Hearing dwarf (less than 4 feet tall). Born into slavery in Garrad County, KY, property of General Thomas Kennedy. (It is said that an escaped slave's stories of life on the Kennedy plantation inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe to write Uncle Tom's Cabin.) When Kennedy remarried to a widow who had a deaf son (Robert Morris Argo), the General gave Norman to his deaf step-son as a personal servant. When Robert Morris Argo married, he took Norman with him to their new home in Lowell (now Paint Lick), KY, and Norman learned sign language from Robert's deaf wife, which eventually evolved into a family pidgin sign language. Freed after the Civil War, Norman voluntarily stayed with his former master, still in the servant role. Reportedly grief-stricken after Robert's death in 1885, Norman did not live much longer after.
Silent Worker, v.1 no.4, December 1948, p.4.