House (Book Y, p. 488).

Or to be more accurate, the two men traded residences -- Norfleet now moving to the home vacated by Mr. House on the northwest corner of Maury and Park, known in recent decades as the Nick White place (Book Y, p. 491), The Norfleet family lived on Maury until 1870, and Dunvegan had now passed into the hands of one of the most colorful characters in the history of Holly Springs. ...


2)  Jesse Norfleet's home "Dunvegan" was put up for sale in 1991.  A digitized facsimile of a newspaper ad for this property is shown below:





i. ADA ELIZABETH7 NORFLEET, b. 22 September 1842, Marshall County MS; d. 07 December 1896, Senatobia MS; m. HENRY OSCAR RAND, 27 April 1863, Marshall County MS; b. 31 March 1838, Madison County AL; d. 23 June 1892, Holly Springs MS.

ii. FRANK MARMADUKE NORFLEET, b. 09 April 1846, Marshall County MS; d. 17 November 1921, Memphis TN; m. ELIZABETH OCTAVIA STINSON; b. 1848, SC; d. 1919, Memphis TN.


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