Thomas Patrick Norton I
Norton-ThomasPatrickI 1960a.jpg
Sex: Male
Birth: November 8, 1891 (1891-11-08) (131 years ago)
Jersey City, New Jersey
Baptism: Roman Catholic
November 8, 1891
Saint Bridget's Parish
Jersey City, New Jersey
Death: January 12, 1968 (age 76)
54 years ago
Paul Kimball Hospital
Lakewood, New Jersey
Burial: Holy Name Cemetery
Jersey City, New Jersey
Father: Patrick J. Norton (1856-1905)
Mother: Sarah Jane Carr (1863-1950)
Spouse/Partner: Mary Margaret Burke (1890-1949)
Marriage: September 27, 1919 (age 27)
103 years ago
Saint John the Baptist
Jersey City, New Jersey
Children: Thomas Patrick Norton II (1920- )
Vincent Gerard Norton (1923-2005)
John Burke Norton (1927)
James Joseph Norton II (1929- )
Catherine Finn Norton (1930-1934)
2nd Spouse: Josephine Veronica Burke (1907-1995)
2nd Marriage: July 29, 1950 (age 58)
72 years ago
Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Morton, Pennsylvania

From left to right are: Thomas Patrick Norton I (1891-1968) with his wife, Mary Margaret Burke (1890-1949); Thomas Patrick Norton II (1920- ) and Vincent Girard Norton (1923-2005) circa 1925, on the corner of Garfield Avenue in Jersey City, New Jersey

Thomas Patrick Norton I (1891-1968) was the railroad yardmaster at the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad in Hoboken, New Jersey. He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus. (b. February 28, 1891; Jersey City, Hudson County, New Jersey, USA - d. January 12, 1968; Paul Kimball Hospital, 600 River Avenue, Lakewood, Ocean County, New Jersey, 08701-5281, USA) Military Service Number 1760271 and Social Security Number 714075711 and Railroad Retirement Board Number A-184756.


Birth and baptism[]

He was born on February 28, 1891. No birth certificate exists, he had to use his baptismal certificate when he applied to retire at the railroad. He was baptized on Sunday, November 8, 1891 at Saint Bridget's Parish in Jersey City, New Jersey. His godparents were Matthew Norton, who most likely was his uncle; and Ellen Hogan, a cousin of his mother.


Patrick and Sarah had five children and only three lived to adulthood:


He dropped out of school after completing the 7th grade according to the 1940 United States Census. He would have been around 12 and it would have been around 1903. This is one year short of a complete primary education.

Railroad career[]

In 1905 his father died and he took a job with the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad in August of 1906 as a messenger at age 15. He was promoted to weightmaster in October and worked in that position until April of 1907 when he became a clerk. In April of 1912 he was promoted to a switchman. He was promoted to the yardmaster in April of 1914 and served until June of 1917 when he was drafted into the United States Army to serve in World War I. The other yardmaster was George S. Lyon (1860-1938).

World War I[]

Tom filled out his draft card for World War I on June 5, 1917 and enlisted at Fort Slocum in New York on June 12, 1917. He trained at Camp Dix in New Jersey and on December 07, 1917 he tried unsuccessfully to transfer into a Railroad Engineer unit. He wrote:

[I] went to Philadelphia, Pa. to enlist in the Rail-road Engineers as a switchman but they had their full quota. Knowing that I would be of better service to the Government in the Rail-road Engineers than in the Ambulance Corps, I therefore request a transfer.

He then served in the 78th Infantry Division, as part of 303rd Sanitary Train. He was as an ambulance driver for the 310th Field Hospital. He started on June 4, 1918. He was in the Battle of Saint-Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensive. On Tuesday, November 12, 1918, the last day of the war he wrote to Mary Margaret Burke (1890-1949), his future wife:

My dear sweetheart, little one, now that the war is over, it won't be long now when I will be back in God's Country with you, dear heart. Have been out of the lines a few days now, thank God, for it sure is hell there. Don't think the ground taken by American's was not paid for by good American lives. [I] picked up this card in the Argonne Forest in a German dugout. I am well and hope you are the same."

He returned to the US on May 27, 1919 and was discharged on June 2, 1919. He returned to his job as yardmaster at the railroad.

First marriage[]

Tom married Mary Margaret Burke (1890-1949), on Saturday, September 27, 1919 at Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church in Jersey City. Mary was the daughter of John Joseph Burke I (1868-1939) and Nora M. Finn (1866-1898). The witnesses were his brother, James Joseph Norton I (1892-1961), and Mary’s half-sister, Bertha Burke (1902-1971). Tom went back to work at the railroad in June 1919 as yardmaster and stayed in that position until he retired on February 28, 1956. By 1920 Tom and Mary were living at 112-114 Romaine Avenue and then by 1930 they bought a two family house at 603 Garfield Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey.


Together they had 5 children, and three lived to adulthood. The children were:

Middle years[]

At the railroad, Tom worked 12 hour days for 28 days a month. He received two Sundays off each month. Once he won a brand new Oldsmobile in a raffle, but he was such a terrible driver, his wife made him sell the car. One time while driving he tore off the door of a car, from a man who opened the driver side door while parked at the curb. He registered for the World War II draft where he was 5' 4" and weighed 135 pounds which gave him a body mass index of 23.2.

In 1949, his wife, Mary died of appendicitis. She was in pain for several days, and her daughter-in-law, Selma Louise Freudenberg (1921-2009) dropped by on a surprise visit, found her sick, and called an ambulance. She told Selma that "you saved my life", but she died 14 days later from the infection.

At some point in his railroad career the railroad was unionized and he worked a 40 hour week. He used his spare time to play handball in the park and he spent time drinking in bars.

Second marriage[]

On July 29, 1950 Tom married Josephine Veronica Burke (1907-1995) at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church in Morton, Pennsylvania. Josephine was the half-sister of his first wife. The newspaper gives the following account of the wedding: "Miss May Veronica Burke, niece of Mrs. Mary E. Patterson, of 1181 Villanova Avenue, Rutledge, and Thomas Norton of 603 Garfield Avenue, Jersey City, NJ, were united in marriage this morning at 10 o'clock in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church, Morton. Rev. Joseph B. Gibson performed the ceremony. The bride, who was given in marriage by her brother, William Burke, wore a powder blue chiffon gown and hat and a corsage of pink rosebuds. Mrs. Leona Hammelbacher, of Egg Harbor, NJ, the matron of honor, wore a dusty rose chiffon gown and a corsage of tea roses. James Norton, of Jersey City was the best man for Mr. Norton. A wedding breakfast at Media Inn, Media, followed the ceremony after which Mr. and Mrs. Norton left for a wedding trip to Niagara Falls, Great Lakes and Chicago, and upon their return they will reside at 603 Garfield Avenue, Jersey City. The bride attended Lansdowne High School. Mr. Norton, a railroad official, is a veteran of World War I."

Retirement and death[]

Thomas retired from the railroad on February 28, 1956 and moved to Ocean County, New Jersey. He suffered a heart attack while watching a football game on TV while living at 17 Pine Street in his Jackson, New Jersey home. The game was between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys for the National Football League Championship on New Years Eve, Sunday, December 31, 1967. It was Tom Landry and the Dallas Cowboys versus Vince Lombardi and the two-time defending champion Green Bay Packers. He was a big fan of Vince Lombardi. Tom died 13 days later at Paul Kimball Hospital in Lakewood, New Jersey and he was buried in Holy Name Cemetery, Jersey City, New Jersey with his wife and her mother's family. Tom died with all his teeth, except one that was knocked out in a fight and had been replaced with a gold one.


His obituary appeared in the Asbury Park Press on January 13, 1968 and it reads as follows: "Thomas Patrick Norton, 76, of 17 Pine Street, died yesterday at Paul Kimball Hospital, Lakewood. He was born in Jersey City and had lived here eight years. Mr. Norton retired 12 years ago as a yard master in Hoboken for the Lackawanna Railroad. He had been employed by the railroad for 50 years. He was a veteran of World War I. He was a communicant of St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church. He was a member of the local Senior Citizens Club. Surviving are his widow, Mrs. May V. Burke Norton; three sons, Thomas, Paramus, Vincent, Colonia and James, Ridgefield, and eight grandchildren. The W. David DeRoche Funeral Home, Lakewood, is in charge of arrangements."

A version of the same funeral notice appeared in the Jersey Journal on the same day: "Norton, Thomas Patrick of 17 Pine Street, Jackson, New Jersey, on January 12, 1968, at Paul Kimball Hospital, Lakewood, New Jersey, age 76 years, beloved husband of May V. Norton; father of Thomas, Vincent, and James. High requiem mass on Tuesday, January 16th at St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church, Jackson. Interment, Holy Name Cemetery, Jersey City. Friends may call at the W. David De Roche Funeral Home, 213 Lexington Avenue, Lakewood, New Jersey, on Monday 3-5 and 7-9. Rosary 8 p.m. Monday."


  • To Thomas Patrick Norton, 603 Garfield Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey. From: Ethel Lyon (1884-?), 211 Dixon Avenue, Boonton, New Jersey. Date: December 17, 1956. "Dear Tom. Just finished reading 'The Lackawanna' and I see your name with the retired list. Tom, I am happy for you and I do wish you many good, happy, healthful years to come. [I] know you worked hard for all you receive. If father would be here, he would have the best to say to you. Think it will be 18 years the 15th of January." Note: Her father was George S. Lyon (1860-1938) and he was the other yardmaster at the railroad. They each worked 12 hour shifts and got one Sunday off each month.


He was buried in Holy Name Cemetery, Jersey City, New Jersey with:

Memories about Thomas Patrick Norton I[]

  • Thomas Patrick Norton II (1920-2011) wrote in 1999: "Thomas Patrick Norton I, my father, lost his own father, Patrick J. Norton after the Spanish American War when he was 12 years old. Patrick Norton may have died of yellow fever. My father dropped out of school when his father died. He worked peddling produce from a horse drawn wagon. In 1906, when my dad was 15, he worked as a messenger boy for the Lackawanna Railroad. In later life he was a friend of Vince Lombardi. He had a heart attack while watching a football game on TV. The game was between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys for the National Football League Championship in December 1968. He died a week later at the hospital in Lakewood, New Jersey where he had a second heart attack. He played cards and darts at a local bar after his first wife died, and was a heavy drinker. My brother James had to take care of him during that time. I was at Rockland Country Club when he died. He won an Oldsmobile car in a raffle, he was not a good driver and his wife made him sell it after a year. Once, when they were driving he hit the railroad tracks so hard that Mary Margaret Burke hit her head on the roof of the car. Another time when driving on the wooden paving blocks on Bergen Avenue in the rain he did a 180 degree skid. He once took the door off a parked car when the man opened it to get out of his car. Once, when crossing the railroad tracks, he made it through one gate but crashed through the second one on the other side. He bought the two family house at 603 Garfield Avenue in Jersey City for $13,000 in 1920. During the Depression no one could pay their taxes so the town kept raising the taxes on those that could pay. Jersey City had a very high tax rate. He ended up selling the house in 1958 for $13,500. He held on to the house during the Depression even though it was never rented. The rental rate was $25 per month. One time I helped Josephine Burke with her taxes and realized that she had no savings. I hated Mayor Hague as a politician in Jersey City. At one time there was a famous bookie called 'Newsboy Moriarity'. He could always be found in Journal Square wearing a long overcoat. At one point a car trunk was found full of money and the car was traced back to him. Moriarity was in jail at the time. This was after the war. At one point the first floor apartment at 603 Garfield Avenue, which was owned by my parents was used by a 'bagwomen' who collected all the money from illegal gambling in Jersey City for Moriarty. Dave "three finger" Brown was the bookie to see in the store that Tom Norton worked in when he was 16. Vincent Norton worked at an ice cream parlor run by a German in Jersey City."
  • Mary Hammelbacher (1923- ) wrote on March 27, 2001: "My son, David Lesley Bartolone (1953-1980), tied several big ripe tomatoes from our garden to Tom Norton's skinny tomato plants at 603 Garfield Avenue in Jersey City to fool him. Tom had a tiny vegetable patch in his backyard."
  • Thomas Patrick Norton II (1920-2011) on Christmas Eve, Monday, December 24, 2007: "I remember once we were traveling down to the New Jersey shore to visit a teacher friend of my mothers when I was about 12 years old. We were on the train, and it was both my parents and my siblings. My dad showed his 25 year Gold Pass from the railroad and the conductor said that the chef wanted to see the pass. My dad said "make sure you don't lose it." The chef made a big meal for us all. He started work at the railroad when his father died in 1905-1906. My dad worked a 12 hour day for 28 out of 30 days of the month. He got every second Sunday off. When the union was allowed, they stopped the 7 day work week, and had a 5 day work week, so he started to play handball, and eventually started drinking, and wouldn't come home, he would be at Kenny's Saloon. He would come home drunk and I would help him up the stairs and put him to bed. When I was growing up, my dad would buy a brand new straw hat every spring. We lived in a two family house at 603 Garfield Avenue near the corner of Stegman Street. I have a recollection that the house cost $20,000, but that may be wrong. A block away from us was the Wegman Estate and old lady Wegman lived there. It was huge, she had fruit trees and we played stick ball on her property. She would let us play so long as we didn't make too much noise. There was another place, a chemical company that processed chromium and they dumped the waste into huge piles on Garfield Avenue. We would get a piece of cardboard and slide down the chromium slag piles."
  • James Joseph Norton II (1929-2011) said in 1998: "My father, would drink 10 cups of coffee a day, spend 8 hours a day drinking at a bar and smoke a pack of Chesterfields a day. All that changed when he met and married Josephine (May) Burke. He died with his original teeth."
  • Richard Arthur Norton (1958) wrote in 1998: "He was born in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1891. His parents were immigrants from Ireland and he was their first child. In 1900 he was 9 years old and living at 101 Bright Avenue in Jersey City with his brother and sister. Sharing the house was his father's brother John who was 38. In 1906 he took a job at the Lackawana RR in Hoboken, NJ as a messenger. On June 12, 1917, at age 26 Thomas enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army. After boot camp at Fort Dix he joined the American Expeditionary Forces on June 11, 1918 to fight in France during WWI. He was assigned to Ambulance Company 310 as a member of the 303 Sanitary Train. Returning from the war he married Mary Margaret Burke in 1919. They had their first child in 1920 while living at 112-14 Romaine Avenue in Jersey City. In the 1949 Mary died of appendicitis and Thomas turned to a life of drink until he married Josephine Burke in 1950. Josephine was Mary's half-sister. Thomas had a heart attack in 1968 while watching the pre Super Bowl football game where Vince Lombardi was coaching. He died two days before Super Bowl Sunday. It was a record cold spell in Jersey City."
  • Selma Louise Freudenberg (1921-2009) said in 1998: "He was a heavy drinker. He would get so drunk he would fall down. They lived on 603 Garfield Avenue in a two family house. They didn't have a phone there when his wife was sick. I had to go to the other unit downstairs and call. The woman downstairs collected money from bookies during the Great Depression."


  • His retirement was announced in The Lackawanna magazine in 1956. The magazine is housed at the Scranton Public Library.


  • 1890 US Census on June 2nd
  • 1891 Birth Thomas Patrick Norton I in Jersey City, New Jersey on Saturday, February 28th
  • 1891 Baptised at Saint Bridget's Parish, Jersey City, New Jersey on Sunday, November 8th
  • 1896 Death of Sarah Norton, his sister before June 2nd (age 5)
  • 1898 Death of Mary Norton, his sister, before July 28th (age 7)
  • 1900 Living at 101 Bright Avenue (age 9)
  • 1900 US Census containing Patrick Norton on June 11th (age 9)
  • 1905 Death of Patrick Norton, his father, on Monday, October 9th (age 14)
  • 1906 Work at DLWRR as Messenger on August 18th (age 16)
  • 1906 Promoted at DLWRR to Weightmaster in October (age 16)
  • 1907 Promoted at DLWRR to Clerk in October (age 17)
  • 1910 US Census on April 15th with Thomas Nort
  • 1912 Promoted at DLWRR to Switchman in April (age22)
  • 1914 World War I begins with Austria's declaration of war against Serbia on July 28th (age 23)
  • 1912 Promoted at DLWRR to Yardmaster in April (age22)
  • 1917 Living at 31 Germania Avenue, Jersey City, NJ
  • 1917 US enters World War I in April (age 26)
  • 1917 Enlistment in U.S. Army at Fort Slocum, NY on June 12th (age 26)
  • 1917 Training at Camp Dix, New Jersey (age 26)
  • 1917 Inoculated for Typhoid on October 9th (age 26)
  • 1917 Private First Class on October 25th
  • 1918 Arrival in France on Friday, June 14th (age 27)
  • 1918 Start of St. Mihiel offensive on September 12th
  • 1918 End of St. Mihiel offensive on September 16th
  • 1918 Start of Meuse-Argonne offensive on October 16th
  • 1918 End of Meuse-Argonne offensive on November 5th
  • 1918 Mustard gas attack injury on day of Armistace (age 27)
  • 1918 World War I ends, Germany and Allies sign an Armistice on Monday, November 11th (age 27)
  • 1918 Postcard to Mary Margaret Burke on Tuesday, November 12th (age 27)
  • 1918 Influenza pandemic through 1919
  • 1919 Requesting visit to aunt and uncle in Coal Pite, Creggs, Ireland on April 19th (age 28)
  • 1919 Discharged on June 2nd, 1919 (age 28)
  • 1919 Living at 31 Liberty Avenue, Jersey City, NJ
  • 1919 Marriage to Mary Margaret Burke on Saturday, September 27th at 9:00 am (age 28)
  • 1920 Living at 112-114 Romaine Avenue (age 29)
  • 1920 US Census on January 1st, with Thomas Patrick Norton (age 29)
  • 1920 Purchase of 24 Van Wagener Avenue, Jersey City, NJ on May 10th
  • 1920 Birth of Thomas Patrick Norton II, his first child, on July 8th (age 29)
  • 1923 Purchase of 603 Garfield Avenue, Jersey City, NJ on April 16th
  • 1923 Birth of Vincent Girard Norton, his second child, on February 15 (age 32)
  • 1925 Birth of John Burke Norton, his third child, but he dies in 44 days
  • 1929 Birth of James Joseph Norton II, his fourth child, on January 15
  • 1929 Stock Market Crash on October 29th begins Great Depression (age 38)
  • 1930 Birth of Catherine Finn Norton, his fifth child, on July 4th
  • 1930 United States Census
  • 1934 Death of Catherine Finn Norton on July 5th, 10:30 am
  • 1937 Railroad Retirement Act
  • 1941 Living at 603 Garfield Avenue, Jersey City, NJ (age 50)
  • 1941 Registration for Railroad Retirement benefits on August 5th (age 50)
  • 1942 World War II draft where he is 5' 4" weighs 135 pounds which gives him a BMI of 23.2
  • 1942 Death of Kate Norton, his sister, on November 10th (age 51)
  • 1945 Germany surrenders in May (age 54)
  • 1949 Death of Mary Margaret Burke, his wife, on January 12th (age 58)
  • 1950 North Korean troops invade South Korea on June 25th (age 59)
  • 1950 Marriage to Josephine (May) Veronica Burke in Saturday, July 29th
  • 1956 Retire from DLWRR on October 16th
  • 1958 Travel to Shenandoah National Park, Virginia with Josephine Burke and Bertha Burke
  • 1960 (circa) Move to 17 Pine Street, Jackson, Ocean County, New Jersey (age 68)
  • 1960 Merger of the Erie Railroad with the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad to form the Erie Lackawanna Railroad on October 17, 1960
  • 1968 Living at 17 Pine Street, Jackson, Ocean County, New Jersey
  • 1968 Death during football game on Friday, January 12th (age 75)
  • 1968 Burial at Holy Name Cemetery, Jersey City, New Jersey on January 16, 1968

External links[]

See also[]






Thomas Patrick Norton I (1891-1968)'s ancestors in three generations
Thomas Patrick Norton I (1891-1968) Father:
Patrick J. Norton (c1858-1905)
Paternal Grandfather:
Michael Norton (c1830- ) of Ireland
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Paternal Grandmother:
Bridget Mulligan (c1830- ) of Ireland
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Sarah Jane Carr (1863-1950)
Maternal Grandfather:
Bridget Conboy (c1840-aft1901)
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Maternal Grandmother:
Thomas Carr I (c1840-bef1901)
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Maternal Great-grandmother: