Albert F. Norris

Founder of the Norris Noiseless Pedal Co. which opened a factory in Stoughton 

in 1910 at the French & Ward Mills in West Stoughton

Such business enterprises as that of the Norris Noiseless Pedal Action Company, of which Albert F. Norris was the president, lend a substantial quality to commercial and industrial activity that has made Stoughton a fast growing center of trade. Never fearing to venture where favoring opportunity led the way, Albert F. Norris made steady progress in his business career and yet passed over the pitfalls into which unrestricted progressiveness is so frequently led. His activities were ever guided by a sound judgment that proved a balance wheel to his initiative and enabled him to focus his energies where fruition was certain. His life record began in August, 1841. He was born in New Hampshire of the marriage of Sabin C. and Sarah (Fletcher) Norris, the former a native of Vermont, while the latter was born in Brookline, New Hampshire. Albert F. Norris was a descendant in the seventh generation of ancestors who had lived on this side of the Atlantic and was thus connected with some of the oldest families of New England. His father was a farmer and manufacturer, conducting a wood-working factory, and throughout the greater part of his life he resided in New Hampshire, to which state he removed in his boyhood days. He died in 1868, while his wife long survived, being called to the home beyond in 1903.

Reared under the parental roof, there was no unusual circumstance or event to vary the routine of life for Albert F. Norris in his boyhood days, his attention being largely given to the acquirement of a common school and academic education. When his textbooks were put aside he took up machine work, becoming a machinist and following that pursuit for ten years. At the time of the Civil war he did not go to the front but was on active duty with the Home Guards in Philadelphia. In 1865 he became a resident of Massachusetts, taking up his abode in Boston, where for seven years he was in the employ of the Grover & Baker Sewing Machine Company. He then turned his attention to the manufacture of pianos and was engaged in that business for twenty-five years as a member of the firm of Norris & Fletcher. They were builders of the Norris & Fletcher piano and placed upon the market an instrument that became very popular. Mr. Fletcher at length retired from the business and was succeeded in the firm by Charles A. Hyde, after which pianos were manufactured under the name of Norris & Hyde. Mr. Norris was continually striving to improve the output of the factory and his study of the different parts of the piano at length led to his invention of the Norris noiseless pedal action, which he began to manufacture in Boston in 1900. The invention met a long-felt want of the piano trade and after a brief period Mr. Norris admitted his son, Clifton H., to a partnership in the business. In 1910 the plant was removed to Stoughton, at which time they purchased the French & Ward factory buildings, and through the intervening period they have developed important interests in Stoughton. The company has extended its output to include various lines of pianoforte hardware, including the patented detachment and toe-cap pedals, dowel guides, player action pedals and trap work and various other patented and important supplies for pianoforte manufacture. The Norris company was the first concern in the trade to manufacture pedal actions exclusively and they sell direct to piano manufacturers, their patrons being among the best known piano builders of the country. They are used on the Chickering, Miller, Emerson and McPhail pianos and many others of reputable make and excellence. Theirs is a large factory, splendidly equipped with the latest improved machinery for doing work of the character required, and their business is now being carried on at Stoughton under the most favorable conditions, so that the output is steadily increasing. They also maintain offices in Boston.

In July, 1867, Mr. Norris was united in marriage to Miss Georgiana Bisbee and to them was born a son, Clifton H., whose birth occurred in November, 1875, and who is now a most progressive and enterprising business man - the president and owner of the Norris Noiseless Pedal Action Company. The wife and mother passed away in June, 1911, at the age of sixty-seven, after an illness that covered fifteen years. Mr. Norris was again married in September, 1912, his second union being with Julia Quincy Adams, a daughter of John Quincy Adams, a book publisher of Boston, who was widely known all over the United States and whose sons are now carrying on the business on Boylston street in Boston, being publishers of standard medical works.

Mr. Norris was a member of the Methodist church and his political support was given to the republican party. He also belonged to the Board of Trade of Stoughton and he was identified with the National Association of Piano Merchants of America, an organization which covers the entire country and holds its annual meetings at various points in the United States. Mr. Norris attended the last two meetings, one held in Chicago and one in San Francisco. These meetings are for the purpose of advancing the interests of the piano trade and are of great benefit to this line of business. In a summary of the life of Albert F. Norris it might well be said of him that his was a progressive spirit ruled by more than ordinary intelligence and good judgment, combined with a deep earnestness, impelled and fostered by indomitable perseverance, while his native justice expressed itself in correct principle and practice.

Source: History of Norfolk County Massachusetts 1622-1918 (New York, S. J. Clark Publishing Co., 1918), 2:126-132.

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