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Neil Norris

c. late 19th Century

Oil on canvas. Portrait of young boy in outdoor field. It was not uncommon to depict male children in the young “dress” garments of old in 19th century America.

Daniel (Neil) Norris was the grandson of the Milwaukee pioneer Daniel Wells, Jr. In later life Neil Norris helped to establish a camp for those that had commited crimes in Milwaukee. It is fitting that the portrait is of Neil as a young boy, because those later camps specialized in troubled young men. The juvenile courts of Milwaukee in 1917 had 50 boys that went to Norris’s camp located on the Fox River. The camp, called Mt. Vernon Boy’s Camp, helped local farmers grow sugar beets. It was semi-military in regiment and was quite successful in improving the attitude and demeanor of the troubled youths. The following year the camp became a perminent summer institution, working with the city of Milwaukee and financed by Neil Wells Norris.