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William Norton Collection: Finding Aid
mssHM 63620-63637  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: William Norton Collection
    Dates (inclusive): 1661-1979
    Bulk dates: 1840-1890
    Collection Number: mssHM 63620-63637
    Creator: Norton, William.
    Extent: 41 items in 1 box and 3 oversize items
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This small collection contains correspondence of William Norton (died 1908) regarding his voyage to California from Massachusetts in 1849 and his time in the gold mines, as well as 17th and 18th century items regarding the Massachusetts ancestors of Norton and some other miscellaneous documents.
    Language: English.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. William Norton Collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Gift of Ruth E. Bacon, Helen N. Bacon, and Eunice Bacon Pippart, February 20, 1986.

    Biographical Note

    William Norton (died 1908) left Lynn, Massachusetts, for California in 1849 on the ship “Argonaut.” Norton first settled in Maxwell’s Creek (also called Coulterville), Mariposa County, and later moved to Big Oak Flat, Tuolumne County. Norton returned to Massachusetts in 1855. He later invented the Norton Clasp for shoes, and with the money he earned in California, opened the Norton Clasp Shoe Company. He was a member of the Society of California Pioneers of New England and the Associated Pioneers of the Territorial Days of California. Norton died in 1908 at the age of 76.

    Scope and Content

    The manuscripts include a variety of material including several 17th and 18th century land deeds and wills related to William Norton’s ancestors in Massachusetts. There is one letter from Norton’s voyage on the ship “Argonaut” and four letters from his years spent living in California. In these letters Norton gives details about specific mines in California, the towns in which he lives, and his fellow miners. There is also a list of passengers of the ship “Argonaut.” The oversize items include William Norton’s membership certificate for the Society of California Pioneers of New England, and a sketch and painting of the ship “Argonaut,” both by Oliver Clark. The ephemera is made up of both printed material and realia and includes military records, such as discharge papers and pension certificates for Simon M. Nudd and Charles Walton, both of whom fought in the Civil War; a booklet for a meeting of the Associated Pioneers of the Territorial Days of California; a list of the members of and badge for the Society of California Pioneers of New England; and a lock and pocket compass which both belonged to William Norton.


    Arranged in the following order:
    • Manuscripts (organized chronologically)
    • Oversize items (organized alphabetically)
    • Ephemera (organized alphabetically)

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    Norton, William.
    Argonaut (Ship)
    Society of California Pioneers of New England.
    United States. Army. Maine Infantry Regiment, 24th (1862-1863)
    United States. Army. New Hampshire Infantry Regiment, 6th (1861-1865)
    Gold mines and mining -- California -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.
    Mines and mineral resources -- California -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.
    Travelers' writings, American.
    Voyages to the Pacific coast.
    Coulterville (Calif.) -- Description and travel.
    United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Sources.
    Massachusetts -- Genealogy.


    Artifacts -- United States.
    Certificates -- United States.
    Deeds -- United States.
    Drafts (negotiable instruments) -- United States.
    Family papers -- United States -- 19th century.
    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 19th century.
    Military records -- United States Civil War, 1861-1865.
    Wills -- United States.