Norwood Family Records
Notes about the family of Ralph Norwood, husband of Mae Kramer Huffman Norwood and the step-father of Walter C. Huffman Junior
Mae Anna Kramer Norwood and Ralph Spray Norwood visiting
Walter Huffman at Purdue University in 1934
Notes about the Family of Ralph Spray Norwood
Family of the step-father of Walter Charles Huffman Junior
On November 14, 1923, Mae Anna Kramer Huffman married Ralph Spray Norwood, of Indianapolis, the second marriage for Ralph and third for Mae Anna. Ralph was age 42 and Mae was 34. Ralph's first wife, Hazel Raper Norwood, born March 25, 1889, had died ten months previously in early 1923. Mae Anna Kramer's husband Walter Charles Huffman Senior had died on November 13, 1918.
In fact, Ralph Norwood's ability to marry Mae Kramer Huffman had been blocked for some time after Ralph and Mae began to go out together. Ralph's first wife, Hazel had been committed to an institution for the mentally disabled. Indiana state law prevented a spouse from divorcing a mentally impaired spouse.
Hazel Raper and Ralph Norwood had been married on June 19, 1918 in Owen County, Indiana where there had been Raper family members since the 1830s. In fact, when she married Ralph Norwood, this was Hazel Raper's second marriage. She had wed Samuel Wylie of Owen County, Indiana on July 18, 1907. What happened to dissolve this first marriage is not indicated, but by 1910, Hazel was living alone in Indianapolis.
Hazel, born in March 25, 1889 was the daughter of James A. Raper (1856-1928), a school teacher in Owen County, just as his father Jesse Raper (1806-1880) had been before him.
Jesse F. Raper (1806-1880)
Hazel Raper's mother was Dora Bell Rumple born in 1866. Hazel grew up in the small town of Spencer in Owen County, Indiana, which is about 25 miles east of Terre Haute. Following their marriage, Ralph and Hazel lived at 4353 Park Avenue in Indianapolis. At that time, he was the senior accountant at L. Strauss & Company, a leading Indianapolis department store.
After several years being institutionalized, Hazel R. Norwood died on January 17, 1923, age only 33. Ralph was then free to marry Mae Anna Kramer Huffman.
Hazel Norwood obituary January 17, 1923
Ralph Norwood's Ancestry: The family of Ralph Norwood can be traced back to a pioneer who had been a soldier in the Revolutionary War in the late 1770s: John Norwood (1760-1826)
John Norwood was born January 2, 1760 in Baltimore, Baltimore. On June 17, 1782 in Baltimore, he married Mary Haile 1763-1815. John Norwood served in William A. Davidson's Maryland Company during the Revolutionary War in the late 1770s. John and Mary Norwood then moved to Blount County, Tennessee in the Knoxville area, arriving sometime between 1790 and 1794.
John and Mary Norwood had ten children:
John Norwood died in Blount County, Tennessee on August 30, 1826.
From this numerous family, John Norwood's son George Norwood, the Norwood ancestor began farming in Tennessee, but later moved to Indiana in the 1830s. He was long lived: George Norwood was born in 1789 and outlived his son Newton, living until 1880 age 91. George Norwood married Mary Ann Van Pelt Rooker (1793-1877)in Knoxville, Tennessee before they to Indianapolis.
George and Mary Ann Van Pelt Rooker Norwood had ten children:
Newton Nicholas Norwood was born on February 8, 1817 in Blount County, Tennessee. Newton Norwood was an early pioneer of Indiana and owned a wagon shop and stables in central Indianapolis where the State House was later constructed. 6 Newton Norwood died prematurely in Indianapolis July 3, 1850 at the young age of 33. He had married Margaret Ohr in Indiana in 1840. Margaret was born in Maryland in 1812 and was five years older than Newton. Newton and Margaret Norwood had five children:
Newton Norwood died in Indianapolis at age of 33 in July 3, 1850, when his son John was only aged 3. In fact, Newton's father, George Norwood outlived Newton by thirty years, dying in Indianapolis in 1880 at age 91.
John L. Norwood was born in Indiana July 1847. As a youth, he was and active athlete, playing in Indianapolis's first professional baseball team. 6 John Norwood married Jennie Spray March 1850. John and Jennie Norwood had three children:
John Norwood was a motorman in the Indianapolis surface transit system. As children, we remember the photograph of John Norwood in his motorman uniform on a table in the Norwood home on Wildwood Avenue in Indianapolis.
Indianapolis street car depot in 1900 at the time John Norwood was an Indianapolis street car motorman
John and Lydia Norwood lived first at 124 Hosbrook Street and by 1889, at 335 North East Street Street in Indianapolis.
Ralph Norwood's sister Grace Norwood was a school teacher. In his later years, as a widower, John Norwood lived in daughter Grace Norwood's home where he died.
Ralph Norwood's brother Newton Norwood was named after his grandfather (John Norwood's father), Newton Nicholas Norwood, mentioned above. Newton Norwood married Nora Fisher (1873- ) on August 3, 1901. He was a grocer in Indianapolis. Nora Norwood is listed as a widow in Indianapolis in the 1910 Census, so Newton died prior to that date. Newton Norwood was said by Mae Kramer Norwood to have suffered from tuberculosis and to have died in Arizona, since dry head was a traditional treatment for tuberculosis. A record of his death has not yet been located.
Ralph Norwood Business Career
All his life, Ralph Norwood was an active investor and entrepreneur. In this, he combines aggressive investment with caution, saving and avoidance of credit. It was this caution which allowed him to survive the great depression of the 1930s and grow his wealth. By age 19, in 1900, Ralph had already studied law and accounty at the Indianapolis College of Law. By that age was employed as an accountant and later a bank teller and receiver, at Indiana Trust bank. He was still living at home with his parents and his older teacher sister Aunt Grace (Grace Norwood).
By 1915, Ralph, was working at L. Strauss and Company, the leading Indianapolis department store, as a treasurer.
Ralph was a regular investor in other profit-making endevors. He had invested in a machine shop company. In 1915 he invested in the Circle Theater, a movie theater, in which A. L. Block, president of L. Strauss & Company also invested.
Among other investments Ralph Norwood also later bought a glove factory. His entrepreneurial activity prospered, and Ralph Norwood invested also in real estate and a bus company.
At the Indianapolis department store L. Strauss & Co., Ohio-born Abram L. Block had been brought in from Brooklyn in about 1900 to manage by the store founder Leopold Strauss (1844-1914). After Leopold Strauss's death, Abram L. Block became store President, and Ralph Norwood advanced under him. Initially in 1915, Ralph Norwood was treasurer, then buyer, and later Executive Vice President by the early 1930s. Ultimately, Ralph Norwood became partner with Abram L. Block on the Board of L. Strauss by 1933. He set the fashion at the store by being the purchaser of mens and ladies fashions. Block and Norwood built up the business stressing elegance and style. The fashion theme was developed by Ralph Norwood in his purchasing trips in New York and in Europe, while Mr. Block ran the store day-to-day. L. Strauss & Company later opened suburban branch stores. Wikipedia states: "L. Strauss & Co. was a distinctly upscale department store chain headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana..."
L. Strauss & Company downtown Indianapolis Store at the time Ralph Norwood purchased the business
In 1936 on the death of Abram Block of a heart attack at age 71, Ralph Norwood became President of L. Strauss & Company. Ralph's long-time partner at L. Strauss was Henry Zitzlaff who was Treasurer and Contoller while Ralph Norwood was Executive Vice President. They had met while both were working for Indiana Trust bank. After they took over L. Strauss, Henry Zitzlaff was 'Mister Inside' controlling finances and Ralph Norwood was the public face of the store and the key merchandizing decision maker. During the next two decades, Ralph would visit New York and then Europe, purchasing lines of ladies and mens clothing and furnishings and following styles and fashions. Mae Norwood would travel with him, expanding horizons.
In April, 1946, L. Strauss & Company expanded to a new store location, the largest retail store in Indianapolis at that time.
In September, 1955 Ralph Norwood and his partner Henry Zitzlaff sold L. Strauss & Company to a consortium of investors led by Sam J. Friedman.
So, with the marriage of Ralph Norwood to Mae Anna Kramer Huffman in 1923, Ralph became the stepfather of Walter C. Huffman, then aged 9. Two grew to have a cordial and respectful relationship. They lived at 3617 Carleton Avenue in Indianapolis which was an elegant location. ...In fact, too elegant for us children. Whenever we would visit, to our mother's great consternation, we would crash a toy truck into the leg of an elegant, fragile table brought back from Paris by grandma Mae Norwood (or commit some other such naughtiness).
Norwood home at 3617 Carleton Avenue, Indianapolis
After Ralph Norwood retired from L. Strauss & Company, Ralph and Mae moved from Indianapolis to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They lived in a high rise apartment overlooking the bay during the 1950s and 1960s. Ralph continued his active investing program. Ralph and Mae also continued to travel extensively, such as in a round-the-world cruise on the Cunard ship Coronia as pictured, below.
Mae and Ralph Norwood (at right) in 1961 during their around-the-world cruise
Later, in about 1965, Ralph and Mae moved to Swarthmore, Pennsylvania to be closer to their son Walter and family as they grew old. Ralph died in Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia in November, 1971, at age 90. He had enjoyed relatively good health until his death, as did Mae Norwood who died in Riddle Memorial Hospital in Delaware County, Pennsylvania in September, 1974 at age 85 after a rich and an eventful life.
1 from Biographical Memoirs of Huntington County 1901 pages 718-720
6 page 14. John L. Norwood dies at 89. The Indianapolis Star. Indianapolis, Indiana. 9 December 1937.
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