Welcome to our Thornton family

In this blog we attempt to create a visual history of a main southern Kentucky Thornton branch, descended from Scots-Irish Thorntons who may have arrived in Pennsylvania in the mid-1700s. If your goal is to check whether or not you or a family member are listed in our genealogy file, the first eight posts contain more than 1,500 names, listed generationally. Use the 'find' command to scroll through the material...Good luck.

Also, if you have photos, corrections, or inquiries, please feel free to contact us at thorntonsoky@gmail.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Roy Neal Thornton

Roy Neal Thornton was born February 25, 1919, in Warren County, KY, to Jesse Benton and Susie Cooper Thornton. In 1939 he married Helen Louise Freas; they had four children: Sandra Neal (1941), Anthony Wilson (1945), Donna Louise (1948), and Terry Leslie (1950). Roy died November 2, 1994, in Warren County, KY.

Roy on the farm, which was located in the southeastern section of Warren County, near Boyce, KY.

Donna and Tony proudly display their catch...

Aunt Helen, her sister-in-law, Aunt Juanita, and Sandra.

Jesse Benton Thornton and Cast...

With all the Thornton family reunions, Papa Thornton (Jesse Benton) was forever being posed alongside of his many children, in-laws, and grandchildren.

Here, we have him with his daughters: Eva, Ruby, Pauline, Nora Clay, and Carene. Aunt Fannie was not present.

And, here, with his sons: Jess, Bob, Porter, and Roy...

The daughters-in law: Juanita, Edna, Helen, and Patricia...

And, finally, with Granny and "Old Granny" Hobby.

Woodburn High School

The Woodburn area of southern Warren County and northern Simpson County, KY, was home to four generations of Thorntons, several of whom attended the local high school...

In this 1934 freshman class photo, we see my great-uncle, Roy Neal Thornton, and his future bride, Helen Freas. Can you spot Uncle Roy and Aunt Helen?

Woodburn had a solid reputation in sports, sending several scholarship players to various state colleges. Both my grandfather, Jesse Willard (2nd from left, bottom row), and my great-uncle, Roy Neal (2nd from right, bottom row), received such recognition, before war and marriage intervened...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Thornton Q & A

1) Where did our line originate?

Thus far, all the available research indicates that our Thornton ancestors were Scots-Irish immigrants who arrived in Pennsylvania/ Delaware (in what would now be the greater Philadelphia metropolitan area) in the mid 1740s. For current research interest, there are several counties: Lancaster, Chester, and Bucks. Owing to an increase in land prices due to the arrival of German immigrants, in the 1750s, many Scots-Irish immigrants accepted land grants in Virginia, North Carolina, and later South Carolina and Georgia. This was also favorable to the local gentry because the Scots-Irish acted as a buffer between prosperous farming areas and Native Americans.
Not surprisingly, the four confirmed DNA lines of our ancestors are found along this route: the McKelvey-Thorntons in Pennsylvania; the Thorntons of Pulaski, Virginia; Samuel Thornton’s line (Penn>N.C.>S.C.>Indiana/Illinois/Ohio); William Thornton’s (N.C.>Tenn.>KY). Samuel’s and William’s respective families also traveled with other prominent Scots-Irish families and cousins: Allisons (Ellisons), Rays (Wrays, Rheas), Simontons, Sloans, and Huffines.

2) Are we related to Mathew Thornton, signer of the Declaration of Independence?

Even though this is a pervasive family myth that has been passed along in several of the family lines, no one has proved a relationship. There isn’t any DNA evidence, and Mathew’s family tree indicates more of a York-Irish connection than Scots-Irish. My great-grandfather used to tell his children that we had originated with the arrival of two brothers from Ireland. I suspect this may partly explain why many have assumed the two brothers to be Mathew and his brother, Samuel. However, both of those lines are well researched, even though Samuel lived in Canada and had more than 22+ children!!! The only way to clarify our connections to other Irish arrivals is to encourage Thornton males to take the DNA test: http://www.familytreedna.com/public/Thornton. Spread the word!!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Thornton Businesses: Southern Kentucky

Even though the list of family owned or managed businesses would be overly lengthy( if I were to include distant cousins) I want to highlight a few in the southern Kentucky area and recommend that readers consider them for furniture, plant, and other needs.

Thornton Furniture: 1895 Cave Mill Rd., Bowling Green, KY 42104 (270) 842-0379; http://www.thorntonfurniture.com/ Owners: Terry and Judy Thornton; Manager, Ben Thornton

Bowling Green Freight, Inc., 581 Hardison Road, Woodburn, KY 42170 (270) 781-0197; http://www.bgfreight.com/; http://center.spoke.com/info/cQL4iB/BowlingGreenFreightInc
Owners/ Managers: Tony and Liz Thornton

Country Club Quickstop & Subway, 2600 Bowling Green Rd., Franklin, KY 42134 Owners/ Managers: Tony and Liz Thornton

Tanglewood Farms Garden Shop, 106 Barrett Lane, Franklin, KY 42134 (270) 598-0169; http://www.tanglewoodfarmsgardenshop.com/ Owner: Tom Thornton

Trent Bedding Company, LLC; 1751 Scottsville Rd., Bowling Green, KY 42104 (270) 393-2229. Owner: Janice and Trent Ranburger, 3rd great-grandson of Cassandra Thornton.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sloan-Kinnaird Reunion: (Part II)

Sandra Harlan Osterbur, daughter of Rueben Kaye and Dorothy Kinnaird Harlan, with husband, Randall Osterbur.

Sandra's mother, Dorothy Mae Kinnaird, was the daughter Vinnie Lee and Mayme Sloan Kinnaird.

The Lawsons, descended from Peggy Kinnaird...

After the meal, a small group of us headed to Blackjack Cemetery, Simpson County, KY, where many Thornton, Sloan, and Kinnaird relatives are buried.

Ann Tefteller poses beside the grave site of her grandparents, James and Victoria Eden Sloan.

Basil Griffith Park, Bowling Green, KY: site of Kinnaird-Sloan family reunion.

Sloan-Kinnaird Reunion: July 19, 2008

On a bright, sunny, albeit very warm, July day, the descendants of James T. Sloan's daughters and their Kinnaird connections gathered at Basil Griffith Park, Bowling Green, KY. My mother and I represented their Thornton cousins, by way of James's mother, Mary E. Thornton Sloan. Mary was the daughter of Allen Thornton, an area pioneer born in North Carolina in 1821!

Kathy Kinnaird Johnson made the reunion festive and welcoming...

Kathy Johnson posing with her mother, Elizabeth Graves Combs, and Bob Combs, her step-father. Kathy is the daughter of Donald Lee Kinnaird who died in 1972.

Donald Lee was a World War II veteran who married twice: 1) Devearle Goodrum; 2) Elizabeth Graves.

Kathy and Ann Tefteller, daughter of Lawrence and Jessie Sloan Kinnaird, looking over some remarkable Sloan-Kinnaird family photos.

Loretta, daughter of Charles "Boss" Sloan, Kathy, and Sue Kinnaird Taylor, daughter of Lawrence V. and Martha Link Kinnaird, share a laugh...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thornton Occupations: Education

In our more than 250 year history in the United States, the Thornton family has produced educators in a wide variety of fields. Below, while not an exhaustive list, I name many relatives who have contributed notably to the education of more than 15 American generations:

Dr. William Patton Thornton: medicine, Dean of Medical School, Cincinnati;
William Wheeler Thornton: law; Dean of law school, Indianapolis;
Albert Marshall Thornton: general education, Cincinnati;
Larry Maurice Thornton: horticulture, Arkansas;
Dr. John Sparks II: Telecommunications, Alabama;
Dr. Claude and Dr. Clyde Gillett: Chiropractic medicine, Los Angeles;
Reyburn Alvin Higgins: High School Principal, New Jersey, Indiana, and Kentucky;
Mary E. Higgins Proffitt: general education, Indiana;
Dr. Maris Marion Proffitt: Industrial Education Specialist and Consultant, US Dept. of Education;
Helen Thornton Geer: Library Science, Rhode Island;
Diane L. Thornton Lewis: French and German, Kentucky;
Col. Robert Alexander Jackson: Air Science, Alabama;
Dr. Joseph Lyle Thornton: Principal, Cincinnati (pupil: William Howard Taft, US President);
Sir Henry Worth Thornton: College Football Head Coach, Vanderbilt Univ., Nashville;
Richard Carlton Thornton: Communications, Public Relations, Kentucky;
Florinda Thornton Bunton: general education, Texas;
Elizabeth Thornton Burnett: general education, Indiana;
Charles William Lewis: Sociology, Kentucky and New York;
Durward Cory: School Superintendent, Indiana and Minnesota;
Rosemary A. Clement Hamrick: Principal, Texas;
Lauren C. Hamrick: 1st grade, Texas;
Candis Adams Thornton: Physics, Nashville;
Eugene Philip Cannon Jr: Associate Principal and Dean, Texas;
Jana Arney Hammock: School Administrator, Kentucky;
Dr. John B. Bender: English and Comparative Literature, Palo Alto, California.

John Wilson Thornton

Born December 1926 to William Virgil and Bertha Dobbs Thornton, John Wilson Thornton grew up in Simpson County, KY, and remained in the area near his brother, Woodie Smith Thornton. Many of John's half-brothers and sisters had died or moved away prior to his birth: his oldest siblings were born in the 1880s, over 40 years before! Still living, he is perhaps the last of the fourth Thornton generation in the area.

He married Margaret Dallas, daughter of Robert and Mamie Bransford Dallas, and had three sons: John Anthony (b. June 21, 1961); Thomas Wilson (b. November 25, 1965); Bobby Joe (b. March 11, 1967).

A young John W. in typical period dress.

Slightly older and not looking so happy to be photographed...

The Thorntons.

When Virgil and Bertha moved onto a farm near my great-grandfather, John W. attended school in southern Warren County. Given the number of relatives in the area, some of these kids were perhaps cousins or second cousins.

Can you spot John?

Fourth row, far left...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sloan/ Kinnaird: Thornton Cousins

Our Sloan connections descend from Mary Elizabeth Thornton (November 19, 1848-August 26, 1921), daughter of Allen Ellis and Polly Ray Thornton, and Fernly Alexander Sloan (April 20, 1850-May 5, 1918), son of Ben and Polly Cook Sloan. They had seven known children: James Thomas, Allen W., Ben, Florence Viteria, Alma, Edgar Herschel, and May. In honor of the upcoming Sloan-Kinnaird reunion in Bowling Green, KY, I am posting several photos from the James Thomas Sloan branch.

James T. Sloan (August 9, 1873-December 24, 1915) married Victoria Eden Bell and had four children: Charles A. "Boss," Polly Jessie, Oma, and Mayme. After Victoria's death in 1915, James married Margaret Victoria Mifflin and had three more children: Gladys, Thurman Morris, and Lawrence. James was buried in Blackjack Cemetery, Simpson County, KY, alongside of his Thornton and Sloan cousins.

James Thomas Sloan's children: Lawrence and Thurman Morris (back row); Jessie and Mayme (middle); Gladys and Oma (front). Charles is not pictured.

Mayme and Polly Jessie married the Kinnaird brothers, sons of Elijah Blackstone and Mary Sowers Kinnaird. Mayme (June 9, 1894-February 24, 1966) married Vinnie Lee; Jessie (May 27, 1899-October 1980) married Lawrence Warder.

Vinnie Lee (February 20, 1894-December 9, 1955) and Mayme Sloan Kinnaird. They had three children: Lloyd Houston, Donald Lee, and Dorothy Mae. Jessie Sloan Kinnaird, pictured on the porch...

A family portrait: The proud parents and children. Lloyd, in his mother's arms, married Clara Ruth Turner. Donald Lee married Devearle Goodrum and, secondly, Elizabeth Graves; Dorothy married Rueben Kaye Harlan.

Photos donated by Kathy Kinnaird Johnson, June, 2008.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

William Virgil Thornton

William Virgil Thornton (1866-1955) is an important figure in the genealogy of southern Kentucky Thorntons. Born to James Allen and Lucy Laney Thornton, he was nevertheless very close with his uncle's family: his first bride was the daughter of a cousin, and several of his children would marry other relatives from the Robert Benton Thornton line. And, when William Virgil made the move to Hickory Flats, Warren County, KY, he and his family shared a farm with Benton's grandson, Jesse Benton Thornton, my great-grandfather.

In 1886 William Virgil married Margaret Adelaide Campbell, daughter of Robert Campbell and Polly Thornton. Even though some earlier children may have died young, there were at least eleven confirmed children: Maude Gertrude, Claudius Herschel, Eva Lena, Clarence Marshall, Berttina Mae, Goeble Bryan, Clifton Charles, Verna Violet, Vernon, Mary Alline (Nobie), and Char. Thornton.

Maggie Campbell Thornton died in 1914 from Tuberculosis; Clarence and Goeble would soon succumb to the disease also, dying in 1915 and 1917 respectively.

William Vigil remarried on August 24, 1918, to Bertha Louise Dobbs. They had four children, two of which survived infancy: John Wilson and Woodie Smith. Merle and Thomas lived less than two weeks each.
(Virgil posing with Vernon on the farm)

William Virgil Thornton with his son, John W. Thornton, in 1927.

The family in Warren County: Virgil and Bertha with sons, John and Woodie...

Another family shot, with unidentified others: kind of look like Bonnie and Clyde.

Maudie, Virgil, and Bertha.

Frances Kathleen Thornton

Fannie was born July 10, 1916, to Jesse Benton and Mary Susan Cooper Thornton. In 1940 she gave birth to a son, Donald Wayne Thornton, who died in 1945 from complications from surgery.

In 1947 Fannie married Virgil Anderson Rippy and had a son, Jesse Sammy Rippy (b: Feb. 25, 1950). (Pictured above) Fannie died in 2000, Bowling Green, KY.

John William Thornton

John William Thornton (1898-1991) was the son of John H and Lizzie Kitchens Thornton. He married three times. By Mary Susan Mink, he had a daughter, Dorothy. He then had a short marriage to Nellie ?, who died while very young. John and Nellie had one son: William Hayden Thornton.

Dorothy was raised in the household of Robert Monroe and Susie Mink Thornton (Corydon, Indiana).

Then, John married Susie Pearl Dixon and had three more children: Richard, Jane, and Jimmy Leon.

A family picture from the early 1960s. The 1962 date has yet to be confirmed.

The family...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Distant Cousins: The Martha Elizabeth Thornton Family

Born around 1830 to John and Mary Polly Johnston Thornton, Martha met Theodore Gillett on a trip visiting family in Texas. They were married about 1855 and began a life traveling around the southwest, where Theodore and his brother preached in various towns. Martha and Theodore Gillett had ten children: Roswell, Kate, Samuel, Fannie Laura, Naomi, James T, Stephen Hudson, Harriet Fulton, Mary Gertrude, and Martha Elizabeth. Many of her descendents would be fairly prominent in their fields.

Ruth Gillett (b. June 17, 1915, d. May 6, 2006), Martha’s granddaughter, would be a pioneering aviatrix. After learning to fly in 1944, she experimented with various aircraft, including helicopters. She won the 1954 Powder Puff Derby, with co-pilot Ruby Hays, by racing from Los Angeles to Knoxville, and served as International President of the 99s, 1963-5, an organization of female pilots for which Amelia Earhart served as first President. In 1983 Ruth was inducted into the El Paso Aviation Hall of Fame and the Albuquerque-El Paso Ruth Deerman Scholarship was created in her honor, providing an award for the Future Woman Pilot Award. She sat on the board of the American Cancer Society chapter. She was married to Charles L. Deerman, a rancher in the El Paso area. Reportedly, her father, Otis Gillett, abandoned the family during the Great Depression and was a radio announcer in Flagstaff, New Mexico. Several of her siblings became prominent writers and/ or contractors. Ruth’s sister, Betty Jo Mings, is an acclaimed Christian poet. Her cousin, Ruth, also has a scholarship named after her: the Ruth E. Gillett Scholarship Fund at Andress High School, El Paso, Texas, where she worked as a teacher.

Another set of cousins, the twins Claude and Clyde Gillett became prominent chiropractors in California. Claude served on the faculty of the Southern California College of Chiropractic (1938). Clyde was on the faculty of the College of Chiropractic Physicians and Surgeons (1933) and operated clinics in Hollywood and Los Angeles. Clyde invented the Gillett Tonsil Suction and was the author of numerous papers, including “Adenoid vegetation,” the ear,” “examining the drumhead,” and “A manual of the eye, ear, nose, and throat.”

Military Thorntons: World War I

Sir Henry Worth Thornton, KBE, Major-General, British Army
* Awarded Distinguished Service Medal, USA; Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1919); Companion of the Legion of Honor, France; Companion of the Order of Leopold (Belgium)
Samuel Cary Thornton, Grandson of Hon. Samuel W. Thornton, Buffalo County, Nebraska
Thomas N. Thornton
James Ervin Thornton
Robert Earl Thornton

Newspaper Clippings: Jesse Benton Thornton

Jesse lived such a long life (1885-1979) and had so many children in southern Kentucky that his birthdays and reunions often made the news. In the first, we see a notice celebrating the 25th anniversary of his second marriage (to Lillie Bell Goosetree Mathias). His first to Mary Susan Cooper lasted 36 years.

Jesse's siblings were also long-lived, with several reaching their 90s, although the record has long been held by his grandmother, Elizabeth Smith Thornton, who died at 101 in 1916!!!

A notice marking Jesse's birthday celebrations. Since his death in 1979, the family has met every Labor Day weekend.

Nora Clay Thornton

Nora Clay was born March 9, 1913, to Jesse Benton and Mary Susan Cooper Thornton. She grew up in the Hickory Flats area of Warren County, KY, catching the eye of a local farm laborer who lived on a farm a few houses down. She married William Houston Jones in 1932, and, although they didn't have children of their own, they adopted two: Roger Dale and Sue Gayle. Nora Clay died on July 12, 1993.

The Joneses at the old farm, on the road from Plano, KY, to Boyce.

Aerial view of the Jones farm.

Sue Gayle Jones married Mike Harston and had three children: Robert, Shannon, and Penny.

Picture from mid-1980s.

William Robert Harston.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Public Service Thorntons

Capt. Levi C Thornton, Postmaster, Oakland, Illinois
Hon. Samuel W. Thornton, Member of 1886 Nebraska State Legislature; assessor, tax collector, census taker, marshal, and Dep. Sheriff of Washington County, Iowa
Barry N. Turner( great-grandson of Mary Elizabeth Thornton), Environmental Director, Barren River Health Department
Judge James Johnston Thornton, Military Judge during Reconstruction (Seguin, Texas)
Edwin Theodore McConnell( son of Sarah Ann Thornton), Township Trustee of Deer Creek, Miami County, Indiana
Jimmy Wayne Thornton, Mayor, Magnolia, Texas
Jana Arney Hammock( great-great-granddaughter of Mary Elizabeth Thornton), Director of Elementary Instructional Support; Director, Kids First; Simpson County, KY, Planning and Zoning Board Member
Richard Lee Woodman( grandson of Jane Thornton), Asst. Postmaster
Jean Powell Thompson(daughter of Dorothy Thornton) Worked for Texas Legislature
Dr. Sandra Christine Thornton-Whitehouse, Chairperson, Rhode Island's Coastal Resources Management Council
Roslyn Bunton Watson (granddaughter of Flora Inda Thornton), Tax Assessor of Carson County, Texas
Joyce Waldal(granddaughter of Bessie Lea Thornton), City Council Member, Red Lake Falls, Minnesota
Judge William Wheeler Thornton, Dep. Attorney General of Indiana, Indiana Supreme Ct. Librarian, city attorney of Crawfordsville, Indiana, and judge in Marion County, Indiana
Maj. Jesse Willard Thornton, Director, Warren County Parks & Recreation
Capt. James Worth Thornton, Central Intelligence Agency
Bradford Jennings Williams Jr.( grandson of Anna Leland Thornton), Asst. District Attorney for Tulsa County, Oklahoma
William Albert Thornton, Court Reporter, Santa Rosa, California
Kimberly Bouchey (granddaughter of Evaline Thornton), Member, Bowling Green-Warren County Military Liaison Board
Charles W. Lewis II (son of Diane Thornton Lewis), Diplomat, US Foreign Service
By Marriage:
Sheldon Whitehouse
( husband of Sandra C. Thornton), US Senator from Rhode Island
Franklin Oscar Brown( husband of Blanche D. Thornton), Mayor, Plummer, Minnesota
Judge Norman Palmero( husband of Wynne Harrison, granddaughter of Henry Clay Thornton) Colorado Springs community activist and judge
Loral C. Crawford( husband of Mary Alline Thornton), Mayor, Russellville, Missouri
Dr. Maris Marion Proffitt (husband of Mary E. Higgins, daughter of Martha Emma Thornton) Consultant and Industrial Education Specialist, US Dept. of Education
Judge Bradford Jennings Williams (husband of Mary Elinor Grubb, daughter of Anna Leland Thornton)
Rep. John Henry Kleine( husband of Margaret Worth Geer, daughter of Margaret Worth Thornton) Representative, Illinois State Legislature

Monday, May 5, 2008

Tombstones: Greenlawn Cemetery

Located just east of downtown Franklin, KY, Greenlawn Cemetery is the largest in Simpson County and the final resting place of many family members.

William Hayden Thornton (1931-2004) was the son of John W. Thornton, son of my 2nd great grandfather, John H. Thornton. He was married to Peggy Joyce Crowder.

Ruby Viola Wright (1899-1978), daughter of Cassandra Thornton and King J. Wright, married Hobart Yokley (1895-1982) and had two children: Hughie Freeman and Dennie.

Hughie (1919-1988) married Ida Mabel Lightfoot (1922-2006) and had one daughter: Polly Suzanne Yokley Joiner.

Herbert Earl McReynolds was the son of George Baskel McReynolds and Minnie Bell Finn. In 1934 he married Lila Ruth Barnard; they had one daughter, Shirley Ruth McReynolds Brown.

George Baskel McReynolds was the son of Jacob Petway McReynolds and Margaret Thornton, daughter of Allen and Polly Ray Thornton.

Grave site of Minnie Bell Finn McReynolds, mother of Herbert E., Ida Mae, and Margaret Irene.

Margaret Irene McReynolds (1921-2006) married James D. Chaddock (1925-2008) and was the mother of Betty Caudill Kinney.