Rev. H.J. Norris was born at Smithville, Wayne County, Ohio on February 22, 1846, and died at his home in Winchester, Indiana, February 14, 1916.
Born of upright and pious parents, who both loved God and loved their country, Brother Norris came to his youth and early manhood during the stirring days of the Civil War. Three brothers had already joined the colors, and he very much longed to share the struggles and serve in the defense of his country. To this cause he heartily offered himself, but frail health rendered it unwise for the military authorities to admit him to the rank of soldier. Undaunted by this rejection, he gave himself for a term to the service of the Pioneer Corps., a service in which he assisted in such work as building roads, bridges, and fortifications. Failing health soon compelled his retirement from this service.
Returning to his native state, he entered Normal School at Wooster, Ohio, where he achieved distinction in the field of public debate.
Brother Norris was born into the spiritual kingdom in Wooster, February 16, 1867. This was under the ministry of Rev. J.H. McConnell, father of Bishop F.J. McConnell, of the Methodist Church. He soon after united with the church at Canal Fulton, and the following summer he was licensed to preach. For some years he was a teacher, and continued to teach and to preach until, closing his work in the schools of Dunkirk, IN. He entered the North Indiana Conference in 1873, and gave himself for thirty-nine years to the ministry of the Word.
He was married to Hattie Snyder, January 24, 1878. Of his own immediate family he had two children, a daughter Mrs. Edna Foust and son Dean Norris. His illness covered a period of about eighteen months After the funeral which was held at the first Methodist Episcopal Church in Winchester, Indiana, his body was taken to Dalton, Ohio for internment.
Building Through the Years
In the year 1880, the Norris Chapel Building was constructed, consisting of a one-room structure without belfry and altar. In 1899 the belfry and alter were added.
After a generous land donation from Ralph Allison in 1953, the church building was moved north its length and east the width of the building. It was placed on an eight foot wall with a full basement. The complete cost of moving the cost, labor, and material was approximately $4,000. This additional basement space provided much needed room for Sunday School Classrooms, a nursery, and a kitchen. The bell was taken down on May 11, 1961 and later mounted on the church lawn.
In May 1968 "United" was added to the church name, making the official name Norris Chapel United Methodist Church. This change was due to the merger of the United Brethren and the Methodist Churches.
On June 15, 1987 a new wooden cross constructed by Loyal Norton was placed in the front of the Sanctuary replacing the white cross constructed by Leslie Brown. A new steeple for the church was installed June 8, 1989.
In 1991 Norris Chapel saw new growth through the addition of the Fellowship Hall and the 300 square foot expansion of the Sanctuary.