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Biography of Dr. William Thornton



--- Dr. William Thornton. The subject of this sketch was born on the first day of May, 1806, in the northeastern part of the state of Virginia. His family were among the earliest settlers in Virginia.
The dwelling upon the family homestead was built from bricks that were brought from England by his grandfather. It was to this same house that Stonewall Jackson was conveyed after receiving his mortal wound on the field of Chancellorsville; there it was where this great leader closed his earthly career.
When the thirteen colonies proclaimed their independence of the mother country, Charles Thornton, the father of William T. Thornton, joined the Army of the Revolution, and became a captain. In the year 1811, Captain Charles Thornton removed from Virginia to Oldham County, Kentucky, taking with him his family. At the time of his settlement there Kentucky was a wilderness and infested with Indians, who were so bad that the settlers were obliged to build block houses and keep guards constantly posted, in order to protect themselves, and their property. It was here, amid the wilds of Kentucky, that William T. Thornton was reared.
When becoming of sufficient age, he went to Cincinnati to be educated, where he graduated in the profession of medicine, about the year 1831. Shortly afterward Dr. Thornton removed to Jacksonville, Illinois, and there began the practice of his profession.
When he had succeeded there in establishing himself in his profession, he returned to Louisville, Kentucky, to marry Caroline V. Taylor, a daughter of Major William Taylor, of the Continental Army. She bore him seven children, three of whom died in early childhood, the other four are still living. The eldest, Paul V. Thornton, is the president of the Thornton Banking Company of Nevada, Missouri, and is now residing in Austin, Texas. The second son, William T. Thornton, is a practicing lawyer in Santa Fe, in the territory of New Mexico. The youngest son, James T. Thornton, and his daughter, Carrie V. Stone, and her husband, reside near Waco, Texas, engaged in stock raising.
In the year 1839 Dr. Thornton, in company with his eldest brother, Fitz Hugh Thornton, removed from Jacksonville, Illinois, to the state of Missouri, and settled at what is now known as Thornton's Ferry, on Grand River, in Henry County. There he remained a few years, when he removed to Calhoun, in which place he continued in the practice of his profession, until about the year 1846, when he gave up the practice and purchased a large farm on the Tebo; the same farm that is now owned by Dr. Barbour. There he continued to live until the close of the year 1865, devoting his time to agriculture and to the breeding of stock, in which pursuits he took great delight, amassing, by his industry and systematic labor, a very comfortable fortune; being in fact, at the beginning of the war, one of the largest land and slave owners in Western Missouri. His stock was prized throughout his whole region. He particularly interested himself in the raising of horses and cattle, and in breeding fine stock. It was one of his delights to aid and to contribute to the displays that were made at the agricultural and mechanical fairs of central Missouri, visiting annually the fairs held at Brownville, Georgetown, Warrensburg, Cold Camp, Clinton, Harrisonville, and other points, and always taking pleasure in contending for the premiums offered by those associations.
As a physician, William T. Thornton ranked among the best of the state, and long after he quit the practice, was consulted by the leading physicians in important cases occurring in the vicinity in which he lived. He was a prominent member of the M. E. Church, South, and took great interest in the prosperity and success of this denomination. In politics he was a Whig, but never at any time aspired to any office, or sought political preferment.
Dr. Thornton was three times married. His second wife, Miss Elizabeth Fewell, lived but a few years after her marriage. His third wife, Mrs. Maria Atkinson, formerly a Miss Williams, who was a daughter of General Samuel Williams, of the war of 1812, and is a sister of John S. Williams, better known as Cerragoda Williams, and who at present represents Kentucky in the United States Senate. She now resides at Clinton, in Henry County, the place which Dr. Thornton made his home after the war.
Like most of the large slave owners, Dr. Thornton suffered greatly by the war. Not only was his estate wasted, his stock stolen, and his home made desolate, but throughout the greater portion of those sad four years he was a refugee. When the war closed there was little that was left to him about his old home. His slaves were liberated, most of his horses and cattle had been seized by the marauders belonging to the armies of the contending sections. The surplus money which he had gradually accumulated through his years of toil, had been expended in maintaining himself and family through the years of strife, but still at its close he was enabled, by the sale of his real estate and of what personal property that was left to him, to realize enough to enable him to live comfortable during the remainder of his life, and to give to his children a good start in business.
On the 27th day of December, 1874, Dr. Thornton departed this life, at his residence in Clinton, in the sixty-ninth year of his age beloved by his children and relatives and regretted by his friends.

Owner/Source1883 History of Henry and St. Clair Counties Missouri , National Historical Co., pg: 544
Linked toCharles THORNTON; Dr. William Tucker THORNTON

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