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.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Henry Clay Thornton (Part III): Brothers, Sisters and Cousins

Even though Henry Thornton’s family achieved an enviable level of success, many of his brothers and sisters were equally remarkable in their respective fields. Most notable was perhaps Dr. William Patton Thornton (b. Feb 6, 1817) who was one of the first students of Wabash College, Indiana, and would earn medical degrees from Ohio College in Cincinnati; Kemper’s Medical College, St. Louis; and Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia. After practicing medicine in Mississippi, Dr. WP Thornton returned to Ohio where he became the primary physician for the affluent, powerful families in the northern Cincinnati suburbs. Also, he authored articles on cholera and ear, nose, and throat topics. Dr. Thornton was elected Mayor of College Hill, Ohio, and died in office in his 66th year (Oct. 10, 1883). Dr. WP Thornton and his wife, Electa Bacon Thornton, were buried at Spring Grove Cemetery, Ohio. After the death of Mrs. Thornton, the estate passed on to Wabash College for the endowment of a professorship.

However, Dr. WP Thornton was not the only medical doctor in the family. Dr. Joseph Lyles Thornton (b: Nov. 14, 1826) graduated from the Ohio Medical College in 1862. Nevertheless, he stayed in education, remaining the Principal of Hughes High School, Cincinnati, Ohio, until 1873. After holding several educational positions in Chicago over the following two decades, he returned to Ohio, serving as President of the Ohio Valley Paper Company, 1892-1895. In 1903, Dr. J L Thornton wrote an account of his family’s westward move to Indiana that captured the difficulties of pioneer life, while also revealing a familial focus on education that would propel various members to great success. Dr. Joseph Lyles Thornton and his wife, Mary Corbin Thornton, were buried at Spring Grove Cemetery with many of their children, most of whom died young. Sadly, James Harvey Thornton died from an accidental shotgun blast when only 14; Joseph Lyles Thornton Jr. committed suicide in Seattle, Washington, in 1890, only three years after graduating from Yale.

William and Joseph’s other siblings became respectable farmers, except for Elizabeth (b: 1819) who married Abraham Graffis and whose sons were well respected businessmen, running a shoe company in central Logansport, Indiana. Of Henry Clay Thornton’s nieces and nephews, the most remarkable was William Wheeler Thornton, son of John Allen and Ellen Barnett Thomas Thornton, who became a prominent legal scholar, writing treatises on law and serving as Deputy Attorney General, Indiana Supreme Court Librarian, and circuit judge in Marion County.

However, not all was serious and restrained. Abner Scott Thornton (b: Feb 14, 1821) raised his great granddaughter, Edna, granddaughter of Justus and Martha E. Thornton Goodrich. Upon attaining her maturity, she and her mother, Nellie Goodrich, headed for New York City, where they became chorus line dancers in musicals. In short time, Edna Goodrich became a Broadway star and even appeared in early Hollywood movies, most notably, Armstrong’s Wife. Edna also became friends with Stanford White, even introducing him to Evelyn Nesbitt, whose husband murdered Stanford in a jealous rage at Madison Square Garden. The murder trial became a national sensation. Later, Edna married comedian Nat Goodwin and became embroiled in another sensational court case over a $1.7 million pre-nuptial Trust.

Edna Goodrich, with hat...

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