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.

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.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Wrights

In approximately 1881, Cassandra Thornton married King J. Wright. Cassandra was the daughter of Allen Ellis Thornton, brother to Robert Benton and James, and Polly Ray, daughter of George Raulston Ray and Elizabeth Dycus. The Rays and Thorntons were old Scots-Irish families who had both arrived in Pennsylvania in the mid-1700s. Together, they took land grants in North Carolina, before moving to Jackson County, Tennessee, and then to southern Kentucky. Elizabeth Dycus had been an indentured servant from England before George R. Ray bought off the remaining years of her servitude.

Cassandra (March 27, 1861-Oct. 26, 1929) and King Wright (Sept. 23, 1858-Oct 28, 1922) had five children: Lassie G., Edna, Clarence, Finis Ewing, and Ruby Viola. Their descendants can be found throughout southern Kentucky and in central Indiana.
Finis Ewing Wright (1891-1949) married Mayme Willis Taylor and had several children: Avis, Finis, John, Shirley, and Alma Frances. He also had a daughter, Laura B. Wright, from a previous relationship.

Avis Wright.

Alma Frances Wright (1914-1987) married Max Franklin Glaze.

The Glazes and grandchildren. Pictured are Mike, Sherry, and Vicki Smith; Roxie Glaze; Frances and Max Glaze; Joe, Brett, and Laurie Keith.

(From the Glaze family on Ancestry.com)